Karl August von Hardenberg
Karl August, count von Hardenberg (born in Essenrode the May 31st 1750, † the November 26th 1822 in Genoa), diplomatic German, was Foreign Minister then Chancelier kingdom of Prussia during the Guerres of the Revolution and the Napoleonean Guerres.
Youth in low SaxonyKarl August von Hardenberg is born from Christian Ludwig von Hardenberg (49 years) and from Anna Sophia Ehrengart (19 years) on May 31st, 1750 with Essenrode (today Lehre), close to Brunswick. His/her father is colonel in the army of the Maison of Hanover. Karl-August receives from its Gavell teacher then of her Wedekind tutor a modern and enlightened education. He speaks French and studies Latin, etc Fin at the end of 1766, whereas he is 16 years old, he is registered at the university of Göttingen. He is affiliated on May 23rd, 1768 to the maconnic Loge Augusta zu den drei Flammen . In same time, it changes tutor and is established with Leipzig, where it meets the young person Goethe.
In 1770, into 20 years, it integrates the administration of Hanover and works successively as legal assistant then in the financial administration of the electorate. At this point in time the death of its Behr guard occurs: the successor of this last, Bremer, brings with him his team, depriving Hardenberg of a fast promotion. Complaining some near its sovereign, who is also King d' Angleterre, this one advises to him to open the spirit rather by undertaking a great voyage than to remain under protection in the administrations.
Its Large Turn begins on July 15th, 1772. During this one, he visits many course princely, successively making stage with Wetzlar, Ratisbon (where he familiarizes himself with the administrative wheels of the Holy roman Empire), Vienna then Berlin. He also travels in France, with the Netherlands and in Great Britain, where the king accommodates it cordially. On its return, and on the councils of its father, he marries the any young person (15 years) countess Christiane von Reventlow on June 8th, 1774.
In same time, it had been named on November 23rd, 1773 like Conseiller Fields ( Kammerrat ) near the court of Hanover. Its task leads it to propose on January 13rd, 1780 a reform of the administration of Hanover and it embarks with his wife on February 15th for London in order to present its reform to the sovereign of Hanover, George III of the United Kingdom. There, his wife has a connection with the prince de Galles. The scandal is such as it is constrained to leave London on September 28th, 1781 and to resign of the service of Hanover.
Fortunately for him, it is named on May 30th, 1782 with the service of the duke of Brunswick. As a Secret Adviser of the Duke, it launches a series of reforms in the spirit of the enlightened Despotisme and the ideas of Pestalozzi, attracting itself the lightnings of the preserving clergy and the Upper Houses. Moreover, his wife did not stop the escapades which had pushed it to leave the service of the court of Hanover. In 1790, it ends up divorcing.
He then marries such a divorced woman she, Sophie von Lenthe. Its démélés sentimental making it undesirable at the court of Brunswick, it accepts a load of minister directing near the Margrave Charles Alexandre of the principalities of Ansbach and Bayreuth
With the service of PrussiaHowever, in 1791, Charles Alexandre abdicates and sells his margraviat in Prussia. Hardenberg, which at this time is on mission in Berlin, is named, on recommendation of the count Hertzberg, governor of the two principalities (1792). It is about a station at the risk, taking into account the encroachment of these territories on Habsbourg strongholds. Hardenberg discharges nevertheless difficulties with much dexterity, by reforming the common law and by modernizing the administration, while endeavouring to extend the influence of Prussia in southernmost Germany. Its diplomatic talent is worth to him, at the time of the declaration of war with revolutionary France, to be appointed ambassador plenipotentiary of Prussia in the Rhineland, in order to rejoin in Prussia the principalities of the area. Lastly, when Prussia does not have any more an other choice to make peace with the French Republicans, it takes the succession of the count Goltz as an ambassador plenipotentiary of Prussia with Basle and is, for this reason, charged with the signature of the treated of Basle (February 28th 1795).
