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Frederick II (Frederick the Great)
Frederick II, aged 68, by Anton Graff
King of Prussia; Elector of Brandenburg
Reign 1740–1786
Predecessor Frederick William I
Successor Frederick William II
Spouse Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Bevern
House House of Hohenzollern
Father Frederick William I of Prussia
Mother Sophia Dorothea of Hanover
Born 24 January 1712(1712-01-24)
Berlin, Prussia
Died 17 August 1786 (aged 74)
Potsdam, Prussia
Burial Sanssouci, Potsdam

Frederick II (German: Friedrich II.; 24 January 1712  – 17 August 1786) was a King of Prussia (1740–1786) from the Hohenzollern dynasty.[1] In his role as a prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire, he was Frederick IV (Friedrich IV.) of Brandenburg. He was in personal union the sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuchâtel. He became known as Frederick the Great (Friedrich der Große) and was nicknamed der alte Fritz ("Old Fritz").

Interested primarily in the arts during his youth, Frederick unsuccessfully attempted to flee from his authoritarian father, Frederick William I, after which he was forced to watch the execution of a childhood friend named Hans Hermann von Katte. Upon ascending to the Prussian throne, he attacked Austria and claimed Silesia during the Silesian Wars, winning military acclaim for himself and Prussia. Near the end of his life, Frederick united most of his disconnected realm through the First Partition of Poland.

Frederick was a proponent of enlightened absolutism. For years he was a correspondent of Voltaire, with whom the king had an intimate, if turbulent, friendship. He modernized the Prussian bureaucracy and civil service and promoted religious tolerance throughout his realm. Frederick patronized the arts and philosophers, and wrote flute music. Frederick is buried at his favorite residence, Sanssouci in Potsdam. Because he died childless, Frederick was succeeded by his nephew, Frederick William II of Prussia, son of his brother, Prince Augustus William of Prussia.

Contents

Youth

Frederick was born in Berlin the son of King Frederick William I of Prussia and Sophia Dorothea of Hanover. The so-called "Soldier-King", Frederick William had developed a formidable army and encouraged centralization, but was also known for his authoritarianism and temper. He would strike men in the face with his cane and kick women in the street, justifying his outbursts as religious righteousness. In contrast, Sophia was well-mannered and well-educated. Her father, George, Elector of Hanover, was the heir of Queen Anne of Great Britain. George succeeded as King George I of Great Britain in 1714.

The birth of Frederick was welcomed by his grandfather with more than usual pleasure, as two of his grandsons had already died at an early age. Frederick William wished his sons and daughters to be educated not as royalty, but as simple folk. He had been educated by a Frenchwoman, Madame de Montbail, who later became Madame de Rocoulle, and he wished that she should educate his children. Frederick was brought up by Huguenot governesses and tutors and learned French and German simultaneously. In spite of his father's desire that his education be entirely religious and pragmatic, the young Frederick, with the help of his tutor Jacques Duhan, procured for himself a three thousand volume secret library of poetry, Greek and Roman classics, and French philosophy to supplement his official lessons.[2]

Although Frederick William I was raised a devout Calvinist, he feared he was not of the elect. To avoid the possibility of Frederick having the same motives, the king ordered that his heir not be taught about predestination. Although he was largely irreligious, Frederick adopted this tenet of Calvinism, despite the king's efforts. It is unknown if the crown prince did this to spite his father, or out of genuine religious belief.[3]

Crown Prince

Frederick as King in Prussia

In early 1730, Queen Sophia Dorothea attempted to orchestrate a dual marriage of Frederick and his sister Wilhelmina with Amelia and Frederick, the children of King George II of Great Britain. Fearing an alliance between Prussia and Great Britain, Field Marshal von Seckendorff, the Austrian ambassador in Berlin, bribed Field Marshal von Grumbkow and Benjamin Reichenbach, the Prussian Minister of War and Prussian ambassador in London, respectively. The pair discreetly slandered the British and Prussian courts in the eyes of the two kings. Angered by the idea of the effete Frederick being so honored by Britain, Frederick William presented impossible demands to the British, such as Prussia acquiring Jülich and Berg, leading to the collapse of the marriage proposal.[4]

Frederick found an ally in his sister, Wilhelmina, with whom he remained close for life. At age 16, Frederick had formed an attachment to the king's 13-year-old page, Peter Karl Christoph Keith. Wilhelmina recorded that the two "soon became inseparable. Keith was intelligent, but without education. He served my brother from feelings of real devotion, and kept him informed of all the king's actions."[5]

When he was 18, Frederick plotted to flee to England with Hans Hermann von Katte and other junior army officers. While the royal retinue was near Mannheim in the Electoral Palatinate, Robert Keith, Peter's brother, had an attack of conscience when the conspirators were preparing to escape and begged Frederick William for forgiveness on 5 August 1730;[6] Frederick and Katte were subsequently arrested and imprisoned in Küstrin. Because they were army officers who had tried to flee Prussia for Great Britain, Frederick William leveled an accusation of treason against the pair. The king threatened the crown prince with the death penalty, then considered forcing Frederick to renounce the succession in favour of his brother, Augustus William, although either option would have been difficult to justify to the Reichstag of the Holy Roman Empire.[7] The king forced Frederick to watch the decapitation of his confidant Katte at Küstrin on 6 November, leaving the crown prince to faint away and suffer hallucinations for the following two days.[8]

Frederick was granted a royal pardon and released from his cell on 18 November, although he remained stripped of his military rank.[9] Instead of returning to Berlin, however, he was forced to remain in Küstrin and began rigorous schooling in statecraft and administration for the War and Estates Departments on 20 November. Tensions eased slightly when Frederick William visited Küstrin a year later, and Frederick was allowed to visit Berlin on the occasion of his sister Wilhelmina's marriage to Margrave Frederick of Bayreuth on 20 November 1731. The crown prince returned to Berlin after finally being released from his tutelage at Küstrin on 26 February 1732.

Frederick William considered marrying Frederick to Elisabeth of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, the niece of Empress Anna of Russia, but this plan was ardently opposed by Prince Eugene of Savoy. Frederick himself proposed marrying Maria Theresa of Austria in return for renouncing the succession. Instead, Eugene persuaded Frederick William, through Seckendorff, that the crown prince should marry Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Bevern, a Protestant relative of the Austrian Habsburgs.[10] Although Frederick wrote to his sister that, "There can be neither love nor friendship between us,"[5] and he considered suicide, he went along with the wedding on 12 June 1733. He had little in common with his bride and resented the political marriage as an example of the Austrian interference which had plagued Prussia since 1701. Once Frederick secured the throne in 1740, he prevented Elisabeth from visiting his court in Potsdam, granting her instead Schönhausen Palace and apartments at the Berliner Stadtschloss. Frederick bestowed the title of the heir to the throne, "Prince of Prussia", on his brother Augustus William; despite this, his wife remained devoted to him.[11]

Frederick was restored to the Prussian Army as Colonel of the Regiment von der Goltz, stationed near Nauen and Neuruppin. When Prussia provided a contingent of troops to aid Austria during the War of the Polish Succession, Frederick studied under Prince Eugene of Savoy during the campaign against France on the Rhine.[12] Frederick William, weakened by gout brought about by the campaign, granted Frederick Schloss Rheinsberg in Rheinsberg, north of Neuruppin. In Rheinsberg, Frederick assembled a small number of musicians, actors and other artists. He spent his time reading, watching dramatic plays, making and listening to music, and regarded this time as one of the happiest of his life. Frederick formed the "Bayard Order" to discuss warfare with his friends; Heinrich August de la Motte Fouqué was made the grand master of the gathering.

The works of Niccolò Machiavelli, such as The Prince, were considered a guideline for the behavior of a king in Frederick's age. In 1739, Frederick finished his Anti-Machiavel, an idealistic refutation of Machiavelli. It was published anonymously in 1740, but Voltaire distributed it in Amsterdam to great popularity.[13] Frederick's years dedicated to the arts instead of politics ended upon the 1740 death of Frederick William and his inheritance of the Kingdom of Prussia.

Kingship

Growth of Brandenburg-Prussia (1600-1795).

Before his accession, Frederick was told by D'Alembert, "The philosophers and the men of letters in every land have long looked upon you, Sire, as their leader and model." Such devotion, however, had to be tempered by political realities. When Frederick ascended the throne as "King in Prussia" in 1740, Prussia consisted of scattered territories, including Cleves, Mark, and Ravensberg in the west of the Holy Roman Empire; Brandenburg, Hither Pomerania, and Farther Pomerania in the east of the Empire; and the former Duchy of Prussia, outside of the Empire bordering the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. He was titled King in Prussia because this was only part of historic Prussia; he was to declare himself King of Prussia after acquiring most of the rest in 1772.

Warfare

Battle of Hohenfriedberg, Attack of the Prussian Infantry, by Carl Röchling. Oil on canvas.

Frederick's goal was to modernize and unite his vulnerably disconnected lands; toward this end, he fought wars mainly against Austria, whose Habsburg dynasty reigned as Holy Roman Emperors, almost continuously from the 15th century until 1806. Frederick established Prussia as the fifth and smallest European great power by using the resources his frugal father had cultivated.

Desiring the prosperous Austrian province of Silesia, Frederick declined to endorse the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713, a legal mechanism to ensure the inheritance of the Habsburg domains by Maria Theresa of Austria. He was also worried that Augustus III, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony, would seek to connect his own disparate lands through Silesia. The Prussian king thus invaded Silesia the same year he took power, using as justification an obscure treaty from 1537 between the Hohenzollerns and the Piast dynasty of Brieg (Brzeg). The ensuing First Silesian War (1740–1742), part of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–1748), resulted in Frederick conquering the province (with the exception of Austrian Silesia). Austria attempted to recover Silesia in the Second Silesian War (1744–1745), but Frederick was victorious again and forced Austria to adhere to the previous peace terms. Prussian possession of Silesia gave the kingdom control over the Oder River.

Battle of Rossbach, a tactical victory for Frederick.

Habsburg Austria and Bourbon France, traditional enemies, allied together in the Diplomatic Revolution of 1756 following the collapse of the Anglo-Austrian Alliance. Frederick swiftly made an alliance with Great Britain at the Convention of Westminster. As neighboring countries began conspiring against him, Frederick was determined to strike first. On 29 August 1756 his well-prepared army crossed the frontier and preemptively invaded Saxony, thus beginning the Seven Years' War which lasted until 1763. He faced widespread criticism for his attack on neutral Saxony and for his forcible incorporation of the Saxony forces into the Prussian army following the Siege of Pirna in October 1756.

Facing a coalition which included Austria, France, Russia, Saxony, and Sweden, and having only Great Britain and Hanover as his allies, Frederick narrowly kept Prussia in the war despite having his territories frequently invaded. Frederick was frequently at the last gasp. On 6 January 1762, he wrote to Count Karl-Wilhelm Finck von Finckenstein, "We ought now to think of preserving for my nephew, by way of negotiation, whatever fragments of my territory we can save from the avidity of my enemies", which means, that he was resolved to seek a soldier's death on the first opportunity.

The sudden death of Empress Elizabeth of Russia, an event dubbed the miracle of the House of Brandenburg, led to the collapse of the anti-Prussian coalition. Although Frederick did not gain any territory in the ensuing Treaty of Hubertusburg, his ability to retain Silesia during the Silesian Wars made him and Prussia popular throughout many German-speaking territories.

Late in his life Frederick also involved Prussia in the low-scale War of the Bavarian Succession in 1778, in which he stifled Austrian attempts to exchange the Austrian Netherlands for Bavaria. When Emperor Joseph II tried the scheme again in 1784, Frederick created the Fürstenbund, allowing himself to be seen as a defender of German liberties, in contrast to his earlier role of attacking the imperial Habsburgs.

