Frederick William I of Prussia

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Frederick William I
Friedrich Wilhelm I 1713.jpg
Portrait by Samuel Theodor Gericke (1713)
King in Prussia
Elector of Brandenburg
Reign25 February 1713 – 31 May 1740
Predecessor Frederick I
Successor Frederick II
Born(1688-08-14)14 August 1688
Berlin, Prussia
Died31 May 1740(1740-05-31) (aged 51)
Berlin, Prussia
Burial
Spouse Sophia Dorothea of Hanover
Issue
House Hohenzollern
Father Frederick I
Mother Sophia Charlotte of Hanover
Religion Calvinist
Signature Friedrich Wilhelm I. (Preussen) signature.JPG

Frederick William I (German : Friedrich Wilhelm I) (14 August 1688 – 31 May 1740), known as the "Soldier King" (German : Soldatenkönig [1] ), was the King in Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg from 1713 until his death in 1740, as well as Prince of Neuchâtel. He was succeeded by his son, Frederick the Great.

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 (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also 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.

King in Prussia King of the Prussian state

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

Canton of Neuchâtel Canton of Switzerland

The Republic and Canton of Neuchâtel is a canton of French-speaking western Switzerland. In 2007, its population was 169,782, of whom 39,654 were foreigners. The capital is Neuchâtel.

Contents

Reign

Portrait of Augustus II of Poland (left) and Frederick William I of Prussia (right), during Frederick William's 1728 visit to Dresden. Painting by Louis de Silvestre, about 1730 August II of Poland and Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia.PNG
Portrait of Augustus II of Poland (left) and Frederick William I of Prussia (right), during Frederick William's 1728 visit to Dresden. Painting by Louis de Silvestre, about 1730

He was born in Berlin to Frederick I of Prussia and Sophia Charlotte of Hanover. During his first years, he was raised by the Huguenot governess Marthe de Roucoulle. [2]

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 its capital, Potsdam. 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.

Frederick I of Prussia 1657 – 1713, Elector of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia in personal union (Brandenburg-Prussia)

Frederick I, of the Hohenzollern dynasty, was Elector of Brandenburg (1688–1713) and Duke of Prussia in personal union (Brandenburg-Prussia). The latter function he upgraded to royalty, becoming the first King in Prussia (1701–1713). From 1707 he was in personal union the sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuchâtel. He was also the paternal grandfather of Frederick the Great.

Sophia Charlotte of Hanover Prussian royal consort

Sophia Charlotte of Hanover was the first Queen consort in Prussia as wife of King Frederick I. She was the only daughter of Elector Ernest Augustus of Brunswick-Lüneburg and his wife Sophia of the Palatinate. Her eldest brother George Louis succeeded to the British throne in 1714 as King George I.

His father had successfully acquired the title King for the margraves of Brandenburg. On ascending the throne in 1713 the new King sold most of his fathers' horses, jewels and furniture; he did not intend to treat the treasury as his personal source of revenue the way Frederick I and many of the other German Princes had. Throughout his reign, Frederick William was characterized by his frugal, austere and militaristic lifestyle, as well as his devout Calvinist faith. He practiced rigid management of the treasury, never started a war, and led a simple and austere lifestyle, in contrast to the lavish court his father had presided over. At his death, Prussia had a sound exchequer and a full treasury, in contrast to the other German states.

Margrave was originally the medieval title for the military commander assigned to maintain the defence of one of the border provinces of the Holy Roman Empire or of a kingdom. That position became hereditary in certain feudal families in the Empire, and the title came to be borne by rulers of some Imperial principalities until the abolition of the Empire in 1806. Thereafter, those domains were absorbed in larger realms or the titleholders adopted titles indicative of full sovereignty.

Frederick William I did much to improve Prussia economically and militarily. He replaced mandatory military service among the middle class with an annual tax, and he established schools and hospitals. The king encouraged farming, reclaimed marshes, stored grain in good times and sold it in bad times. He dictated the manual of Regulations for State Officials, containing 35 chapters and 297 paragraphs in which every public servant in Prussia could find his duties precisely set out: a minister or councillor failing to attend a committee meeting, for example, would lose six months' pay; if he absented himself a second time, he would be discharged from the royal service. In short, Frederick William I concerned himself with every aspect of his relatively small country, ruling an absolute monarchy with great energy and skill.

