Frederick William III of Prussia

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Frederick William III
Friedrich Wilhelm III., Konig von Preussen (unbekannter Maler).jpg
Frederick William III
King of Prussia
Reign16 November 1797 – 7 June 1840
Predecessor Frederick William II
Successor Frederick William IV
Elector of Brandenburg
Reign16 November 1797 – 6 August 1806
Predecessor Frederick William II
Born3 August 1770
Potsdam, Prussia
Died7 June 1840(1840-06-07) (aged 69)
Berlin, Prussia
Burial
Mausoleum at Charlottenburg Palace
Spouses Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Auguste von Harrach ( morganatic )
Issue
see details...
Frederick William IV, King of Prussia
William I, German Emperor
Charlotte, Empress of Russia
Princess Frederica
Prince Charles
Princess Alexandrine
Prince Ferdinand
Princess Louise
Prince Albert
House Hohenzollern
Father Frederick William II of Prussia
Mother Frederica Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt
Religion Calvinist (until 1817)
Prussian United (after 1817)
Signature Autograph Friedrich Wilhelm III.svg
Prussian Royalty
House of Hohenzollern
Coat of Arms of the Kingdom of Prussia 1873-1918.svg
Frederick William III
Children
Frederick William IV
William I
Alexandra Feodorovna, Empress of Russia
Princess Frederica
Prince Charles of Prussia
Alexandrine, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg
Prince Ferdinand
Princess Louise
Prince Albert of Prussia

Frederick William III (German: Friedrich Wilhelm III) (3 August 1770 – 7 June 1840) was king of Prussia from 1797 to 1840. He ruled Prussia during the difficult times of the Napoleonic Wars and the end of the Holy Roman Empire. Steering a careful course between France and her enemies, after a major military defeat in 1806, he eventually and reluctantly joined the coalition against Napoleon in the Befreiungskriege . Following Napoleon's defeat he was King of Prussia during the Congress of Vienna, which assembled to settle the political questions arising from the new, post-Napoleonic order in Europe. He was determined to unify the Protestant churches, to homogenize their liturgy, their organization and even their architecture. The long-term goal was to have fully centralized royal control of all the Protestant churches in the Prussian Union of Churches.

Kingdom of Prussia Former German state (1701–1918)

The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom that constituted the state of Prussia between 1701 and 1918. It was the driving force behind the unification of Germany in 1871 and was the leading state of the German Empire until its dissolution in 1918. Although it took its name from the region called Prussia, it was based in the Margraviate of Brandenburg, where its capital was Berlin.

Napoleonic Wars Series of early 19th century European wars

The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major conflicts pitting the French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of European powers formed into various coalitions, financed and usually led by the United Kingdom. The wars stemmed from the unresolved disputes associated with the French Revolution and its resultant conflict. The wars are often categorised into five conflicts, each termed after the coalition that fought Napoleon: the Third Coalition (1805), the Fourth (1806–07), the Fifth (1809), the Sixth (1813), and the Seventh (1815).

Holy Roman Empire Varying complex of lands that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe

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 came to include the neighboring Kingdom of Bohemia, the Kingdom of Burgundy, the Kingdom of Italy, and numerous other territories.

Contents

Early life

Friedrich Wilhelm and his mother (1775) Friederike Luise von Hessen-Darmstadt (Therbusch) crop.jpg
Friedrich Wilhelm and his mother (1775)

Frederick William was born in Potsdam in 1770 as the son of Frederick William II of Prussia and Frederica Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt. He was considered to be a shy and reserved boy, which became noticeable in his particularly reticent conversations distinguished by the lack of personal pronouns. This manner of speech subsequently came to be considered entirely appropriate for military officers. [1] He was neglected by his father during his childhood, and suffered from an inferiority complex his entire life. [2]

Potsdam Place in Brandenburg, Germany

Potsdam is the capital and largest city of the German federal state of Brandenburg. It directly borders the German capital, Berlin, and is part of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. It is situated on the River Havel 24 kilometres southwest of Berlin's city centre.

Frederick William II of Prussia King of Prussia

Frederick William II was King of Prussia from 1786 until his death. He was in personal union the Prince-elector of Brandenburg and sovereign prince of the Canton of Neuchâtel. Pleasure-loving and indolent, he is seen as the antithesis to his predecessor, Frederick II. Under his reign, Prussia was weakened internally and externally, and he failed to deal adequately with the challenges to the existing order posed by the French Revolution. His religious policies were directed against the Enlightenment and aimed at restoring a traditional Protestantism. However, he was a patron of the arts and responsible for the construction of some notable buildings, among them the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

Frederica Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt Crown Princess of Prussia

Frederica Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt was Queen consort of Prussia as the second spouse of King Frederick William II.

