Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg

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Frederick William
Frans Luycx - Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg, at three-quarter-length.jpg
The Elector by Frans Luycx
Duke of Prussia
Elector of Brandenburg
Reign1 December 1640 – 29 April 1688
Predecessor George William
Successor Frederick III
Born(1620-02-16)16 February 1620
Stadtschloss, Berlin, Brandenburg-Prussia
Died29 April 1688(1688-04-29) (aged 68)
Stadtschloss, Potsdam, Brandenburg-Prussia
Spouse Luise Henriette of Nassau
Sophia Dorothea of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg
Issue
Detail
Charles, Electoral Prince of Brandenburg
Frederick I of Prussia
Philip William, Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt
Marie Amelie, Hereditary Princess of Mecklenburg-Güstrow
Prince Margrave Albert Frederick
Prince Charles
Elisabeth Sophie, Duchess of Saxe-Meiningen
Prince Christian Ludwig
House Hohenzollern
Father George William, Elector of Brandenburg
Mother Elisabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate
Religion Calvinist

Frederick William (German : Friedrich Wilhelm; 16 February 1620 – 29 April 1688) was Elector of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia, thus ruler of Brandenburg-Prussia, from 1640 until his death in 1688. A member of the House of Hohenzollern, he is popularly known as "the Great Elector" [1] (der Große Kurfürst) because of his military and political achievements. Frederick William was a staunch pillar of the Calvinist faith, associated with the rising commercial class. He saw the importance of trade and promoted it vigorously. His shrewd domestic reforms gave Prussia a strong position in the post-Westphalian political order of north-central Europe, setting Prussia up for elevation from duchy to kingdom, achieved under his son and successor.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol in Italy, the German-speaking Community of Belgium and Liechtenstein. It is one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages that are most similar to the German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch, including Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

Prince-elector members of the electoral college of the Holy Roman Empire

The Prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire, or Electors for short, were the members of the electoral college that elected the Holy Roman Emperor.

Margraviate of Brandenburg major principality of the Holy Roman Empire from 1157 to 1806

The Margraviate of Brandenburg was a major principality of the Holy Roman Empire from 1157 to 1806 that played a pivotal role in the history of Germany and Central Europe.

Contents

Biography

Elector Frederick William was born in Berlin to George William, Elector of Brandenburg, and Elisabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate. His inheritance consisted of the Margraviate of Brandenburg, the Duchy of Cleves, the County of Mark, and the Duchy of Prussia.

Berlin Capital of Germany

Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,748,148 (2018) inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Union after London. The city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, and contiguous with Potsdam, Brandenburg's capital. The two cities are at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region, which is, with about six million inhabitants and an area of more than 30,000 km², Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions.

George William, Elector of Brandenburg Elector and Margrave of Brandenburg, Duke of Prussia

George William, of the Hohenzollern dynasty, was margrave and elector of Brandenburg and duke of Prussia from 1619 until his death. His reign was marked by ineffective governance during the Thirty Years' War. He was the father of Frederick William, the "Great Elector".

Duchy of Cleves State of the Holy Roman Empire

The Duchy of Cleves was a State of the Holy Roman Empire which emerged from the mediaeval Hettergau. It was situated in the northern Rhineland on both sides of the Lower Rhine, around its capital Cleves and the towns of Wesel, Kalkar, Xanten, Emmerich, Rees and Duisburg bordering the lands of the Prince-Bishopric of Münster in the east and the Duchy of Brabant in the west. Its history is closely related to that of its southern neighbours: the Duchies of Jülich and Berg, as well as Guelders and the Westphalian county of Mark. The Duchy was archaically known as Cleveland in English.

Foreign diplomacy

Following the Thirty Years' War that devastated much of the Holy Roman Empire, Frederick William focused on rebuilding his war-ravaged territories. Brandenburg-Prussia benefited from his policy of religious tolerance and he used French subsidies to build up an army that took part in the 1655 to 1660 Second Northern War. This ended with the treaties of Labiau, Wehlau, Bromberg and Oliva; they removed Swedish control of the Duchy of Prussia, which meant he held it direct from the Holy Roman Emperor. [2]

Thirty Years War War between 1618 and 1648; with over 8 million fatalities

The Thirty Years' War was a war fought primarily in Central Europe between 1618 and 1648. One of the most destructive conflicts in human history, it resulted in eight million fatalities not only from military engagements but also from violence, famine, and plague. Casualties were overwhelmingly and disproportionately inhabitants of the Holy Roman Empire, most of the rest being battle deaths from various foreign armies. The deadly clashes ravaged Europe; 20 percent of the total population of Germany died during the conflict and there were losses up to 50 percent in a corridor between Pomerania and the Black Forest. In terms of proportional German casualties and destruction, it was surpassed only by the period of January to May 1945 during World War II; one of its enduring results was 19th-century Pan-Germanism, when it served as an example of the dangers of a divided Germany and became a key justification for the 1871 creation of the German Empire.

