Frederick II of Prussia cover

photo credits: English Wikipedia

Frederick II of Prussia

king of Prussia

1712   -   1786

country of citizenship: Kingdom of Prussia, Germany
occupation: composer, writer, politician
award received: Order of the Black Eagle, Order of the White Eagle, Order of St. Alexander Nevsky, Order of St. Andrew, Pour le Mérite, Royal Order of the Seraphim
position held: prince-elector, king

Frederick II (German: Friedrich; 24 January 1712 – 17 August 1786) ruled the Kingdom of Prussia from 1740 until 1786, the longest reign of any Hohenzollern king. His most significant accomplishments during his reign included his military victories, his reorganization of Prussian armies, his patronage of the arts and the Enlightenment and his final success against great odds in the Seven Years' War. Frederick was the last Hohenzollern monarch titled King in Prussia and declared himself King of Prussia after achieving sovereignty over most historically Prussian lands in 1772. Prussia had greatly increased its territories and became a leading military power in Europe under his rule. He became known as Frederick the Great (Friedrich der Große) and was nicknamed Der Alte Fritz ("The Old Fritz") by the Prussian people and eventually the rest of Germany.In his youth, Frederick was more interested in music and philosophy than the art of war. Nonetheless, upon ascending to the Prussian throne he attacked Austria and claimed Silesia during the Silesian Wars, winning military acclaim for himself and Prussia. Toward the end of his reign, Frederick physically connected most of his realm by acquiring Polish territories in the First Partition of Poland. He was an influential military theorist whose analysis emerged from his extensive personal battlefield experience and covered issues of strategy, tactics, mobility and logistics. Considering himself "the first servant of the state", Frederick was a proponent of enlightened absolutism. He modernized the Prussian bureaucracy and civil service and pursued religious policies throughout his realm that ranged from tolerance to segregation. He reformed the judicial system and made it possible for men not of noble stock to become judges and senior bureaucrats. Frederick also encouraged immigrants of various nationalities and faiths to come to Prussia, although he enacted oppressive measures against Polish Catholic subjects in West Prussia. Frederick supported arts and philosophers he favored as well as allowing complete freedom of the press and literature. Frederick is buried at his favorite residence, Sanssouci in Potsdam. Because he died childless, Frederick was succeeded by his nephew, Frederick William II, son of his brother, Augustus William. Nearly all 19th-century German historians made Frederick into a romantic model of a glorified warrior, praising his leadership, administrative efficiency, devotion to duty and success in building up Prussia to a great power in Europe. Historian Leopold von Ranke was unstinting in his praise of Frederick's "heroic life, inspired by great ideas, filled with feats of arms ... immortalized by the raising of the Prussian state to the rank of a power". Johann Gustav Droysen was even more extolling. Frederick remained an admired historical figure through the German Empire's defeat in World War I. The Nazis glorified him as a great German leader pre-figuring Adolf Hitler, who personally idolized him. Associations with him became far less favorable after the fall of the Nazis, largely due to his status as one of their symbols. However, by the 21st century a re-evaluation of his legacy as a great general and enlightened monarch returned opinion of him to favour.
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