The German Confederation

The German Confederation 1815–1866

The German Confederation was created by the Congress of Vienna on 8 June 1815 after the end of the Napoleonic Wars. It came to an end as a result of the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 that resulted in the North German Confederation in 1867 which included Prussia but excluded Austria and the South German states. During November 1870 the four southern states joined the North German Confederation by treaty.

On 10 December 1870 the North German Confederation renamed the Confederation as the German Empire and gave the title of German Emperor to the King of Prussia as President of the Confederation.

The principal states within the Confederation included (maps follow this table):

Country Capital Code Main Map Insert map
Prussia Berlin PRE D5: I4  O4: O8: T8: V8: W4: Y2
Bavaria Munich BAV D8: F8  R10
Saxony Dresden KSA G6  Y8
Hanover (UK Geo 3, Geo 4, Wm were also K. of Hanover) Hanover HAN E4  S2: S4: U5
Wurttemberg Stuttgart WUE E9  
Hesse-Kassel (to Prussia: Hesse-Nassau 1866) Kassel HSE   Q2: R6: T8
Grand Duchies
Baden Karlsruhe BAD D9  
Hesse and by Rhine (Hesse to 1816) Darmstadt GHE E7 P6: Q9: Q10
Luxembourg (lost territory in the west to Belgium in 1839) Luxembourg LUX C7  
Mecklenburg-Strelitz Neustrelitz MST F3: G3  
Mecklenburg-Schwerin Schwerin MSW G3  
Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach Weimar SWE   S8: U5: U6: U8: V5: W8
Anhalt-Bernburg (to Anhalt 1863) Bernburg ANB   U4: V3: V4: X3
Anhalt-Dessau (Duchy of Anhalt from 1863) Dessau ANH   U3: W3; W4: X3 
Anhalt-Köthen (to Anhalt-Dessau 1847) Köthen ANK    V4: W3:W4
Brunswick Braunschweig BSW    S4: T2: U2: U4
Holstein (to Prussia 1866) Kiel HOL E3  
Limburg (from Netherlands 1839 returned to Netherlands 1866) Limburg LIM C6  
Nassau (to Prussia: Hesse-Nassau 1866) Weisbaden NAS    O9
Oldenburg (Grand Duchy from 1829) Oldenburg OLD D4: D7: F3  O1
Saxe-Altenburg (from 1826) Altenburg SAN See constituent states: SAB
Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (Gotha to SCS & Altenburg to SAN 1826) Gotha SAB    T6: T7: V7: X7
Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (to 1826) Coburg SCS    U9
Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (from 1826) Coburg and Gotha SCG See consituent states: SAB: SCS
Saxe-Lauenburg (to 1814 and from 1865) Ratzeburg SLG F3  
Saxe-Meiningen (includes SHN from 1826) Meiningen SMN   S7:S9:  T8: U6: U7: V6: W6
Saxe-Hildburghausen (absorbed into SMN from 1826) Hildburghausen SHN   U9
Schleswig (from 1848 to 1851 only) Schleswig SWG E2  
Hohenzollern-Hechingen (to Prussia 1849) Hechingen HOG E9  
Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (to Prussia 1849) Sigmaringen HOS E9  
Liechtenstein Vaduz LIE E10  
Lippe-Detmold Detmold LIP    Q3
Lichtenberg (within SAB/SCG to 1834 then sold to PRE) Trier LTG D8  
Reuss Greiz or Reuss Senior Line Greiz REU   W8: X8
Reuss Gera or Reuss Junior Line (from 1848) Gera REJ    W8
Reuss-Schleiz (merged to form the Reuss Junior line 1848) Schleiz RES    W9
Reuss-Gera (merged to form the Reuss Junior line 1848) Gera REG    W7
Reuss-Lobenstein (to the Reuss-Gera 1824) Lobenstein REL    V9
Reuss-Ebersdorf (merged to form the Reuss Junior line 1848) Ebersdorf REE    U10
Schaumburg-Lippe Buckeburg SLP    Q2
Schwarzburg-Sondershausen Sondershausen SSD    U6: U7: U8
Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt Rudolstadt SRU    T5: T6: T8: U6: U8 V8
Waldeck and Pyrmont Arolsen WAL   P6: Q3
Hesse-Homburg (from Hesse-Darmstadt 1817 to Prussia 1866) Bad Homburg HHG D7  P10
Free and Hanseatic Cities
Lubeck Lubeck LUE F3  
Bremen Bremen BRM E4  
Hamburg Hamburg HBG E3: F3  
Free City
Frankfurt upon Main (to Prussia: Hesse-Nassau 1866) Frankfurt FUM    P10

