Frederick The Great

Frederick II of Prussia, king of Prussia from 1740 to 1786, is known as one of the greatest German rulers of all times. Born on January 24, 1712 in Berlin, he was the son of King Frederick William I and Sophia Dorothea of Hanover and grandson of King George I of Great Britain. Although his father wanted him to be educated as a normal person, that didn't happen, since instead of religion, he learned poetry, music, Greek and Roman classics and philosphy. He was not raised into Calvinism, even though his father was a Calvinist. In his teen years, he was imprisoned along with his best friend Hans Hermann von Katte {who was later executed} when wanting to escape from his authoritarian father; the King forced him to watch the execution which may have contributed to the resentment between them.

The Austrian Succession

The War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748) involved nearly all the powers of Europe .The war began under the pretext that Maria Theresa of Austria was disallowed to succeed to the Habsburg thrones, because Salic law precluded royal inheritance by a woman, though in reality this was a convenient excuse put forward by Prussia and France to challenge Habsburg power.

Frederick II began the war by invading and rapidly occupying Silesia. His cynical offer of support to Maria Theresa if she would cede the province was rejected. Frederick obtained the alliance of France, Spain, Bavaria, and Saxony. The French were unwilling to permit the Bavarians too much power and ordered them to attack Bohemia. Charles Albert was elected emperor as Charles VII. In July, Maria Theresa made peace with Prussia by ceding most of Silesia (Treaty of Berlin).

In 1744 Frederick II, fearing the rising power of Austria, started the Second Silesian War by invading Bohemia; he was soon expelled by Austrian and Saxon forces. On the death of Emperor Charles VII, Bavaria, once more overrun by Austrian troops, was forced out of the war. Anxious for peace, George II concluded the Convention of Hanover with Frederick II. Defeated then, Maria Theresa accepted the compromise in the Treaty of Dresden with Prussia. In 1748 the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle was signed, ending everything. Prussia gained Silesia and emerged as a major European power.

Major Achievments


  • Abolished the serf system and replaced it with an expanded bureaucracy made up of educated servants.
  • Eliminated torture in judicial proceeedings and punishments and passed a series of measures to protect religious minorities, such as the Muslims.
  • Frederick had famous buildings constructed in his capital, Berlin, most of these buildings still exist today, such as the Berlin State Opera, the Royal Library, St. Hedwig's Cathedral, and Prince Henry's Palace.


Frederick was most famous for elevating Prussia from a smaller power into a great power and was able to join with the great powers that were much larger, richer and more populous such as France, Austria, Russia, Britain and Poland. Prussia would later be the leading group during the unification of Germany in the 1870s.
Frederick was also recognized for being an outstanding general famous for many victories against the much larger combined forces of his enemies, like Austria, during the War of Austrian Succession in the 1740s and the Seven Years War in the 1760s. Another notable event during his time in the throne, was the "Diplomatic Revolution" that occurred during the War of Austrian Succession. This revolution was a switch of traditional allegiances between great powers. For hundreds of years the French had fought many battles against British and Austrian led fusions. But with the rise of Prussian power in the hands of Frederick, the Austrians became allies with the French who were also becoming nervous about Prussia. The British immediately switched allegiances from Austria to Prussia completing the Diplomatic Revolution.

divine right and absolutism

Frederick showed absolute monarchy when going to wars with powerful states without asking for the help of others representatives. However, we don't believe he showed divine right because being an atheist, he wouldn't have this God-related beliefs. Frederick was the first monarch to adopt the "enlightened abso. In contrast with Louis 14th, who justified his absolutism by appealing to the divine right, these absolutists justified their authority by proclaiming themselves "servants of the state or the people".

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