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German History Timeline

ca. 500 B.C.-A.D. 100Germanic tribes settle in Germania. Roman army
defeated by Suevian tribe at Battle of the Teutoburg
Forest in A.D. 9 and pushed west of Rhine
River. Romans subsequently reconquer some territory
up to Rhine and Danube rivers and construct
fordfied fronders.
ca. A.D. 100-600Migration of Germanic peoples. Collapse of western
Roman Empire. Last Roman emperor, Romulus
Augustus, deposed in 476 by German armies led
by Odovacar. Frankish tribes settle Gaul (France);
Lombards settle northern Italy, Anglo-Saxons settle
Merovingian Dynasty (ca. 500-751'Merovingian kings rule Frankish tribes. Clovis,
Frankish king (486-511), rules over Gaul's mixed
Germanic-Roman people. Pepin the Younger,
Frankish king (741-68), founds CarolingianDynasty in 752. Christianization of Germany
under leadership of Saint Boniface (ca. 675-754).
Carolingian Dynasty (752-911)Frankish rule reaches from Spanish marches into
central Germany. Charlemagne, Frankish king
(768-814) , conquers Lombardy in 774. Carolingian
Empire established 800; Charlemagne
crowned Holy Roman Emperor by pope. Louis I
(Louis the Pious) Holy Roman Emperor 814-40.
Treaty of Verdun (843) divides Carolingian
Empire among three of Charlemagne's grandsons.
Germany, France, and Middle Kingdom
delineated, and imperial dde linked with Middle
Kingdom. Louis II (Louis the German) rules east
Frankish tribes (843-76). Charles EI (Charles the
Fat), German king (876-87) and Holy Roman
Emperor 881. Arnulf of Carinthia, German king
(887-99) and Holy Roman Emperor 896. Barbarian
invasions weaken Carolingian rule; German
duchies of Franconia, Saxony, Lorraine, Swabia,
and Bavaria rise to power. Louis rV, German king
(900-91 1) . Conrad I (Conrad of Franconia)
elected German king (911-18) following extinction
of Carolingian Empire in the east.
Saxon Dynasty (919-1024)Frankish and Saxon nobles elect Henry I German
king (919-36). Subordination of duchies. Otto I
(Otto the Great) , German king (936-73), gains
control of Middle Kingdom, and Holy Roman
Empire of the German Nadon begins with his
coronation as emperor in 962. German empire
extends to Elbe River and southeast to Vienna.
Otto II, Holy Roman Emperor (973-83) . Otto HI,
Holy Roman Emperor (996-1002). Henry II,
Holy Roman Emperor (1014-24).
Salian Dynasty (1024-1125)Conrad II, Duke of Franconia, founds Salian Dynasty, elected Holy Roman Emperor (1027-
39). Henry ffl, Holy Roman Emperor (1046-56).
Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor (1084-1106),
challenges Pope Gregory VII. Investiture Contest
and civil war, 1075-1122; German empire weakens,
and German princes begin rise to power.
Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor (1111-25). Compromise
Concordat of Worms (1122) settles
papal-imperial struggle. Lothar HI, Saxon noble,
elected Holy Roman Emperor (1133-37).
Hohenstaufen Dynasty (1138-1254)Hohenstaufen kings struggle to restore imperial
authority. Conrad III elected German king
(1138-52). Frederick I (Frederick Barbarossa),
Holy Roman Emperor (1155-90), seeks long and
unsuccessfully to establish order and stability in
the empire. Beginning of Age of Chivalry,
marked by high achievements in literature. Italian
expeditions to regain imperial control of Middle
Kingdom. Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor
(1191-97). Civil war (1198-1214). Frederick H,
Holy Roman Emperor (1220-50), restores imperial
administration in Italy and Sicily, but German
princes gain concessions. Imperial statute of 1232
establishes secular and ecclesiastical princes as
virtually independent rulers within their own territories
(principalities). Great Interregnum,
1256-73; anarchy and civil war. German princes
gain power and vie for imperial title.
