German Confederation

History of Germany between 1815 - 1866

Prince Metternich by Lawrence
Austrian chancellor
Klemens von Metternich

The German Confederation was a loose association of 39 German states in Central Europe, created by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 to coordinate the economies of separate German-speaking countries and to replace the former Holy Roman Empire. Most historians have judged the Confederation to be weak and ineffective, as well as an obstacle to German nationalist aspirations. It collapsed due to the rivalry between Prussia and Austria, warfare, the 1848 revolution, and the inability of the multiple members to compromise. It dissolved after the Prussian victory in the Seven Weeks' War of 1866.

In 1848, revolutions by liberals and nationalists were a failed attempt to establish a unified German state. Talks between the German states failed in 1848, and the Confederation briefly dissolved but was re-established in 1850.

The dispute between the two dominant member states of the Confederation, Austria and Prussia, over which had the inherent right to rule German lands ended in favour of Prussia after the Seven Weeks' War of 1866. This led to the creation of the North German Confederation under Prussian leadership in 1867. A number of South German states remained independent, allied first with Austria (until 1867) and subsequently with Prussia (until 1871), after which they became a part of the new German Empire.

Industrialization

Before 1850 Germany lagged far behind the leaders in industrial development – Britain, France, and Belgium. In 1800, Germany's social structure was poorly suited to entrepreneurship or economic development. Domination by France during the era of the French Revolution (1790s to 1815), however, produced important institutional reforms. Reforms included the abolition of feudal restrictions on the sale of large landed estates, the reduction of the power of the guilds in the cities, and the introduction of a new, more efficient commercial law. Nevertheless, traditionalism remained strong in most of Germany. Until mid-century, the guilds, the landed aristocracy, the churches, and the government bureaucracies had so many rules and restrictions that entrepreneurship was held in low esteem, and given little opportunity to develop. From the 1830s and 1840s, Prussia, Saxony, and other states reorganized agriculture. The introduction of sugar beets, turnips, and potatoes yielded a higher level of food production, which enabled a surplus rural population to move to industrial areas. The beginnings of the industrial revolution in Germany came in the textile industry, and was facilitated by eliminating tariff barriers through the Zollverein, starting in 1834.

Science and culture

German artists and intellectuals, heavily influenced by the French Revolution and by the great German poet and writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832), turned to Romanticism after a period of Enlightenment. Philosophical thought was decisively shaped by Immanuel Kant (1724–1804). Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) was the leading composer of Romantic music. His use of tonal architecture in such a way as to allow significant expansion of musical forms and structures was immediately recognized as bringing a new dimension to music. His later piano music and string quartets, especially, showed the way to a completely unexplored musical universe, and influenced Franz Schubert (1797–1828) and Robert Schumann (1810–1856). In opera, a new Romantic atmosphere combining supernatural terror and melodramatic plot in a folkloric context was first successfully achieved by Carl Maria von Weber (1786–1826) and perfected by Richard Wagner (1813–1883) in his Ring Cycle. The Brothers Grimm (1785–1863 & 1786–1859) not only collected folk stories into the popular Grimm's Fairy Tales, but were also linguists, now counted among the founding fathers of German studies. They were commissioned to begin the The German Dictionary, which remains the most comprehensive work on the German language.

Reference: Wikipedia

Popular sites founded between 1815 and 1866 in Germany

Altes Museum

Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s Altes Museum, completed in 1830, is one of the most important buildings of the Neoclassical era. The monumental arrangement of 18 Ionic fluted columns, the expansive atrium and sweeping staircase that invites visitors to ascend to the top, the rotunda adorned with Antique sculptures on all sides as a place to collect one’s thoughts and an explicit reference to Rome’s Pantheon: s ...
Founded: 1823-1830 | Location: Berlin, Germany