Frederick frequently led his military forces personally and had six horses shot from under him during battle. Frederick is often admired as one of the greatest tactical geniuses of all time, especially for his usage of the oblique order of battle. Even more important were his operational successes, especially preventing the unification of numerically superior opposing armies and being at the right place at the right time to keep enemy armies out of Prussian core territory. In a letter to his mother Maria Theresa, the Austrian co-ruler Emperor Joseph II wrote,

When the King of Prussia speaks on problems connected with the art of war, which he has studied intensively and on which he has read every conceivable book, then everything is taut, solid and uncommonly instructive. There are no circumlocutions, he gives factual and historical proof of the assertions he makes, for he is well versed in history… A genius and a man who talks admirably. But everything he says betrays the knave."[14]

An example of the place that Frederick holds in history as a ruler is seen in Napoleon Bonaparte, who saw the Prussian king as the greatest tactical genius of all time;[15] after Napoleon's defeat of the Fourth Coalition in 1807, he visited Frederick's tomb in Potsdam and remarked to his officers, "Gentlemen, if this man were still alive I would not be here".[16]

Frederick the Great's most notable and decisive military victories on the battlefield were the Battles of Hohenfriedberg, Rossbach, and Leuthen.

First Partition of Poland

The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth after the First Partition (1772)

Empress Catherine II took the Imperial Russian throne in 1762 after the murder of her husband, Peter III. Catherine was staunchly opposed to Prussia, while Frederick disapproved of Russia, whose troops had been allowed to freely cross the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth during the Seven Years' War. Despite the two monarchs' dislike of each other, Frederick and Catherine signed a defensive alliance on 11 April 1764 which guaranteed Prussian control of Silesia in return for Prussian support for Russia against Austria or the Ottoman Empire. Catherine's candidate for the Polish throne, Stanisław August Poniatowski, was then elected King of Poland in September of that year.

Frederick became concerned, however, after Russia gained significant influence over Poland in the Repnin Sejm of 1767, an act which also threatened Austria and the Ottoman Turks. In the ensuing Russo-Turkish War (1768–1774), Frederick supported Catherine with a subsidy of 300,000 roubles with reluctance as he did not want Russia to become even stronger through the acquisitions of Ottoman territory. The Prussian king achieved a rapprochement with Emperor Joseph and the Austrian chancellor Kaunitz. As early as 1731 Frederick had suggested in a letter to Field Marshal Dubislav Gneomar von Natzmer that the country would be well-served by annexing Polish Prussia in order to unite the eastern territories of the Kingdom of Prussia.[17]

After Russia occupied the Danubian Principalities, Frederick's representative in Saint Petersburg, his brother Henry, convinced Frederick and Maria Theresa that the balance of power would be maintained by a tripartite division of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth instead of Russia taking land from the Ottomans. In the First Partition of Poland in 1772, Frederick claimed most of the Polish province of Royal Prussia. Prussia annexed 20,000 mi² and 600,000 inhabitants, the least of the partitioning powers.[18] However, the new West Prussia united East Prussia with Brandenburg and Hinterpommern and granted Prussia control of the mouth of the Vistula River. Although Maria Theresa had reluctantly agreed to the partition, Frederick commented, "she cries, but she takes".[19]

Frederick quickly began improving the infrastructure of West Prussia, reforming its administrative and legal code, and improving the school system.[20] However, Frederick looked upon many of his new citizens with scorn. He had nothing but contempt for the szlachta, the numerous Polish nobility, and wrote that Poland had "the worst government in Europe with the exception of Turkey".[19] He considered West Prussia as uncivilized as Colonial Canada[21] and compared the Poles to the Iroquois.[19] In a letter to Henry, Frederick wrote about the province that "it is a very good and advantageous acquisition, both from a financial and a political point of view. In order to excite less jealousy I tell everyone that on my travels I have seen just sand, pine trees, heath land and Jews. Despite that there is a lot of work to be done; there is no order, and no planning and the towns are in a lamentable condition."[22] Frederick invited German immigrants to redevelop the province,[20] also hoping they would displace the Poles.[23] Many German officials also regarded the Poles with contempt.[21] Frederick did befriend some Poles, such as Ignacy Krasicki, whom he asked to consecrate St. Hedwig's Cathedral in 1773. He also advised his successors to learn Polish, a policy followed by the Hohenzollern dynasty until Frederick III decided not to let William II learn the language.[20]

Modernization

Frederick the Great during the Seven Years' War, painting by Richard Knötel.

Frederick managed to transform Prussia from a European backwater to an economically strong and politically reformed state. His acquisition of Silesia was orchestrated so as to provide Prussia's fledgling industries with raw materials, and he protected these industries with high tariffs and minimal restrictions on internal trade. Canals were built, including between the Vistula and the Oder, swamps were drained for agricultural cultivation, and new crops, such as the potato and the turnip, were introduced. Frederick regarded his reclamation of land in the Oderbruch as a province conquered in peace.[21] With the help of French experts, he reorganized the system of indirect taxes, which provided the state with more revenue than direct taxes. Frederick the Great commissioned Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky to promote the trade and - to take on the competition with France - put a silk factory where soon 1,500 persons found employment. Frederick the Great followed his recommendations in the field of toll levies and import restrictions. In 1763 when Gotzkowsky went broke during a financial crisis, which started in Amsterdam, Frederick took over his porcelain factory, known as KPM, but refused to buy more of his paintings.

During the reign of Frederick, the effects of the Seven Years' War and the gaining of Silesia greatly changed the economy. The circulation of depreciated money kept prices high. To revalue the Thaler, the Mint Edict of May 1763 was proposed. This stabilized the rates of depreciated coins that would not be accepted and provided for the payments of taxes in currency of prewar value. This was replaced in northern Germany by the Reichsthaler, worth one-fourth of a Conventionsthaler. Prussia used a Thaler containing one-fourteenth of a Cologne mark of silver. Many other rulers soon followed the steps of Frederick in reforming their own currencies – this resulted in a shortage of ready money thus lowering prices.[24]

Frederick gave his state a modern bureaucracy whose mainstay until 1760 was the able War and Finance Minister Adam Ludwig von Blumenthal, succeeded in 1764 by his nephew Joachim who ran the ministry to the end of the reign and beyond. Prussia's education system was seen as one of the best in Europe. Frederick also abolished torture and corporal punishment.

Frederick began titling himself "King of Prussia" after the acquisition of Royal Prussia (West Prussia) in 1772; the phrasing "King in Prussia" had been used since the coronation of Frederick I in Königsberg in 1701.

Religious tolerance

Frederick generally supported religious toleration, including the retention of Jesuits as teachers in Silesia, Warmia, and the Netze District after their suppression by Pope Clement XIV. He was interested in attracting a diversity of skills to his country, whether from Jesuit teachers, Huguenot citizens, or Jewish merchants and bankers, particularly from Spain. He wanted development throughout the country, specifically in areas that he judged as needing a particular kind of development. As an example of this practical-minded but not fully unprejudiced tolerance, Frederick wrote in his Testament politique that:

We have too many Jews in the towns. They are needed on the Polish border because in these areas Hebrews alone perform trade. As soon as you get away from the frontier, the Jews become a disadvantage, they form cliques, they deal in contraband and get up to all manner of rascally tricks which are detrimental to Christian burghers and merchants. I have never persecuted anyone from this or any other sect [sic]; I think, however, it would be prudent to pay attention, so that their numbers do not increase.[25]

Jews on the Polish border were therefore encouraged to perform all the trade they could and received all the protection and support from the king as any other Prussian citizen. The success in integrating the Jews into those areas of society that Frederick encouraged them in can be seen by the role played by Gerson von Bleichröder in financing Bismarck's efforts to reunite Germany.[26]

As under Frederick much wasteland was made arable Prussia was looking for new colonists. Frederick repeatedly emphasized that nationality and religion were of no concern to him. [27]

Architecture

Frederick had famous buildings constructed in his capital, Berlin, most of which still exist today, such as the Berlin State Opera, the Royal Library (today the State Library Berlin), St. Hedwig's Cathedral, and Prince Henry's Palace (now the site of Humboldt University). However, the king preferred spending his time in his summer residence Potsdam, where he built the palace of Sanssouci, the most important work of Northern German rococo. Sanssouci, which translates from French as "carefree" or "without worry", was a refuge for Frederick. "Frederician Rococo" developed under Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff.

South or garden facade and corps de logis of Sanssouci.

Music, arts, and learning

The Flute Concert of Sanssouci by Adolph von Menzel, 1852, depicts Frederick playing the flute in his music room at Sanssouci.

Frederick was a gifted musician who played the transverse flute. He composed 100 sonatas for the flute as well as four symphonies. The Hohenfriedberger Marsch, a military march, was supposedly written by Frederick to commemorate his victory in the Battle of Hohenfriedberg during the Second Silesian War. His court musicians included C. P. E. Bach, Johann Joachim Quantz, and Franz Benda. A meeting with Johann Sebastian Bach in 1747 in Potsdam led to Bach writing The Musical Offering.

Frederick also aspired to be a philosopher-king like the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. The king joined the Freemasons in 1738 and stood close to the French Enlightenment, admiring above all its greatest thinker, Voltaire, with whom he corresponded frequently. The personal friendship of Frederick and Voltaire came to an unpleasant end after Voltaire's visit to Berlin and Potsdam in 1750–1753, although they reconciled from afar in later years.

Frederick invited Joseph-Louis Lagrange to succeed Leonhard Euler at the Berlin Academy. Other writers attracted to the philosopher's kingdom were Francesco Algarotti, d'Argens, Julien Offray de La Mettrie, and Pierre Louis Maupertuis. Immanuel Kant published religious writings in Berlin which would have been censored elsewhere in Europe.

In addition to his native language, German, Frederick spoke French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian; he also understood Latin, ancient and modern Greek, and Hebrew. Preferring instead French culture, Frederick disliked the German language, literature, and culture, explaining that German authors "pile parenthesis upon parenthesis, and often you find only at the end of an entire page the verb on which depends the meaning of the whole sentence".[28] His criticism led many German writers to attempt to impress Frederick with their writings in the German language and thus prove its worthiness. Many statesmen, including Baron vom und zum Stein, were also inspired by Frederick's statesmanship. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe gave his opinion of Frederick during a visit to Strasbourg (Strassburg) by writing:

Well we had not much to say in favour of the constitution of the Reich; we admitted that it consisted entirely of lawful misuses, but it rose therefore the higher over the present French constitution which is operating in a maze of lawful misuses, whose government displays its energies in the wrong places and therefore has to face the challenge that a thorough change in the state of affairs is widely prophesied. In contrast when we looked towards the north, from there shone Frederick, the Pole Star, around whom Germany, Europe, even the world seemed to turn…[29]

Sexuality

Some historians [30] have speculated that Frederick the Great was homosexual, or bisexual (and perhaps possibly celibate), and his relationship with Hans Hermann von Katte was widely speculated in the Prussian court to be romantic.[8] After Katte's execution by Frederick's father, Frederick was forced to marry Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Bevern, with whom he had no children. He immediately separated from his wife when Frederick William I died in 1740. In later years, Frederick would pay his wife formal visits only once a year.[31]

Frederick spent much of his time at Sanssouci, his favourite residence in Potsdam. The grounds there included a Friendship Temple celebrating the homoerotic attachments of Greek Antiquity, decorated with portraits of Orestes and Pylades, among others.[32] At Sanssouci Frederick entertained his most privileged guests, especially the French philosopher Voltaire, whom he asked in 1750 to come to live with him. The correspondence between Frederick and Voltaire, which spanned almost 50 years, was marked by mutual intellectual fascination. In person, however, their friendship was often contentious, as Voltaire abhorred Frederick's militarism. Voltaire's jealous attack in the press on one of Frederick's literary companions made him no longer welcome in Prussia; on his return to France in 1753 he anonymously published The Private Life of the King of Prussia, wittily claiming Frederick's homosexuality and parade of male lovers. Frederick neither admitted nor denied the contents of the book. Voltaire and Frederick soon thereafter amicably resumed their correspondence.[33]

Other historians disagree on the nature of Frederick's sexuality, saying that Frederick's writings indicate that he simply had greater priorities than women. But the French professor Dieudonné Thiébault declared that Frederick had mistresses at Neuruppin[34]. Frederick's physician, Johann Georg Ritter von Zimmermann, claimed that the king let rumors of homosexuality appear to be true in order to avoid the public knowing that his genitalia were harmed by "a cruel surgical operation" to save his life from an unnamed venereal disease.[35] Historian Christopher Clark concludes Frederick "may well have abstained from sexual acts with anyone of either sex after his accession to the throne, and possibly even before. But if he did not do it, he certainly talked about it; the conversation of the inner court circle around him was peppered with homoerotic banter."[36]

Later years

Near the end of his life Frederick grew increasingly solitary. His circle of friends at Sanssouci gradually died off without replacements, and Frederick became increasingly critical and arbitrary, to the frustration of the civil service and officer corps. The populace of Berlin always cheered the king when he returned to the city from provincial tours or military reviews, but Frederick took no pleasure from his popularity with the common folk, preferring instead the company of his pet Italian greyhounds,[37] whom he referred to as his 'marquises de Pompadour' as a jibe at Madame de Pompadour.[38] Frederick died in an armchair in his study in the palace of Sanssouci on 17 August 1786.

