Friedrich Wilhelm I (Prussia)
In terms of foreign policy, he won parts of Obergeldern in the Peace of Utrecht in 1713 and parts of Western Pomerania in the Peace of Stockholm in 1720 . His establishment of a strong army , with which he only waged war once, earned him the nickname soldier king. In terms of domestic politics, Friedrich Wilhelm I ensured a thrifty court and tight administration. He ran a mercantilist economic and a tolerant religious policy. His issuance of the immigration patent in 1732, with which he took in around 15,000 persecuted Salzburg Protestants in Prussia, attracted European attention.
Elector and Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm (1688–1713)
At the Hannoversche Hof
Friedrich Wilhelm was the son of the Brandenburg Elector Friedrich III. and the Hanoverian princess of Braunschweig-Lüneburg Sophie Charlotte was born on August 14, 1688 in the palace in Berlin - Cölln and after eight days in the cathedral church there was baptized in the name of her grandfather by the Reformed court preacher Georg Conrad Bergius . Friedrich Wilhelm was the longed-for heir to the throne after his older brother, Elector Prince Friedrich August, died in 1686. In contrast to his father, the child had a strong constitution. Shortly after his birth there were tensions between the elector and his wife regarding the principles of education. In the first years of his life from 1689 to 1692, Friedrich Wilhelm was educated at the Hanoverian court of his grandmother, who later became Electress Sophie von Braunschweig-Lüneburg . Even as a child he was noticed by his willful impulsive nature and also showed a very unruly, almost defiant behavior. He got on badly with his cousin and playmate, who was five years his senior, Georg August , who later became King of Great Britain and Elector of Hanover, whom he often beat up. The two developed a lifelong personal animosity as a result.
School and education
After his return from Hanover, Friedrich Wilhelm was looked after as governess by the Huguenot Marthe de Montbail , later Madame de Roucoulle, who later also raised his son Friedrich and did not learn any German during her life. Like most of his peers, Friedrich Wilhelm spoke a rather poor, simple German, interspersed with many French words. Chamberlain Eversmann was his sub-governess. Friedrich Wilhelm depressed the two women in an agonizing way. For example, he once swallowed a silver, gold-plated shoe buckle, which fortunately could be excreted with a laxative. Another time, in order to avoid being punished, he climbed on a window ledge and gave the two frightened women to understand that if his sentence was not waived, he would throw himself off.
The mother spoiled her child. It developed in complete opposition to the courtly-representative views of his father, and he felt a distaste for every kind of pomp that he saw at his father's court:
"[He] also rejected the baroque regime of the father, which was determined by strict courtly ceremonies, was dependent and was characterized by changing favorites."
“He indicated her [dislike] by finally throwing a little gold dressing gown, which they wanted him to wear, into the fireplace. On the other hand, he lay down in the sun, his face coated with fat, in order to get a very brown, martial [warlike] soldier face very early on. "
He also disliked his mother's artistic and philosophical way of life:
"It became increasingly clear that the adolescent was alien and increasingly hostile to the mother's spiritual world as well as the sophisticated, somewhat morbid court culture [...]"
Thus, he rejected both of his parents' lifestyles at an early age.
In 1694 he was given command of a cavalry and an infantry regiment, which made him familiar with the military world from childhood.
In February 1695, the education was entrusted to Lieutenant General Alexander von Dohna , who as governor took over responsibility for his education. The instruction provided for a combination of different elements of Francke's and Leibniz 's world of thought . But because the electoral prince could neither read nor write at the age of nine, in 1697 his mother succeeded in replacing the previous disabled teacher Cramer , appointed by Danckelmann , with the Huguenot Jean Philippe Rebeur . Both ensured a strict Calvinist upbringing for the elector. Classes covered Latin, French, history, geography, genealogy , math, war science and rhetoric. However, the electoral prince developed a great aversion to large parts of the sciences, which he expressed, among other things, in assaults against the teacher, but on the other hand an understanding of state affairs. In view of the almost uncontrolled waste at court, he set up his own expense book when he was ten. In addition to the sense of thrift, the sense of the military developed more and more. Instead of playing in the palace gardens, he checked the clothing and armament of the guards.
On Christmas 1698, for his tenth birthday, his father gave him the Wusterhausen estate as a lord of the manor to run independently. Here he got to know the basic economic features of successful management, which he later successfully transferred to the Prussian state. From then on, the hunting lodge was the center of life for the elector and later crown prince and king, which served him as a retreat from the magnificent Berlin court. In Wusterhausen Friedrich Wilhelm held a small private guard, consisting of the pressed sons of the estate subjects. This unit formed the nucleus for the later (1710) Lange Kerls . The Wusterhausen grenadier battalion soon numbered more than 600 men.
On his first educational trip to the northern Netherlands in 1700, he met Wilhelm III. , the governor of the Netherlands and King of England. On this trip he gained lasting impressions of the tolerant bourgeois Protestant culture.
Friedrich Wilhelm, who consistently rejected his father's efforts as a waste of money, received the title of Prince of Orange when he was crowned King in Prussia in 1701 as the new Crown Prince in Prussia , to which he could claim through his grandmother Luise Henriette of Orange , and a personal budget increased from 26,000 thalers to 36,000 thalers. At the end of 1702 Friedrich Wilhelm was educated by the chief steward Albert Konrad von Finckenstein .
During the self-coronation of Frederick III. For King Friedrich I, the lessons for Friedrich Wilhelm were canceled until May 1701, as he of course had to take part in the magnificent coronation procession to Königsberg.
