What Church Did Kaiser Wilhelm II Belong To?

Discussions on all aspects of Imperial Germany not covered in the other sections.
Posts: 102
Joined: 16 May 2005 13:26
Location: Israel

What Church Did Kaiser Wilhelm II Belong To?

Post by YM » 13 Jan 2007 22:02

I am reading Christopher Clark's new history of Prussia. He places
great emphasis on the fact that the Hohenzollern rulers converted
to Calvinism from Lutheranism in the early 17th century in forming
the character of the Prussian state. Added to this is the influence
of Lutheran Pietists starting in the late 17th century
which Clark states had strong influence on the national
education system and the forming of the character of the Prussian
military officer corps.. Does anyone know what church
did the Hohenzollerns belong to? Would they pray in a Lutheran
Church, which was the majority faith of their population?

Mad Zeppelin
Posts: 1286
Joined: 08 Sep 2004 20:05
Location: Germany

Post by Mad Zeppelin » 14 Jan 2007 11:34

To get the dutchy of Kleve after the 30 Years War one of the Hohenzollern rulers (the Grand Elector) converted to Calvinism. This does not mean that they were Calvinists for ever. The Calvinist trait ended with Frederic II. After him the Hohenzollern were protestant again. Wilhelm II was in fact "Sumus Episcopus" of the Prussian Protestant Church.

Posts: 2
Joined: 14 Jan 2007 21:32
Location: Germany

Post by preussen » 14 Jan 2007 21:46

The Prussian support the Protestant Church in Schlesien during the war with Austria.


Karl da Kraut
Posts: 341
Joined: 16 Sep 2002 12:00
Location: Germany

Post by Karl da Kraut » 14 Jan 2007 22:51

"Summus episcopus" (Latin) means highest bishop. Until 1918, the different Landeskirchen of all Protestant German princedoms were headed by their respective monarchs. Even today, for example, the Queen of England still holds the position of the head of the Church of England.

The situation in Prussia, however, was rather complex. In 1817, King Frederick William III. enforced a union between the Reformed (Calvinist) and Lutheran churches. This new church was called Evangelische Kirche in Preußen , later renamed Evangelische Landeskirchen in Preußen and finnaly known as Evangelische Landeskirche der älteren Provinzen Preußens. The union was merely of administrative nature and didn't affect the different theological positions; nevertheless the King of Prussia was since 1817 head of both the Reformed and the Lutheran churches in his country.

Mad Zeppelin stated that since Frederick II.'s death, the ruling Hohenzollers again adherred to the Lutheran denomination. I'm not cinvinced though - I've never read of the Hohenzollers converting to Lutheranism. And Frederick II.'s successor, Frederick William II., was his nephew (son of his brother August Wilhelm). That means no new line of the House of Hohenzollern rose to the throne of Prussia that could have effected a change of denomination. Maybe somebody could help us here?

Posts: 453
Joined: 10 May 2005 10:55
Location: Pirmasens

Post by ManfredV » 15 Jan 2007 22:35

You´re right. The Hohenzollern in Prussia stayed "reformiert" until union of both reformed and lutheran churches in Prussia. Protestant in Germany means all kinds of lutheran, reformed and union churches. After 1815 in Prussia they had a mix of Lutherans (f.e. in Brandenburg, Pommern and East Prussia), Reformed (at Niederhein ) and Catholic (f.e. Rheinland and parts of Silesia). After the union some Reformed and Lutherans segregated from this church and found their own churches.
German protestant churches call themselves "evangelic", not "protestant".
Friedrich Wilhelm made the Union of two reasons:
1. He wanted one united protestant church to get better control of it and also to strengthen their position against Catholics.
2. At that time rationalism was strong in theology and a lot of things that separated Calvinists and Lutherans before weren´t considered important any more.
But this Union in Prussia was more an administrive thing. In theologic questions Parishes stayed lutheran, reformed or found a united position. Thats a difference to South Germany, where in the Palatinate and Baden they made also real theological unions. I don´t know whether the Prussian Kings after 1817 were more "reformed" or "lutheran" or real "unionists".
In 1866 they conquered a lot of lutheran areas f.e. Hannover but never forced them to become unionists.

Return to “Imperial Germany”