Frederick II of Prussia
Overview
Frederick II was a King in Prussia
King in Prussia
King in Prussia was a title used by the Electors of Brandenburg from 1701 to 1772. Subsequently they used the title King of Prussia....

 (1740–1772) and a King of Prussia
King of Prussia
King of Prussia may refer to:* A ruler of the former German state of Prussia**List of rulers of Prussia* Place names** King of Prussia, Pennsylvania* Shopping Centers** King of Prussia Mall...

 (1772–1786) from the Hohenzollern dynasty
House of Hohenzollern
The House of Hohenzollern is a noble family and royal dynasty of electors, kings and emperors of Prussia, Germany and Romania. It originated in the area around the town of Hechingen in Swabia during the 11th century. They took their name from their ancestral home, the Burg Hohenzollern castle near...

. In his role as a prince-elector
Prince-elector
The Prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire were the members of the electoral college of the Holy Roman Empire, having the function of electing the Roman king or, from the middle of the 16th century onwards, directly the Holy Roman Emperor.The heir-apparent to a prince-elector was known as an...

 of the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

, he was also Elector of Brandenburg
Margraviate of Brandenburg
The Margraviate of Brandenburg was a major principality of the Holy Roman Empire from 1157 to 1806. Also known as the March of Brandenburg , it played a pivotal role in the history of Germany and Central Europe....

. He was in personal union
Personal union
A personal union is the combination by which two or more different states have the same monarch while their boundaries, their laws and their interests remain distinct. It should not be confused with a federation which is internationally considered a single state...

 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
Fritz
Fritz originated as a German nickname for Friedrich, or Frederick , as well as for similar names including Fridolin...

").

Interested primarily in music and philosophy and not the arts of war during his youth, Frederick unsuccessfully attempted to flee from his authoritarian father, Frederick William I
Frederick William I of Prussia
Frederick William I of the House of Hohenzollern, was the King in Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg from 1713 until his death...

, with childhood friend, Hans Hermann von Katte
Hans Hermann von Katte
Hans Hermann von Katte was a Lieutenant of the Prussian Army and close friend and possibly lover of the future Frederick II of Prussia, then the Crown Prince. He was executed by Frederick's father King Frederick William I of Prussia when he and Frederick plotted to escape from the Kingdom of...

, whose execution he was forced to watch after they had been captured.
Quotations

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)

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)

As to your Isaac Newton|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)

Encyclopedia
Frederick II was a King in Prussia
King in Prussia
King in Prussia was a title used by the Electors of Brandenburg from 1701 to 1772. Subsequently they used the title King of Prussia....

 (1740–1772) and a King of Prussia
King of Prussia
King of Prussia may refer to:* A ruler of the former German state of Prussia**List of rulers of Prussia* Place names** King of Prussia, Pennsylvania* Shopping Centers** King of Prussia Mall...

 (1772–1786) from the Hohenzollern dynasty
House of Hohenzollern
The House of Hohenzollern is a noble family and royal dynasty of electors, kings and emperors of Prussia, Germany and Romania. It originated in the area around the town of Hechingen in Swabia during the 11th century. They took their name from their ancestral home, the Burg Hohenzollern castle near...

. In his role as a prince-elector
Prince-elector
The Prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire were the members of the electoral college of the Holy Roman Empire, having the function of electing the Roman king or, from the middle of the 16th century onwards, directly the Holy Roman Emperor.The heir-apparent to a prince-elector was known as an...

 of the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

, he was also Elector of Brandenburg
Margraviate of Brandenburg
The Margraviate of Brandenburg was a major principality of the Holy Roman Empire from 1157 to 1806. Also known as the March of Brandenburg , it played a pivotal role in the history of Germany and Central Europe....

. He was in personal union
Personal union
A personal union is the combination by which two or more different states have the same monarch while their boundaries, their laws and their interests remain distinct. It should not be confused with a federation which is internationally considered a single state...

 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
Fritz
Fritz originated as a German nickname for Friedrich, or Frederick , as well as for similar names including Fridolin...

").

Interested primarily in music and philosophy and not the arts of war during his youth, Frederick unsuccessfully attempted to flee from his authoritarian father, Frederick William I
Frederick William I of Prussia
Frederick William I of the House of Hohenzollern, was the King in Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg from 1713 until his death...

, with childhood friend, Hans Hermann von Katte
Hans Hermann von Katte
Hans Hermann von Katte was a Lieutenant of the Prussian Army and close friend and possibly lover of the future Frederick II of Prussia, then the Crown Prince. He was executed by Frederick's father King Frederick William I of Prussia when he and Frederick plotted to escape from the Kingdom of...

, whose execution he was forced to watch after they had been captured. Upon ascending to the Prussian throne, he attacked Austria and claimed Silesia
Silesia
Silesia is a historical region of Central Europe located mostly in Poland, with smaller parts also in the Czech Republic, and Germany.Silesia is rich in mineral and natural resources, and includes several important industrial areas. Silesia's largest city and historical capital is Wrocław...

 during the Silesian Wars
Silesian Wars
The Silesian Wars were a series of wars between Prussia and Austria for control of Silesia. They formed parts of the larger War of the Austrian Succession and Seven Years' War. They eventually ended with Silesia being incorporated into Prussia, and Austrian recognition of this...

, winning military acclaim for himself and Prussia. Near the end of his life, Frederick physically connected most of his realm by conquering Polish territories in the First Partition of Poland
First Partition of Poland
The First Partition of Poland or First Partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth took place in 1772 as the first of three partitions that ended the existence of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth by 1795. Growth in the Russian Empire's power, threatening the Kingdom of Prussia and the...

.

Frederick was a proponent of enlightened absolutism
Enlightened absolutism
Enlightened absolutism is a form of absolute monarchy or despotism in which rulers were influenced by the Enlightenment. Enlightened monarchs embraced the principles of the Enlightenment, especially its emphasis upon rationality, and applied them to their territories...

. For years he was a correspondent of Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

, 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
Sanssouci
Sanssouci is the name of the former summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, in Potsdam, near Berlin. It is often counted among the German rivals of Versailles. While Sanssouci is in the more intimate Rococo style and is far smaller than its French Baroque counterpart, it too is...

 in Potsdam
Potsdam
Potsdam is the capital city of the German federal state of Brandenburg and part of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. It is situated on the River Havel, southwest of Berlin city centre....

. Because he died childless, Frederick was succeeded by his nephew, Frederick William II of Prussia
Frederick William II of Prussia
Frederick William II was the King of Prussia, reigning from 1786 until his death. He was in personal union the Prince-Elector of Brandenburg and the sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuchâtel.-Early life:...

, son of his brother, Prince Augustus William of Prussia
Prince Augustus William of Prussia
Augustus William of Prussia was Prince of Prussia and a brother of Frederick the Great...

.

Youth

Frederick was born in Berlin, the son of King Frederick William I of Prussia
Frederick William I of Prussia
Frederick William I of the House of Hohenzollern, was the King in Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg from 1713 until his death...

 and Sophia Dorothea of Hanover
Sophia Dorothea of Hanover
Sophia Dorothea of Hanover was a Queen consort in Prussia as wife of Frederick William I. She was the sister of George II of Great Britain and the mother of Frederick the Great.- Biography :...

. The so-called Soldier-King, Frederick William had developed a formidable army
Prussian Army
The Royal Prussian Army was the army of the Kingdom of Prussia. It was vital to the development of Brandenburg-Prussia as a European power.The Prussian Army had its roots in the meager mercenary forces of Brandenburg during the Thirty Years' War...

 and encouraged centralization, but was also known for his authoritarianism and temper. Sophia, on the other hand, was well-mannered and well-educated. Her father, George, Elector
Prince-elector
The Prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire were the members of the electoral college of the Holy Roman Empire, having the function of electing the Roman king or, from the middle of the 16th century onwards, directly the Holy Roman Emperor.The heir-apparent to a prince-elector was known as an...

 of Hanover
Electorate of Hanover
The Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg was the ninth Electorate of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation...

, was the heir of Queen Anne of Great Britain
Anne of Great Britain
Anne ascended the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland on 8 March 1702. On 1 May 1707, under the Act of Union, two of her realms, England and Scotland, were united as a single sovereign state, the Kingdom of Great Britain.Anne's Catholic father, James II and VII, was deposed during the...

. George succeeded as King George I of Great Britain
George I of Great Britain
George I was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1 August 1714 until his death, and ruler of the Duchy and Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg in the Holy Roman Empire from 1698....

 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 be educated not as royalty, but as simple folk. He had been educated by a Frenchwoman
French people
The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

, Madame de Montbail, who later became Madame de Rocoulle
Madame de Rocoulle
Madame de Rocoulle was a French woman, who was the educator of Frederick II of Prussia. Her maiden name was Madame de Montbail....

