Bismarck: Machiavellian Poltician

Topics: Otto von Bismarck, Prussia, German Empire Pages: 20 (3120 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Throughout history men have been struggling to become the

strongest or most dominant force in society. Scores of men,

throughout history, have taken notice that it is easier to

control several smaller states as opposed to one unified

state. In the late 15th and early 16th centuries a man by the

name of Nicolo Machiavelli reflected the actions of famous

men and their assent to power in his book The Prince. If

Machiavelli's advice was followed, a ruler could almost

guarantee success. But perhaps the first politician in the

modern world to follow the advice of The Prince, was a

man by the name of Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck.

Otto von Bismarck was born on April 1st 1815, in

Schonhausen, Northwest of Berlin in the district of

Magdeburg. His father was an upper class, land owning

Prussian more commonly known as a Junker. (World

Book, 1999, p. 381) (German News, 1998, p.1)(Passant,

1966, p.45)(Godesky, 1997, p.1)(Compton's

Encyclopedia, 1999, p.1) During his early education Otto

von Bismarck studied law at the universities of Berlin and

Gottingen. In 1836 he enrolled his services in the national

army. But just a year later Bismarck found himself very

dissatisfied with his subordinate post and resigned to

manage his family's estate. After a little more than decade,

in 1847, Otto von Bismarck re-entered the government this

time employing his skills as a politician. In 1851 he was

chosen to represent Prussia in the Federal Diet and just

eight years later he became an official ambassador of

Prussia. (German News, 1998, p.1) (Versaware, 1999,

p.1) (Chastain, 1998, p.1) (World Book, 1999, p.

381)(Richards, 1977, p.139-143)(Compton's

Encyclopedia, 1999, p.1) This is when Bismarck, a

beneficiary of good fortunes, set his own designs for

Prussia into motion (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1994, p.3)

Otto von Bismarck , during the course of 1860-1862,

benefitted from some unpredictable circumstances. "That

same year [1862] a bitter dispute between the Prussian

government and Parliament over the size of the army

reached an impasses. In 1861 Parliament had granted the

government additional funds for reforms, but in 1862 it

refused to do so without a reduction of the compulsory

military service from three to two years. King William I

would not yield for fear that the draftees would be

insufficiently imbued with conservative values; it was for

that very reason that the liberal-dominated Parliament

insisted on this concession. In order to break the stalemate

Bismarck was named minster- president. He proceeded to

collect the additional taxes on the basis of the 1861 budget,

arguing that because the constitution did not provide for the

case of an impasse he would have to apply the questions of

the day [meaning the unification of Germany] will not be

settled by speeches and majority decisions... but by blood

and iron." (Versaware, 1999, p.1) Bismarck was making

his intentions known to all, and it was fairly clear that he

would use any means necessary to achieve his purpose,

even if that meant armed conflict. Machiavelli, on the

subject of war, stated in The Prince that "A prince ought to

have no other aim or thought, nor select anything else for

his study, than war and its rules and discipline; for this is the

sole art that belongs to him who rules, and it is of such

force that it not only upholds those who are born princes,

but it often enables men to rise from a private station to that

rank. And, on the contrary, it is seen that when princes

have thought more of ease than of arms they have lost their

states. And the first cause of your losing it is to neglect this

and; and what enables you to acquired a state is to master

of the art." ( Machiavelli, 1505, Ch. 14 p.1) Bismarck

understood this very well and that is why he said "The

questions of the day...

Cited: Kong: Longman Group (FE) Ltd. , 1977 Russell, Francis.
Chastain, James. "Bismarck, Otto Von" ©1998
Revised:May 30, 1998 Accessed:October 15/99
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