Early Habsburg Dynasty (1273-
Rudolf of Habsburg elected German king (1273-
91) ; acquires Austria and Styria in 1282 and
makes Habsburgs strongest German dynasty.
Adolf of Nassau elected German king (1292-98).
Albert I (Habsburg) elected German king (1298-
1308). Henry VTI of Luxembourg, Holy Roman
Emperor (1312-13), founds dynasty that seriously
rivals Habsburgs from its power base in Bohemia.
Louis TV (Louis the Bavarian) of House of Wittelsbach,
Holy Roman Emperor (1328-47).
Charles TV of Luxembourg, Holy Roman
Emperor (1355-78), issues Golden Bull of 1356,
which grants German princes power to elect
emperor and provides basic constitution of Holy
Roman Empire. Wenceslas of Bohemia, German
king (1378-1400). Rupert of Palatinate, German
king (1400-10); Sigismund of Luxembourg, German
king (1410-37) , Holy Roman Emperor
(1433-37), last non-Habsburg emperor until
1742; with this one exception, Habsburgs of Austria
provide all emperors from mid-fifteenth century
until dissolution of Holy Roman Empire in
1806. Frederick HI, Holy Roman Emperor (1452-
93). Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor (1508-
RELIGIOUS WARS (1517-1648)
Martin Luther posts his ninety-five theses in Wittenberg
in 1517 and challenges papal authority.
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor (1519-56). Publication
in 1520 of Luther's three revolutionary
pamphlets. Luther banned by church and empire
in 1521. Charles V's wars against France in 1521-
26, 1526-29, 1536-38, and 1542^4. Vienna
threatened by Turks in 1529. Diet of Augsburg,
1530; Protestant "Augsburg Confession" presented,
and Protestant League of Schmalkalden
formed by German princes. War of Schmalkalden
(1546-47) between Charles V and Protestant
princes. Peace of Augsburg, 1555; Catholicism
and Lutheranism formally recognized in Germany,
and each prince given right to decide religion
to be practiced in his territory. Ferdinand I,
Holy Roman Emperor (1558-64). Maximilian II,
Holy Roman Emperor (1564-76). Ferdinand II,
Holy Roman Emperor (1619-37). Rudolf II, Holy
Roman Emperor (1576-1612). Matthias, Holy
Roman Emperor (1612-19). Bohemian Revolt,
1618; imperial armies defeat Bohemians at Batde
of White Mountain near Prague in 1620. Thirty
Years' War (1618-48) ; Treaty of Prague signed in
1635; continuation of war by France; Treaty of
Westphalia, 1648. End of Holy Roman Empire as
a major European power.
Frederick William, the Great Elector of Brandenburg-
Prussia (1640-88), of Hohenzollern
Dynasty, establishes absolute rule. Frederick I,
elector of Brandenburg-Prussia (1688-1713),
assumes tide of king in 1701. Frederick William I,
Prussian king (1713-40), creates Prussian civil
and military bureaucracy. Frederick II (Frederick
the Great), Prussian king (1740-86), reforms his
country as enlightened despot. War of the Austrian
Succession (1740-48) and Seven Years' War
( 1756-63) against Austria under Maria Theresa
(1740-80) expand Prussian territory. Frederick
William II, Prussian king (1786-97). Frederick
William IE, Prussian king (1797-1840). French
invade Rhineland in 1792 and eventually control
Germany. Prussia, Austria, and Russia defeat
Napoleon at Battle of Leipzig in 1813.
Congress of Vienna (1814—15) after Napoleon's
defeat in War of Liberation (1813-15) establishes
German Confederation of thirty-seven states.
Prince Clemens von Metternich, Austrian chancellor
and foreign minister (1809-48) , heads confederation.
Reversion to old order of social
distinctions under Age of Metternich. Struggle
between absolutism and liberalism. Student
unions agitate for democratic reform. Carlsbad
Decrees (1819) outlaw radical student organizations.
Weimar, Bavaria, Baden, and Wurttemberg
enact constitutions, 1818-19. "July Revolution" in
France, 1830, sparks revolutionary movements in
Germany, Hesse and Saxony enact constitutions.