In 1702 the fourteen-year-old Crown Prince became a member of the Privy Council of State , a year later a member of the War Council . Before he took office, the Crown Prince took part in many meetings, with which he acquired a great deal of detailed knowledge in internal government issues and in the army. So the mismanagement of the three counts cabinet under the leadership of Johann Kasimir Kolbe von Wartenberg did not remain hidden from him. Even if Friedrich Wilhelm was increasingly critical of his father's government, there was still no father-son conflict, as the crown prince's claim to himself forbade open resistance to the monarch.
Of legal age
In 1704 the sixteen-year-old Crown Prince was declared of legal age. In the same year he had his Wusterhausen Castle expanded for 23,000 thalers and moved into it as a court residence every year from the end of August to the beginning of November. Within ten years, he turned the neglected Wusterhausen estate into a self-sustaining model business. The town of Wusterhausen was a miniature state for him . Here he tried on a small scale what he later did on a large scale. His way of governing, administering and commanding was shaped here.
A year later, Friedrich Wilhelm was appointed mayor of Charlottenburg in 1705 . His second educational trip in the winter of 1704/1705, which took him back to Holland, broadened his horizons. The two journeys strengthened his puritanical, bourgeois point of view and had a lasting impact on his architectural taste. Later buildings by the king, such as the Dutch Quarter in Potsdam, are shaped by his time in Holland. On the second voyage, he was surprised by the news of his mother's death and he returned in February 1705. On June 14, 1706 he was engaged to his cousin Sophie Dorothea , whom he married on November 14, 1706 in Cölln on the Spree. The Crown Prince, who often asked his father for leave of absence from the front, was allowed to take part in the campaign in Flanders in the War of the Spanish Succession for the first time in July 1706 . Here he tried out in practice what he had tried at home on his estate with his private regiment. In his own words, Friedrich Wilhelm spent the happiest days of his time as Crown Prince during his field visits. From May to July 1708, when his father, King Friedrich I, was taking a cure in Karlsbad, Friedrich Wilhelm took over the first governorship . The powers of attorney were limited to ongoing judicial and state affairs.
At the end of April 1709, the crown prince embarked on another campaign, this time for several months. During this time he provided for intensive drill exercises for the Prussian regiments, which the Allied troop leaders who were present noted with uncomprehending astonishment and derision. Friedrich Wilhelm's participation in the Battle of Malplaquet , the bloodiest battle of the War of the Spanish Succession on September 11, 1709, represented the happiest fortune of his life for him, which he celebrated every year in memory from now on. The campaigns established the lifelong friendship with Leopold I von Anhalt , the old man from Dessauer , who has since been part of Friedrich Wilhelm's advisory group.
When in 1710 Prussia's hardship became intolerable due to the Great Plague in East Prussia and the mismanagement of the Three Counts Cabinet, the 22-year-old Friedrich Wilhelm persuaded his father to set up a commission of inquiry that finally uncovered the whole corruption . This was the first time that Friedrich Wilhelm actively intervened in high politics.
A year later, in the summer of 1711, the king traveled to Holland for diplomatic negotiations. Friedrich Wilhelm became his second governor. Here he experienced the military helplessness of Prussia when Russian troops marched through Prussian territory without being asked to fight Sweden in the Great Northern War . The neutrality of Prussia was thereby violated, without Prussia being able to defend itself, since its troops were tied up in the War of the Spanish Succession, far from home. This incident strengthened the Crown Prince's conviction that he must strive for his own strength, regardless of outside subsidies .
Also in 1711 Friedrich Wilhelm first came into contact with Halle Pietism from August Hermann Francke , mediated through General von Natzmer . For the later king, pietism became a firm religious basis for his political action. Friedrich Wilhelm made an official visit to Halle on April 12, 1713 after the change of government. The Christian breeding and welfare efforts found there with the bourgeois work and economic conception were carried over by Friedrich Wilhelm to his politics.
Thanks to his very practice-oriented training, the Crown Prince already had clear ideas about his future tasks in the state, economy and the military before taking over the government.
Friedrich Wilhelm I as king (1713–1740)
With the death of his father on February 25, 1713, Friedrich Wilhelm I became king. Although the funeral ceremony of the late king was still held with the usual pomp and splendor of the time of Frederick I, a change soon followed:
"The monarch arranged for the richly filled private casket of the deceased to be secured, as well as that of his precious jewelery collection, the splendid furniture and silver dishes in the numerous castles in and around Berlin."
Friedrich Wilhelm I's accession to government was unique in terms of the changes. He was radical and military, like Friedrich Wilhelm himself.
“The farm stayed on its old footing for six months, then it was completely changed. Whoever wanted to gain the king's favor had to put on a balaclava and cuirass, everyone was an officer and a soldier, there was no trace of the old court left. Major General von Grumbkow came to the head of the business and had the full confidence of the King, along with Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Dessau. "
Friedrich Wilhelm I saw himself as an absolutist ruler and took over the management of state affairs himself. As soon as he took office, he told some ministers that he demanded “neither advice nor reasoning, but obedience”. He described it as a principle for every ruler that he “must do all his affairs himself” and warned his successor: “The good Lord has put you on the brink not to lazy but to work”. The king carried out government from his private chambers, the cabinet . Friedrich Wilhelm is one of the most industrious monarchs in world history; He checked the reports received from the ministers and usually made the decisions on his own in his daily desk work, often for hours and nights. These consisted either of the so-called marginalia he had introduced or of cabinet orders that his secretaries formulated according to his information and sent to the General Directory.