Neues Museum

The Neues Museum ('New Museum') was built between 1843 and 1855 according to plans by Friedrich August Stüler, a student of Karl Friedrich Schinkel. The museum was closed at the beginning of World War II in 1939, and was heavily damaged during the bombing of Berlin. The rebuilding was overseen by the English architect David Chipperfield. Exhibits include the Egyptian and Prehistory and Early History collec ...
Founded: 1855 | Location: Berlin, Germany

Alte Nationalgalerie

The Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) in Berlin is a gallery showing a collection of Neoclassical, Romantic, Biedermeier, Impressionist and early Modernist artwork. It is the original building of the National Gallery, whose holdings are now housed in several additional buildings. It is situated on Museum Island, a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. The idea of establishing a cultural and educational centre ...
Founded: 1861 | Location: Berlin, Germany

Semperoper

The Semperoper is the opera house of the Saxon State Opera and the concert hall of the Saxon State Orchestra. It is also home to the Semperoper Ballett. The building is located near the Elbe River in the historic centre of Dresden. The opera house was originally built by the architect Gottfried Semper in 1841. After a devastating fire in 1869, the opera house was rebuilt, partly again by Semper, and completed ...
Founded: 1841/1878 | Location: Dresden, Germany

Propylaea

The Propylaea is a city gate in Munich at the west side of Koenigsplatz. The building constructed in Doric order was completed by Leo von Klenze in 1862 and evokes the monumental entrance of the Propylaea for the Athenian Acropolis. The gate was created as a memorial for the accession to the throne of Otto of Greece, a son of the principal King Ludwig I of Bavaria. As early as 1816 it was already considered to build the ...
Founded: 1862 | Location: Munich, Germany

Wallraf-Richartz-Museum

Wallraf-Richartz-Museum houses the most extensive collection of medieval Cologne paintings, apart from the Old Pinakothek in Munich, as well as precious works from the time around 1500. Flemish and Dutch masters of the 16th to the 18th century, Rembrandt and Rubens included, are also represented as is a collection of German and French paintings from the beginnings of the modern era until 1900. The foundations for the muse ...
Founded: 19th century | Location: Cologne, Germany

St. Nicholas' Church

The Gothic Revival Church of St. Nicholas was formerly one of the five Lutheran Hauptkirchen (main churches) in the city of Hamburg. The church lies now in ruins, with only its tower remaining, serving as a memorial and an important architectural landmark. The church was the tallest building in the world from 1874 to 1876 and is still the second-tallest structure in Hamburg. With the founding of the Nikolai settlement an ...
Founded: 1846-1863 | Location: Hamburg, Germany

Hohenschwangau Castle

Hohenschwangau Castle was the childhood residence of King Ludwig II of Bavaria and was built by his father, King Maximilian II of Bavaria. The fortress Schwangau, which was first mentioned in historical records dating from the 12th Century, stood high up on a rock on the site of the present 19th century Neuschwanstein castle. The knights, later counts of Schwangau were ministerialis of the Welfs. Hiltbolt von Schwangau (1 ...
Founded: 1833-1857 | Location: Hohenschwangau, Germany

Alte Pinakothek

The Alte Pinakothek (Old Pinacotheca) is one of the oldest art museums in the world and houses one of the most famous collections of Old Master paintings. The name Alte (Old) Pinakothek refers to the time period covered by the collection—from the 14th to the 18th century. The Neue Pinakothek covers 19th-century art, and the recently opened Pinakothek der Moderne exhibits modern art. All three galleries are part of the B ...
Founded: 1836 | Location: Munich, Germany

Kunsthalle Hamburg

The Hamburg Kunsthalle is one of the largest art museums in the Germany. The Kunsthalle has its origins in 1849. The collection grew quickly, and it soon became necessary to provide a building. The original red brick Kunsthalle was built from 1863 to 1869, designed by architects Georg Theodor Schirrmacher and Hermann von der Hude, and financed largely through private donations. The first director became the art historian ...
Founded: 1849 | Location: Hamburg, Germany

