- Alternative meanings: See Bismarck (disambiguation).
|Office:||Chancellor of Germany|
|Term of Office:||1871/1867–1890|
|Successor:||Count Leo von Caprivi|
|Date of Birth:||1 April 1815|
|Date of Death:||30 July 1898|
Count Otto von Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg (April 1, 1815 – July 30, 1898) was one of the most prominent European aristocrats and statesmen of the nineteenth century. As Prime Minister of Prussia from 1862 to 1890, he engineered the unification of the numerous states of Germany. From 1867 on, he additionally was Chancellor of the North German Confederation. The latter was enlarged in 1871 to the German Empire, as the first Chancellor of which Bismarck served until 1890. He is nicknamed the Iron Chancellor.
He was Graf von Bismarck-Schönhausen (Count Bismarck-Schönhausen) in 1865, then since 1871 Fürst von Bismarck (Prince Bismarck) and since 1890 the Herzog von Lauenburg (Duke of Lauenburg). The ducal title, which he received upon his dismissal from office, he refused initially only to later accept.
A Junker, Bismarck held deep conservative, monarchist and aristocratic views. His most significant policy objective was that of securing German unification; he took advantage of skillful diplomacy and a series of wars to achieve this goal. In the area of domestic policies, Bismarck mainly but unsuccessfully combated the Catholic Church in the Kulturkampf. In addition he didn't succeed in fighting the labour movements with his Sozialistengesetze; to satisfy the working class, however, he enacted many social reforms, marking the beginning of the social welfare legislation in Germany. In foreign affairs, opposed to his previous "Blood and Iron" policies before the unification, Bismarck pursued the goal of uniting Germany under Prussia's leadership, and as "honest broker" securing the German Empire's position by maintaining peace in Europe with a complicated system of alliances. After his dismissal by Wilhelm II the course of the German Empire became imperialistic.