, and he wished that she educate his children. Frederick was brought up by Huguenot
Huguenot
The Huguenots were members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France during the 16th and 17th centuries. Since the 17th century, people who formerly would have been called Huguenots have instead simply been called French Protestants, a title suggested by their German co-religionists, the...

 governess
Governess
A governess is a girl or woman employed to teach and train children in a private household. In contrast to a nanny or a babysitter, she concentrates on teaching children, not on meeting their physical needs...

es and tutor
Tutor
A tutor is a person employed in the education of others, either individually or in groups. To tutor is to perform the functions of a tutor.-Teaching assistance:...

s 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
Jacques Duhan de Jandun
Jacques Egide Duhan de Jandun was a Huguenot soldier who served for twelve years as tutor to Frederick the Great.-Early life:Duhan's father was secretary to General Turenne before emigrating to Brandenburg in 1687. He educated Jacques himself while preparing him for a career as a soldier...

, procured for himself a three thousand volume secret library of poetry, Greek and Roman classics, and French philosophy to supplement his official lessons.

Although Frederick William I was raised a devout Calvinist
Calvinism
Calvinism is a Protestant theological system and an approach to the Christian life...

, he feared he was not of the elect
Unconditional election
Unconditional election is the Calvinist teaching that before God created the world, he chose to save some people according to his own purposes and apart from any conditions related to those persons...

. To avoid the possibility of Frederick being motivated by the same concerns the king ordered that his heir not be taught about predestination
Predestination
Predestination, in theology is the doctrine that all events have been willed by God. John Calvin interpreted biblical predestination to mean that God willed eternal damnation for some people and salvation for others...

. Although he was largely irreligious, Frederick adopted this tenet of Calvinism, despite the king's efforts. Some scholars have speculated that the crown prince did this to spite his father.

Crown Prince

In 1732, Queen Sophia Dorothea attempted to orchestrate a dual marriage of Frederick and his sister Wilhelmina
Wilhelmine of Bayreuth
Princess Wilhelmine of Prussia was a German noblewoman and composer. She was the eldest daughter of Frederick William I of Prussia and Sophia Dorothea of Hanover. In 1731, she married Frederick, Margrave of Brandenburg-Bayreuth...

 with Amelia and Frederick
Frederick, Prince of Wales
Frederick, Prince of Wales was a member of the House of Hanover and therefore of the Hanoverian and later British Royal Family, the eldest son of George II and father of George III, as well as the great-grandfather of Queen Victoria...

, the children of her brother, King George II of Great Britain
George II of Great Britain
George II was King of Great Britain and Ireland, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Archtreasurer and Prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire from 11 June 1727 until his death.George was the last British monarch born outside Great Britain. He was born and brought up in Northern Germany...

. Fearing an alliance between Prussia and Great Britain, Field Marshal von Seckendorff, the Austrian ambassador in Berlin, bribed Field Marshal von Grumbkow
Friedrich Wilhelm von Grumbkow
Friedrich Wilhelm von Grumbkow was a Prussian Generalfeldmarschall and statesman.The cultured Grumbkow was born in Berlin as the son of Joachim Ernst von Grumbkow, General War Minister of Brandenburg-Prussia. Educated in France, he married a Mademoiselle de la Chevalerie...

 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
Duchy of Jülich
The Duchy of Jülich comprised a state within the Holy Roman Empire from the 11th to the 18th centuries. The duchy lay left of the Rhine river between the Electorate of Cologne in the east and the Duchy of Limburg in the west. It had territories on both sides of the river Rur, around its capital...

 and Berg
Berg (state)
Berg was a state – originally a county, later a duchy – in the Rhineland of Germany. Its capital was Düsseldorf. It existed from the early 12th to the 19th centuries.-Ascent:...

, leading to the collapse of the marriage proposal.

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."

When he was 18, Frederick plotted to flee to England with Katte and other junior army officers. While the royal retinue was near Mannheim
Mannheim
Mannheim is a city in southwestern Germany. With about 315,000 inhabitants, Mannheim is the second-largest city in the Bundesland of Baden-Württemberg, following the capital city of Stuttgart....

 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; Frederick and Katte were subsequently arrested and imprisoned in Küstrin
Küstrin
Before 1945 Küstrin was a town in the former Prussian province of Brandenburg in Germany, situated on both sides of the Oder river...

. Because they were army officers who had tried to flee Prussia for Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

, 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
Prince Augustus William of Prussia
Augustus William of Prussia was Prince of Prussia and a brother of Frederick the Great...

, although either option would have been difficult to justify to the Reichstag
Reichstag (Holy Roman Empire)
The Imperial Diet was the Diet, or general assembly, of the Imperial Estates of the Holy Roman Empire.During the period of the Empire, which lasted formally until 1806, the Diet was not a parliament in today's sense; instead, it was an assembly of the various estates of the realm...

 of the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

. The king forced Frederick to watch the decapitation
Decapitation
Decapitation is the separation of the head from the body. Beheading typically refers to the act of intentional decapitation, e.g., as a means of murder or execution; it may be accomplished, for example, with an axe, sword, knife, wire, or by other more sophisticated means such as a guillotine...

 of his confidant Katte at Küstrin on 6 November, leaving the crown prince to faint away and suffer hallucinations for the following two days.

Frederick was granted a royal pardon and released from his cell on 18 November, although he remained stripped of his military rank. 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
Wilhelmine of Bayreuth
Princess Wilhelmine of Prussia was a German noblewoman and composer. She was the eldest daughter of Frederick William I of Prussia and Sophia Dorothea of Hanover. In 1731, she married Frederick, Margrave of Brandenburg-Bayreuth...

 marriage to Margrave Frederick
Frederick, Margrave of Brandenburg-Bayreuth
Frederick, Margrave of Brandenburg-Bayreuth , was a member of the House of Hohenzollern and Margrave of Brandenburg-Bayreuth....

 of Bayreuth
Principality of Bayreuth
The Principality of Bayreuth or Brandenburg-Bayreuth was a reichsfrei principality in the Holy Roman Empire centered on the Bavarian city of Bayreuth. Until 1604 its capital city was Kulmbach; then the margraves used their palaces in Bayreuth as their residence...

 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
Anna Leopoldovna
Anna Leopoldovna of Russia , also known as Anna Karlovna , regent of Russia for a few months during the minority of her baby son Ivan...

, the niece of Empress Anna of Russia
Anna of Russia
Anna of Russia or Anna Ivanovna reigned as Duchess of Courland from 1711 to 1730 and as Empress of Russia from 1730 to 1740.-Accession to the throne:Anna was the daughter of Ivan V of Russia, as well as the niece of Peter the Great...

, but this plan was ardently opposed by Prince Eugene of Savoy
Prince Eugene of Savoy
Prince Eugene of Savoy , was one of the most successful military commanders in modern European history, rising to the highest offices of state at the Imperial court in Vienna. Born in Paris to aristocratic Italian parents, Eugene grew up around the French court of King Louis XIV...

. Frederick himself proposed marrying Maria Theresa of Austria
Maria Theresa of Austria
Maria Theresa Walburga Amalia Christina was the only female ruler of the Habsburg dominions and the last of the House of Habsburg. She was the sovereign of Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Bohemia, Mantua, Milan, Lodomeria and Galicia, the Austrian Netherlands and Parma...

 in return for renouncing the succession. Instead, Eugene persuaded Frederick William, through Seckendorff, that the crown prince marry Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Bevern
Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Bevern
Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel-Bevern was a Queen of Prussia as wife of Frederick the Great...

, a Protestant relative of the Austrian Habsburg
Habsburg
The House of Habsburg , also found as Hapsburg, and also known as House of Austria is one of the most important royal houses of Europe and is best known for being an origin of all of the formally elected Holy Roman Emperors between 1438 and 1740, as well as rulers of the Austrian Empire and...

s. Although Frederick wrote to his sister that, "There can be neither love nor friendship between us," 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
Schönhausen Palace
Schönhausen Palace is a Baroque palace at Niederschönhausen, in Berlin's borough of Pankow. It is surrounded by gardens through which the Panke river runs...

 and apartments at the Berliner Stadtschloss
Berliner Stadtschloss
The Stadtschloss , was a royal palace in the centre of Berlin, capital of Germany. The palace bore features of the Baroque style, and its shape, finalized by the mid 18th century, is attributed to Andreas Schlüter, whose first design is likely to date from 1702, though the palace incorporated...

. 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.

Frederick was restored to the Prussian Army
Prussian Army
The Royal Prussian Army was the army of the Kingdom of Prussia. It was vital to the development of Brandenburg-Prussia as a European power.The Prussian Army had its roots in the meager mercenary forces of Brandenburg during the Thirty Years' War...

 as Colonel of the Regiment von der Goltz, stationed near Nauen
Nauen
Nauen is a town in the Havelland district, in Brandenburg, Germany. It is situated 38 km west of Berlin and 26 km northwest of Potsdam.-History:...

 and Neuruppin
Neuruppin
Neuruppin is a town in Brandenburg, Germany. Located on the shore of Ruppiner See , it is the capital of the district of Ostprignitz-Ruppin. Population: 32,800 .-Overview:...

. When Prussia provided a contingent of troops to aid Austria during the War of the Polish Succession
War of the Polish Succession
The War of the Polish Succession was a major European war for princes' possessions sparked by a Polish civil war over the succession to Augustus II, King of Poland that other European powers widened in pursuit of their own national interests...

