Page images
PDF

Poděbrad, king of Bohemia, and by Matthias Corvinus, king of Hungary. A visit to Rome in 1468 to discuss measures against the Turks with Pope Paul II. had no result, and in 1470 Frederick Degan negotiations for a marriage between his son Maximilian and Mary, daughter and heiress of Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy. The emperor met the duke at Treves in 1473, when Frederick, disliking to bestow the title of king upon Charles, left the city secretly, but brought about the marriage after the duke's death in 1477. Again attacked by Matthias, the emperor was driven from Vienna, and soon handed over the government of his lands to Maximilian, whose election as king of the Romans he vainly opposed in 1486. Frederick then retired to Linz, where he passed his time in the study of botany, alchemy and astronomy, until his death on the 19th of August 1493. Frederick was a listless and incapable ruler, lacking alike the qualities of the soldier and of the diplomatist, but possessing a certain cleverness in evading difficulties. With a fine presence, he had many excellent personal qualities, is spoken of as mild and just, and had a real love of learning. He had a great belief in the future greatness of his family, to which he contributed largely by arranging the marriage of Maximilian with Mary of Burgundy, and delighted to inscribe his books and other articles of value with the letters A.E.I.O.U. (Austriae est imperare orbi universo; or in German, Alles Erdreich ist Oesterreich unterthan). His personality counts for very little in German history. One chronicler says: “He was a useless emperor, and the nation during his long reign forgot that she had a king.” His tomb, a magnificent work in red and white marble, is in the cathedral of St Stephen at Vienna. See Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini, De rebus et gestis Friderici III. (trans. Th. Ilgen, Leipzig, 1889); J. Chmel, Geschichte Kaiser Friedrichs IV. und seines Sohnes Maximilians I. (Hamburg, 1840); A. Bachmann, Deutsche Reichsgeschichte im Zeilalter Friedrichs.III. und. Maximilian: I. (Leipzig, 1884); A. Huber, Geschichte Österreichs (Gotha, 1885–1892); and E. M. Fürst von Lichnowsky, Geschichte des Hauses Habsburg (Vienna, 1836–1844) FREDERICK III. (c. 1286-1330), surnamed “the Fair,” German king and duke of Austria, was the second son of the German king, Albert I., and consequently a member of the Habsburg family. In 1298, when his father was chosen German king, Frederick was invested with some of the family lands, and in 1306, when his claer brother Rudolph became king of Bohemia, he succeeded to the duchy of Austria. In 1307 Rudolph died, and Frederick sought to obtain the Bohemian throne; but an expedition into that country was a failure, and his father's murder in May 1308 deprived him of considerable support. He was equally unsuccessful in his efforts to procure the German crown at this 'time, and the relations between the new king, Henry VII, and the Habsburgs were far from friendly. Frederick asked not only to be confirmed in the possession of Austria, but to be invested with Moravia, a demand to which Henry refused to accede; but an arrangement was subsequently made by which the duke agreed to renounce Moravia in return for a payment of 50,000 marks. Frederick then became involved in a quarrel with his cousin Louis IV., duke of Upper Bavaria (afterwards the emperor Louis IV.), over the guardianship of Henry II., duke of Lower Bavaria. Hostilities broke out, and on the 9th of November 1313 he was defeated by Louis at the battle of Gammelsdorf and compelled to renounce his claim. Meanwhile the emperor Henry VII. had died in Italy, and a stubborn contest ensued for the vacant throne. After a long delay Frederick was chosen German king at Frankfort by a minority of the electors on the 19th of October 1314, while a majority elected Louis of Bavaria. Six days later Frederick was crowned at Bonn by the archbishop of Cologne, and war broke out at once between the rivals. During this contest, which was carried on in a desultory fashion, Frederick drew his chief strength from southern and eastern Germany, and was supported by the full power of the Habsburgs. The defeat of his brother Leopold by the Swiss at Morgarten in November 1315 was a heavy blow to him, but he prolonged the struggle for seven years. On the 28th of September 1322 a decisive battle was fought at Mühldorf, Frederick was defeated and sent as a

