A Chronology of German History

9 B.C.: Pagan Germanic tribes check advancing Romans in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, ending northward spread of Roman civilization, bounding the Roman Empire by the Danube and Rhine.

c.700 A.D.: Most Germanic tribes, with the exception of the Saxons, have accepted Christianity.

c.750-1250: Romanesque church and castle architecture flourishes, also poetic literature of the Minnesingers.

768-814: Charlemagne, crowned first Holy Roman Emperor by the Pope in Rome in 800, conquers the Saxons and unites most of the Western Continent under his theocratic rule. Outstanding scholars of many nations revive Latin and Greek learning at the Palace School.

c.830: First vernacular epic, Christian Heliand, followed by Ekkehard of St. Gall’s Germanic Waltharius.

843: Continental unity is destroyed after the division of Charlemagne’s empire among his three grandsons. Germany and France separate politically.

936—73: Otto I, the Great, defeats the Magyars in the Battle of the Lechfeld in 955, and revives the Holy Roman Empire in the West after his coronation by the Pope in Rome in 962. Cosmopolitan literary circle and monastic writing flourishes during Ottnian Renaissance.

1034-l410: The Order of Teutonic Knights converts and colonizes regions from the Baltic to the Black Sea, promoting towns and commerce until defeated by Poles and Lithuanians at the Battle of Tannenberg.

1076-1122: Struggling for political supremacy, the Church gains virtual independence from temporal control alter Salian Emperor Henry lV’s penance and absolution by the Pope at Canossa in 1077.

1153-1268: House of Hohenstaufen, the first German dynasty fully aware Of historical and legal significance of imperial strength and tradition, centralizes and increases lay power. Relentless papal persecution of the dynasty culminates in the Great Interregnum, ending the medieval Holy Roman Empire. Imperial efforts for German unity fail, national states and territorial principalities rise, cities gain wealth and culture.

c.1225-1550: Gothic period of architecture. Dürer, Cranach, Holbein, Grünewald lead in painting, Riemenschneider in sculpture.

1348-92: First German universities are founded in Prague, Heidelberg, Cologne, Erfurt.

1350-1500: The Hanseatic League, an international commercial federation of cities, led by the Free City of Lübeck, extends its trade from London to Novgorod.

1356: The “Golden Bull,” in force till 1806, creates four secular and three spiritual electorates whose princes have the sole right to elect the Holy Roman Emperor by majority vote, transforming the empire from a monarchy into an aristocratic federation.

c.l450: Johannes Gutenberg of Mainz invents movable type and the printing press.

1483-l546: Martin Luther. His 95 public theses against the German indulgence trade (1517) start the Reformation. Defending his doctrines of the individual’s responsibility directly to God, before Charles V, at the Diet of Worms (1521), he is banned. Prepares the first German version of the Bible (1522) in exile in Saxony.

1521-56: Charles V of Hapsburg’s efforts to restore European unity are thwarted by France, the Protestant German princes, and the Turks.

c.1535-1675: Burgher class emerges during German Renaissance. Houses and town halls are built. Guilds and Meistersingers flourish.

1555: Religious Peace of Augsburg grants territorial princes choice of faith and co-equality with Catholics.

1613-48: The Thirty Years’ War grows from a religious conflict between Catholic and Protestant Europe into a political struggle against the Hapsburgs. Germany loses over half her population and large territories.

1670-31: Louis XIV of France annexes Lorraine, Alsace, and lands west of the Rhine.

c.1675—1800: German baroque flourishes. Schlüter, Neumann, and the Asams lead in architecture, Bach and Handel in music.

1697: Turks finally ousted from German regions.

18th & 19th cents.: Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Brahms, and Wagner gain international fame as composers; Lessing, Goethe, Schiller, Heine, and the romantics create a new era of letters; Leibniz, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, and Marx shape German philosophy.

1740-86: Enlightened despot, Frederick the Great of Prussia. Defeats Austria; founds modern bureaucratic state by vast administrative reforms. Prussia becomes world power, extending from Vistula to Rhine.

1806: Defeated by Napoleon at Austerlitz (1805), Francis II of Hapsburg abdicates as Holy Roman Emperor, leaving Germany without a formal central power. Napoleon, supported by some German princes, conquers Prussia (1807), eliminates many small principalities.

1813-15: Austrians, British, Prussians, Russians, and Swedes defeat Napoleon in Wars of Liberation.

1820-66: No longer centrally governed, Germany becomes a loose federation of principalities with a Parliament in Frankfurt am Main. Austria and Prussia vie for dominance.

1834: First Customs Union between German states paves way for future political unification.

1848: Revolutions throughout German states lead to elected parliaments, constitutional monarchies. Liberal Parliament’s attempted constitution for a unified Germany is defeated at Frankfurt.

1866: Bismarck. Prime Minister of Prussia, defeats Austria and prepares German unification by creating North German Confederation.

1870-71: Victorious in Franco-Prussiau War, Bismarck establishes first unified German Empire without Austria, and proclaims Prussian King William I Emperor of the new German Reich.

1888-1918: William II dismisses Bismarck, alienates England and Russia. Technological progress and intensive industrialization of Upper Silesia, Ruhr sector, and Saar Basin lead to unprecedented prosperity and worldwide trade, a large merchant marine, and efficient military machine. Influenced by Marxism, workers begin to assert their rights. Social legislation advances. Social consciousness enters literature. Expressionist painters found Die Brücke in Dresden and Der Blaue Reiter in Munich.

1914-18: Defeated in World War I. Germany loses territory, faces economic collapse and inflation.

1919-25: Despite Republican Weimar Constitution, Social Democrat Friedrich Ebert, first German President. cannot stem rise of nationalist heavy industry and virtually autonomous military force. He is succeeded by World War General von Hindenburg, a conservative member of the landed aristocracy, in 1925.

1919—34: During the Weimar Republic, Mann, Benn, Breclit, Hesse are eminent in letters; Hindemith in music; Beckmann. Klee, and Hofer in painting; Gropius founds the Bauhaus.

1930: Depression favors emergence of National Socialist Adolf Hitler, prophet of a Teutonic myth, antiChristian, -Semitic, -democratic, -intellectual, -Marxist.

1933-39: Elected Chancellor, Hitler turns dictator, develops police state and racial laws, forcing many prominent Germans to emigrate. Rearmament. Blackout of German culture.

1939-45: After defeat in World War II, Germany is divided into four Allied occupation zones, with Berlin under quadripartite control.

1948: Partition of Germany into East and West zones. Reform of the currency is effected.

1949: Proclamation of a parliamentary Federal Republic of Germany and a German Democratic Republic under Soviet aegis. Theodor Heuss elected President of West Germany, re-elected in 1954, Konrad Adenauer made Chancellor in 1949, re-elected in 1953.

1955: West Germany gains independence and joins NATO.

1957: The Saar becomes part of the Federal Republic of Germany, after plebiscite in 1955.

1957: President Heuss visits the United States.