, Frederick studied under Prince Eugene of Savoy
Prince Eugene of Savoy
Prince Eugene of Savoy , was one of the most successful military commanders in modern European history, rising to the highest offices of state at the Imperial court in Vienna. Born in Paris to aristocratic Italian parents, Eugene grew up around the French court of King Louis XIV...

 during the campaign against France on the Rhine. Frederick William, weakened by gout
Gout
Gout is a medical condition usually characterized by recurrent attacks of acute inflammatory arthritis—a red, tender, hot, swollen joint. The metatarsal-phalangeal joint at the base of the big toe is the most commonly affected . However, it may also present as tophi, kidney stones, or urate...

 brought about by the campaign, granted Frederick Schloss Rheinsberg in Rheinsberg
Rheinsberg
Rheinsberg is a town and a municipality in the Ostprignitz-Ruppin district, in Brandenburg, Germany. It is situated on the river Rhin, approx. 20 km north-east of Neuruppin and 75 km north-west of Berlin.-History:...

, 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
Heinrich August de la Motte Fouqué
Ernst Heinrich August de la Motte Fouqué was a Prussian general and confidant of King Frederick the Great. Fouqué held the title of Freiherr .-Early life:...

 was made the grand master of the gatherings.

The works of Niccolò Machiavelli
Niccolò Machiavelli
Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was an Italian historian, philosopher, humanist, and writer based in Florence during the Renaissance. He is one of the main founders of modern political science. He was a diplomat, political philosopher, playwright, and a civil servant of the Florentine Republic...

, such as The Prince
The Prince
The Prince is a political treatise by the Italian diplomat, historian and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli. From correspondence a version appears to have been distributed in 1513, using a Latin title, De Principatibus . But the printed version was not published until 1532, five years after...

, were considered a guideline for the behavior of a king in Frederick's age. In 1739, Frederick finished his Anti-Machiavel
Anti-Machiavel
Anti-Machiavel is an 18th century essay by Frederick the Great, King of Prussia and patron of Voltaire, consisting of a chapter-by-chapter rebuttal of The Prince, the 16th century book by Niccolò Machiavelli, and Machiavellianism in general...

, an idealistic refutation of Machiavelli. It was published anonymously in 1740, but Voltaire distributed it in Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

 to great popularity. 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)

Before his accession, Frederick was told by D'Alembert
Jean le Rond d'Alembert
Jean-Baptiste le Rond d'Alembert was a French mathematician, mechanician, physicist, philosopher, and music theorist. He was also co-editor with Denis Diderot of the Encyclopédie...

, "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
King in Prussia
King in Prussia was a title used by the Electors of Brandenburg from 1701 to 1772. Subsequently they used the title King of Prussia....

" in 1740, Prussia consisted of scattered territories, including Cleves
Duchy of Cleves
The Duchy of Cleves was a State of the Holy Roman Empire. It was situated in the northern Rhineland on both sides of the Lower Rhine, around its capital Cleves and the town of Wesel, bordering the lands of the Prince-Bishopric of Münster in the east and the Duchy of Brabant in the west...

, Mark, and Ravensberg in the west of the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

; Brandenburg
Margraviate of Brandenburg
The Margraviate of Brandenburg was a major principality of the Holy Roman Empire from 1157 to 1806. Also known as the March of Brandenburg , it played a pivotal role in the history of Germany and Central Europe....

, Hither Pomerania, and Farther Pomerania
Farther Pomerania
Farther Pomerania, Further Pomerania, Transpomerania or Eastern Pomerania , which before the German-Polish border shift of 1945 comprised the eastern part of the Duchy, later Province of Pomerania, roughly stretching from the Oder River in the West to Pomerelia in the East...

 in the east of the Empire; and the former Duchy of Prussia, outside of the Empire bordering the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was a dualistic state of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch. It was the largest and one of the most populous countries of 16th- and 17th‑century Europe with some and a multi-ethnic population of 11 million at its peak in the early 17th century...

. 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

Frederick's goal was to modernize and unite his vulnerably disconnected lands; toward this end, he fought wars mainly against Austria, whose Habsburg
Habsburg
The House of Habsburg , also found as Hapsburg, and also known as House of Austria is one of the most important royal houses of Europe and is best known for being an origin of all of the formally elected Holy Roman Emperors between 1438 and 1740, as well as rulers of the Austrian Empire and...

 dynasty reigned as Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

s almost continuously from the 15th century until 1806. Frederick established Prussia as the fifth and smallest European great power
Great power
A great power is a nation or state that has the ability to exert its influence on a global scale. Great powers characteristically possess military and economic strength and diplomatic and cultural influence which may cause small powers to consider the opinions of great powers before taking actions...

 by using the resources his frugal father had cultivated.

Desiring the prosperous Austrian province of Silesia
Silesia
Silesia is a historical region of Central Europe located mostly in Poland, with smaller parts also in the Czech Republic, and Germany.Silesia is rich in mineral and natural resources, and includes several important industrial areas. Silesia's largest city and historical capital is Wrocław...

, Frederick declined to endorse the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713
Pragmatic Sanction of 1713
The Pragmatic Sanction of 1713 was an edict issued by Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI to ensure that the throne of the Archduchy of Austria could be inherited by a daughter....

, a legal mechanism to ensure the inheritance of the Habsburg domains by Maria Theresa of Austria
Maria Theresa of Austria
Maria Theresa Walburga Amalia Christina was the only female ruler of the Habsburg dominions and the last of the House of Habsburg. She was the sovereign of Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Bohemia, Mantua, Milan, Lodomeria and Galicia, the Austrian Netherlands and Parma...

. He was also worried that Augustus III, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony
Electorate of Saxony
The Electorate of Saxony , sometimes referred to as Upper Saxony, was a State of the Holy Roman Empire. It was established when Emperor Charles IV raised the Ascanian duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg to the status of an Electorate by the Golden Bull of 1356...

, 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 Hohenzollern and the Piast dynasty
Piast dynasty
The Piast dynasty was the first historical ruling dynasty of Poland. It began with the semi-legendary Piast Kołodziej . The first historical ruler was Duke Mieszko I . The Piasts' royal rule in Poland ended in 1370 with the death of king Casimir the Great...

 of Brieg (Brzeg)
Brzeg
Brzeg is a town in southwestern Poland with 38,496 inhabitants , situated in Silesia in the Opole Voivodeship on the left bank of the Oder...

. The ensuing First Silesian War
Silesian Wars
The Silesian Wars were a series of wars between Prussia and Austria for control of Silesia. They formed parts of the larger War of the Austrian Succession and Seven Years' War. They eventually ended with Silesia being incorporated into Prussia, and Austrian recognition of this...

 (1740–1742), part of the War of the Austrian Succession
War of the Austrian Succession
The War of the Austrian Succession  – including King George's War in North America, the Anglo-Spanish War of Jenkins' Ear, and two of the three Silesian wars – involved most of the powers of Europe over the question of Maria Theresa's succession to the realms of the House of Habsburg.The...

 (1740–1748), resulted in Frederick conquering the province (with the exception of Austrian Silesia
Czech Silesia
Czech Silesia is an unofficial name of one of the three Czech lands and a section of the Silesian historical region. It is located in the north-east of the Czech Republic, predominantly in the Moravian-Silesian Region, with a section in the northern Olomouc Region...

). 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.
Habsburg Austria and Bourbon
House of Bourbon
The House of Bourbon is a European royal house, a branch of the Capetian dynasty . Bourbon kings first ruled Navarre and France in the 16th century. By the 18th century, members of the Bourbon dynasty also held thrones in Spain, Naples, Sicily, and Parma...

 France
Early Modern France
Kingdom of France is the early modern period of French history from the end of the 15th century to the end of the 18th century...

, traditional enemies, allied together in the Diplomatic Revolution
Diplomatic Revolution
The Diplomatic Revolution of 1756 is a term applied to the reversal of longstanding diplomatic alliances which were upheld until the War of the Austrian Succession and then reversed in the Seven Years' War; the shift has also been known as "the great change of partners"...

 of 1756 following the collapse of the Anglo-Austrian Alliance
Anglo-Austrian Alliance
The Anglo-Austrian Alliance connected the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Habsburg monarchy during the first half of the 18th century. It was largely the work of the British statesman Duke of Newcastle, who considered an alliance with Austria crucial to prevent the further expansion of French...

. Frederick swiftly made an alliance
Anglo-Prussian Alliance
The Anglo-Prussian Alliance was a military alliance created by the Westminster Convention between Great Britain and Prussia which lasted formally between 1756 and 1762 during the Seven Years' War. It allowed Britain to concentrate the majority of its efforts against the colonial possessions of the...

 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
Electorate of Saxony
The Electorate of Saxony , sometimes referred to as Upper Saxony, was a State of the Holy Roman Empire. It was established when Emperor Charles IV raised the Ascanian duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg to the status of an Electorate by the Golden Bull of 1356...

, thus beginning the Seven Years' War
Seven Years' War
The Seven Years' War was a global military war between 1756 and 1763, involving most of the great powers of the time and affecting Europe, North America, Central America, the West African coast, India, and the Philippines...

 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
Siege of Pirna
The Siege of Pirna took place in 1756 as part of the Prussian invasion of Saxony during the Seven Years War.Following the occupation of the capital Dresden by Frederick the Great on 9 September the Saxon army had withdrawn south and taken up position at the fortress of Pirna under Frederick von...

 in October 1756.

