Friedrich Wilhelm II. (Prussia)

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Friedrich Wilhelm II., Portrayed by Anton Graff 1792.
Friedrich Wilhelm's signature:Signature Friedrich Wilhelm II. (Prussia) .PNG

Friedrich Wilhelm II (born September 25, 1744 in Berlin , † November 16, 1797 in the Marble Palace in Potsdam ) was King of Prussia , Margrave of Brandenburg and Elector of the Holy Roman Empire from 1786 until his death . He came from the German Princely House of Hohenzollern and was the successor to Frederick the Great , his uncle , on the Prussian throne .

As a defensive reaction to the French Revolution , Friedrich Wilhelm II initially ended the German dualism between Prussia and Austria . Domestically, he turned away from the enlightened style of government of his predecessor and introduced stricter censorship and religious control. The king was one of the most important patrons of his time.

Life until assumption of power


The father: Prince August Wilhelm

Friedrich Wilhelm was born on September 25, 1744 in Berlin as the eldest son of the Prussian Prince August Wilhelm of Prussia (1722–1758) and Princess Luise Amalie of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel . Initially, Friedrich Wilhelm was second in line to the throne in Prussia after his father. Because of his childlessness, King Friedrich II had appointed his next younger brother August Wilhelm, the father of Friedrich Wilhelm, as Prince of Prussia as his heir to the throne in 1744 .

Friedrich Wilhelm was born into a warlike time, because since August 10, 1744 Prussia was again at war (1744–1745) with Austria . Since the year 1740 or the death of Emperor Karl VI. from the Habsburg dynasty , Vienna had no male heir to the throne. Although Charles VI. with the pragmatic sanction his daughter Maria Theresa was appointed as heir, but this document contradicted Salian law , which only provided for male heirs to the throne. Frederick II of Prussia took advantage of the crisis of the Austrian succession to incorporate Habsburg Silesia. He began the first of a total of three Silesian Wars , which were to last with short interruptions until 1763.

On October 11, 1744, Friedrich Wilhelm was baptized in the previous building of today's Berlin Cathedral . In addition to parts of the Prussian royal family, Emperor Karl VII , Tsarina Elisabeth of Russia , Louis XV. of France and the Swedish heir to the throne Adolf Friedrich as befitting godfathers accompany the boy on his way. The choice of sponsors also demonstrated the attempt of the king to isolate Austria in terms of alliance politics. These foreign rulers were not personally present at the baptism, but were represented.

The relationship between King Friedrich II and August Wilhelm of Prussia, the father of the later Friedrich Wilhelm II, was extremely tense. This is due to the fact that the father of Friedrich II, King Friedrich Wilhelm I , preferred the younger brother August Wilhelm to the Crown Prince. Even after Frederick tried to escape in 1730, Frederick William I had a more affectionate and informal relationship with August Wilhelm - a circumstance that Frederick II would resent his brother all his life.


The civil educator: Nikolaus de Béguelin ; Silhouette by Johann Friedrich Gottlieb Unger (1753–1804)

In 1747, King Friedrich II withdrew his three-year-old nephew from the care of his family, who lived in the Kronprinzenpalais and Oranienburg Palace in Berlin . He had Friedrich Wilhelm brought to the Berlin Palace and decided on an education in the spirit of the Enlightenment . Although the first signs of a pedagogy that was more adapted to the nature of the child emerged a little later with  philanthropinism in Dessau, the young Friedrich Wilhelm was still treated like a miniature adult. Contemporaries saw logical thinking as a prerequisite for the development of reason in man. This idea led Frederick II to choose a mathematician as tutor for his four-year-old nephew.

The military educator: Heinrich Adrian von Borcke

The President of the Royal Academy in Berlin, Pierre Louis Moreau de Maupertuis , then proposed the Swiss scholar Nicolas de Béguelin to the King . Béguelin had studied law and mathematics, then worked at the Imperial Court of Justice in Wetzlar and had been in Prussian service since 1743. He had already come into personal contact with Friedrich II and enjoyed his appreciation. Béguelin strictly regulated the daily routine of the four- and five-year-old prince: In the morning the prince learned German and French, the language of the European royal courts. At noon he had to invite cavaliers of the court to be introduced to diplomatic manners. After lunch, the language lessons continued in written form, as he was able to read and write at the age of five. Only then did he have time to play. But even at this time of day he had to act out what he had learned with the help of puppets. Friedrich Wilhelm ate dinner in courtly company. Even as a toddler he had to take part in the evening opera and theater performances, and the same applies to carnival festivities and other courtly events. Before he went to sleep, works such as Gulliver's Travels , Stories from 1001 Nights and Reineke Fuchs were read to him.

Frederick II always intervened in education. At the reception of the cavaliers at noon, for example, he demanded that Friedrich Wilhelm should not be educated to be humble and reserved, as was otherwise customary. As a possible successor to the royal dignity, he should, in accordance with the will of Frederick II, gain respect in the country's nobility through “boldness”. The rather shy Friedrich Wilhelm could not meet these demands of his uncle. The high expectations that were placed on the behavior and motivation of the child on a daily basis left hardly any room for carefree hours and child-friendly activities. If the prince did not feel like performing certain tasks, or if he was defiant, Béguelin would take away his favorite toy or even threaten to beat him.

Friedrich Wilhelm received instruction in mathematics, law, philosophy and history. Members of the Royal Academy of Sciences , which under Frederick II brought together important, predominantly French scholars , acted as educational sponsors. The future king had a solid knowledge of Greek, Roman, Assyrian and Jewish history in particular. Occasionally Béguelin loosened up the lessons by going on excursions with the prince to Berlin factories , workshops and art studios. Dancing, fencing and horse riding were also on the program. However, he did not receive an education that would have prepared Friedrich Wilhelm for the business of government of a ruling monarch.

In 1751, the king selected the well-read and highly educated Major Heinrich Adrian von Borcke for the military training of Friedrich Wilhelm . The 36-year-old Graf showed little pedagogical sensitivity. From reports that Borcke had to regularly write to Friedrich II in order to report on the child's progress, it emerges that Friedrich Wilhelm often behaved rebelliously and was punished with beatings for this. When this did not help either, Borcke forbade the prince to have contact with his younger brother Heinrich . Frederick II approved this educational practice. On August 19, 1754, he demanded that Friedrich Wilhelm should move from Berlin to Potsdam, to his court. The king stated that his goal was to reshape Friedrich Wilhelm's sensitive and reserved nature:

“Since he (Friedrich Wilhelm) is a bit shy, I told everyone who came to me to tease him in order to get him to speak. I am convinced that in the near future he will not be embarrassed in front of anyone. "

- Letter from King Friedrich II to his younger brother August Wilhelm of Prussia

Prince of Prussia and presumptive heir to the throne

The European alliance system 1756:
blue: Great Britain , Prussia , Portugal and allies
green: France , Spain , Austria , Russia , Sweden and allies

Friedrich Wilhelm's youth was overshadowed by the experiences of the Third Silesian War and the Seven Years' War (1756–1763).

