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. Steering a careful course between France and her enemies, after a major military defeat in 1806, he was humiliated by Napoleon, and Prussia was stripped of recent gains and forced to pay huge financial penalties. The king reluctantly joined the coalition against Napoleon in the Befreiungskriege . Following Napoleon's defeat, he took part in the Congress of Vienna, which assembled to settle the political questions arising from the new, post-Napoleonic order in Europe. His major interests were internal, the reform of Prussia's Protestant churches. 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. The king was said to be extremely shy and indecisive. His wife Queen Louise (1776–1810) was his most important political advisor. She led a very powerful group that included Baron vom Stein, Prince von Hardenberg, von Scharnhorst, and Count Gneisenau. They set about reforming Prussia's administration, churches, finance and military.
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.He was neglected by his father during his childhood and suffered from an inferiority complex his entire life.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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:
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.
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. The merging of the Lutheran and Calvinist (Reformed) confessions to form the United Church of Prussia was highly controversial. Angry responses included a large and well-organized opposition. Especially the "Old Lutherans" in Silesia refused to abandon their liturgical traditions. The crown responded by attempting to silence protest. The stubborn Lutheran minority was coerced by military force, the confiscation of their churches and the imprisonment or exile of their pastors. By 1834 outward union was secured on the basis of common worship but separate symbols. The opponents of the measure being forbidden to form communities of their own. Many left Prussia. The King's unsuccessful counterattack worsened tensions at the highest levels of government. The crown's aggressive efforts to restructure religion were unprecedented in Prussian history. 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.
In 1824 Frederick William III remarried (morganatically) Countess Auguste von Harrach, Princess of Liegnitz. They had no children.
In 1838 the king distributed large parts of his farmland at Erdmannsdorf Estate to 422 Protestant refugees from the Austrian Zillertal, who built Tyrolean style farmhouses in the Silesian village.[ citation needed ]
Frederick William III died on 7 June 1840 in Berlin, from a fever,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.
|(daughter, no name)||1 October 1794||1 October 1794||stillborn|
|Frederick William IV of Prussia||15 October 1795||2 January 1861||married Elisabeth Ludovika of Bavaria (1801–1873), no issue.|
|William I, German Emperor||22 March 1797||9 March 1888||married Augusta of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (1811–1890), had issue.|
|Princess Charlotte of Prussia||13 July 1798||1 November 1860||married Nicholas I of Russia (1796–1855), had issue including the future Alexander II of Russia|
|Princess Frederica of Prussia||14 October 1799||30 March 1800||died in childhood|
|Prince Charles of Prussia||29 June 1801||21 January 1883||married Princess Marie of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (1808–1877), had issue.|
|Princess Alexandrine of Prussia||23 February 1803||21 April 1892||married Paul Friedrich, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1800–1842), had issue.|
|Prince Ferdinand of Prussia||13 December 1804||1 April 1806||died in childhood|
|Princess Louise of Prussia||1 February 1808||6 December 1870||married Prince Frederik of the Netherlands (1797–1881), had issue.|
|Prince Albert (Albrecht) of Prussia||4 October 1809||14 October 1872||married Princess Marianne of the Netherlands (1810–1883), had issue; married second to Rosalie von Rauch (1820–1879), Countess of Hohenau, had issue.|
|Ancestors of Frederick William III of Prussia|
Albert was the King of Saxony and a member of the House of Wettin.
William I was a Prince of Orange and the third King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg.
William I or Wilhelm I of the House of Hohenzollern was King of Prussia from 2 January 1861 and the first German Emperor from 18 January 1871 to his death. William was the first head of state of a united Germany, and was also de facto head of state of Prussia from 1858 to 1861, serving as regent for his brother, Frederick William IV.