Grave of Frederick at Sanssouci.

Frederick had wished to be buried next to his greyhounds on the vineyard terrace on the side of the corps de logis of Sanssouci. His nephew and successor Frederick William II instead ordered the body to be entombed next to his father in the church of the Potsdam garrison. During World War II, the catafalques of both Frederick and Frederick William I were transferred first to an underground bunker, later to a mineshaft close to the town of Bernrode to protect them from destruction. In 1945 the US Army transported both kings first to the Elisabeth Church of Marburg and then on to Burg Hohenzollern close to the town of Hechingen. After German reunification, the body of Frederick William was entombed in the Kaiser Friedrich Mausoleum in Sanssouci's Church of Peace.

There was an emotional debate in Germany whether the funeral of a former king of Prussia, who was responsible for many wars during his time and who had been exploited as a symbol both by Nazi Germany and the German Democratic Republic, should be regarded as a public matter or not. Despite numerous protests, on the 205th anniversary of his death, on 17 August 1991, Frederick's casket lay in state in the court of honor of Sanssouci, covered by a Prussian flag and escorted by a Bundeswehr guard of honour. After nightfall, Frederick's body was finally laid to rest on the terrace of the vineyard of Sanssouci, according to his last will without pomp and at night ("... Im übrigen will ich, was meine Person anbetrifft, in Sanssouci beigesetzt werden, ohne Prunk, ohne Pomp und bei Nacht..." (1757))..

Frederick in popular culture

In the 2004 German film Der Untergang, Adolf Hitler is shown sitting in a dark room forlornly gazing at a painting of Frederick shortly before taking his own life, possibly a reference to the dictator's fading hopes for another Miracle of the House of Brandenburg.

In the 1970 film Patton, General Patton incorrectly cites Frederick the Great as saying, "L'audace, l'audace, toujours l'audace!" ("Audacity, audacity — always audacity!")

King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, is named after the King of Prussia Inn, itself named in honor of Frederick.[39]

Prussia Street in Dublin, Ireland is named after Frederick the Great.[40]

Frederick has been included in the Civilization computer game series, the computer games Age of Empires III, Empire Earth II, Empire: Total War, and the board game Friedrich.

Frederick is the main protagonist in the webcomic Frederick the Great: A Most Lamentable Comedy Breaching Space and Time.

Frederick appears in the manga Hetalia: Axis Powers as Old Fritz, and is the boss of the character Prussia.

Ancestry

Frederick William
Elector of Brandenburg
 
Louise Henriette of Orange-Nassau
 
 
Ernest Augustus
Elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg
 
Sophia
of the Palatine
 
 
George William
Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg
 
Eleonore d'Esmier d'Olbreuse
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Frederick I
of Prussia
 
 
 
Sophia Charlotte
of Hanover
 
 
 
George I
of Great Britain
 
 
 
Sophia Dorothea
of Celle
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Frederick William I of Prussia
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sophia Dorothea of Hanover
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Frederick II of Prussia

Footnotes

  1. ^ Frederick was the third and last "King in Prussia"; beginning in 1772 he used the title "King of Prussia".
  2. ^ MacDonogh, p. 37
  3. ^ MacDonogh, p. 35
  4. ^ Reiners, p. 33
  5. ^ a b Crompton
  6. ^ MacDonogh, p. 63
  7. ^ Reiners, p. 41
  8. ^ a b N. Mitford, Frederick the Great, New York, 1970
  9. ^ Reiners, p. 52
  10. ^ Reiners, p. 63
  11. ^ Reiners, p. 69
  12. ^ Reiners, p. 71
  13. ^ MacDonogh, p. 125
  14. ^ Reiners, pp.247-248
  15. ^ Koch, p. 126
  16. ^ Koch, p. 160
  17. ^ MacDonogh, p. 78
  18. ^ Reiners, p.250
  19. ^ a b c Ritter, p. 192
  20. ^ a b c Koch, p. 136
  21. ^ a b c David Blackbourn. "Conquests from Barbarism": Interpreting Land Reclamation in 18th Century Prussia. Harvard University. Accessed 24 May 2006.
  22. ^ MacDonogh, p. 363
  23. ^ Norbert Finszch and Dietmar Schirmer. Identity and Intolerance: Nationalism, Racism, and Xenophobia in Germany and the United States. Cambridge University Press, 2006. ISBN 0521591589
  24. ^ W. O. Henderson. Studies in the economic policy of Frederick the Great. Cass. London, 1963.
  25. ^ MacDonogh, p. 347
  26. ^ Stern, p. 19
  27. ^ Frederick the Great: A Historical Profile Gerhard Ritter page 180. University of California Press, 1975
  28. ^ MacDonogh, p. 370
  29. ^ Koch, p. 138
  30. ^ Mitford, Reiners, Steakley, Henderson
  31. ^ L. Reiners, Frederick the Great, New York, 1960
  32. ^ J.D. Steakley, Sodomy in Enlightenment Prussia, Journal of Homosexuality, 16, 1/2 (1988): 163-175
  33. ^ S.W. Henderson, Frederick the Great of Prussia: A Homophile Perspective, Gai Saber,1,1 (1977): 46-54.
  34. ^ Mes souvenirs de vingt ans de séjour à Berlin, Paris, 1804, .5 vol.
  35. ^ Snyder, pp. 132-136
  36. ^ Clark, p. 188
  37. ^ Ritter, p. 200
  38. ^ MacDonogh, p. 366
  39. ^ "Historic Reeseville, Early King of Prussia, Pennsylvania". Accessed 24 May 2006.
  40. ^ http://www.irish-architecture.com/buildings_ireland/dublin/streets/index.html

Further reading

  • Bibliographie Friedrich der Grosse: 1786–1986. Das Schrifttum des deutschen Sprachraums und der Übersetzungen aus Fremdsprachen. Bearbeitet von Herzeleide (Henning) und Eckart Henning. Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter 1988. – XIX, 511 pp. ISBN 3-11-009921-7
  • (Reinhard) B(reymayer): Philosophe de Sans-Souci, Bibliographische Nachweise. In: Friedrich Christoph Oetinger: Die Lehrtafel der Prinzessin Antonia. Ed. by Reinhard Breymayer and Friedrich Häußermann, Teil 2. Anmerkungen. Berlin, New York 1977 (Texte zur Geschichte des Pietismus, Abt. VII, Bd. 1, Teil 2), pp. 258–266 [75 titles]; cf, further informnations pp. 267–312. ISBN 3-11-004130-8.
  • Asprey, Robert B. (1986). Frederick the Great: the Magnificent Enigma. New York: Ticknor & Fields. pp. 326. ISBN 0-89919-352-8. 
  • Clark, Christopher (2006). Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia 1600–1947. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard. pp. 776. ISBN 067402385-4. 
  • Crompton, Louis (2003). Homosexuality and Civilization. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard. ISBN 0-674-01197-X. 
  • Duffy, Christopher (1985). Frederick the Great. A military life. London: Routledge & K. Paul. ISBN 0710096496. 
  • Frank, Bruno; Translated from the German by H.T. Lowe Porter (1942). The Days Of The King. New York: Press of the Readers Club. pp. 236. ISBN 0836935063. 
  • Hubatsch, Walther (1975). Frederick the Great of Prussia: Absolutism and Administration. London: Thames and Hudson. pp. 302. 
  • Koch, H. W. (1978). A History of Prussia. New York: Barnes & Noble Books. pp. 326. ISBN 0-88029-158-3. 
  • Lavisse, Ernest; translated from French by Mary Bushnell Coleman (1892). The Youth of Frederick the Great. Chicago: S.C. Griggs and Company. 
  • MacDonogh, Giles (2001). Frederick the Great: A Life in Deed and Letters. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. pp. 436. ISBN 0-312-27266-9. 
  • Mitford, Nancy (1970). Frederick the Great. London: Hamish Hamilton. pp. 264. ISBN 0140036539. 
  • Reiners, Ludwig; Translated and adapted from the German by Lawrence P. R. Wilson (1960). Frederick the Great, a Biography. New York: G. P. Putnam & Sons. pp. 304. 
  • Ritter, Gerhard (1974). Frederick the Great: A Historical Profile. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 207. ISBN 0-520-02775-2. 
  • Snyder, Louis (1971). Frederick the Great. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall. pp. 182. ISBN 0133306054. 
  • Stern, Fritz (1979). Gold and Iron: Bismarck, Bleichröder, and the Building of the German Empire. New York: Vintage Books. pp. 620. ISBN 0-394-74034-3. 