Ehrenbreitstein Fortress

Ehrenbreitstein Fortress was built as the backbone of the regional fortification system, Festung Koblenz, by Prussia between 1817 and 1832 and guarded the middle Rhine region, an area that had been invaded by French troops repeatedly before. The fortress was never attacked. Early fortifications at the site can be dated back to about 1000 BC. At about AD 1000 Ehrenbert erected a castle. The Archbishops of Trier expanded i ...
Founded: 1817-1832 | Location: Koblenz, Germany

Schwerin Palace

For centuries the Schwerin Palace was the home of the dukes and grand dukes of Mecklenburg and later Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Today it serves as the residence of the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state parliament. It is regarded as one of the most important works of romantic Historicism in Europe and is designated to become a World Heritage Site. It is nicknamed 'Neuschwanstein of the North'. The first records of a castl ...
Founded: 1845-1857 | Location: Schwerin, Germany

Germanisches Nationalmuseum

The Germanisches Nationalmuseum, founded in 1852, houses a large collection of items relating to German culture and art extending from prehistoric times through to the present day. With current holdings of about 1.2 million objects, the Germanisches Nationalmuseum is Germany's largest museum of cultural history. Particular highlights include works of Albrecht Dürer, Veit Stoß and Rembrandt, the earliest surviving terre ...
Founded: 1852 | Location: Nuremberg, Germany

Lindau Lighthouse

Lindau Lighthouse is the southernmost lighthouse in Germany, located on Lake Constance. The lighthouse was built from 1853 to 1856 at the western mole in the entrance to the harbour of Lindau and was first lit on 4 October 1856. It succeeded the light station in the Mangturm tower of 1230. During the first years of operation the light was created by an open oil fire. At that time the keeper would steadily have to keep th ...
Founded: 1853-1856 | Location: Lindau (Bodensee), Germany

Neue Pinakothek

The Neue Pinakothek is an art museum in Munich. Its focus is European Art of the 18th and 19th century and is one of the most important museums of art of the 19th century in the world. Together with the Alte Pinakothek and the Pinakothek der Moderne it is part of Munich"s 'Kunstareal' (the 'art area'). The museum was founded by the former King Ludwig I of Bavaria in 1853. The original building co ...
Founded: 1853 | Location: Munich, Germany

Church of Peace

The Protestant Church of Peace (Friedenskirche) is situated in the palace grounds of Sanssouci Park in Potsdam. The church was built according to the wishes and with the close involvement of the artistically gifted King Frederick William IV and designed by the court architect, Ludwig Persius. After Persius" death in 1845, the architect Friedrich August Stüler was charged with continuing his work. Building includ ...
Founded: 1845 | Location: Potsdam, Germany

Orangery Palace

The Orangery Palace (Orangerieschloss) was built by the Romantic on the Throne, Friedrich Wilhelm IV from 1851 to 1864. The architects Friedrich August Stüler and Ludwig Ferdinand Hesse designed it in the style of the Italian Renaissance, after the image of the Villa Medici in Rome and the Uffizi in Florence. The middle building with its twin towers is the actual castle. This building is joined to the 103 meter long and ...
Founded: 1851-1864 | Location: Potsdam, Germany

Württemberg Mausoleum

The Württemberg Mausoleum is a memorial standing on the peak of Württemberg Hill at the westernmost end of Schurwald woods overlooking the Neckar river. The memorial was built for Catherine Pavlovna of Russia (1788–1819), the second wife of William I of Württemberg (1781–1864). The remains of William I and his daughter Maria Friederike Charlotte of Württemberg (1816–1887) are also hou ...
Founded: 1820-1824 | Location: Untertürkheim, Germany

Walhalla Memorial

The Walhalla is a hall of fame that honors laudable and distinguished people in German history. The hall is a neo-classical building above the Danube River. The Walhalla is named for the Valhalla of Norse mythology. It was conceived in 1807 by Crown Prince Ludwig in order to support the then-gathering momentum for the unification of the many German states. Following his accession to the throne of Bavaria, construction too ...
Founded: 1830-1842 | Location: Donaustauf, Germany