The war heightened tensions between King Friedrich II and Friedrich Wilhelm's father, August Wilhelm, who had been the presumptive heir to the throne as Prince of Prussia since 1744 . In the fall of 1757, Frederick II dishonorably dismissed his brother from the army on charges of having failed several times. Some historians suspect that Friedrich deliberately misused his brother as a scapegoat in order to distract from his own mistakes as a general and later transferred his contempt for the younger brother to Friedrich Wilhelm. In fact, before the death of August Wilhelm, Frederick II had treated his nephew no more maliciously than those around him were used to.

Map : Sieges of Schweidnitz in 1762

The twelve-year-old Friedrich Wilhelm congratulated his uncle in a series of letters. Whether the hymns of praise to Frederick II actually came from his pen or were professionally commissioned is disputed in research, because the letters were continued - without interruption and without any change in style - even after the death of his father August Wilhelm (June 12, 1758) .

After the death of their father August Wilhelm, due to the war, it was only in December 1758 that the two half-orphans Friedrich Wilhelm and his brother Heinrich were able to visit King Friedrich II in his winter camp in Torgau . On this occasion, Friedrich II confirmed his nephew's position as heir to the throne and on December 13, 1758, gave him the title and name of Prince of Prussia. In this way, Friedrich II signaled to the outside world that Prussia's existence was secured by the heir. In fact, however, Prussia faced complete dissolution several times during this war. The Prussian court was often on the run or had to entrench itself in the Magdeburg fortress . Friedrich Wilhelm had to take part in military exercises. Often the passenger transport did not include all teachers of the heir to the throne, so that he could only be taught by Borcke and Béguelin.

In the final phase of the Seven Years' War, Frederick II was concerned about the popularity of the heir to the throne among soldiers, as it threatened to outshine his own military fame. In 1762 the Prince of Prussia took part in the siege of Schweidnitz and the battle of Burkersdorf . Although Frederick II praised him for his bravery and appointed him commander of a Potsdam infantry regiment, over time the relationship between the monarch and his heir to the throne cooled noticeably.

The Seven Years' War finally ended with the Peace of Hubertusburg on February 15, 1763. Prussia had been able to assert itself as a great power and defended Silesia, but it had to accept immense economic and cultural damage. Plagues, hunger and diseases caused the loss of over 300,000 civilians in Prussia alone.

Marriage to Elisabeth Christine Ulrike von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel (1765–1769)

Friedrich Wilhelm as heir to the throne, around 1765

In order to ensure the continued existence of the Hohenzollern dynasty, Friedrich II married the 20-year-old Friedrich Wilhelm to Elisabeth Christine Ulrike von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel , the daughter of Duke Karl I of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel and Friedrich's sister Philippine Charlotte of Prussia . The fact that Elisabeth Christine Ulrike von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel was the cousin of the heir to the throne on both his father's and mother's side didn't bother Friedrich any more than any of his contemporaries. In fact, there is still not a single evidence in sources from the 18th century to support the notion that marriages of relatives could pose a health risk. There were only ecclesiastical prohibitions in this regard, but these were legally overridden due to the outstanding social position of Friedrich Wilhelm in the understanding of the time. Duke Karl I of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel had served Friedrich II as a loyal general in the army, which is why it was of great importance to keep Braunschweig politically close to Prussia through marriage. Frederick II decided to marry the heir to the throne with Elisabeth Christine Ulrike von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel solely for reasons of reason.

Friedrich Wilhelm, however, had adopted bourgeois ideas of love, as demanded by the contemporary literary movement of the Sturm und Drang . He rejected the marriage forced upon him and turned to mistresses , which conservative members at the Prussian court and especially the king disapproved of. As early as 1764, the prince had met the daughter of a musician named Wilhelmine Encke (1753-1820). Elisabeth Christine reciprocated by cultivating extramarital relationships. The witty, good-looking and charming Elisabeth Christine Ulrike expected to be "conquered" by Friedrich Wilhelm, but that never happened. The heir to the throne felt it worst that they found recognition from King Friedrich II and most of the court society.

When, after four years of marriage, a daughter was born in 1767 instead of a family owner and the court whispered rumors of Elisabeth's infidelity, King Friedrich II, with the consent of Friedrich Wilhelm, arranged for the quick divorce on April 18, 1769. After all, they couldn't get away be more certain whether the next child would actually come from the heir to the throne and thus could assert rights to the throne at all. The brothers Friedrich II had already raised hereditary claims to the successor of Friedrich Wilhelm. The affair came at just the right time for Friedrich Wilhelm to get rid of his wife. Elisabeth Christine had to give up the title of "Royal Highness" and live as a "Highness" with a small pension in Stettin , where she died in 1840. The king blamed Friedrich Wilhelm for the failure of the marriage. Looking back, he wrote in his memoirs:

“The husband, young and without morals, […] broke faith with his wife every day. […] The princess, who was in the prime of her beauty, found herself offended by the little attention she paid to her charms, felt incited to take revenge for the injustice that had been done to her. "

- Friedrich II.

