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A biography of frederick the great 3rd prussian king

King of Prussia, by Timothy C. Blanning, is a biography of one of the most celebrated enlightenment despots of the 18th century. Frederick is a legendary figure for many reasons.

He reinvigorated the Prussian state, taking it to new heights of power and guaranteeing it as a major power in European politics. He styled himself "King of Prussia" and broke many of the symbolic ties Prussia had with the Holy Roman Empire and thus, his enemies, Austria while also binding many Frederick the Great: He styled himself "King of Prussia" and broke many of the symbolic ties Prussia had with the Holy Roman Empire and thus, his enemies, Austria while also binding many of the Imperial states closer to his own control.

He gained massive amounts of territory in Western Germany, Silesia, and Poland. He fought and allied almost world power in Europe at this time, allying and fighting with the Russians, French and Austrians on numerous occasions.

His triumphs were not only political. He revamped the military, reinvigorated the state apparatus albeit, under his own personal dominance and promoted religious freedoms and the flourishing of art, culture and briefly freedom of the press. Frederick the man was an interesting case study. He had a brutal and dictatorial father who punished his love of culture and art and tried to impose intensive martial prowess on his son. Frederick was also privately homosexual as much documentation would go a long way to show.

He had personal romances and correspondence with many European enlightenment figures, at times professional, personal or sexual, including Voltaire and Roseau, to name a couple.

  • A small number of favoured industrialists, notably David Splitgerber and Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky in the 1750s, benefited by these policies, but for Prussia as a whole they were largely a misuse of resources;
  • Problems of autocracy The insistence that any effective monarchical rule must be intensely personal had obvious potential dangers;
  • He was a prolific writer on contemporary history and politics; his Histoire de mon temps 1746 is still a source of some value for the period it covers;
  • Although influenced by liberal, constitutional , and middle-class ideas, he retained a strong sense of the Hohenzollern royal and imperial dignity;
  • Catherine was staunchly opposed to Prussia , while Frederick disapproved of Russia , whose troops had been allowed to freely cross the Polish - Lithuanian Commonwealth during the Seven Years' War;
  • Frederick used that to create improvements, to build the military, and so on.

He regularly wrote poetry, history and prose and was immensely fascinated by classic works of fiction and history. Frederick the Great was an inspiration to Napoleon Bonaparte, who once remarked to his soldiers in Berlin, who were visiting Fredericks Mausoleum, "If this man was still alive, we would not be standing here today. Blanning does a wonderful job chronicling the life and times of Frederick the Great, and focuses particularly on his military prowess and his attitudes toward various political, social and cultural institutions.

The Press, literature, Prussian culture and Frederick's family life are all detailed. The book is not a glowing revisionist biography either, a biography of frederick the great 3rd prussian king offers a fair and poignant look at Frederick's many triumphs and mistakes, as well as his bitter and sarcastic personality he threatened to kill himself many times throughout his life, and would publically poke fun at other European statesman.

His dislike of women transcended the bedroom, as his colourful appraisals of Catherine the Great of Russia, or Maria Theresa of Austria suggest. His autocratic style of rule worked in many ways due to his intensive attention to detail and his fascination with statecraft and military theory did him credit in his many wars.

Blanning details the military accounts of the First and Second Silesian War, as well as the Seven Years War and the brief Imperial Succession crisis which saw Austria try and annex Bavaria in exchange for granting Belgium independence. Frederick was successful in various ways in all of these endeavors, however not without difficulty. Detailed maps of battles and acquisitions are also present throughout the book. All in all, Frederick the Great: King of Prussia, is an excellent account of the man, and the state he helped to create.

It is thorough, detailed, and enjoyable to read. My only complaint would pertain to the books innovative layout, which breaks up the wars and diplomatic maneuvers, and intersperses cultural and personal aspects of Frederick.

Frederick the Great: Childhood and Education

I would have preferred either chronological ordering, or ordering by subject. This work does a solid job of locating him in a particular context--cultural and familial. His father was a martinet and treated Frederick pretty harshly as he was growing up. Frederick was not the idealized warrior and was somewhat skeptical of religion.

His father was not pleased with either. When his father dies, Frederick ascended the throne. His world view was firmly rooted in the Enlightenment.

Frederick the Great: King of Prussia

Voltaire w This is a fine biography of an important historical figure. Voltaire was someone with whom he corresponded. In his own way, he tried to apply these principles to ruling not always successfully. His father left a great deal of money in Prussia's treasury. Frederick used that to create improvements, to build the military, and so on.

The funding was drawn down over time.

  • Wilhelmine recorded that the two "soon became inseparable;
  • He saw himself as the people's watchman, with responsibilities towards them but he was no great supporter of democracy, suggesting that republics ended up with despotic governance;
  • For all his social and intellectual conservatism he never ceased to feel himself in sympathy with the enlightened intellectual currents and political strivings of the age and with their tolerant and humanitarian aspects;
  • In September 1755 Britain signed an agreement with Russia by which Russia, in return for British subsidies, was to provide a large military force in its Baltic provinces to protect, if necessary, the electorate of Hanover, ruled by George II, against possible French or Prussian attack;
  • His dislike of women transcended the bedroom, as his colourful appraisals of Catherine the Great of Russia, or Maria Theresa of Austria suggest;
  • He regularly wrote poetry, history and prose and was immensely fascinated by classic works of fiction and history.

Frederick was also involved in empire building. He ended up in conflict with Austria over many years. His role as a fighting king was mixed, according to the author. The image of Frederick the Great was as a great leader and warrior. Yet his actual performance was uneven, with his impulsive decision making sometimes leading to precarious military situations. There is also the question of his personal life. Considerable time is spent on examining his sexuality.

I wonder if there is not too much time expended on this, but the discussion is important in the context of Frederick's life and his times. In the end, this is a fine biography and well worth reading.