Ludwig Windthorst (17 January 1812 – 14 March 1891) was a German politician and leader of the Catholic Centre Party and the most notable opponent of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck during the Prussian-led unification of Germany and the Kulturkampf.

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  • Ludwig Windthorst (17 January 1812 – 14 March 1891) was a German politician and leader of the Catholic Centre Party and the most notable opponent of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck during the Prussian-led unification of Germany and the Kulturkampf. Anderson argues that he was "Imperial Germany's greatest parliamentarian" and bears comparison with Irishmen Daniel O'Connell and Charles Stewart Parnell "in his handling of party machinery and his relation to the masses."He entered politics during the revolutionary years of 1848 and 1849 in the Protestant Kingdom of Hanover, where his legal and political skills overcame the handicap of near blindness and being in an unpopular minority. He supported Hanoverian independence ("particularism") and was loyal to monarchism. He was not a Liberal but they admired his opposition to the king's reactionary policies and his strong support for an independent judiciary and the rights of the accused. He served in 1851 and 1862 as minister of justice.When Prussia absorbed Hanover and then set up the German Empire in 1871, Windthorst dealt with the new state of affairs and became a leader of the all-Catholic Centre Party. It won over 80% of the Catholic vote in a new nation that was one-third Catholic. He opposed Bismarck's harassment of minorities such as Catholics, Hanoverian Guelphs, Poles, Danes, and Alsatians. He argued for natural law as the basis of political rights. He perfected the arts of opposition, forming alliances that could win majorities. The Centre party became what Anderson calls "a liberal party manque." That is, it kept its distance from the anti-Catholic National Liberal Party but championed the rights of minorities, the powers of parliament, and the rule of law against Bismarck's moves.In the 1870s, he was a vigorous enemy of the Bismarck's Kulturkampf, which persecuted the Catholic Church in Prussia in an effort to destroy papal control. Bismarck eventually lost, but it was Pope Leo XIII who negotiated with Bismarck in the end, cutting out Windthorst. (en)
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  • Windthorst in 1889 (en)
  • Windthorst in 1872 (en)
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  • 1891-03-14 (xsd:date)
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  • Windthorst, Ludwig (en)
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  • Ludwig Windthorst (17 January 1812 – 14 March 1891) was a German politician and leader of the Catholic Centre Party and the most notable opponent of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck during the Prussian-led unification of Germany and the Kulturkampf. (en)
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  • Ludwig Windthorst (en)
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