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

Wilhelmine, Gräfin von Lichtenau Mistress of King Frederick William II of Prussia

Wilhelmine, Gräfin von Lichtenau, born as Wilhelmine Enke, also spelled Encke, was the official mistress of King Frederick William II of Prussia from 1769 until 1797 and was elevated by him into the nobility. She is regarded as politically active and influential in the policy of Prussia during his reign.

Paretz Village in Brandenburg state Germany

Paretz is a village in the German state of Brandenburg in the district of Havelland, west of Berlin. Recently, a district reform made Paretz into a borough of the city of Ketzin. It has a population of approximately 400. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries the village was the summer residence King Frederick William III of Prussia and of his wife Queen Louise.

As a soldier, he received the usual training of a Prussian prince, obtained his lieutenancy in 1784, became a lieutenant colonel in 1786, a colonel in 1790, and took part in the campaigns against France of 1792–1794. On 24 December 1793, Frederick William married Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who bore him ten children. In the Kronprinzenpalais (Crown Prince's Palace) in Berlin, Frederick William lived a civil life with a problem-free marriage, which did not change even when he became King of Prussia in 1797. His wife Louise was particularly loved by the Prussian people, which boosted the popularity of the whole House of Hohenzollern, including the King himself. [3]

A lieutenant is the junior most commissioned officer in the armed forces, fire services, police and other organizations of many nations.

Colonel is a senior military officer rank below the brigadier and general officer ranks. However, in some small military forces, such as those of Monaco or the Vatican, colonel is the highest rank. It is also used in some police forces and paramilitary organizations.

Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz Queen consort of Prussia

Duchess Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was Queen of Prussia as the wife of King Frederick William III. The couple's happy, though short-lived, marriage produced nine children, including the future monarchs Frederick William IV of Prussia and German Emperor Wilhelm I.

Reign

Lenient and slow to recognize the growing French threat, Frederick's restrained entry into the war in 1806 ended in national humiliation. Frederick William III of Prussia.jpg
Lenient and slow to recognize the growing French threat, Frederick's restrained entry into the war in 1806 ended in national humiliation.

Frederick William succeeded to the throne on 16 November 1797. He also became, in personal union, the sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuchâtel (1797–1806 and again 1813–1840). At once, the new King showed that he was earnest of his good intentions by cutting down the expenses of the royal establishment, dismissing his father's ministers, and reforming the most oppressive abuses of the late reign. He had the Hohenzollern determination to retain personal power but not the Hohenzollern genius for using it.[ citation needed ] Too distrustful to delegate responsibility to his ministers, he greatly reduced the effectiveness of his reign since he was forced to assume the roles he did not delegate. This is a main factor of his inconsistent rule.

A personal union is the combination of two or more states that have the same monarch while their boundaries, laws, and interests remain distinct. A real union, by contrast, would involve the constituent states being to some extent interlinked, such as by sharing some limited governmental institutions. In a federation and a unitary state, a central (federal) government spanning all member states exists, with the degree of self-governance distinguishing the two. The ruler in a personal union does not need to be a hereditary monarch.

Disgusted with the moral debauchery of his father's court (in both political intrigues and sexual affairs), Frederick William's first, and most successful early endeavor was to restore the moral legitimacy to his dynasty. The eagerness to restore dignity to his family went so far that it nearly caused sculptor Johann Gottfried Schadow to cancel the expensive and lavish Prinzessinnengruppe project, which was commissioned by the previous monarch Frederick William II. He was quoted as saying the following, which demonstrated his sense of duty and peculiar manner of speech:

Johann Gottfried Schadow German sculptor

Johann Gottfried Schadow was a German Prussian sculptor.

Every civil servant has a dual obligation: to the sovereign and to the country. It can occur that the two are not compatible; then, the duty to the country is higher.

At first Frederick William and his advisors attempted to pursue a policy of neutrality in the Napoleonic Wars. Although they succeeded in keeping out of the Third Coalition in 1805, eventually Frederick William was swayed by the attitude of the queen, who led Prussia's pro-war party, and entered into war in October 1806. On 14 October 1806, at the Battle of Jena-Auerstädt, the French effectively decimated the effectiveness and functionality of the Prussian army led by Frederick William, and the Prussian army collapsed entirely soon after. Napoleon occupied Berlin in late October. The royal family fled to Memel, East Prussia, where they fell on the mercy of Emperor Alexander I of Russia.

