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The 15 Most Important People in European History

The List:
1 Adolf Hitler
2 Isaac Newton
3 Albert Einstein
4 Queen Elizabeth I
5 Charles Darwin
6 King Henry VIII
7 Leonardo Da Vinci
8 Mahatma Gandhi
9 Otto Von Bismarck
10 Galileo Galilei
11 Winston Churchill
12 Michelangelo
13 William Shakespeare
14 Francis Bacon
15 Pablo Picasso
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No. 9 Otto von Bismarck

The history of Europe is steeped in power plays, and the desire for power. No person better exemplified those desires in the nineteenth century better than the person who unified the German states into one country-Otto von Bismarck. His efforts, especially in impacting the creation of Germany, deserves entry onto this list.

Bismarck was born in 1815, a time period that is very critical for Germany. The Naepolianic Wars had just ended, and the Congress of Vienna had set the course of European events for the next century. More importantly, a balance of power had been set in Europe, so that no country could ever significantly threaten any other country. This situation was one that Bismarck would attempt to rectify for the rest of his life.

Bismarck was born into a wealthy Prussian family, and quickly received a good education, especially in military and foreign affairs. But his real education came during 1848, when Prussian Liberals rebelled. This greatly influenced Bismarck as he used his political skills to support the crown, and move himself to a more powerful position, specifically a Prussian ambassador, and then eventually the Prime Minister of Prussia in 1862. Immediately afterwards he pledged to unify the various German states, as seen in his famous remark, "I will unify Germany with blood and iron." This means that through war and industrial efforts, the German states would come together.

Bismarck unified Germany through three wars. The first war was the Danish war, essentially where Prussia captured a few provinces from Denmark. The second, and far more significant war took place against Austria, the so-called seven week war, where Prussia took a fair bit of territory, and also managed to gain Austria as an ally. The third, and final war was the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, where Prussia humiliated France, and managed to retake the provinces of Alsace-Louraine. This war concluded with all the German states unified under Kaiser Wilhem I (who was 'controlled' to a degree by Bismarck). Bismarck would later rule for about twenty more years, and changed the balance of power by created a country stronger than any other-Germany.

The first reason for inclusion on this list is direct impact on people's lives. Here the reason is obvious. Bismarck made Germans feel important, and know that they lived in a strong and powerful place. Because of the direct efforts of Bismarck, Germans felt good about where they lived-and that was an important controversy.

The second reason for inclusion is impact on large-scale countries. Bismarck created Germany, and with that forced all of the other countries in Europe to re-arm and prepare for war. The entire world had to adapt itself to the efforts of this man, and that is a very significant-and very important impact.

The third, and perhaps most important reason for inclusion is impact on long-term movements. Bismarck was the first successful Nationalist, the first to ever make those ideas true on such a large scale. Bismarck influences Germany, and made it into a country that could accept the highly nationalist Nazi movement. Bismarck also provided a model for all of the countless leaders who used nationalist movements to further their political or military actions. From Stalin, to Milosavic, all of these leaders were influenced by the nationalist movement that Bismarck created.

Birth: April 1, 1815, Schönhausen, Altmark, Prussia
Nickname: Not Applicable
Education: University of Göttingen
Occupation: Prime Minister of Germany.
Religious Affiliation: Christian
Marriage: Johanna von Puttkamer (m. 1843)
Children: None.
Political Affiliation: Conservative
Writings: None.
Died: July 30, 1898, Friedrichsruh, near Hamburg.
Buried: Friedrichsruh.

Links for Otto von Bismarck
Otto von Bismarck - http://ragz-international.com/otto_von_bismarck.htm
Otto von Bismarck, Founder of the German Empire - http://www.germanembassy-india.org/news/98july/gn07.htm
Bismarck - http://history.hanover.edu/texts/bis.html
Otto von Bismarck - http://www.pressenter.com/~germanam/ottovon.htm