prisoner to Trausnitz. Here he was retained until three years later a series of events induced Louis to come to terms. By the treaty of Trausnitz, signed on the 13th of March 1325, Frederick acknowledged the kingship of Louis in return for freedom, and promised to return to captivity unless he could induce his brother Leopold to make a similar acknowledgment. As Leopold refused to take this step, Frederick, although released from his oath by Pope John XXII., travelled back to Bavaria, where he was treated by Louis rather as a friend than as a prisoner. A suggestion was then made that the kings should rule jointly, but as this plan aroused some opposition it was agreed that Frederick should govern Germany while Louis went to Italy for the imperial crown. But this arrangement did not prove generally acceptable, and the death of Leopold in 1326 deprived Frederick of a powerful supporter. In these circumstances he returned to Austria broken down in mind and body, and on the 13th of January 1330 he died at Gutenstein, and was buried at Mauerbach, whence his remains were removed in 1783 to the cathedral of St Stephen at Vienna. He married Elizabeth, daughter of James I, king of Aragon, and left two daughters. His voluntary return into captivity is used by Schiller in his poem Deutsche Treue, and by J. L. Uhland in the drama Ludwig der Bayer, The authorities for the life of Frederick are found in the Fontes rerum Germanicarum. Bandi., edited by J. F. Böhmer (Stuttgart,

1843-1868), and in the Fontes rerum Austriacarum, part i. £: 1855). Modern works, which may be consulted are:.E. M. Fürst von Lichnowsky, Geschichte des Hauses Habsburg (Vienna, 18361844); Th. Lindner, Deutsche Geschichte unter den Habsburgern und Luxemburgern (Stuttgart, 1888-1893). R. Döbner, Die A teseinandersetzung zwischen Ludwig IV. den Bayer und Friedrich dent Schönen von Österreich (Göttingen, 1875); F. Kurz, Osterreich unter König Friedrich dem Schönen (Linz, 1818); F. Krones, Handbuch der Geschichte Österreichs (Berlin, 1876–1879); H. Schrohe, Der Kampf der enkönige Ludwig und Friedrich (Berlin, 1902); W. Friedensburg, Ludwig IV, der Bayer und Friedrich von Österreich (Göttingen, 1877); B. Gebhardt, Handbuch der deutschen Geschichte (Berlin, 1961). FREDERICK II. (1534-1588), king of Denmark and Norway, son of Christian III., was born at Hadersleben on the 1st of July 1534. His mother, Dorothea of Saxe-Lauenburg, was the elder sister of Catherine, the first wife of Gustavus Vasa and the mother of Eric XIV. The two little cousins, born the same year, were destined to be lifelong rivals. At the age of two Frederick was proclaimed successor to the throne at the Rigsdag of Copenhagen (October 30th, 1536), and homage was done to him at Oslo for Norway in 1548. The choice of his governor, the patriotic historiographer Hans Svaning, was so far fortunate that it ensured the devotion of the future king of Denmark to everything Danish; but Svaning was a poor pedagogue, and the wild and wayward lad suffered all his life from the defects of his early training. Frederick's youthful, innocent attachment to the daughter of his former tutor, Anna Hardenberg, indisposed him towards matrimony at the beginning of his reign (1558). After the hands of Elizabeth of England, Mary of Scotland and Renata of Lorraine had successively been sought for him, the council of state grew anxious about the succession, but he finally married his cousin, Sophia of Mecklenburg, on the 20th of July 1572. The reign of Frederick II. falls into two well-defined divisions: (1) a period of war, 1559-1570; and (2) a period of peace, 15701588. The period of war began with the Ditmarsh expedition, when the independent peasant-republic of the Ditmarshers of West Holstein, which had stoutly maintained its independence for centuries against the counts of Holstein and the Danish kings, was subdued by a Dano-Holstein army of 20,000 men in 1559, Frederick and his uncles John and Adolphus, dukes of Holstein, dividing the land between them. Equally triumphant was Frederick in his war with Sweden, though here the contest was much more severe, lasting as it did for seven years, whence it is generally described in northern history as the Scandinavian Seven Years' War. The tension which had prevailed between the two kingdoms during the last years of Gustavus Vasa reached breaking point on the accession of Gustavus's eldest son Eric XIV. There were many causes of quarrel between the two ambitious young monarchs, but the detention at Copenhagen in 1563 of a splendid matrimonial embassy on its way to Germany, to negotiate a match between Eric and Christina of Hesse, which King Frederick for political reasons was determined to