15.06.

1888: The Year of the Three Emperors

1888: The Year of the Three Emperors
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/ From left to right - Wilhelm I, Frederick III and Wilhelm II

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 15 June 1888
  • Emperor Wilhelm II reportedly said: "An English doctor killed my father, and an English doctor crippled my arm – which is the fault of my mother." (his mother, the daughter of Queen Victoria, allegedly did not allow for her and her immediate family to be treated by German, but only English doctors).

On this day in 1888, the famous Emperor Wilhelm II from the Hohenzollern dynasty assumed the German imperial throne.

The whole series of events was quite unusual because his father and predecessor reigned for only 99 days before he died. So his grandfather, Wilhelm I, who ruled at the beginning of 1888, was after his death succeeded by his son, Frederick III. Frederick III reigned during said 99 days, before he died as well and was finally succeeded by Wilhelm II. That is why the year of 1888 is sometimes referred to as the “Year of the Three Emperors” (German: Dreikaiserjahr), and the phrase “three eights, three emperors” (“drei Achten, drei Kaiser”) is also used in Germany regarding the year in question.

Why did Wilhelm’s father Frederick III die so soon? While he was still the crown prince, he developed a cancer of the larynx. Shortly after entering the throne his condition worsened and he died, and Wilhelm II became the new emperor at the age of 29.

Wilhelm II accused English physician Morell Mackenzie for his father’s death. Specifically, that otherwise prominent doctor wrongly diagnosed Frederick’s condition as some other disease of the throat and not a tumor. Therefore, there was no surgery performed to remove the tissue and Frederick has been treated by other methods, and in England (Frederick’s wife, mother of Wilhelm II, was the daughter of Queen Victoria). For a while, Frederick’s condition seemed to be improving and Dr. Morell Mackenzie was knighted as Sir Morell Mackenzie.

However, on this day, Emperor Frederick III died. Wilhelm II reportedly said: “An English doctor killed my father, and an English doctor crippled my arm – which is the fault of my mother.” (his mother, the daughter of Queen Victoria, allegedly did not allow for her and her immediate family to be treated by German, but only English physicians).

The crippled arm of which Wilhelm spoke was a result of complications during his birth. Specifically, the nerves in his left arm were severed during the difficult childbirth. Indeed, when he grew up, his paralyzed left arm was 15 cm shorter than the right. When photographed, he used different ways to conceal that. It is possible that this significantly influenced his psyche (he is considered to be largely responsible for starting World War I).

Facebook Comments

Related posts