See also

External links

Frederick II of Prussia
Born: 24 January 1712 Died: 17 August 1786
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Frederick William I
King in Prussia
1740 – 1772
Recreated
as King of Prussia
Elector of Brandenburg
as Frederick IV

1740 – 1786
Merged with Prussian crown
Prince of Neuchâtel
as Frederick II

1740 – 1786
Succeeded by
Frederick William II
New creation
King of Prussia
1772 – 1786
Preceded by
Charles Edzard
Count of Ostfriesland
1744 – 1786

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Frederick II of Prussia (1712-01-24 - 1786-08-17) was king of Prussia from 1740 to 1786. He was also known as Friedrich der Große (Frederick the Great)

Contents

Sourced

  • I think it better to keep a profound silence with regard to the Christian fables, which are canonized by their antiquity and the credulity of absurd and insipid people.
    • Letters of Voltaire and Frederick the Great (New York: Brentano's, 1927), trans. Richard Aldington, letter 37 from Frederick to Voltaire (June 1738)
  • A single Voltaire will do more honor to France than a thousand pedants, a thousand false wits, a thousand great men of inferior order.
    • Letters of Voltaire and Frederick the Great (New York: Brentano's, 1927), trans. Richard Aldington, letter 48 from Frederick to Voltaire (1740-01-06)
  • Alle Religionen sind gleich und gut, wenn nur die Leute, die sie praktizeren, ehrliche Leute sind; und wenn Türken und Heiden kämen und wollten das Lande pöpulieren, so wollen wir ihnen Moscheen und Kirchen bauen.
    • All Religions are equal and good, if only the people that practice them are honest people; and if Turks and heathens came and wanted to live here in this country, we would build them mosques and churches.
    • 1740 note on a question whether a Catholic was allowed the citizenship of a Prussian city.
  • Avec toute l’algèbre du monde on n’est souvent qu’un sot lorsqu’on ne sait pas autre chose. Peut-être dans dix ans la société tirera-t-elle de l’avantage des courbes que des songe-creux d’algébristes auront carrées laborieusement. J’en félicite d’avance la postérité; mais, à vous parler vrai, je ne vois dans tous ces calculs qu’une scientifique extravagance. Tout ce qui n’est ni utile ni agréable ne vaut rien. Quant aux choses utiles, elles sont toutes trouvées; et, pour les agréables, j’espère que le bon goût n’y admettra point d’algèbre.
    • [A] man with all the algebra in the world is often only an ass when he knows nothing else. Perhaps in ten years society may derive advantage from the curves which these visionary algebraists will have laboriously squared. I congratulate posterity beforehand. But to tell you the truth I see nothing but a scientific extravagance in all these calculations. That which is neither useful nor agreeable is worthless. And as for useful things, they have all been discovered; and to those which are agreeable, I hope that good taste will not admit algebra among them.
    • Letters of Voltaire and Frederick the Great (New York: Brentano's, 1927), trans. Richard Aldington, letter 93 from Frederick to Voltaire (1749-05-16)
  • Kerls, wollt ihr ewig leben?
    • Dogs, would you live forever?
    • Variation: Rogues, would you live forever? (Ihr Racke, wollen sie ewig leben?) [1]
    • Variation: Rascals, Do you want to life forever? (Kerls, wollt ihr denn ewig leben?)
    • Addressing retreating Prussians at the Battle of Kolin (1757-06-18)
  • Do you think I take any pleasure in this dog's life, in seeing and causing death in people unknown to me, in losing friends and acquaintances daily, in seeing my reputation ceaselessly exposed to the caprices of fortune, in spending the whole year with uneasiness and apprehension, in continually risking my life and my fortune? I certainly know the value of tranquility, the charms of society, the pleasures of life, and I like to be happy as much as anybody. Although I desire all these good things, I will not buy them with baseness and infamy. Philosophy teaches us to do our duty, to serve our country faithfully at the expense of our blood and of our repose, to commit our whole being to it.
    • Letters of Voltaire and Frederick the Great (New York: Brentano's, 1927), trans. Richard Aldington, letter 141 from Frederick to Voltaire (1759-07-02)
  • Neither antiquity nor any other nation has imagined a more atrocious and blasphemous absurdity than that of eating God. — This is how Christians treat the autocrat of the universe.
    • Letters of Voltaire and Frederick the Great (New York: Brentano's, 1927), trans. Richard Aldington, letter 215 from Frederick to Voltaire (1776-03-19)
  • It is disgusting to notice the increase in the quantity of coffee used by my subjects, and the amount of money that goes out of the country as a consequence. Everybody is using coffee; this must be prevented. His Majesty was brought up on beer, and so were both his ancestors and officers. Many battles have been fought and won by soldiers nourished on beer, and the King does not believe that coffee-drinking soldiers can be relied upon to endure hardships in case of another war.
    • 1777; quoted by Bert L. Vallée, Alcohol in the Western World, Scientific American, Vol. 278, No. 6 (June), 1998, pp. 80-85
  • As to your Newton, I confess I do not understand his void and his gravity; I admit he has demonstrated the movement of the heavenly bodies with more exactitude than his forerunners; but you will admit it is an absurdity to maintain the existence of Nothing.
    • Letters of Voltaire and Frederick the Great (New York: Brentano's, 1927), trans. Richard Aldington, letter 221 from Frederick to Voltaire (1777-11-25)
  • Je voulus faire un jet d’eau dans mon jardin; Euler calcula l’effort des roues pour faire monter l’eau dans un bassin, d’où elle devait retomber par des canaux, afin de jaillir à Sans-Souci. Mon moulin a été exécuté géométriquement, et il n’a pu élever une goutte d’eau à cinquante pas du bassin. Vanité des vanités! vanité de la géométrie!
    • I wanted to have a water jet in my garden: Euler calculated the force of the wheels necessary to raise the water to a reservoir, from where it should fall back through channels, finally spurting out in Sans Souci. My mill was carried out geometrically and could not raise a mouthful of water closer than fifty paces to the reservoir. Vanity of vanities! Vanity of geometry!
    • Letter H 7434 from Frederick to Voltaire (1778-01-25)
  • It has been said by a certain general, that the first object in the establishment of an army ought to be making provision for the belly, that being the basis and foundation of all operations.[2]
  • "I shall not survive this cruel misfortune. The consequences will be worse than defeat itself. I have no resources left, and, to speak quite frankly I believe everything is lost. I shall not outlive the downfall of my country. Farewell, forever!"

Unsourced

  • A hat that let the rain in.
    • About his crown.
  • Artillery adds dignity to what would otherwise be a vulgar brawl.
  • Before I endorse this sentence, I am curious to hear of the measures you want to employ for making a simple soldier pay 2000 Taler.
    • Bevor ich das gegenwärtige Urteil bestätige, bin Ich doch neugierig, die Mittel zu wissen, deren man sich bedienen will, einen Soldaten 2000 Taler bezahlen zu lassen.
    • Note on a verdict against a soldier who was sentenced to a fine of 2000 thaler for smuggling.
  • Diplomacy without power is like an orchestra without instruments.
  • I am the first servant of my state.
    • Ich bin der erste Diener meines Staates.
  • Religions must all be tolerated and the state has to keep an eye that none of them shall derogate the other, because here everyone must find his salvation in his own way.
    • Die Religionen müssen alle toleriert werden und der Fiscal muß nur das Auge darauf haben, dass Keine der Andern abruch tue, denn hier muß ein jeder nach seiner Fasson selig werden.
    • Reply on the question of his secretaries whether Catholic schools should be abolished in Protestant Prussia.
  • That the arrested man has committed blasphemy is a proof that he does not know God. That he has slandered me, I pardon him. But for his insulting of an honorable member of the council, he shall be punished as an example and be sent to Spandau prison for half an hour.
    • Dass der Arrestat Gott gelästert hat, ist ein Beweis, dass er ihn nicht kennt. Daß er mich gelästert hat, vergebe ich ihm; daß er aber einen edlen Rat gelästert hat, dafür soll er exemplarisch bestraft werden und auf eine halbe Stunde nach Spandau kommen.
    • Answering a question by a mayor how to punish a man that had committed blasphemy and insulted the king and the City Council.
  • The greatest and noblest pleasure which men can have in this world is to discover new truths; and the next is to shake off old prejudices.
  • The monarch is a perpetual sentinel, who must watch... enemies of the state... it is not that he should remain the shadow of authority, but that he should fulfill [his] duties.
  • The priest will stay. If he does not want to get up with the others on Judgement Day, he may well keep resting on his back.
    • Der Pfarrer bleibt. Wenn er am Jüngsten Tag nicht mit aufstehen will, kann er ruhig liegen bleiben.
    • Answer to the request of a parish in Pomerania to send a new priest, as the present one had ventured to deny the resurrection on Judgement Day.

Attributed

  • Like a long boat which follows in the wake of the warship to which it is tied.
    • On the decline of the Dutch Republic subject to British power
    • Attributed in T. C. W. Blanning, The Eighteenth Century (Oxford, 2000)
  • If my soldiers began to think, not one would remain in the ranks.
    • Attributed in J.A. Houlding, Fit for Service: The Training of the British Army, 1715-1795 (Oxford, 1981)

Misattributed

  • Audacity, audacity, always audacity!
    • Il nous faut de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace! [3]
    • We must dare, dare again, always dare!
    • Georges Danton, speech, Assemblée legislative, Paris (1792-09-02), reported in Le Moniteur (1792-09-04)

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

FREDERICK II, known as "the Great" (1712-1786), king of Prussia, born on the 24th of January 1712, was the eldest son of Frederick William I. He was brought up with extreme rigour, his father devising a scheme of education which was intended to make him a hardy soldier, and prescribing for him every detail of his conduct. So great was Frederick William's horror of everything which did not seem to him practical, that he strictly excluded Latin from the list of his son's studies. Frederick, however, had free and generous impulses which could not be restrained by the sternest system. Encouraged by his mother, and under the influence of his governess Madame de Roucoulle, and of his first tutor Duhan, a French refugee, he acquired an excellent knowledge of French and a taste for literature and music. He even received secret lessons in Latin, which his father invested with all the charms of forbidden fruit. As he grew up he became extremely dissatisfied with the dull and monotonous life he was compelled to lead; and his discontent was heartily shared by his sister, Wilhelmina, a bright and intelligent young princess for whom Frederick had a warm affection.

Frederick William, seeing his son apparently absorbed in frivolous and effeminate amusements, gradually conceived for him an intense ., dislike, which had its share in causing him to break off the negotiations for a double marriage between the prince of Wales and Wilhelmina, and the princess Amelia, daughter of George II., and Frederick; for Frederick had been so indiscreet as to carry on a separate correspondence with the English court and to vow that he would marry Amelia or no one. Frederick William's hatred of his son, openly avowed, displayed itself in violent outbursts and public insults, and so harsh was his treatment that Frederick frequently thought of running away and taking refuge at the English court. He at last resolved to do so during a journey which he made with the king to south Germany in 1730, when he was eighteen years of age. He was helped by his two friends, Lieutenant Katte and Lieutenant Keith; but by the imprudence of the former the secret was found out. Frederick was placed under arrest, deprived of his rank as crown prince, tried by court-martial, and imprisoned in the fortress of Ciistrin. Warned by Frederick, Keith escaped; but Katte delayed his flight too long, and a court-martial decided that he should be punished with two years' fortress arrest. But the king was determined by a terrible example to wake Frederick once for all to a consciousness of the heavy responsibility of his position. He changed the sentence on Katte to one of death and ordered the execution to take place in Frederick's presence, himself arranging its every detail; Frederick's own fate would depend upon the effect of this terrible object-lesson and the response he should make to the exhortations of the chaplain sent to reason with him. On the morning of the 7th of November Katte was beheaded before Frederick's window, after the crown prince had asked his pardon and received the answer that there was nothing to forgive. On Frederick himself lay the terror of death, and the chaplain was able to send to the king a favourable report of his orthodoxy and his changed disposition. Frederick William, whose temper was by no means so ruthlessly Spartan as tradition has painted it,was overjoyed, and commissioned the clergyman to receive from the prince an oath of filial obedience, and in exchange for this proof of "his intention to improve in real earnest" his arrest was to be lightened, pending the earning of a full pardon. "The whole town shall be his prison," wrote the king; "I will give him employment, from morning to night, in the departments of war, and agriculture, and of the government. He shall work at financial matters, receive accounts, read minutes and make extracts.... But if he kicks or rears again, he shall forfeit the succession to the crown, and even, according to circumstances, life itself." For about fifteen months Frederick lived in Ciistrin, busy according to the royal programme with the details of the Prussian administrative system. He was very careful not to "kick or rear," and his good conduct earned him a further stage in the restoration to favour. During this period of probation he had been deprived of his status as a soldier and refused the right to wear uniform, while officers and soldiers were forbidden to give him the military salute; in 1732 he was made colonel in command of the regiment at Neuruppin. In the following year he married, in obedience to the king's orders, the princess Elizabeth Christina, daughter of the duke of Brunswick-Bevern. He was given the estate of Rheinsberg in the neighbourhood of Neuruppin, and there he lived until he succeeded to the throne. These years were perhaps the happiest of his life. He discharged his duties with so much spirit and so conscientiously that he ultimately gained the esteem of Frederick William, who no longer feared that he would leave the crown to one unworthy of wearing it. At the same time the crown prince was able to indulge to the full his personal tastes. He carried on a lively correspondence with Voltaire and other French men of letters, and was a diligent student of philosophy, history and poetry. Two of his bestknown works were written at this time - Considerations sur l'etat present du corps politique de l'Euro pe and his Anti-Macchiavel. In the former he calls attention to the growing strength of Austria and France, and insists on the necessity of some third power, by which he clearly means Prussia, counterbalancing their excessive influence. The second treatise, which was issued by Voltaire in Hague in 1740, contains a generous exposition of some of the favourite ideas of the 18th-century philosophers respecting the duties of sovereigns, which may be summed up in the famous sentence: "the prince is not the absolute master, but only the first servant of his people." On the 31st of May 17 4 0 he became king. He maintained all the forms of government established by his father, but ruled in a far more enlightened spirit; he tolerated every form of religious opinion, abolished the use of torture, was most careful to secure an exact and impartial administration of justice, and, while keeping the reins of government strictly in his own hands, allowed every one with a genuine grievance free access to his presence. The Potsdam regiment of giants was disbanded, but the real interests of the army were carefully studied, for Frederick realized that the two pillars of the Prussian state were sound finances and a strong army. On the 10th of October 1740 the emperor Charles VI. died. Frederick at once began to make extensive military preparations, and it was soon clear to all the world that he intended to enter upon some serious enterprise. He had made up his mind to assert the ancient claim of the house of Brandenburg to the three Silesian duchies, which the Austrian rulers of Bohemia had ever denied, but the Hohenzollerns had never abandoned. Projects for the assertion of this claim by force of arms had been formed by more than one of Frederick's predecessors, and the extinction of the male line of the house of Habsburg may well have seemed to him a unique opportunity for realizing an ambition traditional in his family. For this resolution he is often abused still by historians, and at the time he had the approval of hardly any one out of Prussia. He himself, writing of the scheme in his Memoires, laid no claim to lofty motives, but candidly confessed that "it was a means of acquiring reputation and of increasing the power of the state." He firmly believed, however, in the lawfulness of his claims; and although his father had recognized the Pragmatic Sanction, whereby the hereditary dominions of Charles VI. were to descend to his daughter, Maria Theresa, Frederick insisted that this sanction could refer only to lands which rightfully belonged to the house of Austria. He could also urge that, as Charles VI. had not fulfilled the engagements by which Frederick William's recognition of the Pragmatic Sanction had been secured, Prussia was freed from her obligation.