Marriage to Friederike Luise von Hessen-Darmstadt (1769–1797)

The son: Friedrich Wilhelm as Crown Prince around 1793

After the divorce, activities to remarry the heir to the throne immediately began at the Potsdamer court, as the dynasty needed a family owner. King Friedrich II decided in favor of Princess Friederike Luise von Hessen-Darmstadt. Even the aspect that the new marriage did not correspond to the rank of future King of Prussia must have seriously offended Friedrich Wilhelm in his patriarchal self-image. The Landgraviate of Hessen-Darmstadt was considered a third-class power, while Prussia was on a par with the great powers France, Great Britain, Austria and Russia. In addition, the forced marriage again violated Friedrich Wilhelm's desire for a freely chosen love marriage. In contrast to Elisabeth Christine, Friederike Luise was able to come to terms with her husband's mistress. It also fulfilled its function when, on August 3, 1770, she gave birth to the long-awaited son, later King Friedrich Wilhelm III. , gave birth. When Friedrich Wilhelm heard of the birth, he wrote to his mistress Wilhelmine Encke : “I wish that this thing would never have seen the light”. During his life, Friedrich Wilhelm was unable to establish any emotional bond with his legitimate descendants. The later Friedrich Wilhelm III. grew up under the impression that his father loved his illegitimate children more. This was the reason that after the death of Friedrich Wilhelm II he had Encke arrested immediately as his first official act, initiated what turned out to be an inconclusive investigation, and only rehabilitated it years later. In fact, contrary to what his son was later to portray, Friedrich Wilhelm treated his wife quite appropriately. After Friederike Luise, who was seriously ill with gout, had given birth to six more children by 1783, she was able to refuse Friedrich Wilhelm sexual intercourse without harming her position at court. The later Friedrich Wilhelm II. Could have used such a reaction to banish her from the court or to enforce a divorce. Instead, he accepted her decision. After he became king himself, he gave her Monbijou Castle and furnished her with her own representative court.

Reluctantly, Friedrich II recognized Encke as the official mistress in 1777. Encke received from the king an annual allowance of 30,000  thalers and a house in Charlottenburg .

Conflict with Friedrich II.

The uncle: Friedrich II., Portrayed by Anton Graff in 1781

Frederick II aimed to publicly humiliate his heir to the throne. He expressed his regret to the imperial diplomat that his other nephew, Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand von Braunschweig , could not succeed him to the throne. The art historian Alfred Hagemann interprets this behavior in such a way that Friedrich wanted to enhance his own image in history by deliberately dismantling his own successor.

At the latest, the two forced marriages arranged by Friedrich II led to the tense relationship between the king and the crown prince. Friedrich Wilhelm began to differentiate himself more and more from Friedrich II in terms of character: if King Friedrich II lived in a man-made world, the Crown Prince built an emotional and bourgeois love life with Wilhelmine Encke from the 1760s onwards . While Friedrich II was critical of the practice of religion, Friedrich Wilhelm II was a devout Protestant. If Frederick II was only a patron of French culture, Frederick William II was supposed to support German music and theater as king. While Friedrich II withdrew into small elite circles, Friedrich Wilhelm II looked for representative appearances as king. Friedrich Wilhelm was a man of his time who was interested in spiritualism, clairvoyance and astrology, which would have repelled his predecessor.

The Potsdam apartment on the corner of the Neuer Markt also testifies to the contempt of Frederick II for his successor . In view of his high position, he lived there very cramped among the citizens. The building on the Neuer Markt, known today as the “Cabinet House”, was originally built in 1753 for the country preacher Krumbholz and had to be converted into a makeshift crown prince's palace in 1764. In the rented neighboring house at Schwertfegerstraße 8, the future Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm III arrived on August 3, 1770 . to the world. The later Friedrich Wilhelm II invited the noble Potsdam society to concerts and balls in the house, which, however, were soon relocated to the old orangery at the Lustgarten due to lack of space .

Although Frederick II gave his nephew an educated upbringing, the king neglected - probably deliberately - to introduce the heir to the throne into political processes and contexts. He was only allowed to take part in the sessions of the Berlin Court of Appeal . However, Friedrich II forbade his ministers to give Friedrich Wilhelm an insight into day-to-day political affairs. Due to his upbringing, he only had solid knowledge in constitutional law, in the military and in the arts.

Friedrich's lifestyle and conception of the state differed fundamentally from those of his nephew. Friedrich ostentatiously lived by the principle of wanting to be the first servant of his state . For this he devoted himself in detail to politics, government work and state philosophy and sometimes took care of the smallest details. He often changed advisers and officials and was reluctant to delegate tasks and power to others. Until the end he ruled as an autocrat.

Friedrich Wilhelm II as king

Domestic politics

Change of government (1786)

When King Friedrich II died on the night of August 17, 1786, early in the morning at 2:20 a.m., his doctor, the two chamber hussars and a few lackeys were present. However, the dying king did not call his nephew, which meant a final conscious humiliation of the successor. Frederick the Great died at the age of 74 in an armchair in the study of Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam. The news of death is said to have been brought to Friedrich Wilhelm, who was sitting on a park bench. Together with the Minister of War Ewald Friedrich von Hertzberg and Lieutenant General Graf von Görz, Friedrich Wilhelm arrived at the castle around 3 a.m. The late king had long since ceased to be popular at the end of his life, and his death did not cause much sadness in Prussia. Some contemporary witnesses unanimously claim that the sentence "Thank God, the old disgust is finally dead" should have sounded on the streets of Berlin.

Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia

As planned, Frederick the Great succeeded his nephew to the throne as King Frederick William II of Prussia. The new king was very popular when he took office and the people hoped for a general improvement in the situation. Friedrich Wilhelm II visited the crypt on the terrace of Sanssouci Palace on August 17, 1786. There, as Frederick II had ordered in his will, he wanted to be buried next to his dogs.

“I lived as a philosopher and I want to be buried as such, without pomp, without solemn pomp, without pomp. I don't want to be opened or embalmed. They buried me in Sanssouci at the level of the terraces in a crypt that I had prepared. "

- Testament of Frederick II.

Except for the aspect of embalming, Friedrich Wilhelm II took no account of his uncle's wishes. He buried Friedrich's body on September 9, 1786 with a magnificent procession in the Potsdam Garrison Church . His coffin lay next to that of the soldier king Friedrich Wilhelm I , from whom Friedrich II had suffered greatly in his childhood. Although the simple burial place suited Friedrich, it could not hide the fact that Friedrich Wilhelm II wanted to emphasize a reversal of the balance of power.

Another break was the relocation of the residence from Potsdam to Berlin . While Friedrich II. Lived aloof and withdrawn from his people in Potsdam, Friedrich Wilhelm II shaped the cultural life in Berlin with his festive processions and evening visits to the opera and the theater. In the Berlin Palace he moved into the former apartment of Friedrich Wilhelm I in the north-west wing. The twenty-nine rooms of the king were completely redesigned in the classical style . He abolished the hated coffee and tobacco tax, distributed medals, awards and ranks, including those of Johann Christoph von Woellner and Hans Rudolf von Bischoffwerder . In view of the wars, courtly building passion and bureaucratic integration of the territories gained by the Polish partitions , however, staple foods such as flour, sugar and beer were subject to an excise tax. The initial popularity of the king among the population was quickly gone.

Cabinet government

Monogram of Friedrich Wilhelm II.