During the crowning of Frederic-Guillaume III of Prussia in 1797, it is recalled to Berlin to be named there at an eminent station within the particular council, as a governor of the districts of Magdeburg and Halberstadt, of Westphalia, and the Principauté of Neuchâtel. It bound of friendship since 1793 with the Count Haugwitz, influence it Foreign Minister of Prussia and the two men are so close that when in 1803 Haugwitz puts itself on leave (August-October), it asks Hardenberg to ensure his interim. The period is critical: Napoleon i has just occupied Hanover, and Haugwitz pushes the king to take energetic measures, praising the alliance appropriateness to him with Russia. However, in its absence, the irresolution of the King is prolonged and Hardenberg is restricted to carry out the wills of its sovereign, who remains attached to a neutrality up to that point favorable to Prussia. To the return of Haugwitz, the intransigent attitude of Napoleon leads finally the king to make shy persons proposals in Russia, but the mutual declarations of the 3 and May 25th 1804 urge the two kingdoms not to take the weapons that in the possibility of a direct attack of the French against Prussia or in the north of Germany. Incompetent to urge the ministerial cabinet to continue a more voluntarist policy, Haugwitz resigns and, the April 14th 1804, Hardenberg succeeds to him.
A hated minister of NapoleonHardenberg militates for an alliance with France, in exchange of which Napoleon proposes the retrocession of Hanover in Prussia. In spite of the opposition of the powers of Eastern Europe to such a territorial extension of Prussia and especially the wait and see attitude of the King, inherited Haugwitz, the minister does not despair to achieve this goal by the diplomatic channel. In the same time, probably exceeded by the wait-and-see policy of the King de Prusse, the tsar Alexandre Ier mass his troops at the border prusso-Russian. Hardenberg manages of accuracy to avoid the war, helped in that by the intrusion of Napoleon with Ansbach, in Prussian territory. This unfriendly operation draws Frederic-Guillaume III from his indecision and the November 3rd 1805, it cosigne with Potsdam a Ultimatum against France with Alexandre Ier of Russia.
Haugwitz is dispatched in Vienna with this declaration, but it does not go there quickly: while pretending to spend one month to approach Napoleon, he thinks of allowing the Prussian armies, massed at the Russian border, to prepare with a war on a more Western face. Napoleon takes the initiative, mystifies Haugwitz, carries out and gains famous the Bataille of Austerlitz. In fact, the plenipotentiary Prussian does not have any more but to try to negotiate with the winner. By the treated signed with Schönbrunn the December 15th 1805, Prussia obtains the Hanover well, but in exchange of all its possessions of southernmost Germany, Clèves, Ansbach and Neuchâtel. Moreover, one particular clause of the treaty requires the resignation of Hardenberg, that Napoleon hates, even if the Prussian minister recommended an alliance with France.
However, following the disaster of the Battle of Iéna, he is recalled to the government as a minister of foreground. The count thus manages to return for a few months to the businesses (April-July 1807) but the hatred of Napoleon against him is relentless, and a clause of the Traité of Tilsitt requires its departure of the ministerial cabinet again.
The diplomat settles then with Riga, from where it continues to advise his monarch. Inter alia, he advises to him the choice of the baron vom Stein as chancellor. He also writes his Denkwürdigkeiten , a report where he exposes his reform proposals with regard to the organization of the Prussian state.
Chancellor of PrussiaAfter compulsory resignation of Heinrich Friedrich Karl vom Stein in 1810 and interlude of ministry marionette of Altenstein (for the resignation of which he insists heavily), Hardenberg is again recalled to Berlin, this time as a chancellor (June 6th 1810). The Battle of Iéna and its consequences have it deeply affected; in its spirit, the traditions of the old diplomacy yielded the place to the nationalist feeling, unchaining at his place a desire burning to restore the position of Prussia and to crush its oppressors. Since its retirement of Riga, it worked out during years a plan of regeneration of monarchy on liberal bases. Also it applies, as of its return to the capacity and although the circumstances do not enable him to continue an autonomous foreign politics, to prepare a military revenge against France by taking again on its account the visionaries projects of vom Stein relating to the political and social reorganization kingdom.