Frederick sent an ambassador to Vienna, offering, in the event of his rights in Silesia being conceded, to aid Maria Theresa against her enemies. The queen of Hungary, who regarded the proposal as that of a mere robber, haughtily declined; whereupon Frederick immediately invaded Silesia with an army of 30,000 men. His first victory was gained at Mollwitz on the 10th of April 1741. Under the impression, in consequence of a furious charge of Austrian cavalry, that the battle was lost, he rode rapidly away at an early stage of the struggle - a mistake which gave rise for a time to the groundless idea that he lacked personal courage. A second Prussian victory was gained at Chotusitz, near Caslau, on the 17th May 1742; by this time Frederick was master of all the fortified places of Silesia. Maria Theresa, in the heat of her struggle with France and the elector of Bavaria, now Charles VII., and pressed by England to rid herself of Frederick, concluded with him, on the 11th of June 1742, the peace of Breslau, conceding to Prussia, Upper and Lower Silesia as far as the Oppa, together with the county of Glatz. Frederick made good use of the next two years, fortifying his new territory, and repairing the evils inflicted upon it by the war. By the death of the prince of East Friesland without heirs, he also gained possession of that country (1744). He knew well that Maria Theresa would not, if she could help it, allow him to remain in Silesia; accordingly, in 1744, alarmed by her victories, he arrived at a secret understanding with France, and pledged himself, with Hesse-Cassel and the palatinate, to maintain the imperial rights of Charles VII., and to defend his hereditary Bavarian lands. Frederick began the second Silesian War by entering Bohemia in August 1744 and taking Prague. By this brilliant but rash venture he put himself in great danger, and soon had to retreat; but in 1745 he gained the battles of Hohenfriedberg, Soor and Hennersdorf; and Leopold of Dessau ("Der alte Dessauer")won for him the victory of Kesselsdorf in Saxony. The latter victory was decisive, and the peace of Dresden (December 2 5, 1 745) assured to Frederick a second time the possession of Silesia. (See War Of The Austrian Succession.) Frederick had thus, at the age of thirty-three, raised himself to a great position in Europe, and henceforth he was the most conspicuous sovereign of his time. He was a thoroughly absolute ruler, his so-called ministers being mere clerks whose business was to give effect to his will. To use his own famous phrase, however, he regarded himself as but "the first servant of the state"; and during the next eleven years he proved that the words expressed his inmost conviction and feeling. All kinds of questions were submitted to him, important and unimportant; and he is frequently censured for having troubled himself so much with mere details. But in so far as these details related to expenditure he was fully justified, for it was absolutely essential for him to have a large army, and with a small state this was impossible unless he carefully prevented unnecessary outlay. Being a keen judge of character, he filled the public offices with faithful, capable, energetic men, who were kept up to a high standard of duty by the consciousness that their work might at any time come under his strict supervision. The Academy of Sciences, which had fallen into contempt during his father's reign, he restored, infusing into it vigorous life; and he did more to promote elementary education than any of his predecessors. He did much too for the economic development of Prussia, especially for agriculture; he established colonies, peopling them with immigrants, extended the canal system, drained and diked the great marshes of the Oderbruch, turning them into rich pasturage, encouraged the planting of fruit trees and of root crops; and, though in accordance with his ideas of discipline he maintained serfdom, he did much to lighten the burdens of the peasants. All kinds of manufacture, too, particularly that of silk, owed much to his encouragement. To the army he gave unremitting attention, reviewing it at regular intervals, and sternly punishing negligence on the part of the officers. Its numbers were raised to 160,000 men, while fortresses and magazines were always kept in a state of readiness for war. The influence of the king's example was felt far beyond the limits of his immediate circle. The nation was proud of his genius, and displayed something of his energy in all departments of life. Lessing, who as a youth of twenty came to Berlin in 1 749, composed enthusiastic odes in his honour, and Gleim, the Halberstadt poet, wrote of him as of a kind of demi-god. These may be taken as fair illustrations of the popular feeling long before the Seven Years' War.

He despised German as the language of boors, although it is remarkable that at a later period, in a French essay on German literature, he predicted for it a great future. He habitually wrote and spoke French, and had a strong ambition to rank as a distinguished French author. Nobody can now read his verses, but his prose writings have a certain calm simplicity and dignity, without, however, giving evidence of the splendid mental qualities which he revealed in practical life. To this period belong his Memoires pour servir d l'histoire de Brandebourg and his poem L' Art de la guerre. The latter, judged as literature, is intolerably dull; but the former is valuable, throwing as it does considerable light on his personal sympathies as well as on the motives of important epochs in his career. He continued to correspond with French writers, and induced a number of them to settle in Berlin, Maupertuis being president of the Academy. In 1752 Voltaire, who had repeatedly visited him, came at Frederick's urgent entreaty, and received a truly royal welcome. The famous Hirsch trial, and Voltaire's vanity and caprice, greatly lowered him in the esteem of the king, who, on his side, irritated his guest by often requiring him to correct bad verses, and by making him the object of rude banter. The publication of Doctor Akakia, which brought down upon the president of the Academy a storm of ridicule, finally alienated Frederick; while Voltaire's wrongs culminated in the famous arrest at Frankfort, the most disagreeable elements of which were due to the misunderstanding of an order by a subordinate official.

The king lived as much as possible in a retired mansion, to which he gave the name of Sanssouci - not the palace so called, which was built after the Seven Years' War, and was never a favourite residence. He rose regularly in summer at five, in winter at six, devoting himself to public business till about eleven. During part of this time, after coffee, he would aid his reflections by playing on the flute, of which he was passionately fond, being a really skilful performer. At eleven came parade, and an hour afterwards, punctually, dinner, which continued till two, or later, if conversation happened to be particularly attractive. After dinner he glanced through and signed cabinet orders written in accordance with his morning instructions, often adding marginal notes and postscripts, many of which were in a caustic tone. These disposed of, he amused himself for a couple of hours with literary work; between six and seven he would converse with his friends or listen to his reader (a post held for some time by La Mettrie); at seven there was a concert; and at half-past eight he sat down to supper, which might go on till midnight. He liked good eating and drinking, although even here the cost was sharply looked after, the expenses of his kitchen mounting to no higher figure than 1800 a year. At supper he was always surrounded by a number of his most intimate friends, mainly Frenchmen; and he insisted on the conversation being perfectly free. His wit, however, was often cruel, and any one who responded with too much spirit was soon made to feel that the licence of talk was to be complete only on one side.

At Frederick's court ladies were seldom seen, a circumstance that gave occasion to much scandal for which there seems to have been no foundation. The queen he visited only on rare occasions. She had been forced upon him by his father, and he had never loved her; but he always treated her with marked respect, and provided her with a generous income, half of which she gave away in charity. Although without charm, she was a woman of many noble qualities; and, like her husband, she wrote French books, some of which attracted a certain attention in their day. She survived him by eleven years, dying in 1797.

Maria Theresa had never given up hope that she would recover Silesia; and as all the neighbouring sovereigns were bitterly jealous of Frederick, and somewhat afraid of him, she had no difficulty in inducing several of them to form a scheme for his ruin. Russia and Saxony entered into it heartily, and France, laying aside her ancient enmity towards Austria, joined the empress against the common object of dislike. Frederick, meanwhile, had turned towards England, which saw in him a possible ally of great importance against the French. A convention between Prussia and Great Britain was signed in January 1756, and it proved of incalculable value to both countries, leading as it did to a close alliance during the administration of Pitt. Through the treachery of a clerk in the Saxon foreign office Frederick was made aware of the future which was being prepared for him. Seeing the importance of taking the initiative, and if possible, of securing Saxony, he suddenly, on the 24th of August 1756, crossed the frontier of that country, and shut in the Saxon army between Pirna and Konigstein, ultimately compelling it, after a victory gained over the Austrians at Lobositz, to surrender. Thus began the Seven Years' War, in which, supported by England, Brunswick and Hesse-Cassel, he had for a long time to oppose Austria, France, Russia, Saxony and Sweden. Virtually the whole Continent was in arms against a small state which, a few years before, had been regarded by most men as beneath serious notice. But it happened that this small state was led by a man of high military genius, capable of infusing into others his own undaunted spirit, while his subjects had learned both from him and his predecessors habits of patience, perseverance and discipline. In 1757, after defeating the Austrians at Prague, he was himself defeated by them at Kolin; and by the shameful convention of Closter-Seven, he was freely exposed to the attack of the French. In November 1757, however, when Europe looked upon him as ruined, he rid himself of the French by his splendid victory over them at Rossbach, and in about a month afterwards, by the still more splendid victory at Leuthen, he drove the Austrians from Silesia. From this time the French were kept well employed in the west by Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, who defeated them at Crefeld in 1758, and at Minden in 1759. In the former year Frederick triumphed, at a heavy cost, over the Russians at Zorndorf; and although, through lack of his usual foresight, he lost the battle of Hochkirch, he prevented the Austrians from deriving any real advantage from their triumph, Silesia still remaining in his hands at the end of the year. The battle of Kunersdorf, fought on the 12th of August 1759, was the most disastrous to him in the course of the war. He had here to contend both with the Russians and the Austrians; and although at first he had some success, his army was in the end completely broken. "All is lost save the royal family," he wrote to his minister Friesenstein; "the consequences of this battle will be worse than the battle itself. I shall not survive the ruin of the Fatherland. Adieu for ever!" But he soon recovered from his despair, and in 1760 gained the important victories of Liegnitz and Torgau. He had now, however, to act on the defensive, and fortunately for him, the Russians, on the death of the empress Elizabeth, not only withdrew in 1762 from the compact against him, but for a time became his allies. On the 29th of October of that year he gained his last victory over the Austrians at Freiberg. Europe was by that time sick of war, every power being more or less exhausted.

