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The Politics of Technological Change in Prussia

The Politics of Technological Change in Prussia: Out of the Shadow of Antiquity, 1809-1848

Eric Dorn Brose
Copyright Date: 1993
Pages: 308
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    The Politics of Technological Change in Prussia
    Book Description:

    Throughout the 1800s the process of industrialization contributed to painful social upheaval and wrenching political readjustments in the Kingdom of Prussia, traditionally viewed as Europe's great, modernizing, economic leader. This book illuminates the early years of this transition by examining the contradictory economic policies adopted by the state after Prussia's defeat by Napoleon. A fascinating history of modernization emerges as Eric Dorn Brose explores competing visions among soldiers, businessmen, and bureaucrats, who, largely influenced by the ideals of classical antiquity, conceived of industry in ways quite different from what it actually came to be. Brose focuses on the varying attitudes of Prussians toward their own times, the nature of the Prussian state, and the ways the state both helped and hindered early industrialization. In a highly nuanced analysis of the rivaling intrastate agencies, cultures, and political factions that shaped state policy, he accords a pivotal role to Frederick William III. Included is an investigation of the political struggle over ownership, control, and promotion of the forces of production--a crisis that was only gradually resolved at the end of the century.

    Originally published in 1992.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6306-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Note on Proper Names
    (pp. xiii-2)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-25)

    This work studies some of the political controversies spawned by industrialization in the kingdom of Prussia from the aftermath of the country’s defeat by Napoleon to the Revolution of 1848. Central to many of these disputes was the quality of the state’s economic and technological leadership—the first major question analyzed in the chapters which follow. I contend that the existence of competing intrastate agencies, cultures, and party-political factions with different ideologies and agendas makes it very difficult to generalize about the state’s role in early industrialization. Yet by the 1830s and 1840s it was clear that a multifarious crisis...

  7. I Rural Industrialization and the Bourgeois King
    (pp. 26-71)

    The schoolgirls had been waiting outside their home village of Weissensee for nearly an hour. Nearby, a deputation of city magistrates and army commanders stood motionless in the cool morning sun, not wanting to dirty their polished boots. At last, a rider galloped to them with the expected announcement, and a moment later, the special travelers appeared. An expressionless Frederick William of Hohenzollern, King of Prussia, rode a few paces in front of his poised queen, Luise of Mecklenburg, sitting more comfortably in her new “lilac” carriage. After the soldiers and officials made their brief remarks, the children handed over...

  8. II Liberal Brothers in Arms
    (pp. 72-97)

    Johann Braun left the university and walked slowly westward along Unter den Linden. The classical literature of Greece and Rome held a particular attraction for the chief of Prussia’s Experimental Artillery Department, and today, like so many other days since the peace, Braun had sat attentively in the rear of the lecture hall. Soon he neared the neoclassical facade of Number 74, a Schinkel masterpiece which for the past seven years had housed the Artillery and Engineering School. As usual, he was the first member of the army’s new Commission on Science and Technology to arrive.

    Within minutes, however, the...

  9. III The Aesthetic View from Pegasus
    (pp. 98-132)

    The skies of London were accommodating on August 4, 1826. Presented with an uncharacteristically dry day in England, two Prussians left their rooms at St. Paul’s Coffee House for one last walk through the city. The promenade took them to Temple Bar and Lincoln’s Inn Fields to scrutinize the Palladian architecture of Inigo Jones. The first visitor was Carl Friedrich Schinkel, the leading architect of Prussia, whose grand creations had already transformed Berlin from its prewar drabness. The second was Peter Beuth, Schinkel’s bosom friend and kindred spirit. The business trip about to end had taken them to France and...

  10. IV The Spirit of the Corps
    (pp. 133-163)

    The peak of the Schneekoppe towered over the Eleusinian symmetry of Buchwald, dominating the estate’s carefully laid-out walkways and ornamental Roman ruins. Its owner’s usual constitutional was cut short this September evening by the type of furious downpour one came to expect living next to the mountain. It was probably for the better, for Friedrich Wilhelm von Reden moved much more slowly and painfully than most well-to-do noblemen of fifty-five years. And then there were the migraines.

    The Countess Friederike chose not to speak as Reden settled grimacing and angrily onto the divan. Although his beloved partner and equal, she...

  11. V Spartans of the North
    (pp. 164-189)

    Frederick William was growing too portly and unsure of his equestrian skills to ride frequently in public by 1823. So it was that a stately coach bearing the Hohenzollern coat of arms delivered him and his trusted aide, Job von Witzleben, to Unter den Linden 74 on the morning of October 12. The day’s preliminary round of political briefings behind them, the two had come to inspect the recently completed Artillery and Engineering School on its first day of instruction. Receiving them in front of the building’s imposing neoclassical facade was a retinue of the appropriate personages—Prince August and...

  12. VI The Masonic Vision
    (pp. 190-208)

    Christian Rother squinted through the window of his writing room onto the snow-covered grounds of Rogau, his estate in Lower Silesia. A slightly wrinkled face and gray hair were the unmistakable signs of a man who had already passed middle age. The unfinished business of state which usually lured him away from the stressful distractions of Berlin did not fully explain his presence at home on this particular occasion. The Chief of the Seehandlung, the state’s merchant-banking empire, expected weekend guests. No longer able to concentrate, Rother had put the desktop in order and begun his vigil.

    Finally, they were...

  13. VII No Man’s Hand Could Halt the Cars
    (pp. 209-240)

    The late afternoon sunlight created an impression of heat as it reflected off the glossy finish of a coach suitable only for someone of high rank or social position. The driver of this stately vehicle slowed it nearly to a halt, pulled off the road, and headed for a nearby hill. The horses, already underway for many hours on this unseasonably warm day in May, strained noticeably up a steep path to the summit.

    The two men conversing inside were inspecting the lay of the land along a projected railroad route.¹ Once on top of the hill they could peer...

  14. Conclusion
    (pp. 241-270)

    A crisis was developing among Prussian elites well before the firestorm of lower class revolution struck in 1848. Central to this worsening political relationship between bureaucrats, soldiers, and businessmen was a struggle over ownership, control, and promotion of the forces of production. With the empirical evidence of previous chapters behind us, it is now time to engage in a more extended and explicit discussion of the themes introduced at the outset. (1) What was the role of the Prussian state in early industrialization? (2) How did Prussia’s technocrats view past, present, and future? (3) What can be said about the...

  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 271-280)
  16. Index
    (pp. 281-290)