Shortly after his coronation, Grumbkow was appointed lieutenant general and later chief budget and war minister. All important business went through his hands and through daily contact with the king his influence increased enormously. With the approval of the king, in contrast to the thrift at the rest of the court, he was able to run an extravagant household. He had an income of 36,000 thalers a year. But his increasing arrogance to rule over the king and queen himself exhausted Friedrich Wilhelm's patience. He died in 1739. When the king received the news of Grumbkov's death, he simply said:
“Now people will finally stop saying that Grumbkow will do everything! Had he lived another fourteen days, I would have had him arrested. "
Friedrich Wilhelm I was a man of work. While his grandfather had laboriously acquired Eastern Pomerania and incorporated the Magdeburg and Clevish regions into the Brandenburg-Prussian state structure, he saw his main task in the detailed work, in the consolidation of this state by supplementing and expanding the army and by creating an efficient and reliable professional civil service . Friedrich Wilhelm I was a worker of unbelievable hard work and he also demanded what was humanly possible from his officials with the words: “You have to work, as I have always done. A ruler who wants to rule the world with honor has to do his own thing, because rulers are born to work, not to be lazy. ”This made thrift and tireless work the inevitable principles of this king; the sense of duty was his highest commandment. To his advisor and close confidante, Prince Leopold von Anhalt-Dessau , he wrote: "The slogan in this world is nothing but restlessness and work and where you don't stick your nose in any dirt, things don't go as they should." . And just as this king knew no sparing for himself, there was none for his subordinates either. His handwritten note “ cito citissimo ” (German: “quickly, quickly”) was feared by everyone .
The pillars of his state were a powerful army and orderly finances, the former all the more important since the Prussia of that time stretched from the Rhine to the Curonian Lagoon with uncertain borders. Because of his extensive reforms, Friedrich Wilhelm I has also been referred to as "Prussia's greatest inner king" in historical studies.
Economic and financial policy
Around 1700, Prussia was a predominantly agricultural and geographically widely separated state, whose individual parts of the country had hardly any economic relations with one another. Handicrafts , manufacturing and trade were only rudimentary. Expensive finished products came into the country to the detriment of local producers, and money flowed out of the country. In order to stop the outflow of funds abroad, to promote the development of the domestic economy and to protect it, the king introduced mercantilism into Prussia. The borders were largely closed to external trade as far as this could be maintained in the fragmented territory. The banking and trading house Splitgerber & Daum benefited from the royal sponsorship , while the Krefeld company Von der Leyen in the isolated west of Prussia did not enjoy the interest and help of the king, but was able to develop successfully and free from regulations.
Mercantilism in Prussia served to build up a more efficient industry. "I would rather the Deuffel my temporal wellfardt than that so many people Betler and I get rich." He understood the kingship from a Protestant view of office. The king's occupation is to be a caring father to his subjects. The king in Prussia was not primarily a monarch by the grace of God, but to a certain extent the holder of an “office”, a “function” given by God.
Another key to economic development for the king lay in strengthening agriculture. He therefore had the cultivated area expanded through reclamation and amelioration measures , so that at the end of his reign a third of the land that could be used for agriculture and forestry was Prussia's royal domains , the organization of which he also tightened. The income from the domains amounted to 2.6 million thalers in 1740 with state revenues totaling 7.4 million thalers. The king also allowed the aristocracy to enlarge their estates to 40–60 percent of the land area and extended their legal powers. The Prussian Junker paternalistically ruled his peasants in " East Elbia " as landlord, judge, church lord and officer. But he had to pay property taxes, has been compensated by any court life, and had in the absolutist state no influence in a stalls representing more.
With Friedrich Wilhelm I a Calvinist- capitalist idea becomes visible. He ordained everyone, including the nobility, zeal for work, thrift, diligence and loyalty to duty. To expand Berlin and promote the economy, he ordered the rich to build houses; numerous aristocratic palaces, such as those on Pariser Platz and Wilhelmstrasse (Berlin-Mitte) , were built on his instructions. He had the Berlin arsenal started by his father completed. Berlin, which was only merged in 1709, was significantly enlarged by new suburbs such as Berlin-Friedrichstadt and Luisenstadt and grew from 55,000 to 79,000 inhabitants by 1740. The great Berlin architects of his era were Jean de Bodt and Philipp Gerlach .
At his death in 1740, Friedrich Wilhelm I left a debt-free household and a state treasure of 2 million thalers, which were stored in barrels in the cellar of the Berlin Palace . Its government expenditures, which amounted to 7 million thalers in 1740, 85% were used for the military, while the expenditures of the court amounted to only one percent of the state budget.
At the beginning of 1713 Friedrich I's health deteriorated noticeably. The Berlin court became concerned because it could be estimated that the change of the throne would radically reshape the court and that many noble beneficiaries would lose their livelihoods with it. The king died on February 25, 1713. Friedrich Wilhelm, who had been with his dying father to the end, had the budget brought to him as the first official act after he had left the death room, in order to cross it out and to declare it null and void.
He gave his father a pompous funeral, as the deceased had wished for. He showed himself with the crown, which made the new balance of power clear to everyone. He refrained from an expensive coronation ceremony like that of his father.
Shortly after the funeral ceremonies for his deceased father were over, he radically changed his lavish mode of government. At first he focused on realigning finances and reducing debt. The basic motive of Friedrich Wilhelm's government policy was not to be dependent, like his predecessor, on the subsidies of foreign powers in order to be able to keep a large standing army. Therefore new financial sources were needed for the state treasury.
The new king was aware of his differences from his father.