Since his uncle had not introduced him to the political process, Friedrich Wilhelm could not rule the state like he did from his desk. The self-government of its predecessors was replaced by a cabinet government. Depending on the time of year, the king had the cabinet assembled between 5 and 6 o'clock. They informed him through lectures and correspondence or advised him on political questions. The king then made decisions and reported them to the cabinet, which wrote the king's orders. At around 3 a.m. the Cabinet sent the relevant files to the King to have them signed. The messengers returned the signed files to the cabinet members, who then forwarded the files to the appropriate authorities. Often times the king did not need more than five hours for the business of government.

Religious Policy and Censorship


Another essential factor in Prussian domestic politics was the retention of the old administrative structure as well as the civil servants and officers of Frederick the Great. Most of them had been in office since 1763, and Friedrich had kept them in his service out of gratitude. In their younger days they had done a lot for Prussia and its then king. Many of them were now over 65, some even over 70 years old. This affected the state administration. The effects were even greater in the military field. The veterans of the Seven Years' War were unable to face the French people's armies decisively after 1789 because they ignored the new military concepts of the French.

Foreign policy

The Holy Roman Empire on the eve of the French Revolution 1789 (in purple spiritual territories, in red the imperial cities)

In the 18th century, the field of foreign policy was considered the highest statecraft and the "main business" of an absolutist prince. Accordingly, Friedrich Wilhelm II was best prepared in this political area. Officially, he alone decided about war and peace. In terms of alliance politics, Prussia found itself in a difficult situation when Frederick II died: the Russian-Austrian alliance of 1780, the unreliability of the Kingdom of Great Britain and the alliance between Austria and France in 1756 led to the isolation of Prussia in foreign policy. The aim of Friedrich Wilhelm II. To consolidate the great power of the kingdom achieved under Friedrich II was therefore strongly endangered from the start. Above all, Friedrich Wilhelm's War Minister Ewald Friedrich von Hertzberg asked the king not to wait for a change in the European alliance system, but to bring it about actively.

The transatlantic and European revolutions formed the background of Friedrich Wilhelm's foreign policy. In his world, which was essentially the world of the Ancien Régime , they initially appeared to Prussia only as a distant rumble of thunder. However, the consequences of the upheavals associated primarily with the French Revolution could not yet be foreseen at the time.

Prussian intervention in the Netherlands (1787)

Neutrality in the question of the inheritance holder

Encouraged by the declaration of independence of the United States of America , the opposition of the so-called patriots formed in the Dutch Republic . The patriots demanded, on the one hand, from the inheritance holder Wilhelm V , Friedrich Wilhelm II's brother-in-law, restrictions on his de facto monarchical privileges and, on the other hand, from the regent families, the urban ruling classes, more say in terms of a representative democracy. While Wilhelm V, as the grandson of George II, used money and troops for British interests, the patriotic movement, out of bitterness over the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War (1780 to 1784) , approached the French Kingdom , Great Britain's arch rival. The decision to retain the inheritance office threatened to spark civil war in the Netherlands. In 1786 Wilhelm V was deposed as Captain-General of Holland and inheritance holder.

Wilhelm V had already turned to King Friedrich II of Prussia, but the latter had only replied with recommendations and advice by letter, not with troops, as Wilhelm had hoped. Friedrich Wilhelm II, too, saw no advantage for Prussia in being drawn into a war between Great Britain and France. After all, France had only recently decided the American War of Independence. He was also aware that in the event of a Prussian intervention, Wilhelm V would severely punish his political opponents - which would not contribute to the long-term stabilization of the Netherlands. Wilhelm's bad reputation could also ruin the reputation of the Prussian army. The king's advisers - above all his uncle Heinrich von Prussia , Minister Karl Wilhelm von Finckenstein and Duke Karl August von Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach (1757–1828) - advised against a campaign. Only the war minister Ewald Friedrich von Hertzberg recommended military intervention to the monarch. Friedrich Wilhelm II. Received Wilhelm V in Berlin, but could not be changed by him. Instead, the Prussian monarch ordered his war minister to discuss with the French envoys how peace could be restored in the republic. In this way he could assert himself against his sister Wilhelmine for the stabilization in the republic. At the same time, he kept his back free for domestic political reforms with which he wanted to begin his reign.

Negotiations and preparation

The interests of the republic were to become of greater political importance for Friedrich Wilhelm II through a change of person. Before leaving for Berlin, the inheritance holder had transferred his official duties to his wife Wilhelmine von Prussia, the sister of the Prussian king. Whether Wilhelm V consciously took this into account is, however, controversial in research. What is certain, however, is that Wilhelmine's letters increased the pressure on Friedrich Wilhelm II. A second important setting that promoted a rethinking of Friedrich Wilhelm II was a message from Paris. To reorganize the state budget, the French King Louis XVI. Finally, in February 1787, it was decided to convene the so-called Notable Assembly. Because of the strong public pressure, the French government assumed that the nobility and clergy would forego their privilege of tax exemption - a misconception. The failure of the French tax reform also affected France's allies in the Netherlands, where the Patriots also got into financial difficulties.

Despite the obvious weakness of France, Frederick William II still held on to his role as a mediator. Hertzberg informed Wilhelmine in a letter that the Prussian king recommended that she renounce the rights of the inheritance authority. This compromise could then help to ensure that her office could continue. In order to achieve this goal, according to the strategy of Friedrich Wilhelm II, negotiations with each individual province of the republic would take place under joint French and Prussian mediation. However, in May 1787 the province of Holland refused to allow Franco-Prussian mediation.

Ultimately, Wilhelmine's carriage ride forced the king to intervene in the military. On June 26, 1787 Wilhelmine wanted to travel provocatively from Nijmegen to The Hague without an escort . After two thirds of the journey, the cars were noticed at a Dutch border crossing and stopped before the ferry across the River Leck . At Schonhoven , the inmates were asked not to turn back, but to wait by a patriot volunteer corps . Friedrich Wilhelm II described this "arrest", which was not really true, since the princess was only supposed to wait for the decision of the States General about her onward journey in order to be able to continue her journey. In truth, Wilhelmine was housed in the commandant's house and treated appropriately. Ultimately, the States General decided to return Wilhelmine to Nijmegen.