Alexander, too, suffered defeat at the hands of the French, and at Tilsit on the Niemen France made peace with Russia and Prussia. Napoleon dealt with Prussia very harshly, despite the pregnant Queen's personal interview with the French emperor which was believed would soften the blow of defeat. Instead, Napoleon took much less mercy on the Prussians than what was expected. Prussia lost many of its Polish territories, as well as all territory west of the Elbe, and had to finance a large indemnity and to pay for French troops to occupy key strong points within the Kingdom.

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

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

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

Prussian Union of churches

Equestrian portrait of Frederick William III by Franz Kruger (1831) Frid-Wil III Kruger.jpg
Equestrian portrait of Frederick William III by Franz Krüger (1831)

Frederick William was determined to unify the Protestant churches, to homogenize their liturgy, their organization and even their architecture. The long-term goal was to have fully centralized royal control of all the Protestant churches in the Prussian Union of churches. In a series of proclamations over several years the Church of the Prussian Union was formed, bringing together the majority group of Lutherans, and the minority group of Reformed Protestants. The main effect was that the government of Prussia had full control over church affairs, with the king himself recognized as the leading bishop. [4]

In 1824 Frederick William III remarried (morganatically) Countess Auguste von Harrach, Princess of Liegnitz. They had no children. [3]

In 1838 the king distributed large parts of his farmland at Erdmannsdorf Estate to 422 protestant refugees from the Austrian Zillertal who built Tyrolian style farmhouses in the Silesian village.[ citation needed ]

Death

Frederick William III died on 7 June 1840 in Berlin, from a fever [5] , survived by his second wife. His eldest son, Frederick William IV, succeeded him. Frederick William III is buried at the Mausoleum in Schlosspark Charlottenburg, Berlin. [3]

Issue

NameBirthDeathNotes
(daughter, no name)1 October 17941 October 1794stillborn
Frederick William IV of Prussia 15 October 17952 January 1861married Elisabeth Ludovika of Bavaria (1801–1873), no issue.
William I, German Emperor 22 March 17979 March 1888married Augusta of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (1811–1890), had issue.
Princess Charlotte of Prussia 13 July 17981 November 1860married Nicholas I of Russia (1796–1855), had issue including the future Alexander II of Russia
Princess Frederica of Prussia14 October 179930 March 1800died in childhood
Prince Charles of Prussia 29 June 180121 January 1883married Princess Marie of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (1808–1877), had issue.
Princess Alexandrine of Prussia 23 February 180321 April 1892married Paul Friedrich, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1800–1842), had issue.
Prince Ferdinand of Prussia13 December 18041 April 1806died in childhood
Princess Louise of Prussia 1 February 18086 December 1870married Prince Frederik of the Netherlands (1797–1881), had issue.
Prince Albert (Albrecht) of Prussia 4 October 180914 October 1872married Princess Marianne of the Netherlands (1810–1883), had issue; married second to Rosalie von Rauch (1820–1879), Countess of Hohenau, had issue.

Ancestry

See also

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References

Notes

  1. vgl. Franz Blei: Königin Luise von Preußen. In: Gefährtinnen. Berlin 1931, S. 68 f.
  2. Encyclopaedia Britannica, The Editors of (30 July 2018). "Federick William III". Encyclopaedia Britannica.
  3. 1 2 3 Feldhahn, Ulrich (2011). Die preußischen Könige und Kaiser (German). Kunstverlag Josef Fink, Lindenberg. pp. 17–20. ISBN   978-3-89870-615-5.
  4. Christopher Clark, "Confessional policy and the limits of state action: Frederick William III and the Prussian Church Union 1817–40." Historical Journal 39.#4 (1996) pp: 985-1004. in JSTOR
  5. Frank-Lothar Kroll: Preussens Herrscher. Von den ersten Hohenzollern bis Wilhelm II. C.H. Beck, 2006, ISBN   3-406-54129-1, S. 218 (online)

Further reading

In German

Frederick William III of Prussia
Born: 3 August 1770 Died: 7 June 1840
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Frederick William II
Prince of Neuchâtel
1797–1806
Succeeded by
Louis Alexandre Berthier
Elector of Brandenburg
1797–1806
Annexed by Prussia
King of Prussia
1797–1840
Succeeded by
Frederick William IV
Preceded by
Louis Alexandre Berthier
Prince of Neuchâtel
1813–1840