"My father found pleasure in magnificent buildings, large quantities of jewels, silver, gold, and outward magnificence - allow me to have my pleasure too, which mainly consists of a multitude of good troops"
On February 27, the designated king drove to Wusterhausen and began to work out the government program. Only four days were enough for him. In order to get down from the 20 million thalers national debt of his father, mass layoffs and radical salary cuts in his own house were the result. So he succeeded in reducing court costs from 276,000 to 55,000 thalers and the ranks at court from 142 to 46.
Friedrich Wilhelm I kept only six of his father's 24 palaces, the others were leased or sold. The pleasure garden was converted into a parade ground, stone pillars served as building material, bronze statues were cast into cannons. The court chapel was dissolved, the precious wines, the coronation gown, carriages, horses, sedan chairs, silverware and furniture were sold or auctioned. The savings in court costs caused the court to shrink and some purveyors to the court lost money or even went bankrupt. The irritation due to the lower consumption tax (excise) was over after a year.
Academies no longer received funding and the opera was closed. With the cultural deforestation, a sudden exodus of artists from Berlin began.
Friedrich Wilhelm forbade the lush allonge wigs , instead the soldier's pigtail was prescribed. Instead of sumptuous robes, the plain soldier's skirt now prevailed. With this radical program, the king put an end to the pomp and luxury that had prevailed until then in a very short time. Nobody dared to openly demonstrate against the austerity measures for fear of the king. The austerity measures were only unpopular with those who were affected. He did not stop at the austerity measures either. He lived in only five of the 700 rooms in the Berlin Palace. Two pages were enough for him for his personal service.
Centralization of financial management
In order to be able to maintain a large standing army, one needed more financial means. A reorganization of the hitherto fragmented and ineffective financial system was a prerequisite. When the government took office, the financial budget was divided into a civil and military part. The civilian part of the budget extended to two large areas, the general domain treasury - for general administration - and the box that served the court. The box consisted of the income from goods belonging to the king personally, the income from the coin rack and the income from the postal service. The domain treasury drew its income from the domains and forests that did not belong to the coffin. The General War Chest received its income from the general tax revenue (mainly excise and contribution ). A large part of the funds was used by the army and a small part by the state administration.
A first standardization of the financial administration followed on August 13, 1713, when the royal caskets , which had been private until then, were made domain goods and the entire royal land property was declared indivisible and inalienable. In order to guarantee fixed, predictable income for the state, Friedrich Wilhelm leased it to citizens for management purposes. In August 1713, the king created a central financial directorate for all domain revenues . This came into competition with the general war chest due to the obligation to increase income .
In order to overcome the rivalry between the fiscal and military authorities, Friedrich Wilhelm united them at the end of 1722 under the “General-Ober-Finanz-Kriegs- und Domes-Directorium” ( General Directorate for short ). With the merger of the authorities, the king achieved an extremely lean administration. The collegial principle and departmental competence were retained and fixed working hours were introduced. With this the king founded the Prussian civil service, the functional characteristics of which were derived from the virtues of pietistic piety and meant a break with traditional feudal class arrogance.
Peuplication and reconstruction of Prussia
King Friedrich Wilhelm made great efforts to rebuild East Prussia, which had been depopulated by the plague of 1709 and thus become desolate. When the Archbishop of Salzburg Leopold Anton von Firmian in winter 1731 living in its territory Protestants auswies , Friedrich Wilhelm took advantage of this for the "Re-Peuplierung" . On February 2, 1732, Friedrich Wilhelm I issued his "invitation patent", an edict in which he promised the exiles to accept them "out of royal Christian mercy and heartfelt compassion" in Prussia. At first he wanted only 10,000 refugees into his territory, but changed his mind to an unlimited number. A seemingly endless procession of expellees moved across Germany to Berlin with great attention and keen sympathy from the German public, where he greeted them in May 1732 in front of the Zehlendorf village church with the words "Mir new sons - you a mild fatherland". Friedrich Wilhelm I settled the Salzburg exiles in East Prussia as part of his large-scale Peuplierung project . According to his statement, “I respect people for the greatest wealth”, Prussia was now considered the protective power of all Protestants.
Another measure to rebuild East Prussia was the founding of the Trakehnen stud in 1732.
There were further Peuplierung measures in 1732, when many Protestants, descendants of the Brothers Unity , had to leave their Bohemian homeland. Friedrich Wilhelm I granted them asylum and settled them in Böhmisch Rixdorf near Berlin, outside the city walls of Berlin. In Rixdorf they erected the statue out of gratitude to Friedrich Wilhelm I, which shows the king on this side. They put a memorial plaque on the pedestal, which reads: "The grateful descendants of the Bohemians who were accepted here."
He occupied the Pomeranian capital of Stettin , which was destroyed by the Great Elector during the Swedish-Brandenburg War in 1677, as a neutral power during the siege of Stettin and finally acquired it through the Peace of Stockholm of 1720. He had the city rebuilt as a fortress, administrative and garrison town, with numerous new buildings.
Promotion of the textile and wool industry
In order to promote wool production, which is important for the local economy, the new king set up a textile publishing house and manufacture with the Berlin warehouse in 1713 with the help of the entrepreneur Johann Andreas Kraut .
The export of wool was banned in 1718/19 (on death penalty in 1723). The reasoning:
“[It would] certainly be the greatest injustice to watch for longer how the wool that had fallen in Our Lands gave many foreigners the opportunity to earn their bread in abundance, but our own subjects and wool workers went idle for want of wool and work The whole country have to be burdened with begging, since wool is almost the only means, given the benevolent nature of Our Churmark himself, to put idle people and poor people into work and food, and at the same time not only to provide money in the country but also to draw in strange things. "
Introduction of the official robe for lawyers
Friedrich Wilhelm I issued a cabinet order on December 15, 1726, according to which lawyers should wear black robes “so that the rascals can be recognized from afar”. This robe as the official costume of judges and lawyers is mandatory in Germany to this day.
