Portrait of Frederick II (1712-1786), King in Prussia Elector of Brandenburg and Prince of Neuchâtel (1740-1786), 1785
Frederick II (German: Friedrich II. oder Friedrich der Große; 24 January 1712 – 17 August 1786) was King of Prussia from 1740 until 1786. His most significant accomplishments during his reign included his military victories, his reorganization of Prussian armies, his patronage of the arts and the Enlightenment in Prussia, and his final success against great odds in the Seven Years' War. Frederick was the last Hohenzollern monarch titled King in Prussia and declared himself King of Prussia after achieving full sovereignty for all historical Prussian lands. Prussia had greatly increased its territories and became a leading military power in Europe under his rule. He became known as Frederick the Great (Friedrich der Große) and was affectionately nicknamed Der Alte Fritz ("Old Fritz") by the Prussian and later by all German people. In his youth, Frederick was more interested in music and philosophy than the art of war. Nonetheless, upon ascending to the Prussian throne, he attacked Austria and claimed Silesia during the Silesian Wars, winning military acclaim for himself and Prussia. Toward the end of his reign, Frederick physically connected most of his realm by acquiring Polish territories in the First Partition of Poland. He was an influential military theorist whose analysis emerged from his extensive personal battlefield experience and covered issues of strategy, tactics, mobility and logistics. Considering himself: "the first servant of the state," Frederick was a proponent of enlightened absolutism. He modernized the Prussian bureaucracy and civil service and pursued religious policies throughout his realm that ranged from tolerance to segregation. He reformed the judicial system and made it possible for men not of noble stock to become judges and senior bureaucrats. Frederick also encouraged immigrants of various nationalities and faiths to come to Prussia. Some critics, however, point out his oppressive measures against conquered Polish subjects during the First Partition. Frederick supported arts and philosophers he favored, as well as allowing complete freedom of the press and literature. Frederick is buried at his favorite residence, Sanssouci in Potsdam. Because he died childless, Frederick was succeeded by his nephew, Frederick William II, son of his brother, Augustus William. Frederick, the son of Frederick William I and his wife, Sophia Dorothea of Hanover, was born in Berlin on 24 January 1712. He was baptised with only one name, Friedrich, and was not given any other names. The birth of Frederick was welcomed by his grandfather, Frederick I, with more than usual pleasure, as his two previous grandsons had both died in infancy. With the death of his father in 1713, Frederick William I became King in Prussia, thus making young Frederick the crown prince. The new king wished for his sons and daughters to be educated not as royalty, but as simple folk. Frederick William I, popularly dubbed as the Soldier-King, had created a large and powerful army led by his famous "Potsdam Giants", carefully managed his treasury finances and developed a strong, centralized government. However, he also possessed a violent temper (in part due to porphyritic illness) and ruled Brandenburg-Prussia with absolute authority. As Frederick grew, his preference for music, literature and French culture clashed with his father's militarism, resulting in Frederick William frequently beating and humiliating him. In contrast, Frederick's mother Sophia was polite, charismatic and learned. Her father, George Louis of Brunswick-Lüneburg, succeeded to the British throne as King George I in 1714.
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