Absolute monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch holds supreme authority and where that authority is not restricted by any written laws, legislature, or customs. These are often hereditary monarchies. In contrast, in constitutional monarchies, the head of state's authority derives from and is legally bounded or restricted by a constitution or legislature.

In 1732, the king invited the Salzburg Protestants to settle in East Prussia, which had been depopulated by plague in 1709. Under the terms of the Peace of Augsburg, the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg could require his subjects to practice the Catholic faith, but Protestants had the right to emigrate to a Protestant state. Prussian commissioners accompanied 20,000 Protestants to their new homes on the other side of Germany. Frederick William I personally welcomed the first group of migrants and sang Protestant hymns with them. [3]

Salzburg Protestants group of humans

The Salzburg Protestants were Protestant refugees who had lived in the Catholic Archbishopric of Salzburg until the 18th century. In a series of persecutions ending in 1731, over 20,000 Protestants were expelled from their homeland by the Prince-Archbishops. Their expulsion from Salzburg triggered protests from the Protestant states within the Holy Roman Empire and criticism across the rest of the Protestant world, and the King in Prussia offered to resettle them in his territory. The majority of the Salzburg Protestants accepted the Prussian offer and traveled the length of Germany to reach their new homes in Prussian Lithuania. The rest scattered to other Protestant states in Europe and the British colonies in America.

During the Great Northern War (1700–1721), many towns and areas of the Circum-Baltic and East-Central Europe suffered from a severe outbreak of the plague with a peak from 1708 to 1712. This epidemic was probably part of a pandemic affecting an area from Central Asia to the Mediterranean. Most probably via Constantinople, it spread to Pińczów in southern Poland, where it was first recorded in a Swedish military hospital in 1702. The plague then followed trade, travel and army routes, reached the Baltic coast at Prussia in 1709, affected areas all around the Baltic Sea by 1711 and reached Hamburg by 1712. Therefore, the course of the war and the course of the plague mutually affected each other: while soldiers and refugees were often agents of the plague, the death toll in the military as well as the depopulation of towns and rural areas sometimes severely impacted the ability to resist enemy forces or to supply troops.

Peace of Augsburg peace treaty

The Peace of Augsburg, also called the Augsburg Settlement, was a treaty between Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, and the Schmalkaldic League, signed in September 1555 at the imperial city of Augsburg. It officially ended the religious struggle between the two groups and made the legal division of Christianity permanent within the Holy Roman Empire, allowing rulers to choose either Lutheranism or Roman Catholicism as the official confession of their state. Calvinism was not allowed until the Peace of Westphalia.

Frederick William intervened briefly in the Great Northern War, allied with Peter the Great of Russia, in order to gain a small portion of Swedish Pomerania; this gave Prussia new ports on the Baltic Sea coast. More significantly, aided by his close friend Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Dessau, the "Soldier-King" made considerable reforms to the Prussian army's training, tactics and conscription program—introducing the canton system, and greatly increasing the Prussian infantry's rate of fire through the introduction of the iron ramrod. Frederick William's reforms left his son Frederick with the most formidable army in Europe, which Frederick used to increase Prussia's power. The observation that "the pen is mightier than the sword" has sometimes been attributed to him. (See as well: "Prussian virtues".)

Leopold I, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau German nobleman; ruler of Anhalt-Dessau and Prussian army officer

Leopold I, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau was a German prince of the House of Ascania and ruler of the principality of Anhalt-Dessau from 1693 to 1747. He was also a Generalfeldmarschall in the Prussian army. Nicknamed "the Old Dessauer", he possessed good abilities as a field commander, but was mainly remembered as a talented drillmaster who modernized the Prussian infantry.

The Canton System or Canton Regulation (Kantonreglement) was a system of recruitment used by the Prussian army between 1733 and 1813. The country was divided into recruiting districts called cantons (Kantone), and each canton was the responsibility of a regiment. The system was a Prussian distinctive. Every male was from the youngest possible age enrolled in the army, and by 1740 the Prussian army, with a strength of 3.6% of the total population, was proportionately the largest in Europe. The new system replaced coercive recruiting, which in turn replaced the hiring of undependable and expensive mercenary forces. It allowed the army to double from 38,000 to 76,000, making it the fourth largest in Europe, and it linked the local population more closely to the royal government.

Prussian virtues

Prussian virtues refers to the virtues associated with the historical Kingdom of Prussia, especially its militarism and the ethical code of the Prussian army, but also bourgeois values as influenced by Lutheranism and Calvinism. It has also significantly influenced wider German culture, such as the contemporary German stereotypes of efficiency, austerity and discipline.