The states within the Austrian Empire and its influence that were in the 1815 Confederation were:

Kingdom of Bohemia
Archduchy of Austria (split into Upper and Lower 1849)
Margraviate of Moravia
Duchy of Salzburg
Duchy of Carinthia
Duchy of Carniola
Duchy of Upper and Lower Silesia
Duchy of Styria
Country of Gorizia and Gradisca
Margraviate of Istria
Imperial Free City of Trieste
Princely County of Tyrol

Not included were:

Kingdom of Hungary
Grand Principality of Transylvania
Kingdom of Croatia (all of which became parts of the apostolic kingdom of Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia
Duchy of Bukovina
Kingdom of Dalmatia
Kingdom of Galicia
Kingdom of Lodomeria
Kingdom of Illyria

German Confederation

German Confederation Detail

The North German Confederation 1815–1866

The North German Confederation was a federation of 22 independent states of northern Germany. It was formed by a constitution accepted by the member states in 1867 and controlled military and foreign policy. It included the new Reichstag, a parliament elected by universal manhood suffrage and a secret ballot. The Reichstag could debate and deal with budgets, but it had limited power compared to the Federal Council which represented the member states. The Confederation was dominated by its designer and first and only Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, who was also the prime minister of the Kingdom of Prussia, which had 80% of the population

Country Capital Code
Prussia Berlin PRE
Saxony Dresden KSA
Grand Duchies
Hesse (only Upper north of River Main) Giessen HEG
Mecklenburg-Strelitz Neustrelitz MST
Mecklenburg-Schwerin Schwerin MSW
Oldenburg Oldenburg OLD
Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach Weimar SWE
Anhalt Dessau ANH
Brunswick Braunschweig BSW
Lippe Detmold LIP
Saxe-Altenburg Altenburg SAG
Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Coburg and Gotha SCG
Saxe-Meiningen Meiningen SMN
Reuss Greiz or Reuss Senior Line Greiz REU
Reuss Junior Line Gera REJ
Schaumburg-Lippe Buckeburg SLP
Schwarzburg-Sondershausen Sondershausen SSD
Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt Rudolstadt SRU
Waldeck and Pyrmont Arolsen WAL
Free and Hanseatic Cities
Lubeck Lubeck LUE
Bremen Bremen BRM
Hamburg Hamburg HBG


Thuringen States 1815

The Thuringen States were an especially complex mish-mash of tiny countries with multiple enclaves in the region of the modern state of Thuringen.

Their boundaries varied during the course of the life of the Confederation. The adjacent map shows the status at the start of the Confederation in 1815.

Not all enclaves are labelled, but they are coloured to indicate their relationships.

[Note that there are Prussian, Bavarian, Hessen and Saxon enclaves in the area as well.]

By the demise of the Confederation in 1866 the following states survived having merged with their associated neighbours through various arrangements including sales and extinctions of princely families as outlined in the above tables and the lower map.

Reuss Greiz or Reuss senior line - REU

Reuss junior line - REJ

Saxe-Altenburg - SAN

Saxe-Coburg and Gotha - SCG<Thuringen States 1866

Saxe-Meiningen - SMN

Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach - SWE

Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt - SRU

Schwarzburg-Sondershausen - SSD

The following northern states did not join the brief North German Confederation in 1866:

• Kingdoms: Bavaria, Wuttenburg (both joined the Empire in 1871)

• Grand Duchies: Baden (joined the Empire in 1871), Hesse and by Rhine (south of the Main), Luxembourg

• Principalities: Liechtenstein


The German Empire 1871-1918

See Guide entitled, Germany (Empire).

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