St. Boniface's Abbey

St. Boniface"s Abbey is a Benedictine monastery founded in 1835 by King Ludwig I of Bavaria, as a part of his efforts to reanimate the country"s spiritual life by the restoration of the monasteries destroyed during the secularisation of the early 19th century. The abbey, constructed in Byzantine style, was formally dedicated in 1850. It was destroyed in World War II and only partly restored. The church contains ...
Founded: 1835 | Location: Munich, Germany

Hermannsdenkmal

The Hermannsdenkmal ('Hermann Monument') stands on the densely forested Grotenburg, a hill in the Teutoburg Forest range. The monument commemorates the Cherusci war chief Arminius (in German Hermann) and the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in which the Germanic warriors under Arminius defeated three Roman legions under Varus in 9 AD. At the time it was built, the location of the statue was believed ...
Founded: 1838-1875 | Location: Detmold, Germany

Ludwigskirche

The Catholic Parish and University Church St. Louis, called Ludwigskirche, is a monumental church in neo-romanesque style with the second-largest altar fresco of the world. The building, with its round arches called the Rundbogenstil, strongly influenced other church architecture, train stations and synagogues in both Germany and the United States. The Ludwigskirche was built by the architect Friedrich von Gärtner f ...
Founded: 1829 | Location: Munich, Germany

Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex

The Zollverein industrial complex, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, consists of the complete infrastructure of a historical coal-mining site, with some 20th-century buildings of outstanding architectural merit. It constitutes remarkable material evidence of the evolution and decline of an essential industry over the past 150 years. The Zollverein is an important example of a European primary industry of great economic sign ...
Founded: 1847 | Location: Essen, Germany

Roman Baths

The Roman Baths reflect the Italiensehnsucht of its creator Frederick William IV of Prussia. Various classical Roman and antique Italian styles were melded into an architectural ensemble, created between 1829 and 1840. While still crown prince, Frederick William commissioned both Charlottenhof (1826-1829) and the Roman Baths (1834-1840). Coming up with numerous ideas and drawing many actual drafts, the artistically incli ...
Founded: 1829-1840 | Location: Potsdam, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Wawel Castle

Wawel Hill – a Jurassic limestone rock, a dominant feature in the landscape of Kraków, have provided a safe haven for people who have settled here since the Paleolithic Age. It is supposed that the Slav people started living on Wawel hill as early as the 7th century. Early medieval legends tell stories about a dreadful dragon that lived in a cave on Wawel Hill, about his slayer Krakus, and about the latter’s daughter Wanda, who drowned herself in the Vistula rather than marry a German knight. Towards the end of the first millennium A.D Wawel began to play the role of the centre of political power.In the 9th century it became the principal fortified castrum of the Vislane tribe. The first historical ruler of Poland, Miesco I (c.965-992) of the Piast dynasty as well as his successors: Boleslas the Brave (992-1025) and Miesco II (1025-1034) chose Wawel Hill as one of their residences.

At that time Wawel became one of the main Polish centres of Christianity. The first early Romanesque and Romanesque sacral buildings were raised here, including a stone cathedral that was erected after the bishopric of Kraków was established in the year 1000.

During the reign of Casimir the Restorer (1034-1058) Wawel became a significant political and administrative centre for the Polish State. Casimir’s son, Boleslas the Bold (1058-1079) began the construction of a second Romanesque cathedral, which was finished by Boleslas the Wrymouth (1102-1138). In his last will of 1138, this prince divided Poland into districts, and provided that Kraków was to be the residence of the senior prince. In 1291 the city of Kraków along with Wawel Hill temporarily fell under the Czech rule, and Wenceslas II from the Premysl dynasty was crowned King of Poland in Wawel cathedral.

