‘Dearest Nicky…’: Monarchical Relations between Prussia, the German Empire and Russia during the Nineteenth Century

  • Johannes Paulmann
Part of the Studies in Russia and East Europe book series (SREE)


Relations between monarchs are often described in terms of personal relationships. We know who liked whom, and who did not get on with each other. If one thinks of the rather phlegmatic Prussian King Frederick William III and the enthusiastic Tsar Alexander I, it may not seem unjustified to attribute some of the changeable and difficult relations between Prussia and Russia during the Napoleonic wars to their different characters.1 Nor are we surprised, knowing the character of Kaiser William II, to read that Alexander III judged him to be ‘an exhibitionist and a nuisance’. After meeting him during a visit to St Petersburg in 1888, the Tsar declared that the Kaiser was ‘a little urchin, badly brought up, full of malice’.2 The relationship between the shy Nicholas II and the exhibitionist William II was certainly no better. Yet this kind of character history is only of limited value for understanding monarchical relations. One has to take a wider view to assess their significance by analysing how personal, dynastic and foreign relations were interlinked and how they interacted. Taking a closer look at monarchical relations between Prussia, and later the German Empire, and Russia, we may ask how those relations worked in practice: what form they actually took and by what means they were cultivated.


Foreign Policy European Politics Private Letter Special Envoy German Land 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johannes Paulmann

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