The result was that, on the 15th of February 1763, a few days after the conclusion of the peace of Paris, the treaty of Hubertusburg was signed, Austria confirming Prussia in the possession of Silesia. (See Seven Years' War.) It would be difficult to overrate the importance of the contribution thus made by Frederick to the politics of Europe. Prussia was now universally recognized as one of the great powers of the Continent, and she definitely took her place in Germany as the rival of Austria. From this time it was inevitable that there should be a final struggle between the two nations for predominance, and that the smaller German states should group themselves around one or the other. Frederick himself acquired both in Germany and Europe the indefinable influence which springs from the recognition of great gifts that have been proved by great deeds.

His first care after the war was, as far as possible, to enable the country to recover from the terrific blows by which it had been almost destroyed; and he was never, either before or after, seen to better advantage than in the measures he adopted for this end. Although his resources had been so completely drained that he had been forced to melt the silver in his palaces and to debase the coinage, his energy soon brought back the national prosperity. Pomerania and Neumark were freed from taxation for two years, Silesia for six months. Many nobles whose lands had been wasted received corn for seed; his war horses were within a few months to be found on farms all over Prussia; and money was freely spent in the re-erection of houses which had been destroyed. The coinage was gradually restored to its proper value, and trade received a favourable impulse by the foundation of the Bank of Berlin. All these matters were carefully looked into by Frederick himself, who, while acting as generously as his circumstances would allow, insisted on everything being done in the most efficient manner at the least possible cost. Unfortunately, he adopted the French ideas of excise, and the French methods of imposing and collecting taxes - a system known as the Regie. This system secured for him a large revenue, but it led to a vast amount of petty tyranny, which was all the more intolerable because it was carried out by French officials. It was continued to the end of Frederick's reign, and nothing did so much to injure his otherwise immense popularity. He was quite aware of the discontent the system excited, and the good-nature with which he tolerated the criticisms directed against it and him is illustrated by a well-known incident. Riding along the Jager Strasse one day, he saw a crowd of people. "See what it is," he said to the groom who was attending him. "They have something posted up about your Majesty," said the groom, returning. Frederick, riding forward, saw a caricature of himself: "King in very melancholy guise," says Preuss (as translated by Carlyle), "seated on a stool, a coffee-mill between his knees, diligently grinding with the one hand, and with the other picking up any bean that might have fallen. ` Hang it lower,' said the king, beckoning his groom with a wave of the finger; ` lower, that they may not have to hurt their necks about it.' No sooner were the words spoken, which spread instantly, than there rose from the whole crowd one universal huzzah of joy. They tore the caricature into a thousand pieces, and rolled after the king with loud ` Lebe Hoch, our Frederick for ever,' as he rode slowly away." There are scores of anecdotes about Frederick, but not many so well authenticated as this.

There was nothing about which Frederick took so much trouble as the proper administration of justice. He disliked the formalities of the law, and in one instance, "the miller Arnold case," in connexion with which he thought injustice had been done to a poor man, he dismissed the judges, condemned them to a year's fortress arrest, and compelled them to make good out of their own pockets the loss sustained by their supposed victim - not a wise proceeding, but one springing from a generous motive. He once defined himself as "l'avocat du pauvre," and few things gave him more pleasure than the famous answer of the miller whose windmill stood on ground which was wanted for the king's garden. The miller sturdily refused to sell it. "Not at any price ?" said the king's agent; "could not the king take it from you for nothing, if he chose ?" "Have we not the Kammergericht at Berlin ?" was the answer, which became a popular saying in Germany. Soon after he came to the throne Frederick began to make preparations for a new code. In 1747 appeared the Codex Fridericianus, by which the Prussian judicial body was established. But a greater monument of Frederick's interest in legal reform was the Allgemeines preussisches Landrecht, completed by the grand chancellor Count Johann H. C. von Carmer (1721-1801) on the basis of the Project des Corporis Juris Fridericiani, completed in the year 1749-1751 by the eminent jurist Samuel von Cocceji (1679-1755). The Landrecht, a work of vast labour and erudition, combines the two systems of German and Roman law supplemented by the law of nature; it was the first German code, but only came into force in 1794, after Frederick's death.

Looking ahead after the Seven Years' War, Frederick saw no means of securing himself so effectually as by cultivating the goodwill of Russia. In 1764 he accordingly concluded a treaty of alliance with the empress Catherine for eight years. Six years afterwards, unfortunately for his fame, he joined in the first partition of Poland, by which he received Polish Prussia, without Danzig and Thorn, and Great Poland as far as the river Netze. Prussia was then for the first time made continuous with Brandenburg and Pomerania.

The emperor Joseph II. greatly admired Frederick, and visited him at Neisse, in Silesia, in 1769, a visit which Frederick returned, in Moravia, in the following year. The young emperor was frank and cordial; Frederick was more cautious, for he detected under the respectful manner of Joseph a keen ambition that might one day become dangerous to Prussia. Ever after these interviews a portrait of the emperor hung conspicuously in the rooms in which Frederick lived, a circumstance on which some one remarked. "Ah yes," said Frederick, "I am obliged to keep that young gentleman in my eye." Nothing came of these suspicions till 1777, when, after the death of Maximilian Joseph, elector of Bavaria, without children, the emperor took possession of the greater part of his lands. The elector palatine, who lawfully inherited Bavaria, came to an arrangement, which was not admitted by his heir, Charles, duke of Zweibrticken. Under these circumstances the latter appealed to Frederick, who, resolved that Austria should gain no unnecessary advantage, took his part, and brought pressure to bear upon the emperor. Ultimately, greatly against his will, Frederick felt compelled to draw the sword, and in July 1778 crossed the Bohemian frontier at the head of a powerful army. No general engagement was fought, and after a great many delays the treaty of Teschen was signed on the 13th of May 1779. Austria received the circle of Burgau, and consented that the king of Prussia should take the Franconian principalities. Frederick never abandoned his jealousy of Austria, whose ambition he regarded as the chief danger against which Europe had to guard. He seems to have had no suspicion that evil days were coming in France. It was Austria which had given trouble in his time; and if her pride were curbed, he fancied that Prussia at least would be safe. Hence one of the last important acts of his life was to form, in 1785, a league of princes (the "Fiirstenbund") for the defence of the imperial constitution, believed to be imperilled by Joseph's restless activity. The league came to an end after Frederick's death; but it is of considerable historical interest, as the first open attempt of Prussia to take the lead in Germany.

Frederick's chief trust was always in his treasury and his army. By continual economy he left in the former the immense sum of 70 million thalers; the latter, at the time of his death, numbered 200,000 men, disciplined with all the strictness to which he had throughout life accustomed his troops. He died at Sanssouci on the 17th of August 1786; his death being hastened by exposure to a storm of rain, stoically borne, during a military review. He passed away on the eve of tremendous events, which for a time obscured his fame; but now that he can be impartially estimated, he is seen to have been in many respects one of the greatest figures in modern history.

He was rather below the middle size, in youth inclined to stoutness, lean in old age, but of vigorous and active habits. An expression of keen intelligence lighted up his features, and his large, sparkling grey eyes darted penetrating glances at every one who approached him. In his later years an old blue uniform with red facings was his usual dress, and on his breast was generally some Spanish snuff, of which he consumed large quantities. He shared many of the chief intellectual tendencies of his age, having no feeling for the highest aspirations of human nature, but submitting all things to a searching critical analysis. Of Christianity he always spoke in the mocking tone of the "enlightened" philosophers, regarding it as the invention of priests; but it is noteworthy that after the Seven Years' War, the trials of which steadied his character, he sought to strengthen the church for the sake of its elevating moral influence. In his judgments of mankind he often talked as a misanthrope. He was once conversing with Sulzer, who was a school inspector, about education. Sulzer expressed the opinion that education had of late years greatly improved. "In former times, your Majesty," he said, "the notion being that mankind were naturally inclined to evil, a system of severity prevailed in schools; but now, when we recognize that the inborn inclination of men is rather to good than to evil, schoolmasters have adopted a more generous procedure." "Ah, my dear Sulzer," replied the king, "you don't know this damned race" ("Ach, mein lieber Sulzer, er kennt nicht diese verdammte Race"). This fearful saying unquestionably expressed a frequent mood of Frederick's; and he sometimes acted with great harshness, and seemed to take a malicious pleasure in tormenting his acquaintances. Yet he was capable of genuine attachments. He was beautifully loyal to his mother and his sister Wilhelmina; his letters to the duchess of Gotha are full of a certain tender reverence; the two Keiths found him a devoted friend. But the true evidence that beneath his misanthropical moods there was an enduring sentiment of humanity is afforded by the spirit in which he exercised his kingly functions. Taking his reign as a whole, it must be said that he looked upon his power rather as a trust than as a source of personal advantage; and the trust was faithfully discharged according to the best lights of his day. He has often been condemned for doing nothing to encourage German literature; and it is true that he was supremely indifferent to it. Before he died a tide of intellectual life was rising all about him; yet he failed to recognize it, declined to give Lessing even the small post of royal librarian, and thought Gotz von Berlichingen a vulgar imitation of vulgar English models. But when his taste was formed, German literature did not exist; the choice was between Racine and Voltaire on the one hand and Gottsched and Gellert on the other. He survived into the era of Kant, Goethe and Schiller, but he was not of it, and it would have been unreasonable to expect that he should in old age pass beyond the limits of his own epoch. As Germans now generally admit, it was better that he let their literature alone, since, left to itself, it became a thoroughly independent product. Indirectly he powerfully promoted it by deepening the national life from which it sprang. At a time when there was no real bond of cohesion between the different states, he stirred among them a common enthusiasm; and in making Prussia great he laid the foundation of a genuinely united empire.

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE. - The main sources for the biography of Frederick the Great are his own works, which, in the words of Leopold von Ranke, "deal with the politics and wars of the period with the greatest possible objectivity, i.e. truthfulness, and form an imperishable monument of his life and opinions." A magnificent edition of Frederick's complete works was issued (1846-1857), at the instance of Frederick William IV., under the supervision of the historian Johann D. E. Preuss (1785-1868). It is in thirty volumes, of which six contain verse, seven are historical, two philosophical, and three military, twelve being made up of correspondence. So long as the various state archives remained largely inaccessible historians relied upon this as their chief authority. Among works belonging to this period may be mentioned Thomas Carlyle, History of Frederick II. of Prussia (6 vols., London, 1858-1865); J. G. Droysen, Friedrich der Grosse (2 vols., Leipzig, 1874-1876, forming part V. of his Geschichte der preussischen Politik); Ranke, Friedrich II., Konig von Preussen (Werke, vols. li. and lii.). A great stimulus to the study of Frederick's history has since been given by the publication of collections of documents preserved in various archives. Of these the most important is the great official edition of Frederick's political correspondence (Berlin, 1879), of which the thirty-first vol. appeared in 1906. Of later works, based on modern research, may be mentioned R. Koser, Konig Friedrich der Grosse, Bd. 2 (Stuttgart, 1893 and 1903; 3rd ed., 1905); Bourdeau, Le Grand Frederic (2 vols., Paris, 1900-1902); L. Paul-Dubois, Frederic le Grand, d'apres sa correspondance politique (Paris, 1903); W. F. Reddaway, Frederick the Great and the Rise of Prussia (London, 1904). Of the numerous special studies may be noticed E. Zeller, Friedrich der Grosse als Philosoph (Berlin, 1886); H. Pigge, Die Staatstheorie Friedrichs des Grossen (Munster, 1904); T. von Bernhardi, Friedrich der Grosse als Feldherr (2 vols., Berlin, 1881); Ernest Lavisse, La Jeunesse du Grand Frederic (Paris, 1891, 3rd ed., 1899; Eng. transl., London, 1891); R. Brode, Friedrich der Grosse and der Konflikt mit seinem Vater (Leipzig, 1904); W. von Bremen, Friedrich der Grosse (Bd. ii. of Erzieher des preussischen Heeres, Berlin, 1905); G. Winter, Friedrich der Grosse (3 vols. in Geisteshelden series, Berlin, 1906); Dreissig Jahre am Hofe Friedrichs des Grossen. Aus den Tagebiichern des Reichsgrafen Ahasuerus Heinrich von Lehndorf, Kammerherrn der Konigin Elisabett Christine von Preussen (Gotha, 1907). The great work on the wars of Frederick is that issued by the Prussian General Staff: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen (12 vols. in three parts, Berlin, 1890-1904). For a full list of other works see DahlmannWaitz, Quellenkunde (Leipzig, 1906). (J. Si.; W. A. P.)