prevent, precipitated hostilitics. During the war, which was marked by extraordinary ferocity throughout, the Danes were generally victorious on land owing to the genius of Daniel Rantzau, but at sea the Swedes were almost uniformly triumphant. By 1570 the strife had degenerated into a barbarous devastation of border provinces; and in July of the same year both countries accepted the mediation of the Emperor, and peace was finally concluded at Stettin on Dec. 13, 1570. During the course of this Seven Years' War Frederick II. had narrowly escaped the fate of his deposed cousin Eric XIV. The war was very unpopular in Denmark, and the closing of the Sound against foreignshipping, in order to starve out Sweden, had exasperated the maritime powers and all the Baltic states. On New Year's Day 1570 Frederick's difficulties seemed so overwhelming that he threatened to abdicate; but the peace of Stettin came in time to reconcile all parties, and though Frederick had now to relinquish his ambitious dream of re-establishing the Union of Kalmar, he had at least succeeded in maintaining the supremacy of Denmark in the north. After the peace Frederick's policy became still more imperial. He aspired to the dominion of all the seas which washed the Scandinavian coasts, and before he died he succeeded in suppressing the pirates who so long had haunted the Baltic and the German Ocean. He also erected the stately fortress of Kronborg, to guard the narrow channel of the Sound. Frederick possessed the truly royal gift of discovering and employing great men, irrespective of personal preferences and even of personal injuries. With infinite tact and admirable self-denial he gave free scope to ministers whose superiority in their various departments he frankly recognized, rarely interfering personally unless absolutely called upon to do so. His influence, always great, was increased by his genial and unaffected manners as a host. He is also remarkable as one of the few kings of the house of Oldenburg who had no illicit liaison.

He died at Antvorskov on the 4th of April 1588. No other

Danish king was ever so beloved by his people. See Lund (Troel), Danmarks og Norges. Historie i Sluiningen af det XVI. Aarh. (Copenhagen, 1879); Danmarks Riges Historie (Copenhagen, 1897-1905), vol. 3; Robert Nisbet Bain, £ cap. 4 (Cambridge, 1905). (R. N. B.) FREDERICK III. (1609–1670), king of Denmark and Norway, son of Christian IV. and Anne Catherine of Brandenburg, was born on the 18th of March 1609 at Hadersleben. His position as a younger son profoundly influenced his future career. In his youth and early manhood there was no prospect of his ascending the Danish throne, and he consequently became the instrument of his father's schemes of aggrandizement in Germany. While still a lad he became successively bishop of Bremen, bishop of Verden and coadjutor of Halberstadt, while at the age of eighteen he was the chief commandant of the fortress of Stade. Thus from an early age he had considerable experience as an administrator, while his general education was very careful and thorough. He had always a pronounced liking for literary and scientific studies. On the 1st of October 1643 Frederick wedded Sophia Amelia of Brunswick Lüneburg, whose energetic, passionate and ambitious character was profoundly to affect not only Frederick's destiny but the destiny of Denmark. During the disastrous Swedish War of 1643–1645 Frederick was appointed generalissimo of the duchies by his father, but the laurels he won were scanty, chiefly owing to his quarrels with the Earl-Marshal Anders Bille, who commanded the Danish forces. This was Frederick's first collision with the Danish nobility, who ever afterwards regarded him with extreme distrust. The death of his elder brother Christian in June 1647 first opened to him the prospect of succeeding to the Danish throne, but the question was still unsettled when Christian IV. died on the 28th of February 1648. Not till the 6th of July in the same year did Frederick III. receive the homage of his subjects, and only after he had signed a Haandfaestning or charter, by which the already diminished royal prerogative was still further curtailed. It had been doubtful at first whether he would be allowed to inherit his ancestral