Brunswick, Hanover, and Oldenburg enact constitutions
in 1833. Zollverein (Customs Union)
created in 1834. March 1848 revolution in Germany.
National Assembly at Frankfurt ( 1848-49)
plans constitutional German nation-state.
Friedrich Wilhelm IV, Prussian king (1840-58),
refuses German crown in 1849; National Assembly
dissolved. German Confederation restored in
1851. Prussia agrees to relinquish plans for a Ger-
man union under its leadership in Treaty of
Olmutz. Wilhelm I, Prussian king (1858-88);
Otto von Bismarck, chancellor (1862-90), unites
Germany. Constitutional struggle, 1862-66; Prussian
king vies with German liberals in parliament
on issue of budget for military expansion; Prussia
defeats Austria in Seven Weeks' War (1866); German
Confederation dissolved, and Austria
excluded from German politics. Austria-Hungary
(also known as Austro-Hungarian Empire) created
in 1867. North German Confederation
formed, headed by Prussia. Franco-Prussian War,
1870-71. Germany united as nation-state—German
IMPERIAL GERMANY (187 1-1 918)Wilhelm I, German emperor (1871-88). Bismarck,
chancellor (1871-90). Kulturkampf against
Roman Catholic Church begins in 1873. Antisocialist
legislation enacted 1878. Dual Alliance
(1879) between Germany and Austria-Hungary.
Domestic alliance between aristocrats and industrialists
in Tariff Agreement of 1879. Comprehensive
social legislation program begins in 1881.
Triple Alliance (1882) among Germany, Austria-
Hungary, and Italy. German colonies established
1884-85 in South-West Africa, Togo, the Cameroons,
East Africa, and some Pacific islands. Frederick
HI, German emperor (March 9-June 15,
1888). Wilhelm II, German emperor (1888-
1918). Bismarck's fall, 1890. Leo von Caprivi,
chancellor (1890-94). Prince Chlodwig zu
Hohenlohe, chancellor 1894-1900. Naval Bill
(1898) begins naval race against Britain. Bernhard
von Bulow, chancellor ( 1900-09) . Moroccan
crisis, 1905, in which Germany intervenes in
French and British sphere of influence. Theobald
von Bethmann Hollweg, chancellor (1909-17).
Moroccan crisis, 1911, in which Germany sends
gunboat to port of Agadir. New Naval Bill, 1912.
Balkan Wars, 1912-13, a nationalist rebellion
against Ottoman rule. Assassination of Austria's
Archduke Franz Ferdinand (June 28, 1914) in
Sarajevo starts events that culminate in World
War I (1914-18); Germany defeated.
WEIMAR REPUBLIC (1918-33)November Revolution, 1918; Wilhelm IPs abdication.
Social Democrats proclaim republic. Suppression
of left-wing revolt by army in January
1919. Treaty of Versailles, 1919. Social Democrat
Friedrich Ebert elected president (1919-25).
Right-wing Kapp Putsch attempted, 1920. Communist
revolts in central Germany, Hamburg, and
Ruhr district, 1921. Astronomical inflation, 1922-
23. Occupation of Ruhr by French and Belgian
troops, 1923. Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch attempted
in Munich, 1923. Gustav Stresemann, chancellor
(August-November 1923) and foreign minister
(1923-29), formulates policy of rapprochement
with West. Dawes Plan on reparations, 1924.
French and Belgian troops withdrawn from Ruhr,
1925. Paul von Hindenburg, World War I army
commander, elected president (1925-34).
Locarno treaties, 1925, and Treaty of Berlin with
Soviet Union, 1926. Germany joins League of
Nations, 1926. Young Plan on reparations, 1929;
Allied troops withdrawn from Rhineland, 1930.
Economic depression and cabinet crises, 1929-
33. Heinrich Bruning, chancellor 1930-32; government
by decree (Article 48 of Weimar Constitution).
