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Court Clique (Camarilla)

Court Clique (Camarilla) After the victory of the March revolution, the Prussian King Frederick William IV, concerned about the co urse of the revolution, had not only promised constitutional concessions and Prussian initiatives to unify Germany, but in a speech in Potsdam had also dashed the hopes of the officer corps for military action against the revolution. By the end of March, he had ordered the leading liberals, Camphausen and Hansemann, to form a new government. In response, on March 30, leading military officers and officials of the old regime formed the court clique, or court party, which as a ministère occul te was expected to consolidate the power of the crown as a second government, or a counter-government against revolution and the bourgeois' claim to power. The court clique was mainly based in the general adjutancy which was headed by the Adjutants General von Rauch and von Neumann, by General Leopold von Gerlach, the confidant of the king, by the House Minister Ludwig von Massow and, from autumn on, also by the Magdeburg Appellate Court President and conservative ideologue Ernst Ludwig von Gerlac h.

The ministere occulte, proceeding from the standpoint of the monarchical principle, aimed to strengthen the king against the new ministry and, if needed, to pressure it, to supervise the activities of the government, to prevent the writing of a constitution according to the French model, and to develop the preconditions for a later counter-revolution, including the establishment of close contacts with the tsarist court. The court clique considered it particularly import ant th at the army be strengthened and cordoned off against democratic and liberal movements. However, the experiences gained during the March revolution had convinced it that the success of the counter-revolution should not depend solely on the deployment of the army merely to prevent a gathering of the bourgeois-oppositional and revolutionary forces.

Restoration of power should be made step by step without provoking a total break with constitutionalism. In the summer months the court clique w as involved in the foundation of the Neue Preussische Zeitung (New Prussian Newspaper = Kreuzzeitung) and conservative associations which, apart from the vindication of the privileges of the landed aristocracy, had addressed themselves to other strata who felt threatened by the revolution, to increase the impact by broadening its popular basis among the common people. In July and August Rauch negotiated with the liberal politician Georg von Vincke to gain acceptance amon g bourgeoi s strata for a possible coup d'etat. But Vincke declined the office of prime minister, so the court clique, after the fall of the Auerswald government, had no suitable successor. The clique thought this all the more alarming since another swing to the left in the Prussian parliament threatened the power of the crown and the position of the nobility. Nevertheless, when the king appointed as prime minister General von Pfuel, who wanted to come to terms with parliament on the future constitution, the court c lique instigated his ouster. Conditions for the coup developed with the nomination of General Graf Brandenburg as premier-elect, reinforcement of the troops around Berlin, and the defeat of the Vienna October uprising. The court clique, on October 31, arranged with the king to trigger the coup d'etat. But its doctrinaire conservative views prompted Brandenburg frequently to escape from the influence of the court clique. It failed to perceive the inevitability nor to the sense the importanc e of the Decem ber constitution. In 1849 the court clique also resisted the Radowitz's policies of union. The Prussian ambassador in St. Petersburg Rauch encouraged tsarism and Leopold von Gerlach encouraged the Bavarian government to resist.

Konrad Canis


Canis, Konrad "Ideologie und politische Taktik der junkerlich- militarischen Reaktion bei der Vorbereitung und Durchführung des Staatsstreiches in Preussen im Herbst 1848 " Jahrbuch für Geschichte VII (1972), 459 ff.

Klein, Manfred. "Die Rolle der Feudaljunkerlichen Reaktion in der Revolution von 1848/49.ibid. XVII, 317 ff.

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Krista Durchik revised this file ( courte.htm) o n April 20, 1998.

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© 1998 James Chastain.