Frederick III was German Emperor and King of Prussia for ninety-nine days in 1888, the Year of the Three Emperors. Known informally as "Fritz", he was the only son of Emperor Wilhelm I and was raised in his family's tradition of military service. Although celebrated as a young man for his leadership and successes during the Second Schleswig, Austro-Prussian and Franco-Prussian wars, he nevertheless professed a hatred of warfare and was praised by friends and enemies alike for his humane conduct. Following the unification of Germany in 1871 his father, then King of Prussia, became the German Emperor. Upon Wilhelm's death at the age of ninety on 9 March 1888, the thrones passed to Frederick, who had by then been German Crown Prince for seventeen years and Crown Prince of Prussia for twenty-seven years. Frederick was suffering from cancer of the larynx when he died, aged fifty-six, following unsuccessful medical treatments for his condition.
Adolphe was the last sovereign Duke of Nassau, reigning from 20 August 1839 until the duchy's annexation to Kingdom of Prussia in 1866. In 1890, he became Grand Duke of Luxembourg following the death of King William III of the Netherlands, ending the personal union between the Netherlands and Luxembourg, until his own death in 1905. He was the first monarch of Luxembourg from the House of Nassau-Weilburg.
Frederick William IV, the eldest son and successor of Frederick William III of Prussia, reigned as King of Prussia from 7 June 1840 to his death. Also referred to as the "romanticist on the throne", he is best remembered for the many buildings he had constructed in Berlin and Potsdam, as well as for the completion of the Gothic Cologne Cathedral.
Maximilian II reigned as King of Bavaria between 1848 and 1864.
Louis IV was the Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine, reigning from 13 June 1877 until his death. Through his own and his children's marriages he was connected to the British Royal Family, to the Imperial House of Russia and to other reigning dynasties of Europe.
George V was the last King of Hanover, the only child and successor of King Ernest Augustus. George V's reign ended during the unification of Germany.
Ernest I was the last sovereign duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld and, from 1826, the first sovereign duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. He was the father of Albert, Prince Consort, who was the husband of Queen Victoria. Ernest fought against Napoleon Bonaparte, and through construction projects and the establishment of a court theatre, he left a strong imprint on his residence town, Coburg.
George was a King of Saxony of the House of Wettin.
Prince Friedrich Karl of Prussia was the son of Prince Charles of Prussia (1801–1883) and his wife, Princess Marie of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (1808–1877). Prince Friedrich Karl was a grandson of King Frederick William III of Prussia and a nephew of Frederick William IV and William I. He was born in Berlin at the Royal Palace.
Prince Albert of Prussia was a Prussian general field marshal, Herrenmeister of the Order of Saint John from 1883 until his death, and regent of the Duchy of Brunswick from 1885, also until his death.
William, Duke of Brunswick, was ruling duke of the Duchy of Brunswick from 1830 until his death.
Prince Frederick Charles Alexander of Prussia was a younger son of Frederick William III of Prussia. He served as a Prussian general for much of his adult life and became the first Herrenmeister of the Order of Saint John after its restoration as a chivalric order. Nevertheless, he is perhaps remembered more often for his patronage of art and for his sizable collections of art and armor.
Leopold, Prince of Hohenzollern was the head of the Swabian branch of the House of Hohenzollern, and played a fleeting role in European power politics, in connection with the Franco-Prussian War.
Prince Karl Anton of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was head of the Princely House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, Hohenzollern from 1869 and Prime Minister of Prussia which made him the only Prussian Prince to hold that post. He was the son of Karl, Prince of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, who abdicated in favour of his son on 27 August 1848, and his first wife Marie Antoinette Murat, niece of Joachim Murat.
Prince Frederick of the Netherlands, Prince of Orange-Nassau, was the second son of William I of the Netherlands and his wife, Wilhelmine of Prussia.
Joachim Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Leopold Prinz von Preußen was a son of Prince Frederick Charles of Prussia and Princess Maria Anna of Anhalt-Dessau, married in 1854.
William II was King of the Netherlands, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and Duke of Limburg.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Frederick William III. of Prussia .|
Frederick William III of PrussiaBorn: 3 August 1770 Died: 7 June 1840
Frederick William II
| Prince of Neuchâtel |
Louis Alexandre Berthier
| Elector of Brandenburg |
|Annexed by Prussia|
| King of Prussia |
Frederick William IV
|New creation|| Grand Duke of Posen |
Louis Alexandre Berthier
| Prince of Neuchâtel |