Due to the length of the journey of the express couriers, Friedrich Wilhelm II was probably informed of the process of Wilhelmine's arrest on June 30, 1787. This gave his government enough time to calculate the consequences of a change in foreign policy. For the first time, the military option was considered by Friedrich Wilhelm II and his government. Nevertheless, in the legal understanding of the time, armed intervention was regarded as the “ultima ratio” or “extreme means”. The king had to be able to justify a military intervention in terms of legal philosophy. He did this by portraying the prevented journey and arrest of his sister as a defamation of the entire Hohenzollern dynasty. The inviolability of the royal family had thus been called into question and could justify a campaign if the province of Holland should refuse compensation, which had yet to be formulated. As early as July 3, 1787, the king had troops concentrated in the Prussian Duchy of Kleve , which was directly adjacent to the Dutch province of Geldern in the east. But in order to prevent a war with France, Berlin first tested at the negotiating table how strong the alliance between Paris and The Hague actually was in the face of the military threat. Should France really lack the economic means to send troops to the Netherlands, the Prussian government could count on quick military success. Since the patriots of Friedrich Wilhelm II were not recognized as legitimate government, not even a declaration of war should have been pronounced.

Entry of Prussian troops into Amsterdam on October 10, 1787

After Wilhelmine had demanded the removal of French backers from the Netherlands, the disempowerment and disarmament of the patriots and the reinstatement of Wilhelm V as heir, Friedrich Wilhelm II demanded in an ultimatum addressed to the province of Holland that Wilhelmine's wishes be fulfilled by September 12th 1787. When Holland refused to give satisfaction, on September 13, 1787, Friedrich Wilhelm had a 20,000-strong Prussian army marched into the Netherlands under the Duke of Braunschweig . The king himself did not take part in the campaign, but in this context a translation of the ode "On the return of Augustus" appeared in the Berlin monthly magazine. This allusion was intended to express that Friedrich Wilhelm II alone deserved the glory of the military action, because like Augustus , who left the fighting in what is now Spain to his general Agrippa , the military expedition was carried out on his orders. The soldiers and officers are only the tools that carry out the will of the king. Although Louis XVI. to Friedrich Wilhelm II. that France was about to mobilize 100,000 soldiers, but this was recognized in Berlin as a bluff. The further the Prussian soldiers advanced, the more the French court withdrew support from the patriots. As a result, the resistance of the patriots largely collapsed.

Amsterdam capitulated on October 10, 1787 . Wilhelm V was reinstated as governor. The Prussian King glorified the restoration of peace in the Netherlands in Berlin with the building of the Brandenburg Gate . The Brandenburg Gate was based on the Propylaea of ​​Pericles (the gateway to the Acropolis in Athens). With this allusion to Pericles , the king presented himself as the founder of a golden age, which resulted from a clever policy of alliances, i.e. H. based on the Protestant alliance between Prussia, the Netherlands and Great Britain. The foreign policy reality of the next few years, however, differed significantly from this claim.

German dualism (1786–1790) and rapprochement (1790–1797)

The Minister of War: Ewald Friedrich Graf von Hertzberg

Foreign policy was initially led by Minister Ewald Friedrich Graf von Hertzberg (1725–1795), who had been taken over from the service of Friedrich II , and who was completely guided by the idea of ​​Prussian-Austrian rivalry (see German dualism ). With the outbreak of the Russo-Austrian Turkish War , it was feared that Austria would gain the upper hand over Prussia through large territorial gains in the Balkans. Therefore, Friedrich Wilhelm II supported uprisings in Belgium, Tyrol, Galicia, Lombardy and Hungary against the Habsburgs . Only the French Revolution paved the way for a rapprochement between Prussia and Austria. In the Treaty of Reichenbach of July 27, 1790, Friedrich Wilhelm II promised the Habsburg Leopold II his vote for the emperor election. In addition, the Prussian king stopped his support for the rebels. In return, Leopold II was ready to give up the territories won in the Russo-Austrian Turkish War and to stop the fighting. After the Treaty of Reichenbach , differences of opinion arose between the king and his minister. The king had Hertzberg replaced by Hans Rudolf von Bischoffwerder .

After the outbreak of the French Revolution and the failed escape of the royal family in June 1791, Emperor Leopold II , King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia and Prince Karl von Artois , the brother of the French King Louis XVI, met. , in August 1791 in Pillnitz Castle near Dresden. In the Pillnitz Declaration, they affirmed their solidarity with King Louis XVI. They agreed on the declaration "to put the King of France in a position to establish in complete freedom the basis of a form of government which corresponds to the rights of the sovereigns and the welfare of France".

However, Friedrich Wilhelm and Emperor Leopold II tied an intervention in France on the condition that Great Britain would take part in the campaign (which was almost impossible). With the Pillnitz Declaration, Friedrich Wilhelm II only wanted to put the French National Assembly under pressure, but in no way wanted to risk war.

First coalition war (1792–1795)

Valmy cannonade

However, the Pillnitzer Declaration strengthened radical and pro-war forces in France, which is why the French National Assembly declared war on Prussia on July 8, 1792 ( First Coalition War ).

On July 30, 1792, the Prussian king personally took part in a campaign in Champagne against revolutionary France. About 10 kilometers west of Sainte-Menehould in the Marne department , the Valmy cannonade took place on September 20 , an artillery duel between the Revolutionary Army and the troops of Friedrich Wilhelm. The skirmish brought the invaders to a standstill and thereby acquired historical significance. Weakened by disease, hunger and rain, the coalition army retreated ten days later without firing another shot. Although Prussia still achieved military successes in Alsace and on the Saar, the king's attention had already shifted to the east. Tsarina Katharina II. Offered Friedrich Wilhelm II. Territorial gains in Poland. In order to strengthen his negotiating position in Saint Petersburg, the Prussian king now concentrated his military forces mainly in Poland. On the other hand, he let the French front more and more neglect. In addition, the two-front war overwhelmed Prussia's economic strength. At the end of 1794, Prussia was even threatened with insolvency if it continued the First Coalition War. In the peace treaty of Basel on April 5, 1795, Friedrich Wilhelm II ended the war against France and secured neutrality and peace not only for Prussia, but also for all of northern Germany through a demarcation line .

Second and Third Partition of Poland (1793–1795)

Friedrich Wilhelm II tried to compensate for the loss of territory on the left bank of the Rhine to France by turning his attention to Poland. The Kingdom of Poland was also of interest to him because Austria and Russia threatened to become European superpowers through a possible division of the Ottoman Empire (see article on the Russian-Austrian Turkish War ). Prussia, geopolitically wedged between Austria and Russia, therefore initially concluded an alliance with Poland on March 29, 1790. The Prussian government promised Poland a share in the Principality of Moldova , which had recently been occupied by Russia. The Prussian government secretly hoped to get Danzig and western Poland in return. However, when the first modern European constitution was passed in Poland on May 3, 1791 and stipulated not to cede any territory to other states, Frederick William II declared the alliance with Poland to be invalid.

