German Emperor

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This article is about the emperors of the German Empire. For a full list of German monarchs before 1871, see List of German monarchs.
Emperor of Germany
Former Monarchy
Wappen Deutsches Reich - Reichswappen (Grosses).svg
Imperial Coat of arms
William II
First monarch William I
Last monarch William II
Style His Imperial and Royal Majesty
Official residence Stadtschloss, Berlin
Appointer Hereditary
Monarchy began 18 January 1871
Monarchy ended 28 November 1918
Current pretender(s) Georg Friedrich

The German Emperor (German: Deutscher Kaiser) was the official title of the head of state and hereditary ruler of the German Empire, beginning with the proclamation of the King of Prussia and President of the North German Confederation, William I, as "German Emperor" during the Franco-Prussian War, on 18 January 1871 at the Palace of Versailles, and ending with the official abdication of William II on 28 November 1918.[1]

Following the revolution of 1918, the German head of state function was succeeded by the Reichspräsident ("President of the Reich"), with the first officeholder being Friedrich Ebert.


William I is proclaimed German Emperor in the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles, France (painting by Anton von Werner).

The title "German Emperor" was carefully chosen by Minister President of Prussia and Chancellor of the North German Confederation Otto von Bismarck after discussion until (and after) the day of the proclamation. William I accepted this title grudgingly as he would have preferred "Emperor of Germany" which was however, unacceptable to the federated monarchs, and which would also have signalled a claim to lands outside of his reign (Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg etc.).[citation needed] The title Emperor of the Germans, as had proposed at the Frankfurt Parliament in 1848, was ruled out as he considered himself chosen "By the Grace of God", not by the people as in a democracy.[citation needed]

By this ceremony, the North German Confederation (Norddeutscher Bund) was transformed into the German Empire (Deutsches Kaiserreich). This empire was a federal monarchy; the emperor was head of state and president of the federated monarchs (the kings of Bavaria, Württemberg, Saxony, the grand dukes of Baden, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Hesse, as well as other principalities, duchies and of the free cities of Hamburg, Lübeck and Bremen).[citation needed]

Full titles[edit]

The German Emperors had an extensive list of titles and claims that reflected the geographic expanse and diversity of the lands ruled by the House of Hohenzollern.

William I[edit]

His Imperial and Royal Majesty William I, By the Grace of God, German Emperor and King of Prussia; Margrave of Brandenburg, Burgrave of Nuremberg, Count of Hohenzollern; sovereign and supreme Duke of Silesia and of the County of Glatz; Grand Duke of the Lower Rhine and of Posen; Duke of Saxony, of Westphalia, of Angria, of Pomerania, Lunenburg, Holstein and Schleswig, of Magdeburg, of Bremen, of Guelders, Cleves, Jülich and Berg, Duke of the Wends and the Kassubes, of Crossen, Lauenburg and Mecklenburg; Landgrave of Hesse and Thuringia; Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia; Prince of Orange; Prince of Rügen, of East Friesland, of Paderborn and Pyrmont, of Halberstadt, Münster, Minden, Osnabrück, Hildesheim, of Verden, Cammin, Fulda, Nassau and Moers; Princely Count of Henneberg; Count of Mark, of Ravensberg, of Hohenstein, Tecklenburg and Lingen, of Mansfeld, Sigmaringen and Veringen; Lord of Frankfurt.[2][3]

Frederick III[edit]

William II[edit]

His Imperial and Royal Majesty William II, By the Grace of God, German Emperor and King of Prussia, Margrave of Brandenburg, Burgrave of Nuremberg, Count of Hohenzollern, Duke of Silesia and of the County of Glatz, Grand Duke of the Lower Rhine and of Posen, Duke of Saxony, of Angria, of Westphalia, of Pomerania and of Lunenburg, Duke of Schleswig, of Holstein and of Crossen, Duke of Magdeburg, of Bremen, of Guelderland and of Jülich, Cleves and Berg, Duke of the Wends and the Kashubians, of Lauenburg and of Mecklenburg, Landgrave of Hesse and in Thuringia, Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia, Prince of Orange, of Rugen, of East Friesland, of Paderborn and of Pyrmont, Prince of Halberstadt, of Münster, of Minden, of Osnabrück, of Hildesheim, of Verden, of Kammin, of Fulda, of Nassau and of Moers, Princely Count of Henneberg, Count of the Mark, of Ravensberg, of Hohenstein, of Tecklenburg and of Lingen, Count of Mansfeld, of Sigmaringen and of Veringen, Lord of Frankfurt.[4]

German Emperors (1871–1918)[edit]

Reign start
Reign end
Wilhelm I
  • the Great
(1797-03-22)22 March 1797 – 9 March 1888(1888-03-09) (aged 90) 18 January 1871 9 March 1888 Was monarch of Germany since 1866. Hohenzollern William I, German Emperor
Friedrich III
(1831-10-18)18 October 1831 – 15 June 1888(1888-06-15) (aged 56) 9 March 1888 15 June 1888 Son of William I Hohenzollern Frederick III, German Emperor
Wilhelm II
(1859-01-27)27 January 1859 – 4 June 1941(1941-06-04) (aged 82) 15 June 1888 28 November 1918
Grandson of William I
Son of Frederick III
Hohenzollern William II, German Emperor

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Statement of Abdication of William II
  2. ^
  3. ^ Rudolf Graf v. Stillfried: Die Titel und Wappen des preußischen Königshauses. Berlin 1875.
  4. ^ Titles of William II at the Wayback Machine (archived March 14, 2007)
  5. ^ Hull 2004, p. 31.
  6. ^ Enumerated as successor of Frederick II who was King of Prussia 1740–1786 but not German Emperor.


External links[edit]