Wilhelm I, emperor of Germany

BORN 22 Mar 1797, Berlin - DIED 9 Mar 1888, Berlin
BIRTH NAME Wilhelm Friedrich Ludwig
GRAVE LOCATION Berlin: Mausoleum Charlottenburg

Wilhelm I was the second son of king Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia. His mother was the popular queen Louise, a princess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. In 1814 young William fought against the troops of Napoleon at Waterloo and Ligny. After 1815 he served as a diplomat. After his father disapproved of Elisa Radziwill (1803-1834) he married married Augusta von Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach in 1829.

In 1848 Wilhelm hammered down a revolution against his older brother Freidrich Wilhelm IV. He used cannons against the rebels and this made him unpopular. In 1857 his brother had a stroke that took away his mental powers and Wilhelm became regent. His brother died in 1861 and Wilhelm was now king of Prussia. He appointed Otto von Bismarck as prime minister and from then on Bismarck effectively ruled Prussia.

After the Franco-Prussian War of 1871 the North German Confederation became the German Empire and Wilhelm became German Emperor which formally meant he as first among his equals, the kings of the German states.

Om 11 May 1878 Max Hödel tried to kill him but failed. On 2 Jun 1878 Karl Nobiling tried to kill him as well. He wounded the emperor severely before trying to kill himself. This led to the Anti-Socialist Law of October 1878.

After recovering at Baden and Wiesbaden Wilhelm returned to his duties. In 1883 the anarchist August Reinsdorf wanted to blow up the emperor using dynamite, but the attempt failed because the weather was too wet.

During his last years his popularity with the people rose. He died in 1888 and was buried at the Mausoleum of Charlottenburg that had been constructed for his mother Louise. After his death many statues and other memorials were erected for him in all parts of Germany.

• Father: Friedrich Wilhelm III, king of Prussia
• Mother: Luise von Mecklenburg-Strelitz, königin von Preussen
• Son: Friedrich III, emperor of Germany

Related persons
• was a friend of Beer, Amalie
• employed Dohme, Robert
• was sculpted by Eberlein, Gustav
• was a friend of Georg II, herzog von Sachsen-Meiningen
• was sculpted by Kaupert, Gustav
• was sculpted by Keil, Carl
• met Kessler, Harry, Graf
• was painted by Lenbach, Franz von
• was painted by Richter, Gustav
• was painted by Winterhalter, Franz Xaver

2/9/1870Napoleon III is taken prisoner of war. At night the French had decided to accept the German conditions for surrender. The French commander-in-chief, Wimpffen, didn't want to continue the negotiations. In the morning Napoleon tried to get better conditions from Bismarck at Donchéry, but Bismarck didn't give them. At 9 AM the armistice ended. The French were given until 10 AM to accept the conditions. At 11 AM the capitulation was signed at castle Bellevue near Frénois. Subsequently Napoleon III met Wilhelm I and was taken away as a prisoner of war. [Napoleon III Bonaparte]
13/8/1876Premiere of Wagner's "Ring" in Bayreuth starting with "Das Rheingold". It was performed from August 13th to August 17th. "Das Rheingold" had its premiere in Munich in 1869, but this time the entire "Ring" was performed. Many illiustrious persons were present, among them Emperor Wilhelm I of Germany and King Ludwig II of Bavaria. On the 13th "Das Rheingold" was performed. Among the singers were Franz Betz, Heinrich Vogl, Friederike Grün, Marie Haupt, Eugen Gura, Georg Unger, Louise Jaide, Karl Hill, Max Schlosser, Albert Eilers, Franz von Reichenberg, Lilli Lehmann, Marie Lehmann and Minna Lammert. [Friedrich-Materna, Amalie][Lehmann, Lilli][Lehmann, Marie][Richter, Hans][Vogl, Heinrich][Wagner, Richard]
29/5/1881Emperor William I attends Richard WAgner's "Gotterdämmerung" in Berlin. It was the fourth cycle of performances of Wagner's "Ring" in Berlin. Richard and Cosima Wagner attended this cycle in the presence of Count Gobineau and Paul von Joukovsky. [Wagner, Cosima][Wagner, Richard]
16/3/1888Memorial Service for Emperor Wilhelm I at Windsor. Oscar Wilde arrived for the The Telegraph. Queen Victoria was upset but she allowed him to visit the chapel. [Wilde, Oscar]


The funerary monument for emperor Wilhelm I at the mausoleum near Charlottenburg Castle, Germany.
Picture by Androom (18 Aug 1996)


Baedeker Berlin, Baedeker Verlag, Stuttgart, 1994
Winkler Prins Encyclopedie (editie 1909), 1909
Wilhelm I. (Deutsches Reich) – Wikipedia
William I, German Emperor - Wikipedia
Das Rheingold – Wikipedia

Wilhelmj, Adolf

Published: 02 Nov 2008
Last update: 25 Apr 2022