In 1306 the Duke of Kuyavia Ladislas the Short (1306-1333) entered Wawel and was crowned King of Poland in the Cathedral in 1320. It was the first historically recorded coronation of a Polish ruler on Wawel Hill. Around that time, at the initiative of Ladislas the Short, the construction of the third Gothic cathedral began, the castle was expanded and the old wooden and earthen fortifications were replaced by brick ones. The tomb of Ladislas the Short in the cathedral started a royal necropolis of Polish kings in Krakow.The last descendant of the Piast dynasty, Casimir the Great (1333-1370) brought Wawel to a state of unprecedented splendour. In 1364 the expanded gothic castle witnessed the marriage of Casimir’s granddaughter Elizabeth to Charles IV accompanied by a famous convention of kings and princes, subsequently entertained by a rich burgher Wierzynek. The accession to the throne in 1385 of Jadwiga from the Hungarian dynasty of Andegavens, and her marriage to a Lithuanian prince Ladislas Jagiello (1386-1434) started another era of prosperity for Wawel. The royal court employed local and western European artists and also Rus painters. During the reign of Casimir Jagiellon (1447-1492) the silhouette of the hill was enriched by three high brick towers: the Thieves’ Tower, the Sandomierz Tower and the Senatorial Tower. The first humanists in Poland and tutors to the king’s sons: historian Jan Długosz and an Italian by the name Filippo Buonacorsi (also known as Callimachus) worked there at that time.

The Italian Renaissance arrived at Wawel in the early 16th century. King Alexander (1501-1506) and his brother Sigismund I the Old (1506-1548) commissioned the construction of a new palace in place of the Gothic residence, with an impressive large courtyard with arcaded galleries which was completed about 1540. Sigismund’s patronage also left an indelible impression in the cathedral, where a family chapel was erected, known today as Sigismund’s Chapel - the work of Bartolomeo of Berrecci Florence, and through various foundations, one of which was that of a large bell, called the Sigismund to commemorate the king. Close artistic and cultural relations with Italy were strengthened in 1518 by the king’s marriage to Bona Sforza. Alongside Italian artists, German architects, wood workers, painters and metal smiths worked for the king. The last descendant of the Jagiellonian dynasty, Sigismund II Augustus (1548-1572), enriched the castle’s interiors with a magnificent collection of tapestries woven in Brussels. In the “Golden Age” of Polish culture Wawel became one of the main centres of humanism in Europe.

The reign of Sigismund III Waza (1587-1632) also made a strong impression on the history of Wawel. After a fire in the castle in 1595 the king rebuilt the burned wing of the building in the early Baroque style. The relocation of the royal court to Warsaw was the cause of a slow but nevertheless steady deterioration in the castle’s condition. The monarchs visited Kraków only occasionally. Restoration of the castle was undertaken during the reign of John III Sobieski, the Wettins and Stanislas Augustus to counteract neglect.

After Poland had lost its independence in 1795, the troops of partitioning nations, Russia, Prussia and Austria, subsequently occupied Wawel which finally passed into the hands of the Austrians. The new owners converted the castle and some of the secular buildings into a military hospital, and demolished some others, including churches. After the period of the Free City of Kraków (1815-1846) Wawel was once more annexed by Austria and turned into a citadel dominating the city. By the resolution passed by the Seym of Galicia in 1880, the castle was presented as a residence to the Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I. The Austrian troops left the hill between 1905-1911. At the turn of the 20th century a thorough restoration of the cathedral was conducted, and shortly afterwards a process of restoration of the royal castle began which lasted several decades.

When Poland regained its independence in 1918, the castle served as an official residence of the Head of State, and as a museum of historic interiors. During the Nazi occupation the castle was the residence of the German governor general, Hans Frank. Polish people managed to remove the most valuable objects, including the tapestries and the “Szczerbiec” coronation sword to Canada, from where they returned as late as 1959-1961. At present, the main curators of Wawel are Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collection and the Metropolitan Basilica Board on Wawel Hill.