Friedrich Wilhelm I gave Prussia with its 1.6 million inhabitants a strong military character. From 1713 to 1740 the king expanded his father's standing army from 40,000 to over 80,000 men. After France , the Netherlands and Russia , Prussia became the fourth most powerful military power in Europe. With this he achieved his goal of turning his father's secondary subsidiary power, Prussia, into a self-sufficient , independent military power in Europe. The consequences were an extensive militarization of everyday life and the complete alignment of the needs of the state to the army , but also the later entry of Prussia into the concert of the European powers .
Another important result of Friedrich Wilhelm's military policy was the formation of a closed, aristocratic officer corps to lead the army. The nobility's monopoly on officer positions continued to affect the Prussian and German troops well into the 20th century.
Expansion of the army
During his time as Crown Prince, the king had experienced several times what it means for a state if it does not have a strong military threat potential. For example, foreign armies marched across Prussian territory several times without permission. In addition, Prussia was regularly passed over by the other powers when negotiating peace conditions in upcoming peace negotiations. So most recently during the peace negotiations in Utrecht , in which Prussia was only granted small territorial gains that were out of all proportion to the effort. The subsidy payments of his allies, which had been outstanding for years , were also not paid.
Friedrich Wilhelm therefore began to expand the army in 1713. He reinforced the infantry by 8,073 men and the cavalry by 1,067 men, making the Prussian army 50,000 men. Most of the representative guards were converted into field regiments , and the Swiss guards were dissolved. The first advertisements began in mid-March and were often accompanied by excesses on the part of the advertisers. At the same time, the king lifted the limitation of the period of service, so that theoretically a life-long employment relationship threatened. The consequence of these measures was a short-term massive increase in the number of desertions and exodus of young men from the country in order to avoid military service.
The king paid special attention to the recruitment of tall young men for his royal regiment in Potsdam. It is possible that this was also his great personal passion. There was a practical reason, however: the muzzle-loading rifle , the Fusil , worked best when it had a long barrel. Accordingly, it was easy to handle only for tall men. The country, poor in resources and people, inevitably had to increase the efficiency of firearms in order to be able to withstand opponents.
As early as 1712, when the king was still crown prince, the hunt for men over 1.88 meters tall had begun across Germany and Europe. To this end, he sent advertisers to Hungary, Croatia, Courland and the Ukraine. The king, otherwise thrifty in all areas, was ready here without hesitation to pay large amounts of money. A so-called domestic "six-footed" cost him 600 thalers. 3,000 thalers were paid for men from abroad who were 1.92 meters tall. Between 1713 and 1735 a total of 12 million thalers of advertising money went abroad. Word of the king's “passion for collecting” got around Europe. In addition to diplomatic threats from abroad to execute illegally active Prussian recruits, foreign diplomats also brought tall men to the king as gifts in order to gain his favor. So “broadcasts” from a few dozen tall guys from Paris, London, Copenhagen and Petersburg arrived in Potsdam.
The King personally took care of each of his Tall Fellows. He knew everyone's personal résumé, they received higher wages and received gifts in the form of houses and land. The annual cost of the royal regiment was 291,000 thalers, compared to 72,000 thalers for a normal infantry regiment.
Noble officer corps
In order to give the aristocracy, now largely disempowered, a substitute function, the king tried to bind them to the crown. To this end, he set up the Royal Prussian Corps de Cadets in Berlin in September 1717 , a central cadet institute , for which he personally selected the young nobles , all of whom were recorded in a register between the ages of 12 and 18. In doing so, he offered the offspring of the mostly impoverished aristocratic families a professional and social perspective. In addition to a career in the army, the cadets also had the option of civil service. In this way, the king ensured the nobility a participation in his state instead of leaving them in political opposition. Despite strong opposition from the long-established nobility, the king prevailed on this issue. The compulsion of the nobility to compete in the Prussian army was accompanied by a ban on service in other armies.
Creation of the canton system
In 1733, Friedrich Wilhelm created the canton system to counter the injustice of the hitherto indiscriminate advertising . Each regiment was assigned a certain part of the country ( canton ) that had to cover the personnel requirements. This represented a preliminary stage to general conscription . This made military service much more predictable for the common population, and the flight from the country, mainly young men, decreased again in the period that followed. Military service outside of Prussia and thus a source of income was forbidden to the nobility, while the king forced the nobility to serve in the army.
Friedrich Wilhelm I initially stuck to his predecessor's course of neutrality. When Tsar Peter I met him in March 1713 on a visit to Berlin to join the Nordic Alliance against the Swedish King Karl XII. wanted to move during the Great Northern War , he refused on the grounds that it would take him a year to put the army and finances in order. After the end of the Spanish War of Succession, he gave up the course of neutrality and turned to the alliance. His goal was to gain access to the Swedish areas in northern Germany ( Swedish-Pomerania ) and access to the important Oder estuary for Prussia. The Prussians subsequently occupied Szczecin as a neutral occupying power .
When Charles XII. after his return from the Ottoman Empire in November 1714 took over the supreme command in Pomerania and continued the war, Prussia actively entered the war on May 1, 1715. Under the command of Friedrich Wilhelm I, Prussians, Danes and Saxons besieged the Swedish fortress of Stralsund during the Pomeranian campaign and took it on December 24, 1715.