Now the king chose the option of an agreement with Russia, because Tsarina Catherine II had exploited the calls for help of the Polish aristocracy against the liberal constitution and offered them 100,000 soldiers for support. To a letter from the Polish king asking for military help, Friedrich Wilhelm II replied that Poland, with its revolutionary development, was itself to blame for the Russian invasion. Prussia would no longer be obliged to any loyalty to the alliance to the state newly created by the constitution.

On January 23, 1793 he concluded a partition treaty with Russia in which he acquired Danzig , Thorn and South Prussia , a total of 57,000 km² with around 1.1 million inhabitants. In 1794 there was the Polish national uprising under Tadeusz Kościuszko (1746-1817) in Krakow, which was suppressed by Russia with Prussian help. Friedrich Wilhelm II took part in the siege of Warsaw as commander in chief. In a further partition treaty on January 3, 1795 between Russia, Austria and Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm II was awarded Mazovia , Warsaw and New East Prussia . Since 1791, Ansbach and Bayreuth also belonged to the Prussian territory. This means that Prussia had grown by over a third during Friedrich Wilhelm's reign, while the population had grown from 5.4 to 8.7 million subjects.

End of reign and death

Friedrich Wilhelm II., Painting by Johann Christoph Frisch 1797, German Historical Museum
Preserved fragments of the sarcophagus of Friedrich Wilhelm II.

The situation of the two-front war in the years 1793 to 1795 had driven the Prussian state to the brink of bankruptcy. While Frederick II left his successor with a state treasure of 51 million thalers, the debts in the year of the king's death amounted to 48 million thalers. The extravagance accused of the king was rather small in relation to the war expenditure. The construction of the Marble Palace in Potsdam devoured a total of 448,745 thalers.

Through the exhausting stays at the front during the First Coalition War and the Third Partition of Poland , Friedrich Wilhelm weakened his already ailing body. He suffered from ascites , dysponesis and, since his forties, from gout .

In 1796 the king took a spa stay in Bad Pyrmont . Apparently healed, the king declared himself healthy again.

“Merciful God, what a sight! The king is weaker and emaciated than ever, his voice is so weak that it is difficult to understand him when he is speaking. In spite of this he went to the theater, but alas, he has no breath at all, his mouth is always open and is in a truly terrible condition. "

- Sophie von Voss : Diary entry on September 25, 1797

At the beginning of October, Friedrich Wilhelm II withdrew from court life in Berlin. He never left the Marble Palace in Potsdam. Only a few confidants like Countess Lichtenau , but also French nobles who had fled the French Revolution , gathered in front of the dying king. On November 9, 1797, Friedrich Wilhelm left the government to his son. Because of shortness of breath and inability to move, he was no longer able to do this himself. During a seizure, Friedrich Wilhelm II died on November 16, 1797, in the morning at 8:58 a.m., at the age of 53 in the "Boisiert writing cabinet" of the Marble Palace.

The deceased king was buried on December 11, 1797 with a simple procession. Eight major generals carried the coffin. After the sermon, the service was ended with gunfire. The funeral ceremony has been described in detail in the contemporary economic-technological encyclopedia . The court society wore mourning clothes for six weeks. At the court and also in the country, amusements such as theater and music events were forbidden. Additional services were held.

Friedrich Wilhelm was buried in a crypt in the old Berlin Cathedral. The Countess von Lichtenau, who had cared for the dying man, was no longer allowed to see the dead person and was placed under house arrest. Friedrich Wilhelm III. had his father's lover, whom he hated, exiled to Glogau and confiscated most of her property.

Dieter Brozat reports in Der Berliner Dom und die Hohenzollerngruft (1985) that the sarcophagus of Friedrich Wilhelm II. In the Hohenzollerngruft was exposed to severe destruction during the Second World War. During the reconstruction of the cathedral, parts of a skeleton were found which suggest that the body had been embalmed . Brozat assumes that these are the remains of Friedrich Wilhelm II.



Main article → Berlin under Friedrich Wilhelm II.

Selection of the most important structures

Literature and music

German literature and the German theater now also received special support from the king. The new king turned away from the French culture that Frederick II had built up in Prussia. In the National Theater on Gendarmenmarkt , for example, plays by Friedrich Schiller were performed. When it opened, Friedrich Wilhelm declared: “We are German and want to stay that way.” The Royal Opera played works by Johann Friedrich Reichardt and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart . In competition with Weimar and Vienna, Berlin developed into a cultural center of classical music. The king himself was a passionate cello player. When government business permitted, he would spend about 2 hours a day with the instrument. With 70 permanent musicians, the king's court orchestra was considered the largest in Europe.

Personality of Friedrich Wilhelm II.



Friedrich Wilhelm II had relationships with several mistresses . Among them turned Wilhelmine Encke a special exception: Normally tried families of the lesser nobility through selective positioning of their daughters as a lover of the reigning sovereign influence the court to win. Wilhelmine Encke, however, was neither of aristocratic blood nor eager to exert political influence. Thanks to Friedrich Wilhelm's support, it was built up specifically for his mistress and confidante over a period of 4 years. This happened in two ways; firstly through the teaching of classical educational content and secondly through the introduction to courtly manners. Above all, her intellectual abilities and intelligence set Wilhelmine apart from the multitude of short-lived, purely physical affairs of Friedrich Wilhelm. Friedrich Wilhelm was able to exchange ideas with her about architecture, art, culture and music. King Friedrich II, who monitored the relationship with the help of spies, soon realized that Wilhelmine was not obsessed with power. He believed he could control a steadfast lover of the Prince of Prussia rather than an unmanageable number of lovers who might interfere in the affairs of government after his death. For this reason he recognized Wilhelmine as his nephew's official mistress in 1777. For the sake of form, she married a valet named Johann Friedrich Ritz , but this did not change the relationship with the later Friedrich Wilhelm II. She was called "Madame Ritz" until she was later raised to the rank of count. She and the king had five children, but only their daughter Marianne (1780–1814) lived for a long time. After his accession to the throne, Friedrich Wilhelm transferred his Palais Görne to her in favor of Marianne . Wilhelmine Encke set up a private side courtyard in the palace, which was embellished by renovations by Carl Gotthard Langhans . She advised the king on artistic issues, bought works of art or commissioned them. In this way, she exercised a decisive influence on the design of the royal apartments, especially in the Marble Palace . Their political influence on the king, however, is controversial, but was rather small. Wilhelmine himself wrote about it in retrospect that Friedrich Wilhelm from the beginning, when dealing with the age of Louis XIV. "Took the opportunity to express his thoughts about and against the interference of women in political affairs". During Wilhelmine's training and trips he sponsored, he always made sure that no political ambitions could be aroused in it. However, that does not mean that he did not brief them in detail about political events. For example, he inaugurated them early on in his diplomatic trip to the Russian court of the tsars planned for 1780 or reported with disgust about looting in Bohemia, which, with the knowledge of Frederick II, happened during the War of the Bavarian Succession with Austria in 1778. The designation of a Prussian Madame de Pompadour is, however, greatly exaggerated. Wilhelmine was far from the political possibilities of the mistress of Louis XV. removed. Nevertheless, she was nicknamed a Prussian Madame de Pompadour. On April 28, 1796, Friedrich Wilhelm made her Countess of Lichtenau. On September 17, 1796, she was officially introduced as a countess at court.

