While he was undoubtedly brilliant as a tactician and strategist, his main impact in military terms was the transformation of the Prussian Army into an outsize force that should have been beyond the capability of Prussia to support due to its relatively small size. During his reign, thousands of Protestant refugees immigrated to Prussia for religious freedom. He was the son of Frederick III of Brandenburg, the first king of Prussia. Frederick William’s foreign policy proved to be much less effective than his domestic programs. Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images. Even though his personal and family relations weren’t quite the best, Frederick William was a competent and efficient ruler. Our latest podcast episode features popular TED speaker Mara Mintzer. In 1723 he centralized his administration under a general directory through which his ministers executed his orders. Although most often remembered as a warrior, Frederick actually lost more battles than he won, and was often saved by political events outside his control—and the unparalleled excellence of the Prussian Army. When he took over the throne, his kingdom was financially drained. His father, Frederick I of Prussia, was an extravagant man who often drained the state’s treasury in order to display wealthiness and luxury. He was increasingly struggling with gout attacks during his lifetime due to his unhealthy lifestyle. By 1740, Prussia had an army of 80.000 disciplined and well-trained men. It would make him angry to see money being spent on things he saw not necessary, such as fancy dinners. Prussia’s eastern territories, depopulated by the plague of 1709, were resettled and made prosperous once again. He acquired Swedish Pomerania by the Treaties of Stockholm (1719–20), but his lifelong ambition, the incorporation of the duchies of Jülich and Berg on the lower Rhine, remained unfulfilled. On 31 May 1740, he died in great pain at the age of 51 in Potsdam. Frederick’s military successes and expansion of Prussian power led indirectly to the establishment of the German Empire in the late 19th century (through the efforts of Otto von Bismarck), and thus in some ways to the two World Wars and the rise of Nazi Germany. It is widely accepted today that the phenomenon of Prussian militarism was mostly influenced by the militaristic and brutal character of Frederick William. After his succession, Frederick William gave the order to greatly reduce the expenses of the palace and other royal houses. The army and military tradition he left behind helped his son Frederick the Great in making Prussia a great power. As a man with a deep affection for anything military related, this campaign was a journey of joy for him. Even his son, whom he had abused in his childhood, admitted that he wouldn’t have won his glorious victories if it wasn’t for the army and military education left to him by his father. Against considerable opposition, he levied additional taxes in Prussia and Lithuania. Apart from his parsimoniousness, Frederick William was also known for his religiousness. His father, Frederick I of Prussia, was an extravagant man who often drained the state’s treasury in order to display wealthiness and luxury. Relations with Austria and England cooled considerably and by 1739 Prussia’s only ally was France. This tradition wasn’t interrupted even when Frederick William was in his sickbed. After the war, he started conducting a series of army reforms with the help of his fellow General Leopold. In order to not repeat his father’s mistakes, he got rid of many of the servants in the Palace. Frederick assumed the throne in 1740 after the death of his father. In 1717 a yearly tax replaced the aristocracy’s feudal war service. Realizing that Prussia’s military and financial weakness made it dependent on the relations between the great powers, Frederick William resolved to make his state financially independent. When Frederick William died in 1740, he left his son an army of about 83,000 out of a population of 2,200,000, a war chest of more than 8,000,000 taler, and a Prussia that had become the third military power on the European continent, after Russia and France. Frederick William was to spend the rest of his life building the Prussian army into Europe’s best fighting instrument. About Frederick I of Prussia. He was still living an extremely modest and disciplined life while his wife was a complete opposite of him. Leopold I, prince of Anhalt-Dessau, who commanded the Prussian contingent in that war, became his lifelong friend and principal adviser in military matters. This attitude would prove to have long-lasting implications for the future of Germany and Europe. In 1706 he married Sophia Dorothea, the daughter of George Louis, elector of Hanover (later George I of England). In fact, when Frederick ascended to the throne in 1740, he inherited an army of 80,000 men, a remarkably large force for such a small kingdom. In 1713 Prussia’s armed forces numbered 38,000 soldiers, supported in large part by foreign subsidies. The extravagance of his father during his reign had devastated the already small Prussian treasury. Updates? The flashy Prussian palace of his father suddenly became a house of modesty. Hohenzollerns became kings, dukes, and emperors in the region from the establishment of the dynasty in the 11th century until the overthrow of the German aristocracy in the wake of World War I in 1918. For his unique obsession with army and soldiers, Frederick William became known as the Soldier King even though he hadn’t fought many battles in his life. Friedrich-Wilhelm I (August 14, 1688 – May 31, 1740), known as the “Soldier King”, was the King in Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg from 1713 until his death in 1740, as well as Prince of Neuchâtel. This planted a seed of anti-Austrian sentiment in Frederick; he believed that Austria, long Prussia’s rival for influence in the crumbling Holy Roman Empire, was meddlesome and dangerous. A thrifty, practical Protestant, the king on his accession all but dissolved his extravagant court. Charles repudiated Prussia’s claim, however, in 1738 when he… Germany: The consolidation of Brandenburg-Prussia and Austria. All Rights Reserved. Prussia’s commercial policies were strictly mercantilist, encouraging industry and manufacture, especially the wool industry, which clothed the king’s army. In 1706 he got married to Sophia Dorothea of Hannover in accordance with his family’s expectations of continuing the Prusso-Hannoverian royal marriage tradition.
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