throne at all; but Frederick removed the last scruples of the Rigsraad by unhesitatingly accepting the conditions imposed upon him. The new monarch was a reserved, enigmatical prince, who seldom laughed, spoke little and wrote less-a striking contrast to Christian IV. But if he lacked the brilliant qualities of his impulsive, jovial father, he possessed in a high degree the compensating virtues of moderation, sobriety and self-control. But with all his good qualities Frederick was not the man to take a clear view of the political horizon, or even to recognize his own and his country's limitations. He rightly regarded the accession of Charles X. of Sweden (June 6th, 1654) as a source of danger to Denmark. He felt that temperament and policy would combine to make Charles an aggressive warrior-king: the only uncertainty was in which direction he would turn his arms first. Charles's invasion of Poland (July 1654) came as a distinct relief to the Danes, though even the Polish War was full of latent peril to Denmark. Frederick was resolved upon a rupture with Sweden at the first convenient opportunity. The Rigsdag which assembled on the 23rd of February 1657 willingly granted considerable subsidies for mobilization and other military expenses; on the 15th of April Frederick III. desired, and on the 23rd of April he received, the assent of the majority of the Rigsraad to attack Sweden's German provinces; in the beginning of May the still pending negotiations with that power were broken off, and on the 1st of June Frederick signed the manifesto justifying a war which was never formally declared. The Swedish king traversed all the plans of his enemies by his passage of the frozen Belts, in January and February 1658 (see CHARLEs X. of Sweden). The effect of this unheard-of achievement on the Danish government was crushing. Frederick III. at once sucd for peace; and, yielding to the persuasions of the English and French ministers, Charles finally agreed to be content with mutilating instead of annihilating the Danish monarchy (treaties of Taastrup, February 18th, and of Roskilde, February 26th, 1658). The conclusion of peace was followed by a remarkable episode. Frederick expressed the desire to make the personal acquaintance of his conqueror; and Charles X. consented to be his guest for three days (March 3-5) at the castle of Fredriksborg. Splendid banquets lasting far into the night, private and intimate conversations between the princes who had only just emerged from a mortal struggle, seemed to point to nothing but peace and friendship in the future. But Charles's insatiable lust for conquest, and his ineradicable suspicion of Denmark, induced him, on the 17th of July, without any reasonable cause, without a declaration of war, in defiance of all international equity, to endeavour to despatch an inconvenient neighbour. Terror was the first feeling produced at Copenhagen by the landing of the main Swedish army at Korsör in Zealand. None had anticipated the possibility of such asudden and brutal attack, and everyone knew that the Danish capital was very inadequately fortified and garrisoned. Fortunately Frederick had never been deficient in courage. “I will die in my nest” were the memorable words with which he rebuked those counsellors who advised him to seek safety in flight. On the 8th of August representatives from every class in the capital urged the necessity of a vigorous resistance; and the citizens of Copenhagen, headed by the great burgomaster Hans Nansen (q.v.), protested their unshakable loyalty to the king, and their determination to defend Copenhagen to the uttermost. The Danes had only three days' warning of the approaching danger; and the vast and dilapidated line of defence had at first but 20oo regular defenders. But the government and the people displayed a memorable and exemplary energy, under the constant supervision of the king, the queen, and burgomaster Nansen. By the beginning of September all the breaches were repaired, the walls bristled with cannon, and 7poo men were under arms. So strong was the city by this time that Charles X., abandoning his original intention of carrying the place by assault, began a regular siege; but this also he was forced to abandon when, on the 29th of October, an auxiliary Dutch fleet, after reinforcing and reprovisioning the garrison, defeated, in conjunction with the Danish fleet, the Swedish navy of 44 liners in the Sound. Thus the Danish capital had saved the Danish monarchy. But it was Frederick III. who profited most by his spirited defence of the common interests of the country and the dynasty. The traditional loyalty of the Danish middle classes was transformed into a boundless enthusiasm for the king personally, and for a brief period Frederick found himself the most popular man in his kingdom. He made use of his popularity by realizing the dream of a lifetime and converting an elective into