It reforms basic in roof the army by opening the recruitment of the officers to all the social classes, obtains the abolition of serfdom, institutes autonomous municipal authorities and finally gives an special attention to the state education, assisted by professors of the hardening of Friedrich August Wolf. It applies these reforms, with the support of the queen Louise. It is also Hardenberg which, after the Campagne of Russia of 1812, encourages Frederic-Guillaume III to benefit from the treason of the general Yorck by declaring the war in France openly. The patriots see in Hardenberg their first spokesperson at the Court, so that after the signature of the first Traité of Paris, it is high with the rank of prince (June 3rd 1814) in testimony of recognition for his action in the countryside of Germany and receives from the king the castle of Neuhardenberg.
Loss of influenceHardenberg is part from now on of the circle very closed diplomats and princes who control Europe. It accompanies the sovereigns combined in England and, at the time of the Congrès of Vienna (1814-1815), it is with the head of the delegation of Prussia. Then with the zenith of its power and its glory, its influence declines quickly. As regards diplomacy, it cannot deal with Metternich, whose influence eclipses his not only in the courses European and in Germany, but also in Prussia. In spite of the unwavering support of Alexandre Ier with the Congress of Vienna, he does not manage to obtain the annexation of Saxony in Prussia; with the second Congress of Paris which follows the Bataille of Waterloo, it cannot make lead its proposal to dismember France. In one moment of weakness, it lets Metternich treat directly with the states of late the Confédération of the Rhine, giving up in Austria the preponderance within the Federal Diet of Germany. The conference day before of Karlsbad (1819), it signs with Metternich a protocol by which (to take again the remarks of the Treitschke historian) “like a sinner repented, and without formal counterpart, the crown of Frederic the Large one with a foreign power a right to watch on its interior policy. ”
At the time of the Congress of Aachen (1818), of Troppau (1820), of Laibach (1821) and of Vérone, Hardenberg is nothing any more but the echo of Metternich. That is due of course partly to the difficult situation of the parcelled out Prussian state, but also to the unstable character of Hardenberg, which is degraded into growing old. Always as pleasant, charmer and cultivated as formerly, its variations, forgivable in a young diplomat, make scandal for an head of government, and its influence near a Landesvater such as Frederic-Guillaume III can only weaken.
It would be necessary, to prevent the distrust of the king against the liberal experiments, all the talent of an at the same time skilful and balanced adviser. If Hardenberg is sufficiently fine to seize the need for a constitutional reform, it clings nevertheless with a very senile tenacity to the small advantages of its position and, once passed its enthusiasm for the liberal ideas, it is satisfied to be let rock by the circumstances. In the secrecy of the royal commissions, it continues to furbish constitution projects which will never be born: Germany, returned of the intoxication of the reconquest, sees nothing any more in him but one partisan of Metternich, an accomplice of the policy reactionary engaged by the Décrets of Karlsbad and the Protocole of Troppau. He dies in Genoa shortly after the Congress closure of Vérone.
- L. von Ranke, Denkwürdigkeiten of Staatskanzlers Fürsten von Hardenberg (5 flights., Leipzig, 1877)
- J.R. Seeley, The Life and Times off Stein (3 flights., Cambridge, 1878)
- E. Meier, Reform der Verwaltungsorganisation unter Stein und Hardenberg (lb., 1881)
- Chr. Meyer, Hardenberg und the Seine Verwaltung der Fürstentümer Ansbach und Bayreuth (Breslau, 1892)
- Koser, Die Neuordnung of the preußischen Archivwesens durch den Staatskanzler Fürsten v. Hardenberg (Leipzig, 1904).
Prussia in the Napoleonean Wars
von Hardenberg on the site of the castle of Neuhardenberg
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