Franz von Papen, chancellor (May-
December 1932); Hitler's National Socialists win
Reichstag elections and emerge as Germany's
strongest political party, July 1932. Kurt von
Schleicher, chancellor (December 1932-January
1933). President Hindenburg appoints Hitler to
chancellorship, January 30, 1933.
THIRD REICH (1933-45)Reichstag fire; Hitler demands presidential emergency
decree, February 1933. Enabling Act
accords Hitler's cabinet dictatorial powers, March
1933. Germany declared one-party National
Socialist state, July 1933. Death of Hindenburg,
August 1934; Hider combines offices of president
and chancellor. German rearmament, 1935.
Rhineland remilitarizes and Berlin-Rome Axis
formed, 1936. At secret conference, Hitler
announces intention to begin eastward expansion,
November 1937. Austrian Anschluss (annexation),
March 1938. Czechoslovak Sudetenland
annexed, October 1938. Germany occupies
Czech-populated provinces of Bohemia and
Moravia, March 1939. Poland invaded, September
1939. World War II (1939-45). Germany
POSTWAR DIVISION (1945-90)Yalta Conference (February 1945) determines division
of Germany into occupation zones. Three
zones under United States, British, and French
control become Federal Republic of Germany
(West Germany) in 1949. Soviet zone becomes
German Democratic Republic (East Germany)
same year. Konrad Adenauer of Christian Democratic
Union elected first chancellor of West Germany
(1949-63); Walter Ulbricht of Socialist
Unity Party of Germany appointed head of East
Germany (1949-71). West German economic
boom in 1950s; Stalinization of East Germany in
same period. Both states remilitarized in mid-
1950s; West Germany becomes member of North
Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), East Germany
joins Warsaw Pact. Treaty of Rome creating
European Economic Community (EEC) signed,
1957, with West Germany as member. Berlin Wall
built by East Germany (1961). Social Democrat
Willy Brandt elected West German chancellor
(1969-74); Ulbricht dismissed, and Erich
Honecker named East German head (1971-89).
Brandt's Ostpolitik results in treaties with Soviet
Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Four Power
Agreement on Berlin. Basic Treaty between East
Germany and West Germany recognizes two Ger-
man states, 1972. Admission of both Germanys to
United Nations, 1973. Social Democrat Helmut
Schmidt replaces Brandt as West German chancellor
(1974-82). Christian Democrat Helmut
Kohl becomes West German chancellor (1982- ).
Helsinki Final Act signed, July 1975. NATO's
Dual-Track Decision announced, December
1979. Single European Act signed, December
1985. Growing economic difficulties and internal
opposition, coupled with Mikhail Gorbachev's
attempts to reform Soviet Union and its empire
and his decision not to intervene militarily in East
German affairs, lead to collapse of East German
regime, late 1989-early 1990.
UNITED GERMANY (1990- )Rapid path to unification of the two German states
according to provisions of Article 23 of Basic Law
chosen by popular pressure. First free elections in
East Germany end with Christian Democratic victory,
March 1990. Economic and currency union
established between West Germany and East Germany,
July 1, 1990. At meeting with Kohl in Soviet
Union, Gorbachev agrees that united Germany
may remain in NATO and Soviet troops will leave
East Germany in four years, July 1990. Treaty on
the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany
(the Two-Plus-Four Treaty) establishing Germany's
full sovereignty signed, September 1990.
Treaty on Good-Neighborliness, Partnership, and
Cooperation between West Germany and Soviet
Union signed, September 1990. Germany united,
October 3, 1990. First all-German Bundestag election
held; Christian Democratic victory, December
1990. Maastricht Treaty signed, December
1991. Article 16 of Basic Law amended, restricting
right to asylum in Germany, July 1993. European
Union established, November 1993. Federal
Constitutional Court decides that Bundeswehr
may participate in international military operations
outside of NATO territory, provided that
Bundestag approves, July 1994. Last Russian
troops leave Germany, August 1994. Second all-
German Bundestag election held; Christian Democratic
victory, October 1994.


A Country Study. US Library of Congress Country Studies

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