Margraviate of Brandenburg

The Margraviate of Brandenburg (German: Markgrafschaft Brandenburg) was a major principality of the Holy Roman Empire from 1157 to 1806 that played a pivotal role in the history of Germany and Central Europe.

March/Margraviate of Brandenburg
Mark/Markgrafschaft Brandenburg
1157–1806
Flag or naval ensign
(based on L. Verschuier's painting of c. 1684[1])
Margraviate of Brandenburg within the Holy Roman Empire (1618)
StatusState of the Holy Roman Empire
Imperial elector (1356–1806)
Crown land of the Bohemian Crown (1373–1415)
CapitalBrandenburg an der Havel (1157–1417)
Berlin (1417–1806)
Common languagesLow German
Religion
Dominant confession among the population was Roman Catholic until the 1530s, then Lutheran.

Elector was Roman Catholic until 1539, then Lutheran until 1613, and then Reformed.
GovernmentMonarchy
Margrave 
 1157–70
Albert the Bear (first) 1417
 1797–1806
Frederick William III (last)
History 
 Established
3 October 1157
 Raised to Electorate
25 December 1356
27 August 1618
18 January 1701
 Dissolution of the
Holy Roman Empire
6 August 1806
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Northern March
Lutician federation
Brandenburg-Küstrin
Prince-Bishopric of Brandenburg
Province of Brandenburg

Brandenburg developed out of the Northern March founded in the territory of the Slavic Wends. It derived one of its names from this inheritance, the March of Brandenburg (Mark Brandenburg). Its ruling margraves were established as prestigious prince-electors in the Golden Bull of 1356, allowing them to vote in the election of the Holy Roman Emperor. The state thus became additionally known as Electoral Brandenburg or the Electorate of Brandenburg (Kurbrandenburg or Kurfürstentum Brandenburg).

The House of Hohenzollern came to the throne of Brandenburg in 1415. In 1417, Frederick I moved its capital from Brandenburg an der Havel to Berlin. By 1535, the electorate had an area of some 10,000 square miles and a population of 400,000.[4] Under Hohenzollern leadership, Brandenburg grew rapidly in power during the 17th century and inherited the Duchy of Prussia. The resulting Brandenburg-Prussia was the predecessor of the Kingdom of Prussia, which became a leading German state during the 18th century. Although the electors' highest title was "King in/of Prussia", their power base remained in Brandenburg and its capital Berlin.

The Margraviate of Brandenburg ended with the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806. It was replaced after the Napoleonic Wars with the Prussian Province of Brandenburg in 1815. The Hohenzollern Kingdom of Prussia achieved the unification of Germany and the creation of the German Empire in 1871. As Prussia was the legal predecessor of the united German Reich of 1871–1945, and as such a direct ancestor of the present-day Federal Republic of Germany, Brandenburg is one of the earliest linear ancestors of present-day Germany.