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Brandenburg-Prussia ( ) was a Germanmarker monarchy established by the personal union between the Duchy of Prussiamarker and the Margraviate of Brandenburg in 1618.

The monarchy was ruled by the branch of the Hohenzollern dynasty that had earlier ruled Brandenburg. The term Brandenburg-Prussia refers to this monarchy from its establishment until 1701, after which it is usually known as the Kingdom of Prussiamarker. The term "Brandenburg-Prussia" is sometimes used to describe this Brandenburg-led state after 1701, but it is known simply as "Prussia" after 1806.

History

The Margraviate of Brandenburg had been the seat of the main branch of the Hohenzollerns since 1415. Its rulers had enjoyed the influential rights of prince-electors in the Holy Roman Empire since 1356.

The Duchy of Prussia was created through the secularization of the Prussian monastic state of the Teutonic Knightsmarker. It was a vassal of the Kingdom of Poland and was governed by Duke Albert of Prussia, a member of a cadet branch of the House of Hohenzollern. After Albert's death in 1568, the duchy passed to his feeble-minded son, Albert Frederick. Because of the duke's sickness, Prussia was governed by the regents George Frederick (1577–1603) and Joachim Frederick (1603–1618).

Albert Frederick's daughter Anna married Joachim Frederick's son, John Sigismund, and the main Hohenzollern branch in Berlinmarker was granted the right of succession to the duchy. The Electors of Brandenburg inherited the Duchy of Prussia upon Albert Frederick's death in 1618, but the duchy continued to be held as a fief under the Polish Crown until 1657.

During the reign of the ineffective George William (1619–1640), the Hohenzollern lands suffered in the Thirty Years' War. Sweden compelled George William to join Sweden as an ally, and Sweden occupied substantial territory in Brandenburg-Prussia. Consequently, Roman Catholic armies repeatedly ravaged Brandenburg and other Hohenzollern lands. George William's successor, Frederick William, concluded a peace agreement with Sweden. Although Sweden had occupied the Duchy of Pomerania, Brandenburg had the right of succession upon the death of its childless duke, Bogislaw XIV, in 1637. Frederick William cultivated an alliance with the Dutch Republic. In the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, with Dutch support, Frederick William won possession of Farther Pomerania, the bishoprics of Halberstadt and Minden and the right of succession to the Archbishopric of Magdeburg. The exact Swedish-Brandenburgian border in Pomerania was settled in the Treaty of Stettin . By 1680, these territories and the Bishopric of Kammin had been incorporated into Brandenburg-Prussia. Taking advantage of the difficult position of Poland against Sweden during the Northern Wars, Frederick William obtained full sovereignty for Brandenburg over Prussia from King Władysław IV Vasa of Poland in the Treaty of Wehlau in 1657. The rights of the Polish Crown meant that the duchy would legally revert back to Poland if the Hohenzollern dynastic line became extinct; this clause, which was to be renewed at each country's change of ruler, expired by 1700.

In 1675 King John III Sobieski of Poland concluded with Francemarker a secret pact, in which Poland would attack Prussia while France would pressure the Ottoman Empire to return territories to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Upon the ending of hostilities with the Ottoman Turks, Poland could then attack Brandenburg or France's rival Austria. However, Sobieski was opposed by the Papacy, by Polish gentry who saw the Ottomans as the greater threat, and by Polish magnates bribed by Berlin and Viennamarker, and Sobieski's plans for war with Prussia dissipated.

The location of the Duchy of Prussia outside the Holy Roman Empire — within which no ruler could call himself king, aside from the ruler of Bohemia — allowed Elector Frederick III of Brandenburg to become "king in Prussia" in 1701, in return for assisting Emperor Leopold I in the War of the Spanish Succession. This severed all links to Poland, and the first Prussian king was the last ruler of Brandenburg-Prussia who spoke fluent Polish. In 1773 the former duchy was reorganized into the province of East Prussiamarker, while most of the Polish province of Royal Prussia became West Prussia. In 1815, Brandenburg, from which the kingdom was ruled, was itself reorganized as the Prussian Province of Brandenburg.

References

  1. Gieysztor, Alexander, Stefan Kieniewicz, Emanuel Rostworowski, Janusz Tazbir, and Henryk Wereszycki. History of Poland. PWN. Warsaw, 1979. ISBN 83-01-00392-8


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