When Friedrich Wilhelm took office, however, he was already more in love with another woman. In contrast to Encke, Madame Ritz, who later became Countess Lichtenau, Julie von Voss , who descended from aristocratic blood, had been court lady to the Prussian Queen Elisabeth Christine Ulrike , the first wife of Friedrich Wilhelm II. Friedrich Wilhelm showed interest in the young 18- year old woman. Their son, Alexander von der Mark von Wilhelmine and Friedrich Wilhelm, died in 1787, so that Friedrich Wilhelm was no longer so closely tied to Wilhelmine. Julie von Voss tried to keep Friedrich Wilhelm from visiting the later Countess Lichtenau and never missed an opportunity to let the rival feel the difference in class. The king resented such attempts because he wanted the two women to have a harmonious relationship. On May 26, 1787, the king was morganatically married to Julie von Voss. The accompanying case of bigamy could trust in the blessing of the church among the Protestant princes since Martin Luther . The Hessian Landgrave Philip I had already lived in a second marriage with the consent of the Wittenberg reformer. In November 1787 she was appointed Countess von Ingenheim by the king - a triumph that did not last long. On March 26, 1789, the Countess von Ingenheim died of pulmonary tuberculosis.

Right after the end of the year of mourning , Friedrich Wilhelm morganatically married his new lover Sophie Juliane von Dönhoff . However, they all played a subordinate role compared to Wilhelmine Encke, who later became Countess Lichtenau. If Julie von Voss was just one of several lovers, Countess Dönhoff tried to eliminate her rival Wilhelmine, at the same time developed political ambition and wanted to overthrow Bischoffwerder. The king grew tired of them, but Dönhoff did not let himself be shaken off. During the truce after the cannonade of Valmy, she demanded that the king break off negotiations and continue the campaign "by raving, crying and quarreling" in the king's camp . That she was doing this on behalf of the British diplomat Lord Henry Spencer became clear to Friedrich Wilhelm when Wilhelmine revealed to him how Spencer had tried to bribe her too. Unmasked, Dönhoff went into "voluntary exile" in Switzerland to the Prussian principality of Neuchâtel .

In January 1793 the king saw the 18-year-old Frankfurt banker's daughter Anna Sophie Elisabeth von Bethmann-Metzler at a ball in Frankfurt. She was the granddaughter of Johann Jakob Bethmann . From then on he recruited about 30 years younger than that until the end of 1795. During this time he offered her to morganatically marry her and raise her to the rank of Countess of Brandenburg , or else only because of her from his wife, the Hessian one Divorce princess, from whom he had been separated for years. His recruiting was unsuccessful, however, and Sophie von Bethmann-Metzler married Joachim von Schwarzkopf, the ambassador for Great Britain and Hanover in Frankfurt, who was eight years older than her, in 1796 .

Political counselor

The Minister of State : Johann Christoph von Woellner

One of the most important advisors in the domestic politics of Friedrich Wilhelm II was Johann Christoph Woellner . He got to know Friedrich Wilhelm II as Crown Prince. As a high member of the Rosicrucians , he contributed to the spiritualistic inclinations of Friedrich Wilhelm II. However, the king should by no means be seen as a willing "puppet" by Woellner. The king made his decisions mainly himself. Woellner's political influence was definitely shaped by enlightenment approaches. Woellner had studied at the University of Halle and had written about land reform in Prussia. He even demanded the abolition of serfdom , which Friedrich Wilhelm II refused to do.

In foreign policy, Hans Rudolf von Bischoffwerder was the king's most important advisor, even if he never held an official ministerial office. Bischoffwerder took part in the Seven Years' War (1756–1763) as a young officer , and in 1778 Frederick II appointed him adjutant to the Prince of Prussia. During this time, a close relationship of trust developed between the future king and Bischoffwerder.


Another tendency of Friedrich Wilhelm II that was quite typical of the time is worth mentioning, namely occultism . At the end of the 18th century, the circles of the bourgeoisie and the nobility, unsettled by the Enlightenment, were looking for mystical Christian experiences. Since the official church could not alleviate this uncertainty, one turned to religious communities , including the order of the Gold and Rosicrucians . During this time the Gold and Rosicrucians saw themselves chosen by God to free the souls of men from sin, lust and pride. Enthusiastic about these ideals, the deeply religious heir to the throne, Friedrich Wilhelm, joined the order in 1781. Two of the leading representatives of the order, Johann Christoph von Woellner and Johann Rudolf von Bischoffwerder , succeeded in convincing the Crown Prince of their teachings. By pointing out the alleged godlessness of his lifestyle to the prince, who had previously been so carefree in matters of sexuality, they had the obvious chance to oust their most important competitor, Wilhelmine von Lichtenau . In fact, Friedrich Wilhelm gave up his sex life with the future countess, but remained close friends with her. On his accession to the throne, Woellner and Bischoffwerder announced that the "Secret Superiors from the East" would appear in Berlin and give the Prussian king magical powers. When this did not happen, the disappointed monarch demanded that letters be written to the Secret Superiors immediately. In reality, however, the letters from Berlin reached the highest hierarchical level of the Rosicrucians. The superiors of the order in the Bavarian town of Pfreimd near Regensburg never developed political ambition themselves, but simply recommended what Woellner and Bischoffwerder suggested to them. In the spirit of Woellner, the “Secret Superiors” congratulated the king on Woellner's religious edict.