Facing a coalition which included Austria, France, Russia
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

, Saxony, and Sweden
Swedish Empire
The Swedish Empire refers to the Kingdom of Sweden between 1561 and 1721 . During this time, Sweden was one of the great European powers. In Swedish, the period is called Stormaktstiden, literally meaning "the Great Power Era"...

, and having only Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

 and Hanover
Electorate of Hanover
The Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg was the ninth Electorate of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation...

 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
Count Karl-Wilhelm Finck von Finckenstein
Karl Wilhelm Finck von Finckenstein was a Prussian diplomat and later Prime Minister of Prussia.He was the son of Count Albrecht Konrad Finck von Finckenstein, who was a Field Marshal and Governor of the Crown Prince, the future King Frederick II. Karl Wilhelm studied in Geneva and traveled in...

, "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 led to the succession of the pro-Prussian Peter III
Peter III of Russia
Peter III was Emperor of Russia for six months in 1762. He was very pro-Prussian, which made him an unpopular leader. He was supposedly assassinated as a result of a conspiracy led by his wife, who succeeded him to the throne as Catherine II.-Early life and character:Peter was born in Kiel, in...

. This "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
Treaty of Hubertusburg
thumb|right|300px|Hubertusburg, WermsdorfThe Treaty of Hubertusburg was signed on 15 February 1763 at Hubertusburg by Prussia, Austria, and Saxony. Together with the Treaty of Paris, it marked the end of the French and Indian War and of the Seven Years' War. The treaty ended the continental...

, 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
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

. When Emperor Joseph II
Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor
Joseph II was Holy Roman Emperor from 1765 to 1790 and ruler of the Habsburg lands from 1780 to 1790. He was the eldest son of Empress Maria Theresa and her husband, Francis I...

 tried the scheme again in 1784, Frederick created the Fürstenbund
Fürstenbund
The Fürstenbund was a union of German minor princes in the Holy Roman Empire. It was formed in 1785 under the leadership of Frederick II of Prussia, to oppose the ambition of Emperor Joseph II to add Bavaria to the Habsburg domains....

, 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
Military tactics
Military tactics, the science and art of organizing an army or an air force, are the techniques for using weapons or military units in combination for engaging and defeating an enemy in battle. Changes in philosophy and technology over time have been reflected in changes to military tactics. In...

 geniuses of all time, especially for his usage of the oblique order
Oblique order
The Oblique Order is a military tactic where an attacking army focuses its forces to attack a single enemy flank. The force commander concentrates the majority of his strength on one flank and uses the remainder to fix the enemy line. This allows a commander with weaker or equal forces to...

 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
Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor
Joseph II was Holy Roman Emperor from 1765 to 1790 and ruler of the Habsburg lands from 1780 to 1790. He was the eldest son of Empress Maria Theresa and her husband, Francis I...

 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.


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; after Napoleon's victory of the Fourth Coalition in 1807, he visited Frederick's tomb in Potsdam
Potsdam
Potsdam is the capital city of the German federal state of Brandenburg and part of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. It is situated on the River Havel, southwest of Berlin city centre....

 and remarked to his officers, "Gentlemen, if this man were still alive I would not be here". Frederick and Napoleon are perhaps the most admiringly quoted military leaders in Clausewitz' On War
On War
Vom Kriege is a book on war and military strategy by Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz , written mostly after the Napoleonic wars, between 1816 and 1830, and published posthumously by his wife in 1832. It has been translated into English several times as On War...

. More than Frederick's use of the oblique order, Clausewitz praised particularly the quick and skillful movement of his troops.

Frederick the Great's most notable and decisive military victories on the battlefield were the Battles of Hohenfriedberg
Battle of Hohenfriedberg
The Battle of Hohenfriedberg or Hohenfriedeberg, also known as the battle of Striegau, now Dobromierz, was one of the crowning achievements of Frederick the Great...

, Rossbach
Battle of Rossbach
The Battle of Rossbach took place during the Seven Years' War near the village of Roßbach, in the Electorate of Saxony. Frederick the Great defeated the allied armies of France and the Holy Roman/Austrian Empire...

, and Leuthen
Battle of Leuthen
In the Battle of Leuthen or Lissa, fought on 5 December 1757, Frederick the Great's Prussian army used maneuver and terrain to decisively defeat a much larger Austrian army under Charles of Lorraine, thus ensuring Prussian control of Silesia during the Seven Years' War.- Background :While Frederick...

.

First Partition of Poland

Frederick developed into one of the most vociferous critics of the Polish society as he began to prepare ground for dismemberment of Poland-Lithuania in 1752 at the latest, hoping to gain territorial bridge between Pomerania, Brandenburg and East Prussian provinces. Other authors also refer to a 1731 letter to Field Marshal
Field Marshal
Field Marshal is a military rank. Traditionally, it is the highest military rank in an army.-Etymology:The origin of the rank of field marshal dates to the early Middle Ages, originally meaning the keeper of the king's horses , from the time of the early Frankish kings.-Usage and hierarchical...

 Dubislav Gneomar von Natzmer
Dubislav Gneomar von Natzmer
Dubislav Gneomar von Natzmer was a Prussian Generalfeldmarschall and a confidant of the House of Hohenzollern.-Family:...

, where Frederick had suggested that the country would be well-served by annexing Polish Prussia in order to unite the territories of the Kingdom of Prussia. Similarly, the Russian and Prussian propaganda machines tried to further the resistance of the so-called dissidents against the Catholic majority of Poland.

According to Hamish M. Scott, Frederick was eager to exploit Poland economically as his wider aim of increasing Prussia's wealth. Scott views this as a continuation of his previous violations of Polish territory in 1759 and 1761 and raids within Greater Poland until 1765.
After acquiring dies from which the currency of Poland was struck he issued debased Polish coins which drove money out of Poland into Hohenzollern territory – it is estimated that it gained him 25 million thaler
Thaler
The Thaler was a silver coin used throughout Europe for almost four hundred years. Its name lives on in various currencies as the dollar or tolar. Etymologically, "Thaler" is an abbreviation of "Joachimsthaler", a coin type from the city of Joachimsthal in Bohemia, where some of the first such...

s of profit, while causing considerable monetary problems for Poland.

Frederick for many years circulated fake currency after obtaining Polish coin dies during the conquest of Saxony. His mint master Veitel-Heine Ephraim
Veitel-Heine Ephraim
Veitel-Heine Ephraim was Jeweller to the Prussian Court and Mint Master under the Prussian Kings Frederick William I and Frederick the Great....

 coordinated the procedure and the worthless coins were eventually called efraimki (pol. 'efraimettes')
He also opposed attempts at political reform in Poland, and his troops bombarded custom ports in Vistula, thwarting Polish efforts to create a modern fiscal system.

Empress Catherine II
Catherine II of Russia
Catherine II, also known as Catherine the Great , Empress of Russia, was born in Stettin, Pomerania, Prussia on as Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg...

 took the Imperial Russian
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 throne in 1762 after the murder of her husband, Peter III
Peter III of Russia
Peter III was Emperor of Russia for six months in 1762. He was very pro-Prussian, which made him an unpopular leader. He was supposedly assassinated as a result of a conspiracy led by his wife, who succeeded him to the throne as Catherine II.-Early life and character:Peter was born in Kiel, in...

. Catherine was staunchly opposed to Prussia, while Frederick disapproved of Russia, whose troops had been allowed to freely cross the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was a dualistic state of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch. It was the largest and one of the most populous countries of 16th- and 17th‑century Europe with some and a multi-ethnic population of 11 million at its peak in the early 17th century...

 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
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

. 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
Repnin Sejm
The Repnin Sejm was a Sejm of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth that took place between 1767 and 1768 in Warsaw. This session followed the Sejms of 1764 to 1766, where the newly elected King of Poland, Stanisław August Poniatowski, attempted with some successes to push through reforms to...

 of 1767, an act which also threatened Austria and the Ottoman Turks
Ottoman Turks
The Ottoman Turks were the Turkish-speaking population of the Ottoman Empire who formed the base of the state's military and ruling classes. Reliable information about the early history of Ottoman Turks is scarce, but they take their Turkish name, Osmanlı , from the house of Osman I The Ottoman...

. In the ensuing Russo-Turkish War
Russo-Turkish War, 1768-1774
The Russo-Turkish War of 1768–1774 was a decisive conflict that brought Southern Ukraine, Northern Caucasus, and Crimea within the orbit of the Russian Empire.-Background:...

 (1768–1774), Frederick supported Catherine with a subsidy of 300,000 ruble
Ruble
The ruble or rouble is a unit of currency. Currently, the currency units of Belarus, Russia, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria, and, in the past, the currency units of several other countries, notably countries influenced by Russia and the Soviet Union, are named rubles, though they all are...

s with reluctance as he did not want Russia to become even stronger through the acquisitions of Ottoman territory. The Prussian king achieved a rapprochement
Rapprochement
In international relations, a rapprochement, which comes from the French word rapprocher , is a re-establishment of cordial relations, as between two countries...

 with Emperor Joseph and the Austrian chancellor Kaunitz.