an absolute monarchy by the Revolution of 1660 (see DENMARK: History). Frederick III. died on the 6th of February 167o at the castle of Copenhagen. See R. Nisbet Bain, Scandinavia, caps. ix. and x. (Cambridge, 1905). (R. N. B.) FREDERICK VIII. (1843- ), king of Denmark, eldest son of King Christian IX., was born at Copenhagen on the 3rd of June 1843. As crown prince of Denmark he took part in the war of 1864 against Austria and Prussia, and subsequently assisted his father in the duties of government, becoming king on Christian's death in January 1906. In 1869 Frederick married Louise (b. 1851), daughter of Charles XV., king of Sweden, by whom he had a family of four sons and four daughters. His eldest son Christian, crown prince of Denmark (b. 1870), was married in 1898 to Alexandrina (b. 1879), daughter of Frederick Francis III., grand-duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin; and his second son, Charles (b. 1872), who married his cousin Maud, daughter of Edward VII. of Great Britain, became king of Norway as Haakon VII. in 1905. FREDERICKI. (1657–1713), king of Prussia, and (as Frederick III.) elector of Brandenburg, was the second son of the great elector, Frederick William, by his first marriage with Louise Henriette, daughter of Frederick Henry of Orange. Born at Königsberg on the 11th of July 1657, he was educated and greatly influenced by Eberhard Danckelmann, and became heir to the throne of Brandenburg through the death of his elder brother, Charles Emil, in 1674. He appears to have taken some part in public business before the death of his father; and the court at Berlin was soon disturbed by quarrels between the young prince and his stepmother, Dorothea of Holstein-Glücksburg. In 1686 Dorothea persuaded her husband to bequeath outlying portions of his lands to her four sons; and Frederick, fearing he would be poisoned, left Brandenburg determined to prevent any diminution of his inheritance. By promising to restore Schwiebus to Silesia after his accession he won the support of the emperor Leopold I.; but eventually he gained his end in a peaceable fashion. Having become elector of Brandenburg in May 1688, he came to terms with his half-brothers and their mother. In return for a sum of money these princes renounced their rights under their father's will, and the new elector thus secured the whole of Frederick William's territories. After much delay and grumbling he fulfilled his bargain with Leopold and gave up Schwiebus in 1695. At home and abroad Frederick continued the policy of the great elector. He helped William of Orange to make his descent on England; added various places, including the principality of Neuchâtel, to his lands; and exercised some influence on the course of European politics by placing his large and efficient army at the disposal of the emperor and his allies (see BRANDENBURG). He was present in person at the siege of Bonn in 1689, but was not often in command of his troops. The elector was very fond of pomp, and, striving to model his court upon that of Louis XIV., he directed his main energies towards obtaining for himself the title of king. In spite of the assistance he had given to the emperor his efforts met with no success for some years; but towards 17oo Leopold, faced with the prospect of a new struggle with France, was inclined to view the idea more favourably. Having insisted upon various conditions, prominent among them being military aid for the approaching war, he gave the imperial sanction to Frederick's request in November 1700; whereupon the elector, hurrying at once to Königsberg, crowned himself with great ceremony king of Prussia on the 18th of January 1701. According to his promise the king sent help to the emperor; and during the War of the Spanish Succession the troops of Brandenburg-Prussia rendered great assistance to the This father's reign, he restored, infusing into it vigorous life; and he did more to promote elementary education than any of his predecessors. He did much too for the economic development of Prussia, especially for agriculture; he established colonies, peopling them with immigrants, extended the canal system, drained and diked the great marshes of the Oderbruch, turning them into rich pasturage, encouraged the planting of fruit trees and of root crops; and, though in accordance with his ideas of discipline he maintained serfdom, he did much to lighten the burdens of the peasants. All kinds of manufacture, too, particularly that of silk, owed much to his encouragement. To the army he gave unremitting attention, reviewing it at regular