1648-1701 1740-1763

The Hohenzollern State (Prussia), 1701-1740

Administration . Foreign Policy . Domestic Policy . The Economy . Demography . Cultural History

Administration . Friedrich III. (1688-1713, since 1701 King in Prussia), succeeded by Friedrich Wilhelm I. (1713-1740).

Foreign Policy . In 1701 the War of Spanish Succession (-1714) broke out, and Brandenburg, because of her army, again was a designed ally. For Brandenburg to join the allies against France, the Emperor elevated the Duchy in Prussia to the Kingdom in Prussia. He also recognized Prussia's claims to the inheritance of the Counties of Moers (1702) and Neuchatel (1707); in case of Lingen (1702) and Tecklenburg (1707), Brandenburg bought out competitive claims.
As the title of King outranked the other titles, the name of Prussia came to be used for the complex of territories ruled by Friedrich I. and his successors. In 1713, as part of the peace treaty, Prussia acquired Obergeldern (hitherto Spanish).
In 1713, Friedrich I. (Frederick I.) died; he was succeeded by his son Friedrich Wilhelm I., nickname the soldier king. Like his grandfather, the Great Elector, he was thrifty and focussed state spending on the military. During his rule the army was expanded from 38,000 men to 83,000 men. Yet the years of his rule were comparatively peaceful, interrupted only by the Great Northern War, which Prussia entered in 1715, and in which Hither Pomerania to the south of the Peene River was acquired (and with it, control of the port of Stettin), and by the War of Polish Succession 1733-1735, in which Prussian forces participated, on the side of the Emperor. For the latter, the service provided by Russian troops (in Poland) was more essential.

Domestic Policy . King Friedrich I. (1688-1713, king since 1701) founded the Order of the Black Eagle; he had the palace in Berlin remodelled, a new palace built outside of the city (Charlottenburg).
King Friedrich (Frederick) I. died in 1713; he was succeeded by Friedrich Wilhelm I. (1713-1740), nicknamed Soldatenkönig (soldier king). Like his grandfather, he focussed state policy, state spending, on the army. He was particularly fond of the Lange Kerls, a regiment of exceptionally tall soldiers. In order to recruit soldiers, trickery, deceit, pressure and violence were used, occasionally even abduction. Rigorous discipline was inforced, deserters treated barbarically. Friedrich Wilhelm treated his own son, the future Friedrich (Frederick) the Great, with a similar harshness; when young Friedrich, with a close friend, attempted to flee the country, the soldier king had the friend executed and had young Friedrich look on.
The policy of attracting immigrants, to whom religious toleration was granted, was continued; most notably, Mennonites and Salzburg Exulants (Lutherans; c. 18,000) came into the country; they settled in East Prussia. In addition to refugees of conscience, the Prussian administration attempted to attract immigrants with economic incentives (a number of years free of taxation, freedom from military service for generations to come, land grants).
Friedrich Wilhelm promoted elementary education as well as attempts to reform education. At his court he introduced Spartan lifestyle; he expected state officials to accept strict discipline, the one he was accustomed to in the army. State administration was reorganized, a Chamber of Audition created (1714). A policy of Bauernschutz (protection of the peasants) was begun (1709), with the intention to end excessive corvee labour demands by the nobility, in order to permit the peasants to be more productive. Friedrich Wilhelm expected to be kept informed about what went on in the districts of his realm; the noblemen, who used to rule in their respective districts, were turned into a service nobility, reporting to the king and executing his orders. King Friedrich Wilhelm has been credited with shaping the virtues of a Prussian state official and officer - punctuality, thriftyness, precision, devotion to duty (Schoeps p.52f). Pay was low, duty hours long (12 hours a day), demands of them high; in return, the Prussian state provided their officers and state servants with an outcome for their entire life.
In 1714, Friedrich Wilhelm banned witch trials; in 1728 Dorothea Steffin (Berlin) accused herself of having mated with the devil; she was declared mentally instable and sent to an asylum.
In 1716 the Kadettenanstalt was established in Berlin, a military academy for Prussia's nobility. Here the young nobles were inspired with the Prussian officers' esprit de corps.
In 1740, Prussia's army was the fourth strongest, by numbers, in Europe (83,000 men).

The Economy . During the War of Spanish Succession (1701-1713), Prussia suffered economically. Most devastating was the famine which struck the Duchy in Prussia 1709-1712.
King Friedrich I. (1688-1713, king since 1701) had the palace in Berlin remodelled, a new palace built outside of the city (Charlottenburg). His coronation as King in Prussia in Königsberg was costly, as was the court he held in Berlin. When Friedrich III. died in 1713, he left behind state debt.
His successor, Friedrich Wilhelm, was thrifty to such an extent that he was called avaricious, and a Barbarian (for discointinuing to provide for lavish artistic entertainment at court). Prussia continued the policy of inviting refugees of conscience; in addition, Prussia pursued a policy of actively promoting immigration of skilled persons, by offering incentives (a number of years free of taxation, freedom from military service for generations to come, land grants). At the universities of Halle and Frankfurt/Oder, Cameral Sciences (Mercantilist Economics) were tought.
A Chamber of Audition created (1714). A policy of Bauernschutz (protection of the peasants) was begun, with the intention to end excessive corvee labour demands by the nobility, in order to permit the peasants to be more productive.
The Brandenburg African Company had suffered from frequent warfare, and the successors of the Great Elector had not supported it in the way he did. In 1720 the possessions of the Company, mainly on the Gold Coast (Gross-Friedrichsburg) were sold to the Dutch.
In 1739, the Berlin bourse (stock exchange) was founded.
In 1740, Prussia had a state treasury filled with 10 million Talers. Under Friedrich Wilhelm, 2/3 of state expenses were spent for the army (83,000 men in 1740).