After Russia had occupied the Danubian Principalities
Danubian Principalities
Danubian Principalities was a conventional name given to the Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia, which emerged in the early 14th century. The term was coined in the Habsburg Monarchy after the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca in order to designate an area on the lower Danube with a common...

, Frederick's representative in Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

, his brother Henry, convinced Frederick and Maria Theresa that the balance of power
Balance of power in international relations
In international relations, a balance of power exists when there is parity or stability between competing forces. The concept describes a state of affairs in the international system and explains the behavior of states in that system...

 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
Partitions of Poland
The Partitions of Poland or Partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth took place in the second half of the 18th century and ended the existence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, resulting in the elimination of sovereign Poland for 123 years...

 in 1772, Frederick claimed most of the Polish province of Royal Prussia
Royal Prussia
Royal Prussia was a Region of the Kingdom of Poland and of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth . Polish Prussia included Pomerelia, Chełmno Land , Malbork Voivodeship , Gdańsk , Toruń , and Elbląg . It is distinguished from Ducal Prussia...

. Prussia annexed 20000 square miles (51,799.8 km²) and 600,000 inhabitants, the least of the partitioning powers. However, the newly created province of West Prussia
West Prussia
West Prussia was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1773–1824 and 1878–1919/20 which was created out of the earlier Polish province of Royal Prussia...

 connected East Prussia
East Prussia
East Prussia is the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast from the 13th century to the end of World War II in May 1945. From 1772–1829 and 1878–1945, the Province of East Prussia was part of the German state of Prussia. The capital city was Königsberg.East Prussia...

 and Farther Pomerania
Farther Pomerania
Farther Pomerania, Further Pomerania, Transpomerania or Eastern Pomerania , which before the German-Polish border shift of 1945 comprised the eastern part of the Duchy, later Province of Pomerania, roughly stretching from the Oder River in the West to Pomerelia in the East...

 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".

Frederick invited German immigrants to redevelop the province also hoping they would displace the Poles. According to the conservative German historian Gerhard Ritter
Gerhard Ritter
Gerhard Georg Bernhard Ritter was a conservative German historian.-Before the Third Reich:...

, Frederick II, guided by the interests of the state but not believing in the importance of race, preferred to introduce German or Frisian workers and peasants, believing them to be more fit to build up a new civilization than the “physically and morally ruined serfs of the Polish nobility”.

Frederick himself tried to further propaganda justifying the Partitions, portraying the acquired provinces as underdeveloped and improved by Prussian rule – according to Karin Friedrich
Karin Friedrich
Karin Friedrich is a German historian, currently a senior lecturer in history at the University of Aberdeen King's College.Friedrich received an M.A. in History and Political Science from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in 1989 and a...

 these claims were accepted for a long time in German historiography and sometimes still reflected in modern works. According to Christopher Clark
Christopher Clark
Christopher M. Clark is an Australian historian working in England. He was educated at Sydney Grammar School, the University of Sydney and the Freie Universität Berlin.-Life:...

, 54 percent of the area's and 75 percent of the urban populace were ethnic German Protestants. Frederick however never justified his conquests on a national basis, unlike later, nationalist, 19th century German historians. Neither did he recourse to the era of the Teutonic Knights
Teutonic Knights
The Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem , commonly the Teutonic Order , is a German medieval military order, in modern times a purely religious Catholic order...

 to justify Prussian claims. Dismissive of contemporary German culture, Frederic was instead pursuing an imperialist policy, acting on the security interests of his state. The new-gained territories connected Prussia with the Germany proper, and were of major economic importance to the region. According to Polish sources, Frederick II settled 300,000 colonists on territories he had conquered, and enforced Germanization.

Frederick quickly began improving the infrastructure of West Prussia, reforming its administrative and legal code, and improving the school system. 750 new schools were built from 1772–1775. Both Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 and Roman Catholic teachers taught in West Prussia, and teachers and administrators were encouraged to be able to speak both German and Polish
Polish language
Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland and by Polish minorities in other countries...

.

Frederick looked upon many of his new citizens with scorn. He had nothing but contempt for the szlachta
Szlachta
The szlachta was a legally privileged noble class with origins in the Kingdom of Poland. It gained considerable institutional privileges during the 1333-1370 reign of Casimir the Great. In 1413, following a series of tentative personal unions between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of...

, the numerous Polish nobility, and wrote that Poland had "the worst government in Europe with the exception of Turkey
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

". He considered West Prussia as uncivilized as Colonial Canada
Canada under British Imperial Control (1764-1867)
Territories, colonies and provinces that would become part of modern Canada were under control of the English, and later British, Empire from the sixteenth century, when France also had claims in the area. However, the most populous areas of Canada in the St...

 and compared the Polish peasants to the Iroquois
Iroquois
The Iroquois , also known as the Haudenosaunee or the "People of the Longhouse", are an association of several tribes of indigenous people of North America...

. Polish authors have also argued that already during his early days Frederick detested Poles; thus referring to them in a letter from 1735 as "dirty" and "vile apes." 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
Heath
-Habitats:* Heath or heathland, low-growing woody vegetation, mostly consisting of heathers and related species* Heaths in the British National Vegetation Classification system...

 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." Many German officials also regarded the Poles with contempt. Frederick did befriend Ignacy Krasicki
Ignacy Krasicki
Ignacy Krasicki , from 1766 Prince-Bishop of Warmia and from 1795 Archbishop of Gniezno , was Poland's leading Enlightenment poet , a critic of the clergy, Poland's La Fontaine, author of the first Polish novel, playwright, journalist, encyclopedist, and translator from French and...

, whom he asked to consecrate St. Hedwig's Cathedral
St. Hedwig's Cathedral
St. Hedwig's Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral on the Bebelplatz in Berlin, Germany. It is the seat of the archbishop of Berlin.It was built in the 18th century as the first Catholic church in Prussia after the Protestant Reformation by permission of King Frederick II...

 in 1773. He also advised his successors to learn Polish
Polish language
Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland and by Polish minorities in other countries...

, a policy followed by the Hohenzollern dynasty until Frederick III
Frederick III, German Emperor
Frederick III was German Emperor and King of Prussia for 99 days in 1888, the Year of the Three Emperors. Friedrich Wilhelm Nikolaus Karl known informally as Fritz, was the only son of Emperor William I and was raised in his family's tradition of military service...

 decided not to let William II
William II, German Emperor
Wilhelm II was the last German Emperor and King of Prussia, ruling the German Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia from 15 June 1888 to 9 November 1918. He was a grandson of the British Queen Victoria and related to many monarchs and princes of Europe...

 learn the language.

Modernization

Frederick managed to transform Prussia from a European backwater to an economically strong and politically reformed state. His acquisition of Silesia
Province of Silesia
The Province of Silesia was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1815 to 1919.-Geography:The territory comprised the bulk of the former Bohemian crown land of Silesia and the County of Kladsko, which King Frederick the Great had conquered from the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy in the 18th...

 was orchestrated so as to provide Prussia's fledgling industries
Industry
Industry refers to the production of an economic good or service within an economy.-Industrial sectors:There are four key industrial economic sectors: the primary sector, largely raw material extraction industries such as mining and farming; the secondary sector, involving refining, construction,...

 with raw materials, and he protected these industries with high tariffs and minimal restrictions on internal trade. Canal
Canal
Canals are man-made channels for water. There are two types of canal:#Waterways: navigable transportation canals used for carrying ships and boats shipping goods and conveying people, further subdivided into two kinds:...

s were built, including between the Vistula and the Oder, swamps were drained
Drainage
Drainage is the natural or artificial removal of surface and sub-surface water from an area. Many agricultural soils need drainage to improve production or to manage water supplies.-Early history:...

 for agricultural cultivation, and new crops, such as the potato and the turnip
Turnip
The turnip or white turnip is a root vegetable commonly grown in temperate climates worldwide for its white, bulbous taproot. Small, tender varieties are grown for human consumption, while larger varieties are grown as feed for livestock...

, were introduced. Frederick regarded his reclamation of land in the Oderbruch
Oderbruch
The Oderbruch is a region along the river Oder between the towns Oderberg and Bad Freienwalde in the north and Lebus in the south...

 as a province conquered in peace. 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
Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky
Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky was a Prussian merchant with a successful trade in trinkets, silk, taft and porcelain. A relief on Meissen porcelain introduced in 1740s was named after him. Moreover he acted as a diplomat and art dealer...

 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
KPM
KPM is an acronym or abbreviation for:* The King's Police Medal for Gallantry* The Knuth–Pratt–Morris algorithm* Kingston Process Metallurgy Inc...

, but refused to buy more of his paintings.

One of Frederick's greatest achievements included the control of grain prices, whereby government storehouses would enable civilian population to survive in needy regions, where the harvest was poor.

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
Thaler
The Thaler was a silver coin used throughout Europe for almost four hundred years. Its name lives on in various currencies as the dollar or tolar. Etymologically, "Thaler" is an abbreviation of "Joachimsthaler", a coin type from the city of Joachimsthal in Bohemia, where some of the first such...

, 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.

Frederick gave his state a modern bureaucracy
Bureaucracy
A bureaucracy is an organization of non-elected officials of a governmental or organization who implement the rules, laws, and functions of their institution, and are occasionally characterized by officialism and red tape.-Weberian 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
Torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

 and corporal punishment
Corporal punishment
Corporal punishment is a form of physical punishment that involves the deliberate infliction of pain as retribution for an offence, or for the purpose of disciplining or reforming a wrongdoer, or to deter attitudes or behaviour deemed unacceptable...

 for most cases.

