March 22, 1797 – Birth of Wilhelm I, German Emperor, King of Prussia in Berlin
Wilhelm I was the second son of King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia and Princess Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. As the second son, Wilhelm was not expected to succeed, but his brother, King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia, was childless. Friedrich Wilhelm suffered a stroke in 1857 which left him partially paralyzed and mentally incapacitated. Wilhelm served as regent from 1858 until his brother’s death in 1861 when he succeeded to the throne of Prussia. Wilhelm and Otto von Bismarck, who served as Minister President of the Kingdom of Prussia, succeeded in unifying the many German states into the German Empire in 1871 when Wilhelm was proclaimed German Emperor. Wilhelm was one of only three German Emperors, all who reigned in the year 1888, known as the Year of the Three Emperors. Wilhelm I died on March 9, 1888 and was succeeded by his only son, Friedrich III. Friedrich had married Victoria, Princess Royal who was the eldest child of Queen Victoria. Already suffering from throat cancer, Friedrich reigned for only three months and died on June 15, 1888. His eldest son, Wilhelm II, succeeded him and reigned until November 18, 1918 when he abdicated in the aftermath of World War I.
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