intervals, and sternly punishing negligence on the part of the officers. . Its numbers were raised to 160,000 men, while fortresses and magazines were always kept in a state of readiness for war. The influence of the king's example was felt far beyond the limits of his immediate circle. The nation was proud of his genius, and displayed something of his energy in all departments of life. Lessing, who as a youth of twenty came to Berlin in 1749, composed enthusiastic odes in his honour, and Gleim, the Halberstadt poet, wrote of him as of a kind of demi-god. These may be taken as fair illustrations of the popular feeling long before the Seven Years' War. He despised German as the language of boors, although it is remarkable that at a later period, in a French essay on German literature, he predicted for it a great future. He habitually wrote and spoke French, and had a strong ambition to rank as a distinguished French author. Nobody can now read his verses, but his prose writings have a certain calm simplicity and dignity, without, however, giving evidence of the splendid ·mental qualities which he revealed in practical life. To this period belong his Mémoires pour servir d l'histoire de Brandebourg and his poem L'Art de la guerre. The latter, judged as literature, is intolerably dull; but the former is valuable, throwing as it does considerable light on his personal sympathies as well as on the motives of important epochs in his career. He continued to correspond with French writers, and induced a number of them -to settle in Berlin, Maupertuis being president of the Academy. In 1752 Voltaire, who had repeatedly visited him, came at Frederick's urgent entreaty, and received a truly royal welcome. The famous Hirsch trial, and Voltaire's vanity and caprice, greatly lowered him in the esteem of the king, who, on his side, irritated his guest by often requiring him to correct bad verses, and by making him the object of rude banter. The publication of Doctor Akakia, which brought down upon the president of the Academy a storm of ridicule, finally alienated Frederick; while Voltaire's wrongs culminated in the famous arrest at Frankfort, the most disagreeable elements of which were due to the misunderstanding of an order by a subordinate official. The king lived as much as possible in a retired mansion, to which he gave the name of Sanssouci-not the palace so called, which was built after the Seven Years' War, and was never a favourite residence. He rose regularly in summer at five, in winter at six, devoting himself to public business till about eleven. During part of this time, after coffee, he would aid his reflections

allies, fighting with distinction at Blenheim and elsewhere. Frederick, who was deformed through an injury to his spine, died on the 25th of February 1713. By his extravagance the king exhausted the treasure amassed by his father, burdened his country with heavy taxes, and reduced its finances to chaos. His constant obligations to the emperor drained Brandenburg of money which might have been employed more profitably at home, and prevented her sovereign from interfering in the politics of northern Europe. Frederick, however, was not an unpopular ruler, and by making Prussia into a kingdom he undoubtedly advanced it several stages towards its future greatness. He founded the university of Halle, and the Academy of Sciences at Berlin; welcomed and protected Protestant refugees from France and elsewhere; and lavished money on the erection of public buildings. The king was married three times. His second wife, Sophie Charlotte (1668-1705), sister of the English king George I., was the friend of Leibnitz and one of the most cultured princesses of the age; she bore him his only son, his successor, King Frederick William I. See W. Hahn, Friedrich I, König in Preussen (Berlin, 1876); J. G., Droysen, Geschichte ##### Politik, Band iv. (Leipzig, 1872); E. Heyck, Friedrich I. und die Begründung des preussischen Königtums (Bielefeld, 1901): C. Graf von Dohna, Mémoires originaux sur le regne et la cour de Frédéric I" (Berlin, 1883); Aus dem Briefwechsel König Friedrichs I. von Preussen und seiner Familie £ 1901); # T. Carlyle, History of Frederick the Great, vol. i. London, 1872). FREDERICK II., known as “the Great” (1712–1786), king of Prussia, born on the 24th of January 1712, was the eldest son of Frederick William I. He was brought up with extreme rigour, his father devising a scheme of education which was intended to make him a hardy soldier, and prescribing for him every detail of his conduct. So great was Frederick