Frederick began titling himself "King of Prussia" after the acquisition of Royal Prussia
Royal Prussia
Royal Prussia was a Region of the Kingdom of Poland and of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth . Polish Prussia included Pomerelia, Chełmno Land , Malbork Voivodeship , Gdańsk , Toruń , and Elbląg . It is distinguished from Ducal Prussia...

 (West Prussia
West Prussia
West Prussia was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1773–1824 and 1878–1919/20 which was created out of the earlier Polish province of Royal Prussia...

) in 1772; the phrasing "King in Prussia
King in Prussia
King in Prussia was a title used by the Electors of Brandenburg from 1701 to 1772. Subsequently they used the title King of Prussia....

" had been used since the coronation of Frederick I
Frederick I of Prussia
Frederick I , of the Hohenzollern dynasty, was Elector of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia in personal union . The latter function he upgraded to royalty, becoming the first King in Prussia . From 1707 he was in personal union the sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuchâtel...

 in Königsberg
Königsberg
Königsberg was the capital of East Prussia from the Late Middle Ages until 1945 as well as the northernmost and easternmost German city with 286,666 inhabitants . Due to the multicultural society in and around the city, there are several local names for it...

 in 1701.

Religious tolerance

Frederick generally supported religious toleration, including the retention of Jesuits
Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus is a Catholic male religious order that follows the teachings of the Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits, and are also known colloquially as "God's Army" and as "The Company," these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola's military background and a...

 as teachers in Silesia, Warmia
Warmia
Warmia or Ermland is a region between Pomerelia and Masuria in northeastern Poland. Together with Masuria, it forms the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship....

, and the Netze District
Netze District
The Netze District or District of the Netze was a territory in the Kingdom of Prussia from 1772 until 1807. It included the urban centers of Bydgoszcz , Inowrocław , Piła and Wałcz and was given its name for the Noteć River that traversed it.Beside Royal Prussia, a land of the Polish Crown...

 after their suppression by Pope Clement XIV
Pope Clement XIV
Pope Clement XIV , born Giovanni Vincenzo Antonio Ganganelli, was Pope from 1769 to 1774. At the time of his election, he was the only Franciscan friar in the College of Cardinals.-Early life:...

. Just like Catherine II, Frederick recognized the educational skills the Jesuits had as an asset for the nation. 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
Enlightenment Spain
The Age of Enlightenment came to Spain in the eighteenth century with a new Bourbon dynasty after the decay of the Spanish economy, bureaucracy, and empire in the latter years of the former Habsburg dynasty...

. He wanted development throughout the country, specifically in areas that he judged as needing a particular kind of development. Thus, he accepted countless Protestant weavers from Bohemia
Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

, who were fleeing from the devoutly Catholic rule of Maria Theresa. Frederick granted the weavers freedom from taxes and military service. As an example of Frederick's 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.


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
Gerson von Bleichröder
Gerson von Bleichröder was a Jewish German banker.Bleichröder was born in Berlin. He was the eldest son of Samuel Bleichröder, who founded the banking firm of S. Bleichröder in 1803 in Berlin...

 in financing Bismarck's efforts to reunite Germany.

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.

Architecture

Frederick had famous buildings constructed in his capital, Berlin, most of which still exist today, such as the Berlin State Opera
Berlin State Opera
The Staatsoper Unter den Linden is a German opera company. Its permanent home is the opera house on the Unter den Linden boulevard in the Mitte district of Berlin, which also hosts the Staatskapelle Berlin orchestra.-Early years:...

, the Royal Library (today the State Library Berlin), St. Hedwig's Cathedral
St. Hedwig's Cathedral
St. Hedwig's Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral on the Bebelplatz in Berlin, Germany. It is the seat of the archbishop of Berlin.It was built in the 18th century as the first Catholic church in Prussia after the Protestant Reformation by permission of King Frederick II...

, and Prince Henry's Palace (now the site of Humboldt University
Humboldt University of Berlin
The Humboldt University of Berlin is Berlin's oldest university, founded in 1810 as the University of Berlin by the liberal Prussian educational reformer and linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt, whose university model has strongly influenced other European and Western universities...

). However, the king preferred spending his time in his summer residence Potsdam, where he built the palace of Sanssouci
Sanssouci
Sanssouci is the name of the former summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, in Potsdam, near Berlin. It is often counted among the German rivals of Versailles. While Sanssouci is in the more intimate Rococo style and is far smaller than its French Baroque counterpart, it too is...

, the most important work of Northern German rococo
Rococo
Rococo , also referred to as "Late Baroque", is an 18th-century style which developed as Baroque artists gave up their symmetry and became increasingly ornate, florid, and playful...

. Sanssouci, which translates from French as "carefree" or "without worry", was a refuge for Frederick. "Frederician Rococo
Frederician Rococo
Frederician Rococo is a form of rococo, which developed in Prussia during the reign of Frederick the Great and combined influences from both France and the Netherlands. Its most famous adherent was the architect Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff. Furthermore, the painter Antoine Pesne and even...

" developed under Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff
Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff
Hans Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff was a painter and architect in Prussia.Knobelsdorff was born in Kuckädel, now in Krosno Odrzańskie County. A soldier in the service of Prussia, he resigned his commission in 1729 as captain so that he could pursue his interest in architecture...

.

Music, arts and learning

Frederick was a gifted musician who played the transverse flute
Flute
The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening...

. He composed 100 sonata
Sonata
Sonata , in music, literally means a piece played as opposed to a cantata , a piece sung. The term, being vague, naturally evolved through the history of music, designating a variety of forms prior to the Classical era...

s for the flute as well as four symphonies
Symphony
A symphony is an extended musical composition in Western classical music, scored almost always for orchestra. A symphony usually contains at least one movement or episode composed according to the sonata principle...

. The Hohenfriedberger Marsch, a military march, was supposedly written by Frederick to commemorate his victory in the Battle of Hohenfriedberg
Battle of Hohenfriedberg
The Battle of Hohenfriedberg or Hohenfriedeberg, also known as the battle of Striegau, now Dobromierz, was one of the crowning achievements of Frederick the Great...

 during the Second Silesian War. His court musicians included C. P. E. Bach, Johann Joachim Quantz
Johann Joachim Quantz
Johann Joachim Quantz was a German flutist, flute maker and composer.-Biography:Quantz was born in Oberscheden, near Göttingen, Germany, and died in Potsdam....

, Carl Heinrich Graun
Carl Heinrich Graun
Carl Heinrich Graun was a German composer and tenor singer. Along with Johann Adolf Hasse, he is considered to be the most important German composer of Italian opera of his time.-Biography:...

 and Franz Benda
Franz Benda
Franz Benda was a Czech violinist and composer. He was the brother of Jiří Antonín Benda, and he worked for much of his life at the court of Frederick the Great....

. A meeting with Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity...

 in 1747 in Potsdam
Potsdam
Potsdam is the capital city of the German federal state of Brandenburg and part of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. It is situated on the River Havel, southwest of Berlin city centre....

 led to Bach writing The Musical Offering
The Musical Offering
The Musical Offering , BWV 1079, is a collection of canons and fugues and other pieces of music by Johann Sebastian Bach, all based on a single musical theme given to him by Frederick II of Prussia , to whom they are dedicated...

.

Frederick also aspired to be a Platonic philosopher king
Philosopher king
Philosopher kings are the rulers, or Guardians, of Plato's Utopian Kallipolis. If his ideal city-state is to ever come into being, "philosophers [must] become kings…or those now called kings [must]…genuinely and adequately philosophize" .-In Book VI of The Republic:Plato defined a philosopher...

 like the Roman emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

 Marcus Aurelius. The king joined the Freemasons
Freemasonry
Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around six million, including approximately 150,000 under the jurisdictions of the Grand Lodge...

 in 1738 and stood close to the French Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

, admiring above all its greatest thinker, Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

, 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.

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". 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
Heinrich Friedrich Karl Reichsfreiherr vom und zum Stein
Heinrich Friedrich Karl Reichsfreiherr vom und zum Stein , commonly known as Baron vom Stein, was a Prussian statesman who introduced the Prussian reforms that paved the way for the unification of Germany...

, were also inspired by Frederick's statesmanship. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer, pictorial artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature. His works span the fields of poetry, drama, prose, philosophy, and science. His Faust has been called the greatest long...

 gave his opinion of Frederick during a visit to Strasbourg (Strassburg)
Strasbourg
Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin département. The city and the region of Alsace are historically German-speaking,...

 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 unlawful 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 ...

Berlin Academy

Aarsleff notes that before Frederick came to the throne in 1740, the Prussian Academy of Sciences
Prussian Academy of Sciences
The Prussian Academy of Sciences was an academy established in Berlin on 11 July 1700, four years after the Akademie der Künste or "Arts Academy", to which "Berlin Academy" may also refer.-Origins:...

