Frederick the Great (1712-1786) | Biography & profile

Frederick II. – “Frederick the Great”, “Old Fritz” (1712-1786)

Friedrich II - als Friedrich der Große
Frederick II. – as Frederick the Great

born on January 24, 1712 in Berlin

died on August 17, 1786 in Potsdam

Frederick II. Or Frederick the Great, popularly known as “Old Fritz”, was King in 1740 and King of Prussia from 1772 and Elector of Brandenburg from 1740. He came from the Hohenzollern dynasty.

Short biography

Frederick was born on January 24, 1712 in the Berlin City Palace. He is the son of King Friedrich Wilhelm I and Sophie Dorothea of ??Hanover. Both had a total of seven sons and seven daughters. Friedrich is the oldest surviving son and his older sister Wilhelmine is the oldest surviving daughter.

Friedrich’s childhood was tough. He received a strict, authoritarian and religious upbringing from his father. The mediating “Prussian virtues” shaped him all his life and made him a brilliant general. Frederick II also went down in history as Frederick the Great. He called himself “First Servant of the State”.

In contrast to his father – the “soldier king”, Frederick II. often waged war. His father was more concerned with building up a powerful army than waging war. Friedrich, on the other hand, waged war with Austria in the War of the Austrian Succession until 1748, triggered the Seven Years War, and fought for a long time against an alliance of Austria, Saxony, France, Sweden and Russia. This often led him and Prussia to the brink of defeat and the collapse of Prussia. However, with his elaborate battle plans, he won important battles and so and a little luck later led Prussia to the status of a great power.

However, Frederick interests were not fundamentally in warfare; he was actually more interested in playing the flute and French novels than in soldiers. However, his years as a general also shaped him.

Frederick is considered a representative of enlightened absolutism. He was also tolerant and open towards immigrants and religious minorities such as Huguenots and Catholics. He lived and let live his philosophy “Everyone should be saved according to his own style”.

He also implemented far-reaching social reforms. Among other things, he abolished torture and promoted the expansion of the education system.

Frederick died in his chair in Sanssouci Palace on August 17, 1786 and, against his wishes, was buried in the Potsdam Garrison Church by his nephew and successor Friedrich Wilhelm II. It was not until August 17, 1991 that the last will of the king was fulfilled and his coffin was transferred to Potsdam to be buried on the terrace of Sanssouci in the still-existing crypt.