Germany’s Monarch: Kaiser Wilhelm or Emperor William

All educated Americans today know that the ruler of pre-WWI Imperial Germany was Kaiser Wilhelm, and such information is presented in virtually all modern historical texts.  However, this appears to merely represent a residue of wartime anti-German propaganda.

Prior to the outbreak of war, the American media seems to have almost always referred to Germany’s monarch as “Emperor William,” and the gradual name-shift to “Kaiser Wilhelm” both during and after the war was presumably intended to heighten the impression that he constituted a dangerous and alien foreign enemy, rather than Queen Victoria’s eldest grandchild. A little browsing in the Google nGram system seems to confirm this impression.

The explains the strange anomaly of this word selection.  After all, American history books always refer to Frederick the Great rather than Friedrich der Grosse, Henry IV of France rather than Henri IV, and Peter the Great rather than Pyotr the Great.

A small sample of a dozen pre-WWI usage references, across a range of prominent American periodicals:

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