 (Berlin Academy) was overshadowed by similar bodies in London and Paris. Frederick made French the official language and speculative philosophy the most important topic of study. The membership was strong in mathematics and philosophy and included Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher from Königsberg , researching, lecturing and writing on philosophy and anthropology at the end of the 18th Century Enlightenment....

, Jean D'Alembert, Pierre-Louis de Maupertuis, and Etienne de Condillac. However the Academy was in a crisis for two decades at mid-century, due to scandals and internal rivalries such as the debates between Newtonianism and Leibnizian views, and the personality conflict between Voltaire and Maupertuis. At a higher level Maupertuis, the director 1746-59 and a monarchist, argued that the action of individuals was shaped by the character of the institution that contained them, and they worked for the glory of the state. By contrast d' Alembert took a republican rather than monarchical approach and emphasized the international Republic of Letters
Republic of Letters
Republic of Letters is most commonly used to define intellectual communities in the late 17th and 18th century in Europe and America. It especially brought together the intellectuals of Age of Enlightenment, or "philosophes" as they were called in France...

 as the vehicle for scientific advance. By 1789, however, the academy had gained an international repute while making major contributions to German culture and thought. Frederick invited Joseph-Louis Lagrange to succeed Leonhard Euler
Leonhard Euler
Leonhard Euler was a pioneering Swiss mathematician and physicist. He made important discoveries in fields as diverse as infinitesimal calculus and graph theory. He also introduced much of the modern mathematical terminology and notation, particularly for mathematical analysis, such as the notion...

 at the Berlin Academy
Prussian Academy of Sciences
The Prussian Academy of Sciences was an academy established in Berlin on 11 July 1700, four years after the Akademie der Künste or "Arts Academy", to which "Berlin Academy" may also refer.-Origins:...

; both were world-class mathematicians. Other intellectuals attracted to the philosopher's kingdom were Francesco Algarotti
Francesco Algarotti
Count Francesco Algarotti was an Italian philosopher and art critic.He also completed engravings.He was born in Venice to a rich merchant. He studied at Rome for a year, and then Bologna, he studied natural sciences and mathematics...

, d'Argens
Jean-Baptiste de Boyer, Marquis d'Argens
Jean-Baptiste de Boyer, Marquis d'Argens was a French philosopher and writer.An arch-opponent of the Catholic Church, intolerance and religious oppression, he had to flee his native France and his books were frequently denounced by the Inquisition...

, and Julien Offray de La Mettrie
Julien Offray de La Mettrie
Julien Offray de La Mettrie was a French physician and philosopher, and one of the earliest of the French materialists of the Enlightenment...

. Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher from Königsberg , researching, lecturing and writing on philosophy and anthropology at the end of the 18th Century Enlightenment....

 published religious writings in Berlin which would have been censored elsewhere in Europe. nat

Sexuality

Frederick spent much of his time at Sanssouci, his favorite residence in Potsdam. There he had built the Friendship Temple
Temple of Friendship
The Temple of Friendship is a small, round temple in the western part of Sanssouci Park in Potsdam. It was built by the Prussian king Frederick II in memory of his favorite sister, Markgravine Wilhelmine of Bayreuth, who died in 1758...

 as a memorial to his favourite sister, Wilhelmine. Surrounding Wilhelmine's statue, the temple's columns have portraits of four pairs of male friends from Greek Antiquity: Euryalus
Euryalus
Euryalus refers to several different characters from Greek mythology and classical literature:#In the Aeneid by Virgil, Nisus and Euryalus are ideal friends and lovers, who died during a raid on the Rutulians.# Euryalus was the son of Mecisteus...

 and Nisos
Nisos
In Greek mythology, Nisos was the King of Megara, and one of the four sons of Pandion II, King of Athens.He was married to Abrota, sister of Megareus, and when she died, Nisos commanded that the Megarian women wear clothes like she had. His daughter Eurynome, with Poseidon, had the famous son...

, Heracles
Heracles
Heracles ,born Alcaeus or Alcides , was a divine hero in Greek mythology, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon and great-grandson of Perseus...

 and Philoctetes
Philoctetes
Philoctetes or Philocthetes according to Greek mythology, the son of King Poeas of Meliboea in Thessaly. He was a Greek hero, famed as an archer, and was a participant in the Trojan War. He was the subject of at least two plays by Sophocles, one of which is named after him, and one each by both...

, Pirithous
Pirithous
In Greek mythology, Pirithous - Πειρίθοος was the King of the Lapiths in Thessaly and husband of Hippodamia, at whose wedding the famous Battle of Lapiths and Centaurs occurred....

 and Theseus
Theseus
For other uses, see Theseus Theseus was the mythical founder-king of Athens, son of Aethra, and fathered by Aegeus and Poseidon, both of whom Aethra had slept with in one night. Theseus was a founder-hero, like Perseus, Cadmus, or Heracles, all of whom battled and overcame foes that were...

, as well as Orestes
Orestes
Orestes was the son of Agamemnon in Greek mythology; Orestes may also refer to:Drama*Orestes , by Euripides*Orestes, the character in Sophocles' tragedy Electra*Orestes, the character in Aeschylus' trilogy of tragedies, Oresteia...

 and Pylades
Pylades
In Greek mythology, Pylades is the son of King Strophius of Phocis and of Anaxibia, daughter of Atreus and sister of Agamemnon and Menelaus. He is mostly known for his strong friendship with his cousin Orestes, son of Agamemnon.-Orestes and Pylades:...

. At Sanssouci Frederick entertained his most privileged guests, especially the French philosopher Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

, 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 angry attack on Maupertuis, the President of Frederick's academy, provoked Frederick to burn the pamphlet publicly and put Voltaire under house arrest. Voltaire was accused by some of anonymously publishing The Private Life of the King of Prussia, wittily claiming Frederick's homosexuality and parade of male lovers, after Voltaire had left Prussia. Frederick neither admitted nor denied the contents of the book, nor ever accused Voltaire of having written it. Some years later, Voltaire and Frederick resumed their correspondence and eventually aired their mutual recriminations, to end as friends once more. After Frederick's death, his physician, Johann Georg Ritter von Zimmermann, claimed that the king had let rumors of homosexuality appear to be true in order to keep the public from knowing that his genitalia were harmed by "a cruel surgical operation" to save his life from an unnamed venereal disease that he had contracted as a young man.

Historians disagree about the nature of Frederick's sexuality, some saying that Frederick's writings indicate that he simply had greater priorities than women. The French professor Dieudonné Thiébault declared in 1804 that Frederick had mistresses at Neuruppin
Neuruppin
Neuruppin is a town in Brandenburg, Germany. Located on the shore of Ruppiner See , it is the capital of the district of Ostprignitz-Ruppin. Population: 32,800 .-Overview:...

. In 2011, an unpublished erotic poem by Frederick was discovered amongst his letters; it was written, according to correspondence with Voltaire, in response to an Italian friend's contention that northern Europeans were not as passionate as southern Europeans. Literary historian Christopher Clark
Christopher Clark
Christopher M. Clark is an Australian historian working in England. He was educated at Sydney Grammar School, the University of Sydney and the Freie Universität Berlin.-Life:...

 has remarked that 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."

Later years

In 1785, Frederick II signed a “Treaty of amity and commerce” with the United States of America, recognizing the independence of the United States. The agreement included a novel clause, whereby the two leaders of the executive branches of either country guaranteed a special and humane detention for prisoners of war
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 greyhound
Italian Greyhound
The Italian Greyhound is a small breed of dog of the sight hound type, sometimes called an "I.G.", or "Iggy" for short.-Appearance:The Italian Greyhound is the smallest of the sighthounds, typically weighing about and standing about tall at the withers...

s, whom he referred to as his 'marquises de Pompadour
Madame de Pompadour
Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour, also known as Madame de Pompadour was a member of the French court, and was the official chief mistress of Louis XV from 1745 to her death.-Biography:...

' as a jibe at the French royal mistress. Frederick died in an armchair in his study in the palace of Sanssouci on 17 August 1786.

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
Frederick William II of Prussia
Frederick William II was the King of Prussia, reigning from 1786 until his death. He was in personal union the Prince-Elector of Brandenburg and the sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuchâtel.-Early life:...

 instead ordered the body to be entombed next to his father in the Potsdam Garrison Church
Garrison Church (Potsdam)
The Garrison Church was a Baroque church in Potsdam, eastern Germany. It was built under the second Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm I. between 1730 and 1735. During World War II, the church burned down on 14 April 1945. The ruin was demolished on 23 June 1968 by the SED leadership under Walter...

. Near the end of World War II, Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 ordered the coffin
Coffin
A coffin is a funerary box used in the display and containment of dead people – either for burial or cremation.Contemporary North American English makes a distinction between "coffin", which is generally understood to denote a funerary box having six sides in plan view, and "casket", which...

s of Frederick and Frederick William I
Frederick William I of Prussia
Frederick William I of the House of Hohenzollern, was the King in Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg from 1713 until his death...

, as well as those of Paul von Hindenburg
Paul von Hindenburg
Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg , known universally as Paul von Hindenburg was a Prussian-German field marshal, statesman, and politician, and served as the second President of Germany from 1925 to 1934....

 and his wife, transferred first to an underground bunker near Berlin, then hidden in a salt mine close to the town of Bernrode
Bernterode (bei Worbis)
Bernterode is a village and a former municipality in the district of Eichsfeld, Thuringia, Germany. Since 1 September 2009, it is part of the town Breitenworbis....