Bischoffwerder and Woellner staged spiritualistic sessions during which the king was played to talk to his deceased ancestors and get advice from them. At times Wilhelmine Encke also took part in this spook in order to consolidate her own position. The advice of his ancestors was of course always in accordance with the order, and soon after their pupil's accession to the throne, Woellner and Bischoffswerder rose to important state offices. In summary, however, it should be noted that Friedrich Wilhelm's spiritistic inclinations and favoritism should not be overestimated.


Historical evaluation

The historical assessment of the person of Friedrich Wilhelm II turns out to be ambivalent. It must be noted that his government falls at a time that was shaped by enormous social upheavals in Europe. In his position as a typical representative of the Ancien Regime, Friedrich Wilhelm encountered the new currents of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution . As an absolutist, he was in no way equal to these challenges, which went hand in hand with a crisis of legitimation for the traditional monarchy . For fear of exporting the revolution, Friedrich Wilhelm did not react with urgently needed political and social reforms, such as were only implemented after the defeat by Napoleon (see Prussian reforms ). On the other hand, the beginnings of a constitutional structure can already be recognized in the general land law for the Prussian states , which was largely developed under Friedrich II, but was put into effect by Friedrich Wilhelm II in 1794 and until 1900 Was valid. In addition, with the religious edict of July 9, 1788 , Friedrich Wilhelm assured his subjects religious freedom. From the Prussian point of view, his territorial gains from the Second and Third Partition of Poland were also positive .

The one-sided negative evaluation of Friedrich Wilhelm II goes back in part to his uncle Friedrich II. The latter aimed to publicly humiliate his heir to the throne. He expressed his regret to the imperial diplomat that his other nephew, Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand von Braunschweig , could not succeed him to the throne. The German art historian Alfred Hagemann interprets this behavior in such a way that Friedrich wanted to exaggerate his own image in history by deliberately dismantling his own successor.

In the 19th century, the image of Friedrich Wilhelm II was mostly overdrawn as a cliché and was determined by the mistress and favoritism that ruled under him. Mistresses were present at almost all European courts in the 18th century. At the time of Friedrich Wilhelm II, this was accepted at the court, since official marriages served political purposes and were therefore usually not love relationships. The rise of the bourgeoisie and the spread of its values, however, challenged these court morals at the end of the 18th century. Johann Gottfried Schadow complained that "the greatest slovenliness" prevailed:

“Everything got drunk in champagne, ate the greatest delicacies, indulged in all pleasures. All of Potsdam was a brothel ; all the families there were only looking to have something to do with the king, with the court, women and daughters were offered for competition, the greatest aristocrats were the most zealous. "

This also includes his spiritualistic inclinations, a further phenomenon overall which, on closer inspection, is to be regarded as quite typical of the time and comparatively harmless. In the eleven years of his reign, Friedrich Wilhelm II could not escape the long shadow of his predecessor. Even during his lifetime he was often called Der dicke Lüderjahn  ( good-for-nothing ) among the people  .


Friedrich Wilhelm
(Elector of Brandenburg and Duke in Prussia)
Ernst August
(Elector of Hanover)
(Electress of Hanover)
Georg Wilhelm
(Prince of Lüneburg)
Eleonore d'Olbreuse
August II.
(Prince of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel)
Sophie Elisabeth
(Mediat-Landgraviate Hessen-Eschwege)
Eleonore Katharine
Anton Ulrich
(Prince of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel)
⚭ Elisabeth Juliane
Albrecht Ernst I.
⚭ Christine Friederike
Friedrich I.
(King in Prussia)
Sophie Charlotte
George I
(King of Great Britain)
Sophie Dorothea
Ferdinand Albrecht I
(Duke of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel-Bevern)
Ludwig Rudolf
(Duke of Braunschweig-Lüneburg)
Christine Luise
Friedrich Wilhelm I
(King in Prussia)
Sophie Dorothea
Ferdinand Albrecht II
(Duke of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel)
Antoinette Amalie
Friedrich II
(King of Prussia)
August Wilhelm
(Prince of Prussia)
Luise Amalie
(Princess of Prussia)
Friedrich Wilhelm II
(King of Prussia)
(Prussian officer)
(inheritance holder of the Netherlands)

Marriages and offspring

First marriage 1765–1769 with Princess Elisabeth Christine Ulrike von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel . The marriage was divorced in 1769. A daughter emerged from the marriage:

Second marriage in 1769 to Princess Friederike Luise of Hessen-Darmstadt . He had the following children with her:

⚭ 1793 Princess Luise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
⚭ 1825 Countess Auguste von Harrach , later Princess of Liegnitz

In addition, he maintained, among many others, an extramarital relationship with Wilhelmine von Lichtenau , which gave him a.o. his favorite son, Count Alexander von der Mark (1779–1787), also gave:

On April 7, 1787, the king entered into a morganatic marriage with Julie von Voss (1766–1789). On November 12, 1787 he made her Countess von Ingenheim. The two had the son Gustav Adolf von Ingenheim (1789–1855).

On April 11, 1790, Friedrich Wilhelm morganatically married Countess Sophie von Dönhoff (1768–1838). This marriage resulted in a son, Friedrich Wilhelm von Brandenburg (1792–1850), and a daughter, Countess Julie von Brandenburg (1793–1848), who became Duchess through her marriage to Ferdinand von Anhalt-Köthen .

Women at the side of the king



Web links

Commons : Friedrich Wilhelm II. (Prussia)  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Commons : Friedrich Wilhelm II. (Prussia)  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

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  89. a b Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia ( (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on January 30, 2010 ; Retrieved May 14, 2010 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  90. a b Linda Brüggemann: Rule and Death in the Early Modern Age , p. 327.
  91. ^ Brigitte Meier: Friedrich Wilhelm II. King of Prussia. A life between rococo and revolution. Pustet, Regensburg 2007, p. 82.
  92. Werner Hegemann: The stone Berlin. 1930 - History of the largest tenement city in the world. reprint, Ullstein, Berlin 1963, p. 154.
  93. ^ Alfred Hagemann : Wilhelmine von Lichtenau (1753-1820). From the mistress to the patroness , Cologne 2007, ISBN 978-3-412-24006-6 , p. 25.
  94. Uta Lehnert: The Kaiser and the Siegesallee. Réclame Royale . Dietrich Reimer Verlag, Berlin 1998, ISBN 3-496-01189-0 , p. 208.
  95. Dagmar Langenhan: Review in H-Soz-Kult , October 21, 2008.
predecessor government office successor
Frederick II Elector of Brandenburg
Friedrich Wilhelm III.
Frederick II King of Prussia
Friedrich Wilhelm III.