Demography . A severe famine in the Duchy in Prussia 1709-1712 killed an estimated 250,000 (41 % of the population). In 1732 Prussia accepted c.18,000 Salzburg refugees, who were settled in the Duchy of Prussia. The population of all Prussia in 1740 was 2.5 million. In 1719 a first census was held in Berlin - population 64,000, 20 % of whom were Huguenots.

Cultural History . King Friedrich I. (1688-1713, king since 1701) had the palace in Berlin remodelled, a new palace built outside of the city (Charlottenburg). The buildings designed and constructed by Andreas Schlüter and Johann Friedrich Eosander are referred to as Prussian Baroque. His coronation as King in Prussia in Königsberg was lavish, ceremonies were held over a period of six months.
King Friedrich Wilhelm I. (1713-1740), while cutting the expenses of his court to the bare minimum and acquiring the reputation of a Barbarian, did have Potsdam remodelled after cities in Holland. During his administration, Germany's most famous hospital, the Charite in Berlin, was founded (1727). Under Friedrich Wilhelm, 2000 new elementary schools were established; the soldier king promoted the educational institutions founded by Pietist August Herrmann Francke in Halle and the Kadettenanstalt (school for cadets, formerly Knights' Academy in Kolberg, moved to Berlin 1716), was based on Francke's principles.
Brandenburg-Prussia's Lutheran church rejected Pietism, a movement which attempted to turn the individual into a better christian, and which emphasized education. In Francke's orphanages, schools and teachers' seminars, children were treated as equals, notwithstanding the occupation or title of their parents. The Hohenzollern Dynasty (Calvinists since 1613) promoted Pietism; among the refugees accepted by Prussia were some of the leading pietists, Francke (expelled from Leipzig, Saxony) and Philipp Jakob Spener, who moved to Berlin in 1691.
The Pietist ideal changed education in Prussia; students were instilled with a sense of duty - both as christians and as subjects of the Prussian state; the individual was challenged, promoted to excel (Early Enlightenment). Here the foundations were laid for the reform of the traditional institutions of education implemented under Frederick the Great a generation later.
On the other hand, the atmosphere of thriftyness and expectation of hard work prevalent in Prussia alienated others. Johann Joachim Winckelmann left Prussia for that reason, becoming a famous historian and archaeologist in exile.

Articles Frederick I. of Prussia, Frederick William I. of Prussia, History of Berlin : Kingdom of Prussia, Charlottenburg Palace, Johann Joachim Winckelmann, Philipp Jakob Spener, August Hermann Francke, Huguenots : Asylum in Germany and Scandinavia, Andreas Schlüter, Salzburg : Expulsion of the Protestants, Order of the Black Eagle, from Wikipedia
Articles Johann Joachim Winckelmann, Pietism, from Catholic Encyclopedia
Articles Johann Friedrich Eosander von Göthe, from Wikipedia (in German)
Articles Philip Jakob Spener, August Hermann Francke, from BBKL, in German
August Herrmann Francke, from Universität Halle, in German
Geschichte Berlins (History of Berlin), from Chronik Berlin, in German; click 18. Jahrhundert (18th Century)
Schloss und Garten Charlottenburg, from Preussen.de, in German
H.J. Kertscher, Die Franckeschen Stiftungen und ihre Druckereien, posted by Les Belles Lettres, in German
Aus der Kolberger Geschichte (On the History of Kolberg), from Reisevermittlung Ellerbrock, in German
The Expulsion of the Salzburg Exiles 1731-1732, from www.pfaenders.com
DOCUMENTS Rulers of Prussia, from World Statesmen by Ben Cahoon
Images from Bilddatenbank, Weltchronik.de : Recruitment of Soldiers, 18th Century, Friedrich Wilhelm I. (1) Friedrich Wilhelm I. (2)
Count von Senckendorf, On Frederick William I. from the Modern History Sourcebook
Isaac Isaacsohn, History of the Prussian Civil Service
Letters of Prince Frederick and Frederick William I., 1728, from Modern History Sourcebook
Article Charlottenburg, Francke. A.H., Spener, P.J., Brandenburg, Marggrafschaft, from Zedlers Universallexikon (1732 ff)
Zedlers Universallexikon, index, posted by Bayerische Staatsbibliothek; in German, 18th century font
Letters from Voltaire addressed to Frederick the Great, Oct. 1737 and Jan. 1753
Edikt vom 14. Dezember 1723 : Erinnerung an das Verbot fremder Kalender, posted by ARI
Further such Prussian Edicts, from ARI : 1702, 1712, 1754, 1772, 1765, 1774, 1796, 1800, in German
Preussische Rechtsquellen Digital (18th century), posted by Staatsbibliothek Berlin, in German; voluminous
REFERENCE Hans-Joachim Schoeps, Preussen, Geschichte eines Staates, Berlin : Propyläen 1966, in German [G]
Ingo Materna et al., Geschichte in Daten : Berlin (History in Dates : Berlin); (1997) Wiesbaden : Fourier 2003; in German [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on May 1st 2004, last revised on October 29th 2007

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