In the Treaty of Stockholm concluded with Sweden on January 21, 1720, Prussia won the city of Stettin with the area between Oder and Peene , the islands of Wollin and Usedom as well as the Oderhaff and the mouths of the Swine and Dievenow . The short campaign of 1715 was the only warlike deployment of the Prussian army during the reign of the soldier king.
In 1718 an imperial army (Austria and Hanover-Great Britain) of 50,000 men was encamped in Prussia under the pretext of an imperial execution against Mecklenburg-Schwerin . Friedrich Wilhelm I did not allow himself to be challenged and kept quiet. On the other hand, he used the Reich execution to for his part press funds from Mecklenburg by occupying some estates in Mecklenburg and managing them for decades. The king maintained frequent and intensive contacts with his southern neighbor, the Electorate of Saxony .
The colonial experiment of his grandfather Friedrich Wilhelm , which Frederick I had tried hard to maintain, ended soon after he took office. He had always considered the African ambitions of his predecessors to be a “ chimère ”. After the War of the Spanish Succession made it virtually impossible for the Brandenburg ships to get to Africa, Friedrich Wilhelm sold his West African possessions to the Dutch West India Company on December 18, 1717 for 6,000 ducats and contractually promised them that his land would be part of the Guinea - Never trade on the coast again. As a result, he not only increased his treasury, but also reduced the risk of coming into conflict with the Western European colonial powers. The de facto handover of Groß Friedrichsburg and Arguin to the Dutch and the French took place violently in 1721 and 1724 due to local entanglements.
In terms of foreign policy, the monarch was seen as not very ambitious and talented. The "soldier king" was also known for his non-warlike attitude, for which he was mocked at the European courts. He had inherited his only armed conflict in the Great Northern War from his predecessor, and the experiences he had there and in the youth at the Battle of Malplaquet did not make the war a political option. Wars cost a lot of money and battered the previously laboriously built army.
During his reign he was interested in the inheritance rights in Jülich and Berg , the implementation of which the emperor traditionally guaranteed. In an almost loyal manner, he competed several times for the favor of Charles VI. and was repeatedly deceived by him.
Because Friedrich Wilhelm thought in a practical and pragmatic way, he could not do much with scholars and the humanities. Therefore, apart from theology, he only promoted practice-oriented sciences.
In addition to the economic development, Friedrich Wilhelm I installed the first chairs for camera sciences at the Universities of Halle and Frankfurt (Oder) . It was the beginning of a university economics course. On the other hand, faculties that did not serve the country in practical terms were increasingly harassed by him. The philosopher Christian Wolff in Halle, whom the king accused of undermining religion and therefore the army, and the constitutional lawyer Johann Jakob Moser , whom he had appointed to Frankfurt (Oder) , left Prussia at risk of death.
Prussia became a location for advanced medicine as part of the army supply. Friedrich Wilhelm served a large number of important doctors. The Charité in Berlin became the center .
On September 28, 1717, the king introduced compulsory elementary schooling on the royal estate by royal decree . Every child between the ages of five and twelve should go to school.
“We hear with displeasure and are complained on various occasions by the inspectors and preachers at our place that the parents, particularly in the country, show themselves to be very delinquent in sending their children to school, and as a result the poor youth are very ignorant of what they read , writing and arithmetic concerns, as well as in those most necessary pieces that serve their heyday and bliss. "
During his reign, the general level of education in Prussia increased significantly. Compulsory schooling, which was enacted in 1717, made a major contribution to this, even if the weak and financially poor state prevented it from being implemented across the board. The number of village schools rose from 320 in 1717 to 1480 in the year he died.
Social and Religious Policy
Although Friedrich Wilhelm himself remained a Calvinist, he valued Lutheran pietism and transferred it to the Prussian state and society. So he promoted Pietists as university theologians and hired Pietist field preachers in the army, to whom he put the field provost Lambert Gedicke in front. The Lutheran State Church adopted the new spirit and made it common to the population through preaching and the schools it ran. The state of Prussia drew a large part of its future elite from these institutions and the Pietistic University of Halle. Friedrich Wilhelm was also very interested in the renewal of the Church of the Bohemian Brothers in Herrnhut. For many years he was in correspondence with Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf and encouraged him to be bishop.
The soldier king represented a largely tolerant religious policy. In 1722, for example, he allowed the Catholic workers recruited in Liège from his Royal Prussian Rifle Factory Potsdam-Spandau to practice their religion freely and donated Catholic churches at both locations. For the French who moved to the royal seat of Potsdam , a prayer room was initially set up in the city palace and later the French Church was built under his son Friedrich II . For the Muslim soldiers who came to Potsdam via the Duke of Courland after the Russo-Turkish War in 1739 , a prayer room was set up in the military orphanage so that “Freyer Mahomedan service could take place in a hall on Sundays after the church parade”. This makes the soldier king the first Christian king in Europe to have Muslims build their own prayer room.
Restrictions on Jews continued to exist under Friedrich Wilhelm. Like his father and later his son (see Revised General Privilege ), he aimed at exploiting economic power, but also tried to limit the number of Jews in Prussia. For the Christian missionary work of the Jews he supported the Institutum Judaicum et Muhammedicum under the theologian Johann Heinrich Callenberg from 1728 in Halle. Hallesche philosophy professor Christian Wolff , accused of atheism, had to resign in 1723 and leave Prussia within 48 hours. His writings were banned until 1736.
The establishment of social institutions such as the Potsdam military orphanage in 1724 or the royal warehouse can also be traced back to the religious attitudes of the king. From the period between 1717 and 1723 there are numerous instructions for the abolition of serfdom on the royal domains by Friedrich Wilhelm, but in fact they have hardly been implemented.
