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Frederick William III of Prussia: Wikis


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Frederick William III
King of Prussia; Elector of Brandenburg
Reign 16 November 1797 ‚Äď 7 June 1840
Predecessor Frederick William II
Successor Frederick William IV
Spouse Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

Auguste Gräfin von Harrach(morganatic)

Frederick William IV of Prussia
William I of Germany
Alexandra, Empress of Russia
Princess Frederica
Prince Charles
Princess Alexandrine
Prince Ferdinand
Princess Louise
Prince Albert
Father Frederick William II
Mother Frederika Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt
Born 3 August 1770
Potsdam, Prussia
Died 7 June 1840 (age 69)
Prussian Royalty
House of Hohenzollern
File:Image:Wappen Deutsches Reich - Königreich Preussen (Grosses).png

Frederick I (1701-1713)
   Princess Louise Dorothea
   Prince Frederick William
Frederick William I (1713-1740)
   Princess Wilhelmine
   Prince Frederick
   Princess Friederike Luise
   Princess Philippine Charlotte
   Princess Sophia Dorothea
   Princess Louisa Ulrika
   Prince Augustus William
   Princess Anna Amalia
   Prince Henry
   Prince Ferdinand
Frederick II (The Great, 1740-1786)
Frederick William II (1786-1797)
   Prince Frederick William
   Prince Louis
   Princess Wilhelmine
   Princess Augusta
   Prince Charles
   Prince Wilhelm
Frederick William III (1797-1840)
   Prince Frederick William
   Prince Wilhelm
   Princess Charlotte
   Princess Alexandrine
   Prince Charles
   Princess Louise
   Prince Albert
Frederick William IV (1840-1861)

Frederick William III (German: Friedrich Wilhelm III.) (3 August 1770 ‚Äď 7 June 1840) was king of Prussia from 1797 to 1840. He was in personal union the sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuch√Ętel (1797‚Äď1806 and again 1813‚Äď1840).


Early life

The son of King Frederick William II of Prussia and Frederica Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt, Frederick William was born in Potsdam and became Crown Prince in 1786, when his father ascended the throne.

As a child, Frederick William's father (under the influence of his mistress, Wilhelmine Enke, Countess of Lichtenau) had Frederick William handed over to tutors, as was quite normal for the period. He spent part of the time living at Paretz, the estate of the old soldier Count Hans von Blumenthal who was the governor of his brother Prince Heinrich. They thus grew up partly with the Count's son, who accompanied them on their Grand Tour in the 1780s. Frederick William was happy at Paretz, and for this reason in 1795 he bought it from his boyhood friend and turned it into an important royal country retreat. He was a melancholy boy, but he grew up pious and honest. His tutors included the dramatist Johan Engel.

As a soldier he received the usual training of a Prussian prince, obtained his lieutenancy in 1784, became a colonel in 1790, and took part in the campaigns against France of 1792-1794. On 24 December 1793, Frederick William married his second cousin Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, a princess noted for her beauty.

Louise, Queen of Prussia by Josef Grassi


He succeeded the throne on 16 November 1797 and at once gave earnest of his good intentions by cutting down the expenses of the royal establishment, dismissing his father's ministers, and reforming the most oppressive abuses of the late reign. Unfortunately, however, he had all the Hohenzollern tenacity of personal power without the Hohenzollern genius for using it. Too distrustful to delegate his responsibility to his ministers, he was too infirm of will to strike out and follow a consistent course for himself. At first he and his advisors attempted to pursue a policy of neutrality in the Napoleonic Wars. Although they succeeded in keeping out of the Third Coalition in 1805, eventually Frederick William was swayed by the belligerent attitude of the queen, who led Prussia's pro-war party, and entered into war in October 1806. On 14 October 1806, at the Battle of Jena-Auerstädt, the French defeated the Prussian army led by Frederick William, and the Prussian army collapsed. The royal family fled to Memel, East Prussia, where they fell on the mercy of Emperor Alexander I of Russia (who, rumour has it, had fallen in love with Queen Louise).

Docile and slow to recognize the growing French threat, Frederick's decision for war in 1806 ended in national humiliation.

Alexander, too, suffered defeat at the hands of the French, and at Tilsit on the Niemen France made peace with Russia and Prussia. Napoleon dealt with Prussia very harshly, despite the pregnant Queen's personal interview with the French emperor. Prussia lost many of its Polish territories, as well as all territory west of the Elbe, and had to finance a large indemnity and to pay for French troops to occupy key strong points within the Kingdom.

Although the ineffectual King himself seemed resigned to Prussia's fate, various reforming ministers, such as Baron vom Stein, Prince von Hardenberg, Scharnhorst, and Count Gneisenau, set about reforming Prussia's administration and military, with the encouragement of the Queen (who died, greatly mourned, in 1810).

In 1813, following Napoleon's defeat in Russia, Frederick William turned against France and signed an alliance with Russia at Kalisz, although he had to flee Berlin, still under French occupation. Prussian troops played a key part in the victories of the allies in 1813 and 1814, and the King himself travelled with the main army of Prince Schwarzenberg, along with Alexander of Russia and Francis of Austria.

At the Congress of Vienna, Frederick William's ministers succeeded in securing important territorial increases for Prussia, although they failed to obtain the annexation of all of Saxony, as they had wished. Following the war, Frederick William turned towards political reaction, abandoning the promises he had made in 1813 to supply Prussia with a constitution.

He died on 7 June 1840. His eldest son, Frederick William IV, succeeded him.


Name Birth Death Notes
Stillborn Daughter 1 October 1794 1 October 1794 died in childhood
Frederick William IV of Prussia 15 October 1795 2 January 1861 married Elisabeth Ludovika of Bavaria(1801-1873), no issue
Wilhelm I of Prussia 22 March 1797 9 March 1888 married Augusta of Saxe-Weimar (1811-1890), had issue
Charlotte 13 July 1798 1 November 1860 married Nicholas I of Russia, had issue
Frederica 14 October 1799 30 March 1800 died in childhood
Charles 29 July 1801 21 January 1883 married Princess Marie of Saxe-Weimar, had issue.
Alexandrine 23 February 1803 21 April 1892 married Paul Friedrich, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and had issue
Ferdinand 13 December 1804 1 April 1806 died in childhood
Louise 1 February 1808 6 December 1870 married Prince Frederik of the Netherlands, had issue
Albert (Albrecht) 4 October 1809 14 October 1872 married Marianne, daughter of King William I of the Netherlands and sister of Prince Frederick of the Netherlands, had issue; married second to Rosalie von Rauch, Countess of Hohenau, daughter of Gustav von Rauch, had issue.


See also

Frederick William III of Prussia
Born: 3 August 1770 Died: 7 June 1840
Preceded by
Frederick William II
King of Prussia
1797 ‚Äď 1840
Succeeded by
Frederick William IV
Prince of Neuch√Ętel
as Frederick William III

1797 ‚Äď 1806 and again 1813 ‚Äď 1840
interrupted by the rule by Louis Alexandre Berthier
Elector of Brandenburg
as Frederick William IV

1797 ‚Äď 1806
Dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire
Territory incorporated into the Prussian crown
New title
Grand Duke of the Lower Rhine
1815 ‚Äď 1840
Incorporated into the Prussian crown


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