Holy Roman Empire Complex of territories in Europe from 962 to 1806

The Holy Roman Empire was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western and Central Europe that developed during the Early Middle Ages and continued until its dissolution in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars. The largest territory of the empire after 962 was the Kingdom of Germany, though it also included the neighboring Kingdom of Bohemia and Kingdom of Italy, plus numerous other territories, and soon after the Kingdom of Burgundy was added. Its size gradually diminished over time, particularly from 1648 onward, and by the time of its dissolution, it largely contained only German-speaking territories, plus the Kingdom of Bohemia which was bordered by the German lands on three sides.

A subsidy or government incentive is a form of financial aid or support extended to an economic sector generally with the aim of promoting economic and social policy. Although commonly extended from government, the term subsidy can relate to any type of support – for example from NGOs or as implicit subsidies. Subsidies come in various forms including: direct and indirect.

In 1672, Frederick William joined the Franco-Dutch War as an ally of the Dutch Republic, led by his nephew William of Orange but made peace with France in the June 1673 Treaty of Vossem. Although he rejoined the anti-French alliance in 1674, this left him diplomatically isolated; despite conquering much of Swedish Pomerania during the Scanian War, he was obliged to return these to Sweden in the 1679 Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. [3]

Franco-Dutch War International conflict

The Franco-Dutch War, often just the Dutch War, was a conflict that lasted from 1672 to 1678 between the Dutch Republic and France, each supported by allies. France had the support of England and Sweden, while the Dutch were supported by Spain, the Holy Roman Empire and Denmark.

Dutch Republic Republican predecessor state of the Netherlands from 1581 to 1795

The United Provinces of the Netherlands, or simply United Provinces, and commonly referred to historiographically as the Dutch Republic, was a confederal republic formally established from the formal creation of a confederacy in 1581 by several Dutch provinces—seceded from Spanish rule—until the Batavian Revolution of 1795. It was a predecessor state of the Netherlands and the first fully independent Dutch nation state.

William III of England 17th-century Stadtholder, Prince of Orange and King of England, Scotland and Ireland

William III, also widely known as William of Orange, was sovereign Prince of Orange from birth, Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders and Overijssel in the Dutch Republic from the 1670s and King of England, Ireland and Scotland from 1689 until his death, co-reigning with his wife, Queen Mary II. Popular histories usually refer to their joint reign as that of William and Mary. As King of Scotland, he is known as William II. He is sometimes informally known as "King Billy" in Northern Ireland and Scotland, where his victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 is still commemorated by Unionists and Ulster loyalists.

Military career

Statue of Frederick William at Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin Charlottenburg Statue 2.jpg
Statue of Frederick William at Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin

Frederick William was a military commander of wide renown, and his standing army would later become the model for the Prussian Army. He is notable for his joint victory with Swedish forces at the Battle of Warsaw, which, according to Hajo Holborn, marked "the beginning of Prussian military history", [4] but the Swedes turned on him at the behest of King Louis XIV and invaded Brandenburg. After marching 250 kilometres in 15 days back to Brandenburg, he caught the Swedes by surprise and managed to defeat them on the field at the Battle of Fehrbellin, destroying the myth of Swedish military invincibility. He later destroyed another Swedish army that invaded the Duchy of Prussia during the Great Sleigh Drive in 1678. He is noted for his use of broad directives and delegation of decision-making to his commanders, which would later become the basis for the German doctrine of Auftragstaktik, and he is noted for using rapid mobility to defeat his foes. [5]

Prussian Army 1701-1871 land warfare branch of Prussias military, primary component and predecessor of the German Army to 1919

The Royal Prussian Army served as the army of the Kingdom of Prussia. It became vital to the development of Brandenburg-Prussia as a European power.

Battle of Warsaw (1656) battle of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Crimean Khanate, against Sweden and Brandenburg

The Battle of Warsaw was a battle which took place near Warsaw on July 28–July 30 [O.S. July 18–20] 1656, between the armies of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and Sweden and Brandenburg. It was a major battle in the Second Northern War between Poland and Sweden in the period 1655–1660, also known as The Deluge. According to Hajo Holborn, it marked "the beginning of Prussian military history".