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Frederick II
File:Friedrich Zweite
Frederick II, aged 68, by Anton Graff
King of Prussia; Elector of Brandenburg
Reign 31 May 1740 – 17 August 1786
(&&&&&&&&&&&&&046.&&&&&046 years, &&&&&&&&&&&&&078.&&&&&078 days)
Predecessor Frederick William I
Successor Frederick William II
Chief Minister
Spouse Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Bevern
House House of Hohenzollern
Father Frederick William I of Prussia
Mother Sophia Dorothea of Hanover
Born 24 January 1712(1712-01-24)
Berlin, Prussia
Died 17 August 1786 (aged 74)
Potsdam, Prussia
Burial Sanssouci, Potsdam

Frederick II (German: Friedrich II; 24 January 1712 - 17 August 1786) was a King in Prussia (1740–1772) and a King of Prussia (1772-1786) from the Hohenzollern dynasty.[1] As a prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire, he was Frederick IV Margrave of Brandenburg. He was also the sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuchâtel. He became known as Frederick the Great (German: Friedrich der Große) and was nicknamed der alte Fritz ("Old Fritz").

When he was young, Frederick was mostly interested in music and philosophy and not military affairs. Frederick tried to escape from his strict father, Frederick William I, with childhood friend, Hans Hermann von Katte. When the were capture Frederick was forced to watch von Kattel's execution.

Shortly after becoming King in Prussia, he attacked Austria and claimed Silesia during the Silesian Wars. Near the end of his life, Frederick united most of his separated parts of his kingdom through the First Partition of Poland.

For years Frederick exchanged letters with Voltaire. He modernized the Prussian bureaucracy and civil service and promoted religious tolerance. Frederick patronized the arts and philosophers, and wrote flute music. Frederick is buried at his favorite residence, Sanssouci in Potsdam. Because he died childless, Frederick was succeeded by his nephew, Frederick William II of Prussia, son of his brother, Prince Augustus William of Prussia.

Contents

Crown Prince

]]

In 1732, Queen Sophia Dorothea tried to arrange a dual marriage of Frederick and his sister Wilhelmina with Amelia and Frederick, the children of her brother, King George II of Great Britain. Fearing an alliance between Prussia and Great Britain, Field Marshal von Seckendorff, the Austrian ambassador in Berlin, bribed Field Marshal von Grumbkow, the Prussian Minister of War, and Benjamin Reichenbach, Prussian ambassador in London. They pair discreetly slandered the British and Prussian courts in the eyes of the two kings. Angered by the idea of the marriage Frederick William madeimpossible demands to the British, such as Prussia acquiring Jülich and Berg, leading to the collapse of the marriage proposal.[2]

After von Kattel died Frederick was granted a royal pardon and released from his cell on 18 November, but he was not given back his military rank.[3] Instead of returning to Berlin, however, he was forced to stay in Küstrin and began learning statecraft and administration for the War and Estates Departments on 20 November. Tensions eased slightly when Frederick William visited Küstrin a year later, and Frederick was allowed to visit Berlin on the occasion of his sister Wilhelmina's marriage to Margrave Frederick of Bayreuth on 20 November 1731. The crown prince returned to Berlin after finally being released from Küstrin on 26 February 1732.

Frederick William considered marrying Frederick to Elisabeth of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, the niece of Empress Anna of Russia, but this plan was opposed by Prince Eugene of Savoy. Frederick himself proposed marrying Maria Theresa of Austria in return for renouncing the succession. Instead, Eugene persuaded Frederick William, through Seckendorff, that the crown prince marry Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Bevern, a Protestant relative of the Austrian Habsburgs.[4] Although Frederick wrote to his sister that, "There can be neither love nor friendship between us,"[5] and he considered suicide, he went along with the wedding on 12 June 1733. He had little in common with his bride and resented the political marriage as an example of the Austrian interference which had plagued Prussia since 1701. Once Frederick secured the throne in 1740, he would not let Elisabeth visit his court in Potsdam, and instead gave her Schönhausen Palace and apartments at the Berliner Stadtschloss. Frederick bestowed the title of the heir to the throne, "Prince of Prussia", on his brother Augustus William; despite this, his wife remained devoted to him.[6]

Frederick was given back a rank in the Prussian Army as Colonel of the Regiment von der Goltz, stationed near Nauen and Neuruppin. When Prussia gave troops to help Austria during the War of the Polish Succession, Frederick studied under Prince Eugene of Savoy during the campaign against France on the Rhine.[7] Frederick William, weakened by gout brought about by the campaign, gave Frederick Schloss Rheinsberg in Rheinsberg, north of Neuruppin. In Rheinsberg, Frederick assembled a small number of musicians, actors and other artists. He spent his time reading, watching dramatic plays, making and listening to music, and regarded this time as one of the happiest of his life. Frederick formed the "Bayard Order" to discuss warfare with his friends; Heinrich August de la Motte Fouqué was made the grand master of the gatherings.

The works of Niccolò Machiavelli, such as The Prince, were considered a guideline for the behaviour of a king in Frederick's age. In 1739, Frederick finished his Anti-Machiavel, which put another point of view. It was published anonymously in 1740, but Voltaire distributed it in Amsterdam.[8]

Frederick's years dedicated to the arts instead of politics ended upon the 1740 death of Frederick William and his inheritance of the Kingdom of Prussia.

Reign (1740-1786)

-Prussia (1600-1795).]] When Frederick ascended the throne as "King in Prussia" in 1740, Prussia consisted of scattered territories, including Cleves, Mark, and Ravensberg in the west of the Holy Roman Empire; Brandenburg, Hither Pomerania, and Farther Pomerania in the east of the Empire; and the former Duchy of Prussia, outside of the Empire bordering the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. He was titled King in Prussia because this was only part of historic Prussia; he was to declare himself King of Prussia after acquiring most of the rest in 1772.

Warfare

, Attack of the Prussian Infantry, by Carl Röchling. Oil on canvas.]]

Frederick's goal was to modernize and unite his vulnerably disconnected lands; toward this end, he fought wars mainly against Austria, whose Habsburg dynasty reigned as Holy Roman Emperors, almost continuously from the 15th century until 1806. Frederick established Prussia as the fifth and smallest European great power by using the resources his frugal father had cultivated.

The First Silesian War (1740–1742), part of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–1748), resulted in Frederick conquering the Polish part of Silesia. Austria attempted to recover Silesia in the Second Silesian War (1744–1745), but Frederick was victorious again and forced Austria to stick to the previous peace terms. Prussian possession of Silesia gave the kingdom control over the Oder River. , a tactical victory for Frederick.]]

Habsburg Austria and Bourbon France, traditional enemies, allied together in the Diplomatic Revolution of 1756 following the collapse of the Anglo-Austrian Alliance. Frederick swiftly made an alliance with Great Britain at the Convention of Westminster. As neighboring countries began conspiring against him, Frederick was determined to strike first. On 29 August 1756 his well-prepared army crossed the frontier and invaded Saxony, thus beginning the Seven Years' War which lasted until 1763. He faced widespread criticism for his attack on neutral Saxony and for his forcible incorporation of the Saxon forces into the Prussian army following the Siege of Pirna in October 1756.

Facing a coalition which included Austria, France, Russia, Saxony, and Sweden, and having only Great Britain and Hanover as his allies, Frederick narrowly kept Prussia in the war despite having his territories frequently invaded.

The sudden death of Empress Elizabeth of Russia led to the succession of the pro-Prussian Peter III. This led to the collapse of the anti-Prussian coalition. Although Frederick did not gain any territory in the ensuing Treaty of Hubertusburg, he was able to keep Silesia and Prussia became popular in many German-speaking territories.

Late in his life Frederick also involved Prussia in the low-scale War of the Bavarian Succession in 1778, in which he stopped Austrian attempts to exchange the Austrian Netherlands for Bavaria. When Emperor Joseph II|Joseph II tried the scheme again in 1784, Frederick created the Fürstenbund, allowing himself to be seen as a defender of German liberties, in contrast to his earlier role of attacking the imperial Habsburgs.

Frederick frequently led his military forces personally and had six horses shot from under him during battle. Frederick is often admired as one of the greatest tactical geniuses of all time, especially for his usage of the oblique order of battle. Even more important were his operational successes, especially preventing the unification of numerically superior opposing armies and being at the right place at the right time to keep enemy armies out of Prussian core territory. In a letter to his mother Maria Theresa, the Austrian co-ruler Emperor Joseph II wrote,

When the King of Prussia speaks on problems connected with the art of war, which he has studied intensively and on which he has read every conceivable book, then everything is taut, solid and uncommonly instructive. There are no circumlocutions, he gives factual and historical proof of the assertions he makes, for he is well versed in history… A genius and a man who talks admirably. But everything he says betrays the knave.[9]

Modernization

Frederick changed Prussia from a European backwater to an economically strong and politically reformed state. His took of Silesia to give Prussia's new industries raw materials, and he protected these industries with high tariffs and minimal restrictions on internal trade. Canals were built, including between the Vistula and the Oder, swamps were drained for agriculture, and new crops, such as the potato and the turnip, were introduced. Frederick regarded his reclamation of land in the Oderbruch as a province conquered in peace.[10] With the help of French experts, he reorganized the system of indirect taxes, which provided the state with more revenue than direct taxes. Frederick the Great commissioned Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky to promote the trade and - to take on the competition with France - put a silk factory where soon 1,500 persons found employment. Frederick the Great followed his recommendations in the field of toll levies and import restrictions. In 1763 when Gotzkowsky went broke during a financial crisis, which started in Amsterdam, Frederick took over his porcelain factory, known as KPM, but refused to buy more of his paintings.

During the reign of Frederick, the effects of the Seven Years' War and the gaining of Silesia greatly changed the economy. The circulation of depreciated money kept prices high. To revalue the Thaler, the Mint Edict of May 1763 was proposed. This stabilized the rates of depreciated coins that would not be accepted and provided for the payments of taxes in currency of prewar value. This was replaced in northern Germany by the Reichsthaler, worth one-fourth of a Conventionsthaler. Prussia used a Thaler containing one-fourteenth of a Cologne mark of silver. Many other rulers soon followed the steps of Frederick in reforming their own currencies – this resulted in a shortage of ready money thus lowering prices.[11]

Frederick gave his state a modern bureaucracy whose mainstay until 1760 was the able War and Finance Minister Adam Ludwig von Blumenthal, succeeded in 1764 by his nephew Joachim who ran the ministry to the end of the reign and beyond. Prussia's education system was seen as one of the best in Europe. Frederick also abolished torture and corporal punishment.

Frederick began titling himself "King of Prussia" after the acquisition of Royal Prussia (West Prussia) in 1772; the phrasing "King in Prussia" had been used since the coronation of Frederick I in Königsberg in 1701.

