Useful Notes: Frederick The Great
Ihr verfluchten Racker, wollt ihr denn ewig leben? note
I am a mirror; reflect personas of those around me.
A creature who lies, who doesn't dare to be what nature designed.
But with this new position, a seat upon the Prussian throne.
I'll lead my men through fields where Austria's fate is sown.
Friedrich (or ''Frédéric''
, as he preferred to be known
) II, or, as he has come to be known in English, Frederick the Great
, was the king
in the mid-eighteenth century
. Something of a dark horse in the realm of dynastic politics
, in his youth he was fond of French culture, to a degree that his boorish and possibly insane father, Frederick William I, thought him effeminate. However, he would grow into a notable figure in German martial history, and as such, became an iconic figure of success in the Prussian-dominated German Reich. His reputation is perhaps unfairly stained by imperialists such as Treitschke
or (far worse) Adolf Hitler
, who invoked him to justify their ruthless Realpolitik
. To consider Frederick a proto-Hitler, however, is absurd. Frederick (a devout Francophile) would have regarded Hitler & Co.
as typically barbaric Germans overdue for an appointment with the knoutmaster
Frederick began ruling a sprawling kingdom, short on resources and indefensible. Therefore he deemed it "necessary"
to invade the rich Austrian province of Silesia and conquer it. This obtained the enmity of the Empress
, nominally Frederick's suzerain
, who was unconvinced by Frederick's assurances that it was Nothing Personal
. The king also later annexed various other areas, including parts of Poland-Lithuanianote
. He became well known for his unscrupulous but undeniably skilful foreign policy.
In domestic policy Frederick was a great reformer. He was able to rebuild his kingdom due to the fact that he had –- or was at least prepared to exert — more authority than most of his contemporaries (even though special interests were stronger and Obstructive Bureaucrats
even more obstructive then). He instituted economic reforms and imposed religious toleration. Naturally enough, he also improved the Prussian army and helped give Prussia a recognized place as a great power. He also instituted one of the world's first systems of social welfare, setting up care houses for his injured soldiers; this was progressive in a time when most European leaders considered being horribly injured for one's social betters to be a privilege in itself.
In personality "Old Fritz," as he came to be known, was famous for being dour and curmudgeonly. He has been accused of being inhumane, although he did provide some Pet the Dog
moments to his men. Certainly he cared for his people's welfare, perhaps rather more than he cared for his people, and successfully weeded out many archaic and unjust practices that oppressed them. His style of strong personal rule was useful as long as he lived, though it left Prussia temporarily helpless when he was dead. Though it cannot be denied that his effective use of aggression and conspiracy gave them an unhealthy aura of success, it also cannot be denied that he left Prussia with a strong and competent central government. Frederick the Great was not necessarily the most pleasant monarch, but he is not unworthy of admiration.
He was very interested in the arts, sciences, and philosophy, and he met many leading intellectuals during his years on the throne. Voltaire
was his on-again-off-again friend.
Probably not a good idea to confuse him with the Cloud Cuckoo Lander
portrayal of him in his titular webcomic
. Though doing so with his other,
more fatherly portrayal in Axis Powers Hetalia
is more understandable.
Tropes as portrayed in fiction:
- Foe Yay: Adolf Hitler gazes on a portrait of him in Downfall as he desperately waits for his situation to turn around. It never did, of course. The irony here is that Frederick was likely homosexual and also a big Francophile who cringed at Prussia's proud professional soldier culture. It's likely Hitler had no idea what his personal hero was really like, but if he did, he would've hated him.
- Music to Invade Poland to: Apocryphally, he is supposed to be the author of the "Hohenfriedberger Marsch", a quintessential example of this trope. It's so damn good that the German Army still uses it. After years of bombastic re-imaginings and crummy lyrics put in during the 19th and early 20th centuries, it's recent performances have been far closer to Frederick's composition.
- Nice Hat: He is often depicted wearing a tricorn.