On January 9, 1727, Friedrich Wilhelm I ordered the conversion of a military hospital into a community hospital in a further cabinet order and ordered in a marginal note: "The house should be called the Charité ." The king's personal physician, Johann Theodor Eller ( 1689-1760).
Conflict with the heir to the throne
In 1730, because of Friedrich Wilhelm's marriage plans, a rift broke out between him and his son and heir to the throne, Friedrich, who then wanted to implement his escape from Prussia, which had been planned since 1729, together with his befriended Lieutenant Hans Hermann von Katte from the Gendarme's Guard Regiment .
Friedrich's half-hearted attempt to escape failed. As a result, he was imprisoned in the Küstrin fortress . His friend and escape helper Hans Hermann von Katte was executed. The king had the sentence against Katte commuted to the death penalty in order to set an example. His advisors found it difficult to dissuade him from doing the same to the heir to the throne. However, he had Friedrich forced to watch his friend being executed .
The causes of this serious family conflict lay in the worries of Friedrich Wilhelm I that the son would let his life's work deteriorate again. He had his children, and especially Friedrich, brought up strictly. Friedrich was to follow the father's ideals of rigor, incorruptibility, strength and thrift from the beginning. The sensitive son, however, repeatedly sought refuge in music and literature, which gave rise to numerous conflicts between father and son. In particular, the painting father did not accept music as art, which turned it out as a basis for mutual understanding between the two.
During Friedrich's imprisonment there was reconciliation between father and son, and even if the relationship remained difficult, both of them were able to come to terms with it. The king later allowed his son and his wife to retire to Rheinsberg Castle and to pursue their own studies there, whereby Friedrich freed himself from his father's grip.
End of life
With increasing age Friedrich Wilhelm suffered from gout and podagra attacks , which were due to his unhealthy lifestyle and a hereditary predisposition. He could hardly ride any more and had to use a wheelchair more and more often . On May 31, 1740 he died of dropsy in the Potsdam City Palace . The burial took place on June 4th in the garrison church in Potsdam. His son Friedrich II, later known as Frederick the Great , succeeded him as King in Prussia (since 1772 King of Prussia).
Friedrich Wilhelm was buried in the crypt of the Royal Monument in the Potsdam Garrison Church in a simple metal sarcophagus without any significant decoration. The king had the simple, whitewashed crypt prepared according to his wishes in the church he had built. After the death of Frederick the Great , his sarcophagus was also placed in the garrison church, against his will, which became a popular tourist destination.
In 1943 Hermann Göring had the coffins of Friedrich Wilhelm and Friedrich II moved into a bomb-proof room in view of numerous air raids on Berlin ; later they were evacuated from the advancing Red Army . In 1945, US soldiers discovered the sarcophagi in a potash mine near Bernterode (Thuringia). When they left Thuringia, they brought the coffins, and also that of Hindenburg , to the Elisabeth Church in Marburg . In 1952, Prince Louis Ferdinand arranged for the coffins of his two ancestors to be brought to Hohenzollern Castle near Hechingen - to the Evangelical Christ Chapel there. Friedrich Wilhelm's coffin has been in the Kaiser-Friedrich-Mausoleum near the Friedenskirche in Sanssouci Park since August 1991 .
Overall, he was a person of contradictions. On the one hand a peace-loving monarch , on the other hand a desperate militarist , he was “terrifying, suspicious, brutal, stingy [and] loving, accommodating, honest and generous. [He was a] despot à la Russian [and] a deeply religious, godly man ”. He himself seemed to recognize the contradictions. In any case, he explained or apologized for her:
“Throughout my life I have found myself compelled to pursue two passions that I did not have [sic!]: One was absurd avarice and the other an extravagant affection for great soldiers. It was only because of these very conspicuous weaknesses that I was allowed to collect great treasure and build a strong army. Both are there, now my successor doesn't need a mask anymore. "
Completely untypical for this time, he attached great importance to cleanliness and hygiene in order to avoid contagious diseases. He had a profound dislike of diplomatic conventions and court etiquette , which affected his style of government. He was considered relatively uneducated; he had no command of the correct written language in either German or French, although he grew up bilingual. He wrote phonetically .
The king showed admiration for the musical work of George Frideric Handel . In the last years of his life, the sick monarch devoted himself to painting. His works, sketched out by court painters, were mainly created at Schloss Kossenblatt near Fürstenwalde and in (Königs) Wusterhausen, as a self- employment .
He preferred simple home cooking like white cabbage with pork belly, green peas with mutton carbonade, beef mouth with beef feet. However, this diet was not beneficial to his health.
For his private amusement, the king regularly visited a tobacco college , which consisted of eight to twelve evening fellows who had a rough tone. With them was Professor Jacob Paul von Gundling (1673-1731), a private scholar and advisor to the king. Gundling showed a predisposition to the arrogant vanity of the scholar and a strong tendency to alcoholism, combined with impurity. This made him a welcome target for Friedrich Wilhelm I's marked lust for ridicule and the participants in the Tobacco College. Gundling allowed his behavior to be turned into a buffoon . Even contemporaries and later generations of scholars saw this as a general contempt for science by Friedrich Wilhelm I, so King had Gundling buried in a wine barrel at the Bornstedt cemetery .
