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Prince Nikolaus Heinrich Ferdinand Herbert von Bismarck (Born Nikolaus Heinrich Ferdinand Herbert von Bismarck-Schönhausen; 28 December 1849 – 18 September 1904) was a German politician, who served as Foreign Secretary from 1886 to 1890. His political career was closely tied to that of his father, Otto von Bismarck, and he left office a few days after his father's dismissal. He succeeded his father as the 2nd Prince of Bismarck in 1898. He was born in Berlin and died in Friedrichsruh.

Prince of Bismarck
Herbert von Bismarck (C.W.Allers, 1892).jpg
Herbert von Bismarck (1892, by C.W.Allers)
Born(1849-12-28)28 December 1849
Berlin, Kingdom of Prussia, German Confederation
Died18 September 1904(1904-09-18) (aged 54)
Friedrichsruh, German Empire
Noble familyHouse of Bismarck
Spouse(s)Marguerite, Countess Hoyos
FatherOtto von Bismarck
MotherJohanna von Puttkamer


Styles of
The Prince of Bismarck
Reference styleHis Serene Highness
Spoken styleYour Serene Highness
Alternative styleSir

Political careerEdit

Herbert von Bismarck born in Berlin, the oldest son of Otto von Bismarck and his wife Johanna, née von Puttkamer. He had an older sister, Marie (b. 1847), and a younger brother, Wilhelm (b. 1852). He fought in the Franco-Prussian War, sustaining a bullet wound through the left leg during a cavalry charge at the Battle of Mars-La-Tour. He joined the diplomatic service in 1874, on his father's wishes. Bismarck attempted to gain influence with the heir to the German throne, Prince Wilhelm, by appealing to the prince's narcissism.[1] In June 1884 he wrote to thank Wilhelm for a portrait the prince had given after they returned from a state visit to Russia:

I beg Your Royal Highness most subserviently graciously to permit me to lay at your feet my deeply reverent and heartfelt thanks for Graciously Granting me the beautiful picture...Long it is since I have been so joyful as the joy which Your Royal Highness accorded me by granting me the portrait with your very own Highest signature. For me, the words beneath the picture render it the most valuable possession which I own, and I cannot find words to express how happy Your Royal Highness has made me. I am truly overwhelmed by the Good Grace of Your Royal Highness...The few days which to my greatest joy I was able to spend directly at the service of Your Royal Highness will always be among the loveliest in my life will be my sole ambition for all time to stand prepared to receive Your Highest orders and to serve you with all my meagre powers.[2]

Bismarck became Under-Secretary and acting head of the Foreign Office in 1885, and the following year he was appointed the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs. He additionally was appointed Minister of State of the Kingdom of Prussia in 1888. He once said that 'My father is the only person who can handle this business.' In 1890, when Kaiser Wilhelm II called for the resignation of Otto von Bismarck as Chancellor, Herbert von Bismarck also resigned as State Secretary despite the kaiser's attempts to retain him so that his de facto dismissal of his father would "look better in the eyes of the world".[3]

Personal lifeEdit

Bismarck wanted to marry Princess Elisabeth von Carolath-Beuthen in 1881, but his father would not allow it, as she was a Catholic divorcee and she was ten years older than Herbert. The Chancellor pressured his son with tears, blackmail and threats to disinherit him by getting Kaiser Wilhelm I to change the primogeniture statutes. This experience left Herbert a very bitter and alcoholic man. He once shot five bullets through a Foreign Office window to be told he may have hit someone. He replied 'Officials have to be kept in a permanent state of irritation and alarm; the moment that ceases they stop working.' On 21 June 1892 in Vienna he married Countess Marguerite Hoyos, a member of the originally Spanish magnate family of Hoyos from Hungary, who herself was half-English and a granddaughter of Robert Whitehead, the inventor of the torpedo. They had five children:

He was at his father's bedside when the latter died on 30 July 1898 at 10:57 pm.

He died in Friedrichsruh.

The capital of the German colonial administration of German New Guinea was called Herbertshöhe (now Kokopo).

Titles and styles in his entire lifeEdit

  • 1849–1865: Jkr. Herbert von Bismarck
  • 1865–1898: High Born Count Herbert of Bismarck-Schönhausen
  • 1898–1904: His Serene Highness The Prince of Bismarck

See alsoEdit


  • Regarding personal names: Fürst is a title, translated as 'Prince', not a first or middle name. The feminine form is Fürstin.
  • Regarding personal names: Until 1919, Graf was a title, translated as Count, not a first or middle name. The female form is Gräfin. In Germany since 1919, it forms part of family names.
German nobility
Preceded by
Otto von Bismarck
Prince of Bismarck
Succeeded by
Otto Christian Archibald von Bismarck


  1. ^ Röhl, John C G (1998). The Kaiser's Early Life (2015, 4th ed.). Cambridge: University Press. pp. 416–21. ISBN 9781107565968.
  2. ^ Röhl p 418
  3. ^ Röhl, John C. G. (2001). Wilhelm II - The Kaiser's Personal Monarchy 1888-1900 (English translation (2004) ed.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 324-5. ISBN 9781107565951.