The son of the elector Frederick III, later Frederick I, king of Prussia, Frederick William grew up at a glamorous court, but his own temperament was ascetic, and he disapproved of the court’s dissolute atmosphere.

Frederick inherited an army that was not only large, it had also been shaped into the premier fighting force in Europe at the time by his military-minded father. Frederick assumed the throne in 1740 after the death of his father.

Around the time Frederick got to his 20’s, Frederick William almost beat his son every day publicly and privately. In 1717 a yearly tax replaced the aristocracy’s feudal war service. What are the leaders of the American Revolution called? It was often said that instead of Prussia being a country with an army, it was an army with a country; by the end of his reign Prussian society was largely dedicated to staffing, supplying, and training the army. He would order them to walk in front of his window every day and joyfully watch them. From Hannibal to George Washington, scan the lineup of war personalities in this quiz.

Thus, Frederick William left his heir an efficient, centralized state with sound finances and an excellent army.

For his unique obsession with army and soldiers, Frederick William became known as the Soldier King even though he hadn’t fought many battles in his life. Their institutions were reformed, based on this Prussian model. Hohenzollerns became kings, dukes, and emperors in the region from the establishment of the dynasty in the 11th century until the overthrow of the German aristocracy in the wake of World War I in 1918.

It was an absolute torture for the young Crown Prince. As a man with a deep affection for anything military related, this campaign was a journey of joy for him. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. It was a political marriage that Frederick resented; at one point he threatened to commit suicide before relenting and going through with the marriage as ordered by his father. He centralized the government by subordinating the civil administration to his own command.

Elector von Brandenburg; As Friedrich II. Biography of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia. Reforms of Frederick William established the Prussian army as one of the most efficient and decent armies in Europe. His father, Frederick I of Prussia, was an extravagant man who often drained the state’s treasury in order to display wealthiness and luxury.

Our latest podcast episode features popular TED speaker Mara Mintzer. He acquired Swedish Pomerania by the Treaties of Stockholm (1719–20), but his lifelong ambition, the incorporation of the duchies of Jülich and Berg on the lower Rhine, remained unfulfilled. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. This planted a seed of anti-Austrian sentiment in Frederick; he believed that Austria, long Prussia’s rival for influence in the crumbling Holy Roman Empire, was meddlesome and dangerous.

Leopold I, prince of Anhalt-Dessau, who commanded the Prussian contingent in that war, became his lifelong friend and principal adviser in military matters. On 31 May 1740, he died in great pain at the age of 51 in Potsdam. Frederick William’s foreign policy proved to be much less effective than his domestic programs. Frederick’s father, King Frederick William I, was an enthusiastic soldier-king who worked to build up Prussia’s army, ensuring that when Frederick assumed the throne he would have an outsize military force. Frederick’s father, King Frederick William I, was an enthusiastic soldier-king who worked to build up Prussia’s army, ensuring that when Frederick assumed the throne he would have an outsize military force. Omissions? Although Prussia had been an influential and important part of the Holy Roman Empire for centuries, under Frederick’s rule the small kingdom rose to the status of a Great European Power and had a lasting effect on European politics in general and Germany specifically. Against considerable opposition, he levied additional taxes in Prussia and Lithuania. This article was most recently revised and updated by, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Frederick-William-I.

The condition of the army was miserable, and there were no resources left by his father for him to fix the situation. Frederick William, on the other hand, was nothing like his father in financial matters.

Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... Did Alexander the Great conquer Iran? Although officially pious and supportive of religion (and tolerant, allowing a Catholic church to be built in officially protestant Berlin in the 1740s), Frederick was privately dismissive of all religions, referring to Christianity in general as an “odd metaphysical fiction.”, He was also almost shockingly racist, especially towards the Poles, who he regarded as almost subhuman and undeserving of respect, referring to them privately as “trash,” “vile,” and “dirty.”. Prussian History © 2020.

Frederick William I, German Friedrich Wilhelm I, (born August 14, 1688, Berlin—died May 31, 1740, Potsdam, Prussia), second Prussian king, who transformed his country from a second-rate power into the efficient and prosperous state that his son and successor, Frederick II the Great, made a major military power on the Continent.

He gave instructions to the servants to wake his son Frederick up at a very early hour and make his prayers to god on Sunday mornings. When their plot was discovered, King Frederick William threatened to charge Frederick with treason and strip him of his status as Crown Prince, and then had Katte executed in front of his son. In order to not repeat his father’s mistakes, he got rid of many of the servants in the Palace. Over the next thirty-two years, Frederick would use the military prowess of the Prussian Army and his own strategic and political genius to reclaim the entirely of Prussia, finally declaring himself King of Prussia in 1772 after decades of warfare.

Frederick William himself was named after his grandfather, Frederick William the Great Elector of Brandenburg, who had died three months before his birth.

The canton system of recruitment and replacement, introduced in 1733, provided one-half the manpower of Frederick William’s army from the Prussian peasantry.

Frederick William also had a strange obsession with unusually large soldiers. The latter function he upgraded to royalty, becoming the first King in Prussia (1701–1713). Prince Leopold I of Anhalt-Dessau, a brutal, if efficient, drillmaster, provided the instrument wielded by these officers—the Prussian infantry, which could outmarch and outshoot all others. Convinced that an efficient state could not afford illiterate subjects, Frederick William instituted compulsory primary education in 1717. Frederick William I of Prussia was the second Prussian king and ruled from 1713 until his death in 1740. His reign saw the opening of about two thousand elementary school all across Prussia.



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