Hajo Holborn was a German-American historian and specialist in modern German history.

Domestic policies

Frederick William is notable for raising an army of 40,000 soldiers by 1678, through the General War Commissariat presided over by Joachim Friedrich von Blumenthal. He was an advocate of mercantilism, monopolies, subsidies, tariffs, and internal improvements. Following Louis XIV's revocation of the Edict of Nantes, Frederick William encouraged skilled French and Walloon Huguenots to emigrate to Brandenburg-Prussia with the Edict of Potsdam, bolstering the country's technical and industrial base. On Blumenthal's advice he agreed to exempt the nobility from taxes and in return they agreed to dissolve the Estates-General. He also simplified travel in Brandenburg and the Duchy of Prussia by connecting riverways with canals, a system that was expanded by later Prussian architects, such as Georg Steenke; the system is still in use today.

Following the defeats Prussia suffered in the 30 Years' War, Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg, set up the General War Commissariat to oversee the army, as well as to levy taxes necessary to support the army. It soon became a bureaucratic machine for civil government as well. Frederick William used it to govern the state. Many members were landed aristocracy known as Junkers, who served in the army as well. The commissariats helped to centralize power.

Joachim Friedrich von Blumenthal (1606–1657) was a German nobleman. He was a diplomat and the founder of the Brandenburg-Prussian Army.

Mercantilism economic policy emphasizing exports

Mercantilism is a national economic policy that is designed to maximize the exports, and minimize the imports, of a nation. These policies aim to reduce a possible current account deficit or reach a current account surplus. Mercantilism includes a national economic policy aimed at accumulating monetary reserves through a positive balance of trade, especially of finished goods. Historically, such policies frequently led to war and also motivated colonial expansion. Mercantilist theory varies in sophistication from one writer to another and has evolved over time.

Marriages

Painting of his 1646 wedding ceremony by Johannes Mytens Mijtens - Mariage de l'Electeur de Brandebourg.jpg
Painting of his 1646 wedding ceremony by Johannes Mytens
Portrait engraving after a painting by Anselm van Hulle Anselmus-van-Hulle-Hommes-illustres MG 0438.tif
Portrait engraving after a painting by Anselm van Hulle

On 7 December 1646 in The Hague, Frederick William entered into a marriage, proposed by Blumenthal as a partial solution to the Jülich-Berg question, with Luise Henriette of Nassau (1627–1667), daughter of Frederick Henry of Orange-Nassau and Amalia of Solms-Braunfels and his 1st cousin once removed through William the Silent. Their children were as follows:

  1. William Henry, Electoral Prince of Brandenburg (1648–1649)
  2. Charles, Electoral Prince of Brandenburg (1655–1674)
  3. Frederick I of Prussia (1657–1713), his successor
  4. Amalie (1664–1665)
  5. Henry (1664–1664)
  6. Louis (1666–1687), who married Ludwika Karolina Radziwiłł

On 13 June 1668 in Gröningen, Frederick William married Sophie Dorothea of Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, daughter of Philip, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg and Sophie Hedwig of Saxe-Lauenburg. Their children were the following:

  1. Philip William (1669–1711)
  2. Marie Amelie (1670–1739)
  3. Albert Frederick (1672–1731)
  4. Charles Philip (1673–1695)
  5. Elisabeth Sofie (1674–1748)
  6. Dorothea (1675–1676)
  7. Christian Ludwig (1677–1734)

Ancestry

See also

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References

  1. Wikisource-logo.svg Rines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). "Great Elector, The"  . Encyclopedia Americana .
  2. Press, Volker (1991). Kriege und Krisen. Deutschland 1600–1715. Neue deutsche Geschichte (in German). 5. Munich: Beck. pp. 402ff. ISBN   3-406-30817-1.
  3. Clark, Christopher M. (2006). Iron kingdom: the rise and downfall of Prussia, 1600–1947 . Harvard University Press. p. 50. ISBN   0-674-02385-4.
  4. Holborn, Hajo (1982). A History of Modern Germany: 1648–1840. A History of Modern Germany. 2. Princeton University Press. p. 57. ISBN   0-691-00796-9.
  5. Citino, Robert. The German Way of War. From the Thirty Years War to the Third Reich. pp 1–35. University Press of Kansas, 2005.
Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg
Born: 16 February 1620 Died: 29 April 1688
Regnal titles
Preceded by
George William
Elector of Brandenburg
Duke of Prussia

1640–1688
Succeeded by
Frederick III