Religious tolerance

Frederick generally supported religious toleration, including keeping Jesuits as teachers in Silesia, Warmia, and the Netze District after their suppression by Pope Clement XIV. He was interested in attracting a many skills to his country, whether from Jesuit teachers, Huguenot citizens, or Jewish merchants and bankers, particularly from Spain. He wanted development throughout the country. As an example of this practical-minded but not fully unprejudiced tolerance, Frederick wrote in his Testament politique that:

We have too many Jews in the towns. They are needed on the Polish border because in these areas Hebrews alone perform trade. As soon as you get away from the frontier, the Jews become a disadvantage, they form cliques, they deal in contraband and get up to all manner of rascally tricks which are detrimental to Christian burghers and merchants. I have never persecuted anyone from this or any other sect [sic]; I think, however, it would be prudent to pay attention, so that their numbers do not increase.[12]

Jews on the Polish border were therefore encouraged to perform all the trade they could and received all the protection and support from the king as any other Prussian citizen. The success in integrating the Jews into those areas of society that Frederick encouraged them in can be seen by the role played by Gerson von Bleichröder in financing Bismarck's efforts to reunite Germany.[13]

As under Frederick much wasteland was made arable Prussia was looking for new colonists. Frederick repeatedly emphasized that nationality and religion were of no concern to him.[14]

Architecture

Frederick had famous buildings constructed in his capital, Berlin, most of which still exist today, such as the Berlin State Opera, the Royal Library (today the State Library Berlin), St. Hedwig's Cathedral, and Prince Henry's Palace (now the site of Humboldt University). However, the king preferred spending his time in his summer residence Potsdam, where he built the palace of Sanssouci, the most important work of Northern German rococo. Sanssouci, which translates from French as "carefree" or "without worry", was a refuge for Frederick. "Frederician Rococo" developed under Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff.

and corps de logis of Sanssouci.]]

Sexuality

Many historians have considered whether Frederick the Great was homosexual or bisexual (and perhaps possibly celibate). Frederick was forced to marry Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Bevern, with whom he had no children. He immediately separated from his wife when Frederick William I died in 1740. In later years, Frederick would pay his wife formal visits only once a year.[15]

Later years

Near the end of his life Frederick spent more and more time alone. His circle of friends at Sanssouci gradually died off without replacements, and Frederick became increasingly critical and arbitrary, to the frustration of the civil service and officer corps. The people of Berlin always cheered the king when he returned to the city from provincial tours or military reviews, but Frederick took no pleasure from his popularity with the common folk, preferring instead the company of his pet Italian greyhounds,[16] whom he referred to as his 'marquises de Pompadour' as a jibe at Madame de Pompadour.[17] Frederick died in an armchair in his study in the palace of Sanssouci on 17 August 1786.

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Frederick had wished to be buried next to his greyhounds on the vineyard terrace on the side of the corps de logis of Sanssouci. His nephew and successor Frederick William II instead ordered the body be entombed next to his father in the church of the Potsdam garrison. Near the end of World War II, Adolf Hitler ordered the coffins of Frederick and Frederick William I, as well as those of Paul von Hindenburg and his wife, transferred first to an underground bunker near Berlin, then hidden in a salt mine close to the town of Bernrode, Germany, to protect them from destruction. The US Army discovered the four coffins on 27 April 1945, behind a 6-foot-thick (1.8 m) masonry wall deep within the mine, and moved them to the basement of Marburg Castle, a collection point for recovered Nazi "treasure". As part of a secret project dubbed "Operation Bodysnatch"[18] [19] , the US Army relocated both kings first to the Elisabeth Church of Marburg and then on to Burg Hohenzollern close to the town of Hechingen. After German reunification, the body of Frederick William was entombed in the Kaiser Friedrich Mausoleum in Sanssouci's Church of Peace.

On the 205th anniversary of his death, on 17 August 1991, Frederick's casket lay in state in the court of honor of Sanssouci, covered by a Prussian flag and escorted by a Bundeswehr guard of honour. After nightfall, Frederick's body was finally laid to rest on the terrace of the vineyard of Sanssouci, according to his last will without pomp and at night ("... Im übrigen will ich, was meine Person anbetrifft, in Sanssouci beigesetzt werden, ohne Prunk, ohne Pomp und bei Nacht..." (1757))..

Frederick in popular culture

Places

King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, is named after the King of Prussia Inn, itself named in honor of Frederick.[20]

Prussia Street in Dublin, Ireland, is named after Frederick the Great.[21]

German films

The Great King (German: "Der Große König") is a 1942 German drama film directed by Veit Harlan and starring Otto Gebühr.[22] It depicts the life of Frederick the Great. It received the rare "Film of the Nation" distinction.[23] Otto Gebühr also played the King in many other films.

Films with Otto Gebühr as Frederick the Great
  • 1920: Die Tänzerin Barbarina - director: Carl Boese
  • 1921–23: Fridericus Rex – director: Arzén von Cserépy
Teil 1 - Sturm und Drang
Teil 2 - Vater und Sohn
Teil 3 - Sanssouci
Teil 4 - Schicksalswende
  • 1926: Die Mühle von Sans Souci – director: Siegfried Philippi
  • 1928: Der alte Fritz – 1. Teil Friede – director: Gerhard Lamprecht
  • 1928: Der alte Fritz – 2. Teil Ausklang – director: Gerhard Lamprecht
  • 1930: Das Flötenkonzert von Sanssouci –director: Gustav Ucicky
  • 1932: Die Tänzerin von Sans Souci – director: Friedrich Zelnik
  • 1933: Der Choral von Leuthen – director: Carl Froelich
  • 1936. Heiteres und Ernstes um den großen König - director: Phil Jutzi
  • 1936: Fridericus – director: Johannes Meyer
  • 1937: Das schöne Fräulein Schragg – director: Hans Deppe
  • 1942: Der große König – director: Veit Harlan

In the 2004 German film Der Untergang, Adolf Hitler is shown sitting in a dark room forlornly gazing at a painting of Frederick, possibly a reference to the dictator's fading hopes for another Miracle of the House of Brandenburg.

American films

In the 1970 film Patton, General Patton incorrectly cites Frederick the Great as saying, "L'audace, l'audace, toujours l'audace!" ("Audacity, audacity — always audacity!")

Although Frederick is never seen on screen, he is mentioned several times in Stanley Kubrick's 1975 film Barry Lyndon. In the film, he is referred to as "The great and illustrious Frederick" and his army is both praised and criticized. For example, a quote from the film: "During the five years which the war had now lasted, the great and illustrious Frederick had so exhausted the males of his kingdom that he had to employ scores of recruiters who hesitated no crime, including kidnapping, to keep supplied those brilliant regiments of his with food for powder."

Titles and styles

  • 24 January 1712 – 31 May 1740 His Royal Highness the Crown Prince
  • 31 May 1740 – 19 February 1772 His Majesty the King in Prussia
  • 19 February 1772 – 17 August 1786 His Majesty the King of Prussia

References

  1. Frederick was the third and last "King in Prussia"; beginning in 1772 he used the title "King of Prussia".
  2. Reiners, p. 33
  3. Reiners, p. 52
  4. Reiners, p. 63
  5. Crompton
  6. Reiners, p. 69
  7. Reiners, p. 71
  8. MacDonogh, p. 125
  9. Reiners, pp.247-248
  10. David Blackbourn. "Conquests from Barbarism": Interpreting Land Reclamation in 18th Century Prussia. Harvard University. Accessed 24 May 2006.
  11. W. O. Henderson. Studies in the economic policy of Frederick the Great. Cass. London, 1963.
  12. MacDonogh, p. 347
  13. Stern, p. 19
  14. Gerhard Ritter Frederick the Great: a historical profile. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975; p. 180
  15. L. Reiners, Frederick the Great, New York, 1960
  16. Ritter, p. 200
  17. MacDonogh, p. 366
  18. The Case of the Distinguished Corpses, Will Lang, Life Magazine, Mar 6, 1950
  19. Nazi Plunder: Great Treasure Stories of World War II, Kenneth D. Alford, 2000, Da Capo Press, page 101
  20. "Historic Reeseville, Early King of Prussia, Pennsylvania". Accessed 24 May 2006.
  21. Irish-architecture.com[dead link]
  22. "New York Times: The Great King". NY Times. http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/13299/Der-Grosse-K-246-nig/overview. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  23. Erwin Leiser (1974) Nazi Cinema; tr. Gertrud Mander and David Wilson. London: Secker and Warburg ISBN 0-02-570230-0; p. 116

Further reading

  • Bibliographie Friedrich der Grosse: 1786–1986. Das Schrifttum des deutschen Sprachraums und der Übersetzungen aus Fremdsprachen. Bearbeitet von Herzeleide (Henning) und Eckart Henning. Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter 1988. – XIX, 511 pp. ISBN 3-11-009921-7
  • (Reinhard) B(reymayer): Philosophe de Sans-Souci, Bibliographische Nachweise. In: Friedrich Christoph Oetinger: Die Lehrtafel der Prinzessin Antonia. Ed. by Reinhard Breymayer and Friedrich Häußermann, Teil 2. Anmerkungen. (Texte zur Geschichte des Pietismus, Abt. VII, Bd. 1, Teil 2). Berlin, New York: de Gruyter, 1977 ISBN 3-11-004130-8; pp. 258–266 [75 titles]; cf, further information pp. 267–312.
  • Asprey, Robert B. (1986). Frederick the Great: the Magnificent Enigma. New York: Ticknor & Fields. pp. 326. ISBN 0-89919-352-8. 
  • Carlyle, Thomas (1858). History of Friedrich II of Prussia, called Frederick the Great. London: Chapman & Hall.  2 vols.
  • Clark, Christopher (2006). Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia 1600–1947. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. pp. 776. ISBN 067402385-4. 
  • Crompton, Louis (2003). Homosexuality and Civilization. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-01197-X. 
  • Duffy, Christopher (1985). Frederick the Great: a military life. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 0710096496. 
  • Frank, Bruno; Translated from the German by H. T. Lowe Porter (1942). The Days Of The King. New York: Press of the Readers Club. pp. 236. ISBN 0836935063. 
  • Hubatsch, Walther (1975). Frederick the Great of Prussia: Absolutism and Administration. London: Thames and Hudson. pp. 302. 
  • Koch, H. W. (1978). A History of Prussia. New York: Barnes & Noble Books. pp. 326. ISBN 0-88029-158-3. 
  • Lavisse, Ernest; translated from French by Mary Bushnell Coleman (1892). The Youth of Frederick the Great. Chicago: S. C. Griggs and Company. 
  • MacDonogh, Giles (2001). Frederick the Great: a life in deed and letters. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. pp. 436. ISBN 0-312-27266-9. 
  • Mitford, Nancy (1970). Frederick the Great. London: Hamish Hamilton. pp. 264. ISBN 0140036539. 
  • Reiners, Ludwig; Translated and adapted from the German by Lawrence P. R. Wilson (1960). Frederick the Great, a Biography. New York: G. P. Putnam & Sons. pp. 304. 
  • Ritter, Gerhard (1974). Frederick the Great: A Historical Profile. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 207. ISBN 0-520-02775-2. 
  • Snyder, Louis (1971). Frederick the Great. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall. pp. 182. ISBN 0133306054. 
  • Stern, Fritz (1979). Gold and Iron: Bismarck, Bleichröder, and the Building of the German Empire. New York: Vintage Books. pp. 620. ISBN 0-394-74034-3. 

External links

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Persondata
NAME Frederick II of Prussia
ALTERNATIVE NAMES Friedrich II., Frederick the Great, Friedrich der Große
SHORT DESCRIPTION King of Prussia (1740-1786)
DATE OF BIRTH 24 January 1712
PLACE OF BIRTH Berlin, Prussia
DATE OF DEATH 17 August 1786
PLACE OF DEATH Potsdam, Prussia








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