Contrary to the customs of his time, the king had no mistresses . In his instruction to the successor of 1722 he named his premises for a ruler:
“Have no meters, it is better to call it Huhren, and lead a godly life; These rulers will shower God with all religious and spiritual beliefs (...) not drinking and gobbling up an indecent life from it lord come, (...) and also not adding [what is meant is: to allow] that no comedies, operas, ballets in his loins and princes , Masckeradhen, speeches are held. "
A novel and several films deal with excerpts from the life of Friedrich Wilhelm. Jochen Klepper published the biographical novel Der Vater in 1937 . The king has been portrayed by very prominent German actors in several films.
The first two episodes of the four-part cinema production Fridericus Rex (1921/22) deal with the conflict between the Prussian king and his son Friedrich. Here Friedrich Wilhelm is portrayed by Albert Steinrück . Oscar winner Emil Jannings took on the role in the propaganda film The Old and Young King from 1935. In 1979 Günter Strack took over the role in the two-part television production The Heir to the Throne . Strack also played the role in the 1984 television play August the Strong .
In the television drama The King and His Fool from 1981 Götz George stood in front of the camera as Friedrich Wilhelm. The film is about the conflict between the Prussian king and Jacob Paul von Gundling , who was demoted by the king from a professor to a court jester and perished as a result.
Friedrich Wilhelm I remained the only Prussian monarch who never built a large palace. The only exceptions were small hunting locks that served his military passion, such as B. the Stern hunting lodge . He had all construction measures or projects of the predecessor stopped, see Unfriedtbau in Königsberg. He hardly ever used representative buildings, such as Charlottenburg Palace , but had them heated in winter to prevent structural damage. He had other castles sold or the inventory, see Potsdam City Palace or Amber Room . He had inherited Königs Wusterhausen Palace from his father. It is noteworthy in this context that he also acquired castles: Rheinsberg Castle , which he gave to his son Friedrich for his loyalty, and Kossenblatt Castle , which he lived in and furnished to suit his taste.
Monument in the Siegesallee
In 1900 , the sculptor Rudolf Siemering designed monument group 27 with a statue of Friedrich Wilhelm as the main figure for the former Berliner Siegesallee , which was often ridiculed as “Puppenallee” . Siemering made three sketches for the figure. With two sketches showing the king in a cloak, Siemering tried to move away from the label soldier king. The third showed him in a soldier's coat, according to the label. Kaiser Wilhelm II , who commissioned Monumentalallee, decided to carry out this design. The realized figure depicts Friedrich Wilhelm I on the one hand as a coarse figure of simple and energetic nature, standing there firmly and with legs apart in buttoned gaiters . The corpulence of the soldier king was not concealed in the figure, but "emphasized in an almost grotesque way by the jacket that gaps over the stomach and the low waist band." On the other hand, the figure expresses the contradicting personality of the king by having a paternalistic face in the broad face Train emerges. Accessories such as a stick, a bundle of files on the floor and folios on the bookshelf, which is attached as a support behind the figure, underline this identification of a prudent and thrifty ruler.
The busts of Minister Heinrich Rüdiger von Ilgen and Des Alten Dessauer Leopold von Anhalt-Dessau were assigned to the statue as secondary characters . The unveiling of the group took place on December 22, 1900. The monument has been preserved with damage such as broken parts and has been kept in the Spandau Citadel together with other Siegesallee statues since May 2009 .
Marriage and offspring
Friedrich Wilhelm was married to his cousin Sophie Dorothea von Hanover (1687–1757), daughter of King George I of Great Britain and his wife Princess Sophie Dorothea von Braunschweig-Lüneburg . Friedrich Wilhelm and his wife were both grandchildren of Sophie von der Pfalz , Protestant ancestral mother of the British royal family under the Act of Settlement . The marriage had 14 children:
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- Wilhelmine (1709–1758)
- ⚭ 1731 Margrave Friedrich of Brandenburg-Bayreuth (1711–1763)
- Friedrich Wilhelm (1710–1711), Crown Prince in Prussia, Elector Prince of Brandenburg, Prince of Orange
- Friedrich (1712–1786), later as Friedrich II. King of Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg
- ⚭ 1733 Princess Elisabeth Christine of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel-Bevern (1715–1797)
- Charlotte Albertine (1713-1714)
- Friederike Luise (1714–1784)
- ⚭ 1729 Margrave Karl of Brandenburg-Ansbach (1712–1757)
- Philippine Charlotte (1716-1801)
- ⚭ 1733 Duke Karl I of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel (1713–1780)
- Ludwig Karl Wilhelm (1717–1719)
- Sophie Dorothea Marie (1719–1765)
- ⚭ 1734 Margrave Friedrich Wilhelm of Brandenburg-Schwedt (1700–1771)
- Luise Ulrike (1720–1782)
- ⚭ 1744 King Adolf Friedrich of Sweden (1710–1771)
- August Wilhelm (1722–1758)
- ⚭ 1742 Princess Luise Amalie of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel (1722–1780)
- ⚭ 1752 Princess Wilhelmine of Hessen-Kassel (1726–1808)
- August Ferdinand (1730-1813)
- ⚭ 1755 Princess Anna Elisabeth Luise of Brandenburg-Schwedt (1738–1820)
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King in Prussia and
Elector of Brandenburg
|SURNAME||Friedrich Wilhelm I.|
|ALTERNATIVE NAMES||Friedrich Wilhelm I in Prussia, soldier king|
|BRIEF DESCRIPTION||King in Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg (1713–1740)|
|DATE OF BIRTH||August 14, 1688|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Berlin , Electorate of Brandenburg, Holy Roman Empire|
|DATE OF DEATH||May 31, 1740|
|Place of death||Potsdam , Electorate of Brandenburg, Holy Roman Empire|