Although a highly effective ruler, Frederick William had a perpetually short temper which sometimes drove him to physically attack servants (or even his own children) with a cane at the slightest provocation. His violent, harsh nature was further exacerbated by his inherited porphyritic disease, which gave him gout, obesity and frequent crippling stomach pains. [4] He also had a notable contempt for France, and would sometimes fly into a rage at the mere mention of that country, although this did not stop him from encouraging the immigration of French Huguenot refugees to Prussia.

Burial and reburials

Frederick William died in 1740 at age 51 and was interred at the Garrison Church in Potsdam. During World War II, in order to protect it from advancing allied forces, Hitler ordered the king's coffin, as well as those of Frederick the Great and Paul von Hindenburg, into hiding, first to Berlin and later to a salt mine outside of Bernterode. The coffins were later discovered by occupying American Forces, who re-interred the bodies in St. Elisabeth's Church in Marburg in 1946. In 1953 the coffin was moved to Burg Hohenzollern, where it remained until 1991, when it was finally laid to rest on the steps of the altar in the Kaiser Friedrich Mausoleum in the Church of Peace on the palace grounds of Sanssouci. The original black marble sarcophagus collapsed at Burg Hohenzollern—the current one is a copper copy. [5]

Relationship with Frederick II

The sons of Frederick William I and Sophia Dorothea; left to right Frederick, Ferdinand, Augustus William and Henry. Painting by Francesco Carlo Rusca, 1737 Die Sohne von Friedrich Wilhelm I.jpg
The sons of Frederick William I and Sophia Dorothea; left to right Frederick, Ferdinand, Augustus William and Henry. Painting by Francesco Carlo Rusca, 1737

His eldest surviving son was Frederick II (Fritz), born in 1712. Frederick William wanted him to become a fine soldier. As a small child, Fritz was awakened each morning by the firing of a cannon. At the age of 6, he was given his own regiment of children [6] to drill as cadets, and a year later, he was given a miniature arsenal.

The love and affection Frederick William had for his heir initially was soon destroyed due to their increasingly different personalities. Frederick William ordered Fritz to undergo a minimal education, live a simple Protestant lifestyle, and focus on the Army and statesmanship as he had. However, the intellectual Fritz was more interested in music, books and French culture, which were forbidden by his father as decadent and unmanly. As Fritz's defiance for his father's rules increased, Frederick William would frequently beat or humiliate Fritz (he preferred his younger sibling Augustus William). Fritz was beaten for being thrown off a bolting horse and wearing gloves in cold weather. After the prince attempted to flee to England with his tutor, Hans Hermann von Katte, the enraged King had Katte beheaded before the eyes of the prince, who himself was court-martialled. [7] The court declared itself not competent in this case. Whether it was the king's intention to have his son executed as well (as Voltaire claims) is not clear. However, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI intervened, claiming that a prince could only be tried by the Imperial Diet of the Holy Roman Empire itself. Frederick was imprisoned in the Fortress of Küstrin from 2 September to 19 November 1731 and exiled from court until February 1732, during which time he was rigorously schooled in matters of state. After achieving a measure of reconciliation, Frederick William had his son married to Princess Elizabeth of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, whom Frederick despised, but then grudgingly allowed him to indulge in his musical and literary interests again. By the time of Frederick William's death in 1740, he and Frederick were on at least reasonable terms with each other.

Although the relationship between Frederick William and Frederick was clearly hostile, Frederick himself later wrote that his father "penetrated and understood great objectives, and knew the best interests of his country better than any minister or general."

Marriage and family

Frederick William married his first cousin Sophia Dorothea of Hanover, George II's younger sister (daughter of his uncle, King George I of Great Britain and Sophia Dorothea of Celle) on 28 November 1706. Frederick William was faithful and loving to his wife [8] but they did not have a happy relationship: Sophia Dorothea feared his unpredictable temper and resented him, both for allowing her no influence at court and for refusing to marry her children to their English cousins. She also abhorred his cruelty towards their son and heir Frederick (with whom she was close), although rather than trying to mend the relationship between father and son she frequently spurred Frederick on in his defiance. They had fourteen children, including:

Issue
NamePortraitLifespanNotes
Frederick Louis
Prince of Prussia
1707 Friedrich Ludwig.JPG 23 November 1707-
13 May 1708
Died in infancy
Friedrike Wilhelmine
Margravine of Brandenburg-Bayreuth
Wilhelmine von Brandenburg-Bayreuth.jpg 3 July 1709-
14 October 1758
Married Frederick, Margrave of Brandenburg-Bayreuth and had issue
Frederick William
Prince of Prussia
1710 Friedrich Wilhelm.jpg 16 August 1710-
21 July 1711
Died in infancy
Frederick II the Great
King of Prussia
Crown prince Friedrich II, by Antoine Pesne.jpg 24 January 1712-
17 August 1786
King of Prussia (1740–1786); married Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel-Bevern but had no issue
Charlotte Albertine
Princess of Prussia
1713 Charlotte Albertine.jpg 5 May 1713-
10 June 1714
Died in infancy
Frederica Louise
Margravine of Brandenburg-Ansbach
Friederike Louise von Brandenburg-Ansbach.jpg 28 September 1714-
4 February 1784
Married Charles William Frederick, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach and had issue
Philippine Charlotte
Duchess of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
Alte Dame mit Spitzenumhang und Muff Gotha.jpg 13 March 1716-
17 February 1801
Married Charles I, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel and had issue
Louis Charles William
Prince of Prussia
Wappen Deutsches Reich - Konigreich Preussen (Grosses).png 2 May 1717-
31 August 1719
Died in early childhood
Sophia Dorothea
Margravine of Brandenburg-Schwedt
Princess in Prussia
Sophia Dorothea of Prussia, margravine of Brandenburg-Schwedt.jpg 25 January 1719-
13 November 1765
Married Frederick William, Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt, Prince in Prussia and had issue
Louisa Ulrika
Queen of Sweden
Luise Ulrika of Prussia by Antoine Pesne- 1744 ca.jpg 24 July 1720-
2 July 1782
Married Adolf Frederick, King of Sweden and had issue
Augustus William
Prince of Prussia
1722 AugustWilliamofPrussia.jpg 9 August 1722-
12 June 1758
Married Duchess Luise of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel and had issue (including Frederick William II)
Anna Amalia Antoine Pesne hofdame ; Prinzessin Amalia von Preussen als Amazone.jpg 9 November 1723-
30 March 1787
Became Abbess of Quedlinburg 16 July 1755
Frederick Henry Louis
Prince of Prussia
HeinrichvonPreussenTischbein1769.jpg 18 January 1726-
3 August 1802
Married Princess Wilhelmina of Hesse-Kassel but had no issue
Augustus Ferdinand
Prince of Prussia
1730FerdinandofPrussia.jpg 23 May 1730-
2 May 1813
Married Margravine Elisabeth Louise of Brandenburg-Schwedt and had issue

He was the godfather of the Prussian envoy Friedrich Wilhelm von Thulemeyer and of his grand-nephew, Prince Edward Augustus of Great Britain.

Ancestry

See also

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References

  1. Taylor, Ronald (1997). Berlin and Its Culture: A Historical Portrait. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. p. 51.
  2. Thomas Carlyle: History of Friedrich II of Prussia: Called Frederick the Great, 1870
  3. Walker, Mack (1992). The Salzburg Transaction: Expulsion and Redemption in Eighteenth-Century Germany. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press. ISBN   0-8014-2777-0.
  4. [Mitford, Nancy "Frederick the Great" (1970) P6]
  5. MacDonogh, Giles (2007). After the Reich: The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation. New York: Basic Books. p. 93.
  6. Mitford, Nancy (1970). "Frederick the Great" pp.11
  7. Farquhar, Michael (2001). A Treasure of Royal Scandals. New York: Penguin Books. p. 114. ISBN   0-7394-2025-9.
  8. Mitford, Nancy (1970). "Frederick the Great" p.5
  9. Genealogie ascendante jusqu'au quatrieme degre inclusivement de tous les Rois et Princes de maisons souveraines de l'Europe actuellement vivans [Genealogy up to the fourth degree inclusive of all the Kings and Princes of sovereign houses of Europe currently living] (in French). Bourdeaux: Frederic Guillaume Birnstiel. 1768. p. 16.
Frederick William I of Prussia
Born: 14 August 1688 Died: 31 March 1740
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Frederick I
King in Prussia
Elector of Brandenburg
Prince of Neuchâtel

1713–1740
Succeeded by
Frederick II