, 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"
Nazi plunder
Nazi plunder refers to art theft and other items stolen as a result of the organized looting of European countries during the time of the Third Reich by agents acting on behalf of the ruling Nazi Party of Germany. Plundering occurred from 1933 until the end of World War II, particularly by military...

. As part of a secret project dubbed "Operation Bodysnatch"

, the US Army relocated both kings first to the Elisabeth Church
Elisabeth Church (Marburg)
St. Elisabeth's Church is a religious building in Marburg, Germany, built by the Order of the Teutonic Knights in honour of Elisabeth of Hungary...

 of Marburg
Marburg
Marburg is a city in the state of Hesse, Germany, on the River Lahn. It is the main town of the Marburg-Biedenkopf district and its population, as of March 2010, was 79,911.- Founding and early history :...

 and then on to Burg Hohenzollern
Burg Hohenzollern
Hohenzollern Castle is a castle about south of Stuttgart, Germany. It is considered the ancestral seat of the Hohenzollern family, which emerged in the Middle Ages and eventually became German Emperors....

 close to the town of Hechingen
Hechingen
Hechingen is a town in central Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It is situated about south of the state capital of Stuttgart and north of Lake Constance and the Swiss border.- City districts :...

. After German reunification
German reunification
German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic joined the Federal Republic of Germany , and when Berlin reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz constitution Article 23. The start of this process is commonly referred by Germans as die...

, the body of Frederick William was entombed in the Kaiser Friedrich Mausoleum in Sanssouci's Church of Peace
Church of Peace (Sanssouci)
The Protestant Church of Peace is situated in the Marly Gardens on the Green Fence in the palace grounds of Sanssouci Park in Potsdam, Germany. The church was built according to the wishes and with the close involvement of the artistically gifted King Frederick William IV and designed by the court...

.

On the 205th anniversary of his death, on 17 August 1991, Frederick's casket
Casket
A casket, or jewelry box is a term for a container that is usually larger than a box, and smaller than a chest, and in the past was typically decorated...

 lay in state in the court of honor of Sanssouci, covered by a Prussian flag
Flag of Prussia
The state of Prussia had its origins in the separate lands of the Margraviate of Brandenburg and the Duchy of Prussia. The Margraviate of Brandenburg developed from the medieval Northern March of the Holy Roman Empire, passing to the House of Hohenzollern in 1415...

 and escorted by a Bundeswehr
Bundeswehr
The Bundeswehr consists of the unified armed forces of Germany and their civil administration and procurement authorities...

 guard of honor
Guard of Honor
Guard of Honor is a Pulitzer Prize winning novel by James Gould Cozzens published in 1948. The novel is set during World War II, with most of the action occurring on or near a fictional Army Air Forces base in central Florida. The action occurs over a period of approximately 48 hours...

. 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))..

Places

King of Prussia
King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
King of Prussia is a census-designated place in Upper Merion Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, United States. As of the 2010 census, its population was 19,936. The community took its name in the 18th century from a local tavern named the King of Prussia Inn, which was named after...

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

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

German films

The Great King is a 1942 German
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 drama film directed by Veit Harlan
Veit Harlan
Veit Harlan was a German film director and actor.-Life and career:Harlan was born in Berlin. After studying under Max Reinhardt, he first appeared on the stage in 1915 and, after World War I, worked in the Berlin stage. In 1922 he married Jewish actress and cabaret singer Dora Gerson; the couple...

 and starring Otto Gebühr
Otto Gebühr
Otto Gebühr was a German theatre and film actor, who appeared in 102 movies released between 1917 and 1962. He is noted for his performance as the Prussian king Frederick the Great in numerous films.-Life:...

. It depicts the life of Frederick the Great. It received the rare "Film of the Nation" distinction. 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
    Carl Boese
    Carl Boese was a German film director, screenwriter and producer. He directed 158 films between 1917 and 1957.-Selected filmography:* The Golem: How He Came into the World * Paprika...

  • 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
    Gerhard Lamprecht
    Gerhard Lamprecht was a German film director and screenwriter. He directed 63 films between 1920 and 1958. He also wrote for 26 films between 1918 and 1958...

  • 1928: Der alte Fritz – 2. Teil Ausklang – director: Gerhard Lamprecht
  • 1930: Das Flötenkonzert von Sanssouci –director: Gustav Ucicky
    Gustav Ucicky
    Gustav Ucicky was an acclaimed Austrian film director, screenwriter and cinematographer. He was one of the more successful and acclaimed directors in Austria and Germany from the 1930s through to the early 1960s...

  • 1932: Die Tänzerin von Sans Souci – director: Friedrich Zelnik
  • 1933: Der Choral von Leuthen – director: Carl Froelich
    Carl Froelich
    Carl August Froelich was a German film pioneer and film director.-Apparatus builder and cameraman:...

  • 1936. Heiteres und Ernstes um den großen König – director: Phil Jutzi
    Phil Jutzi
    Phil Jutzi was a German cameraman and movie director.Born Philipp Jutzi in Altleiningen as the son of a tailor, Jutzi was self-educated...

  • 1936: Fridericus – director: Johannes Meyer
    Johannes Meyer
    Johannes Meyer , was a Danish film actor.He debuted in the theater in 1905.-Filmography:*De blaa drenge - 1933*Så til søs - 1933*Flugten fra millionerne - 1934*Lynet - 1934*Nøddebo Præstegård - 1934...

  • 1937: Das schöne Fräulein Schragg – director: Hans Deppe
    Hans Deppe
    -Selected filmography:Actor* The Victor * A Blonde's Dream * Two Hearts Beat as One * The Star of Valencia * A Door Opens * Our Flags Lead Us Forward * The Ambassador's Wife...

  • 1942: Der große König – director: Veit Harlan


In the 2004 German film Der Untergang
Downfall (film)
Downfall is a 2004 German/Italian/Austrian epic war film directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, depicting the final ten days of Adolf Hitler's life in his Berlin bunker and Nazi Germany in 1945....

(Downfall), Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 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. This is based on an incident witnessed by Rochus Misch
Rochus Misch
Rochus Misch is a former Oberscharführer in the 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler during World War II. He served as a courier, bodyguard and telephone operator for German leader Adolf Hitler from 1940 to 1945...

.

American films

Although Frederick is never seen on screen, he is mentioned several times in Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick was an American film director, writer, producer, and photographer who lived in England during most of the last four decades of his career...

's 1975 film Barry Lyndon
Barry Lyndon
Barry Lyndon is a 1975 British-American period romantic war film produced, written, and directed by Stanley Kubrick based on the 1844 novel The Luck of Barry Lyndon by William Makepeace Thackeray which recounts the exploits of an 18th century Irish adventurer...

. In the film, he is referred to as "the great and illustrious Frederick" and his army is both praised and criticized, as in this quotation: "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 would hesitate at no crime, including kidnapping, to keep supplied those brilliant regiments of his with food for powder."

Other

Frederick has been included in the Civilization
Civilization (series)
Civilization is a series of turn-based strategy, 4X video games produced by Sid Meier. Basic gameplay functions are similar throughout the series, namely, buiding a civilization on a macro-scale from prehistory up to the near future...

computer game series, the computer games Age of Empires III
Age of Empires III
Age of Empires III is a real-time strategy game developed by Microsoft Corporation's Ensemble Studios and published by Microsoft Game Studios. The Mac version was ported over and developed by Destineer's MacSoft Games and published by Destineer and MacSoft Games...

, Empire Earth II
Empire Earth II
Empire Earth II, also called EE2, is a real-time strategy computer game developed by Mad Doc Software and published by Vivendi Universal Games on April 26, 2005. It is a sequel to the 2001 bestselling game Empire Earth, which was developed by the now-defunct Stainless Steel Studios...

, Empire: Total War
Empire: Total War
Empire: Total War is a turn-based strategy and real-time tactics computer game developed by The Creative Assembly and published by Sega. The fifth instalment in the Total War series, the game was released in North America on 3 March 2009, and in the rest of the world the following day...

, and the board games Friedrich
Friedrich (board game)
Friedrich is a strategic board game about the events of the Seven Years' War. It was created by Richard Sivél, published in 2004, and won the prize for the Best Historical Simulation by Games magazine in 2006.- Outline of the Game :Three to four players command the nations that were involved in...

and Soldier Kings.

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

Frederick appears in the manga
Manga
Manga is the Japanese word for "comics" and consists of comics and print cartoons . In the West, the term "manga" has been appropriated to refer specifically to comics created in Japan, or by Japanese authors, in the Japanese language and conforming to the style developed in Japan in the late 19th...

 Hetalia: Axis Powers
Hetalia: Axis Powers
is a Japanese webcomic, later adapted as a manga and an anime series, by . The series presents an allegorical trivialisation of political and historic events, particularly of the World War II era, in which the various countries are represented by stereotyped anthropomorphic characters...

as Old Fritz, and is the boss of the character Prussia.

Family tree

Ancestry



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

Further reading

2 vols.
  • Gooch, G. P (1947) Frederick the Great,: The ruler, the writer, the man

External links


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