Aviva Directory » Local & Global » Europe » Germany » Cities & Towns » Berlin

The capital of Germany, Berlin, is the second largest city in the country as well as one of German's 16 federal states. During the 12th century, the region fell under German rule as part of the Margraviate of Brandenburg. The Margraviate of Brandenburg, founded by Albert I the Bear in 1157, was a major principality of the Holy Roman Empire from 1157 to 1806.

The first German settlements were founded near the end of the 12th century in what is now Berlin, by German merchants, and later, it merged formally with another settlement, Kölln, into the town of Berlin-Kölln. In 1160, Albert I established a fortress in the settlement of Spandau, on the Spree and Havel Rivers. Unfortunately, most of the written records from the time were lost in a fire in the town center and then the Thirty Years War in 1618, when a third of the buildings were destroyed and Berlin lost half of its population.

In 1415, Frederick I, of the House of Hohenzollern, ruled the Margraviate until his death in 1440. The House of Hohenzollern ruled until 1918, first as electors of Brandenburg and later as kings of Prussia, and eventually, as emperors of Germany.

Frederick III was crowned the Prussian king, thus changing his name to Frederick and made Berlin the royal residence city in 1701, and the capital city of the new Kingdom of Prussia. In 1710, the five cities of Berlin, Kölln, Dorotheenstadt, Friedrichstadt, and Friedrichswerder were merged as the Royal Capital and Residence of Berlin which became the center of culture and the arts and of the army. The population expanded from 12,000 in 1670 to 61,000, in 1712 including about 6,000 Huguenot refugees from France.

During the reign of King Friedrich Wilhelm I, from 1713 to 1740, Berlin was enlarged as the king sought to build the greatest military in the world. In need of soldiers, he encouraged Protestants from Switzerland and France to immigrate to the city. He built Berlin's first major hospital and the first medical school, and given that he wanted his soldiers to be able to read and write, he started primary education institutions.

The population ballooned up to 400,000 during the first part of the 19th century, and Berlin was the fourth largest city in Europe. In 1815, Berlin became part of the Province of Brandenburg, and it became the capital of that province in 1827, remaining so until 1843.

In 1848, much of Europe was involved in revolutions. France was was engaged in revolutions which led to King Louis-Phiilippe of France abdicating, thus ending the Orleans monarchy and giving rise to the French Second Republic, as the king was exiled in Britain. In Vienna, students took to the streets, demanding an elected government, and later added that the government increase wages.In October of 1848, Emperor Ferdinand I fled to Moravia, and in December, he abdicated the throne, which was taken up by his nephew, Franz I. Denmark relented to the revolutionaries, who were against the absolutism of the government; the king accepted their new constitution and shared power with a parliament. In Hungary, the demands of freedom for the serfs were heeded, and the imperial governor of what is ow Budapest was forced to accept their 12 points, demands which included freedom of the press, absolute religious and civil equality, and a parliament which was elected by popular vote. There were dozens of other countries engaged in these revolutions.

In March, huge crowds of Berliners assembled in Berlin, demanding to address the King. Frederick William KV was caught off guard, and when confronted by the crowd, agreed to all of their demands, which included a constitution, freedom of the press, parliamentary elections, and Germany unification. But days later, he sent the army to re-occupy Berlin, and on March 13, the army charged a group of people who were leaving a meeting in the Tiergarten, a popular park in the city. The clash left one person dead and numerous others injured. On March 18, things had escalated. There was a particularly large demonstration going on. The army fired two shots, and the demonstrators, afraid that the full force of 20,000 soldiers would be coming after them, seized makeshift barricades and got ready to fight. They held out for 13 hours before the soldiers were ordered by the king to retreat. Hundreds of Berliners were killed in the battle.

On March 21, the King walked through the streets of Berlin in order to attend a mass funeral of those killed in the uprising. He released Polish prisoners who had been jailed for planning a rebellion, and he soon approved arming the citizens.



Recommended Resources

Search for Berlin on Google or Bing