German ruler, Junker noble, 1815-98, who is a synonyn for his political pragmatism and success. Became chancellor of Prussia as monarchies were finally losing last power, nationalism and centralization were on the rise, and before the real democracy took control of governments--i.e., the most powerful age of ministers and chancellors. Led the unification of Germany through Prussian dominance, secured that rule from many internal and external problems, and loyally kept his king and class in power.
In foreign affairs proved himself brilliant, by playing off all the small german states against the other of the two largest German states, Austria. Convinced nearby power Italy to help/stay out of a war between Austria and Prussia, by promising them disputed provinces. Went to war for that, performed very well, with a newly industrialized army, and was then able to scare all the other states into joining with a greater German government, under the Hohenzollern king of Prussia. However, a united Germany was the fear of Europe ever since the Peace of Westphalia and the Holy Roman Empire, and needed to secure it's place. So he performed similar isolation against France and instigated with the dictator Napoleon III the Franco-Prussian War. Many saw this as a balance of two great powers, but an overwhelming defeat of the untrained and un-industrialized French army, humiliated France and forced them into the humiliating 1871 Treaty of Versailles where they had to recognize the new unified nation of Germany, and Bismarck himself had to set up the new government for France, the Third Republic. This rise of germany, was referred to as the Second Reich, and the use of and triumph over external enemies to unite internally, was classic Bismarckian politics.
Internally, Bismarck, from the upper noble and industrial class, easily placated that side of the political spectrum. Demands for democracy and socialism were increasing in this new nationalism, led by agitators like Karl Marx in tumultuous nineteenth century Europe. He did not do mass suppression of political rights as many governments did at this point, but instead provided a small welfare state (health insurance, protection to workers, allowed to make unions) that did not give up much power at all, but placated the workers, and totally took away the power of any revolutionaries. Only moderate liberals, characterized by the new SPD - Socialist Party, far more centrist than other socialist parties in Europe, survived at all, and thus much internal strife was avoided.
I wrote this node as my second one, to be paired with Joseph II as the the ultimate liberal. Bismarck's pragmatism combined with Joseph's motivation, was the true progressive politician.