Berlin is the capital and largest city of the German Empire, and also the capital and largest city of the Kingdom of Prussia. The origin of the city's name in unknown, although it is generally thought to be based on the Old Polabian word for swamp.
Berlin dates back to around the turn of the twelfth century, when the towns of Berlin and Cölln grew up on opposite banks of the Spree River. The two towns had been united into the city of Berlin, the capital of the Margraviate of Brandenburg, by the time Frederick Hohenzollern was appointed Elector of Brandenburg by the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund of Luxemboug in 1415. Berlin continued to be the capital of Brandenburg after the margraviate was joined in a dynastic union with the Duchy of Prussia in 1618.
During the Habsburg War, Austrian armies led by the Holy Roman Emperor Francis II advanced on Berlin, but were unable to take the city. With military assistance from Great Britain, the Prussians were able to drive the Austrians back. After the Austrians were defeated in 1799, King Frederick William III of Prussia was able to dissolve the Holy Roman Empire and unify Germany under Prussian leadership. In this way, Berlin became the capital of the Germanic Confederation.
During the Bloody Eighties, Berlin was the scene of an uprising against the Hohenzollern monarchy that left the city in a shambles. The uprising was put down, but the Free German Party under Karl Ollenhauer was able to reform the government and restore order to the Confederation. Berlin continued to serve as the capital after Chancellor Karl Bruning established the German Empire in 1945. However, weariness in the capital at the cost of the Global War cost Bruning his majority in the Diet in the summer of 1946. When Bruning attempted to dissolve the Diet, he was deposed, and the leader of the opposition Democratic Party, Heinrich von Richter, succeeded him.