William's horror of everything which did not seem to him practical, that he strictly excluded Latin from the list of his son's studies. Frederick, however, had free and generous impulses which could not be restrained by the sternest system. Encouraged by his mother, and under the influence of his governess Madame de Roucoulle, and of his first tutor Duhan, a French refugee, he acquired an excellent knowledge of French and a taste for literature and music. He even received secret lessons in Latin, which his father invested with all the charms of forbidden fruit. As he grew up he became extremely dissatisfied with the dull and monotonous life he was compelled to lead; and his discontent was heartily shared by his sister, Wilhelmina, a bright and intelligent young princess for whom Frederick had a warm affection. Frederick William, seeing his son apparently absorbed in frivolous and effeminate amusements, gradually conceived for him an intense dislike, which had its share in causing him to break off the negotiations for a double marriage between the prince of Wales and Wilhelmina, and the princess Amelia, daughter of George II., and Frederick; for Frederick had been so indiscreet as to carry on a separate correspondence with the English court and to vow that he would marry Amelia or no one. Frederick William's hatred of his son, openly avowed, displayed itself in violent outbursts and public insults, and so harsh was his treatment that Frederick frequently thought of running away and taking refuge at the English court. He at last resolved to do so during a journey which he made with the king to south Germany in 1730, when he was eighteen years of age. He was helped by his two friends, Lieutenant Katte and Lieutenant Keith; but by the imprudence of the former the secret was found out. Frederick was placed under arrest, deprived of his rank as crown prince, tried by court-martial, and imprisoned in the fortress of Cüstrin. Warned by Frederick, Keith escaped; but Katte delayed his flight too long, and acourt-martial decided that he should be punished with two years' fortress arrest. But the king was determined by a terrible example to wake Frederick once for all to a consciousness of the heavy responsibility of his position. He changed the sentence on Katte to one of death and ordered the execution to take place in Frederick's presence,

himself arranging its every detail, Frederick's own fate would depend upon the effect of this terrible object-lesson and the response he should make to the exhortations of the chaplain sent to reason with him. On the morning of the 7th of November Katte was beheaded before Frederick's window, after the crown prince had asked his pardon and received the answer that there was nothing to forgive. On Frederick himself lay the terror of death, and the chaplain was able to send to the king a favourable report of his orthodoxy and his changed disposition. Frederick William, whose temper was by no means so ruthlessly Spartan as tradition has painted it, was overjoyed, and commissioned the clergyman to receive from the prince an oath of filial obedience, and in exchange for this proof of “his intention to improve in real earnest" his arrest was to be lightened, pending the earning of a full pardon. “The whole town shall be his prison,” wrote the king; “I will give him employment, from morning to night, in the departments of war, and agriculture, and of the government. He shall work at financial matters, receive accounts, read minutes and make extracts. . . . But if he kicks or rears again, he shall forfeit the succession to the crown, and even, according to circumstances, life itself.” For about fifteen months Frederick lived in Cüstrin, busy according to the royal programme with the details of the Prussian administrative system. He was very careful not to “kick or rear,” and his good conduct earned him a further stage in the restoration to favour. During this period of probation he had been deprived of his status as a soldier and refused the right to wear uniform, while officers and soldiers were forbidden to give him the military salute; in 1732 he was made colonel in command of the regiment at Neuruppin. In the following year he married, in obedience to the king's orders, the princess Elizabeth Christina, daughter of the duke of Brunswick-Bevern. He was given the estate of Rheinsberg in the neighbourhood of Neuruppin, and there he lived until he succeeded to the throne. These years were perhaps the happiest of his life. He discharged his duties with so much spirit and so conscientiously that he ultimately gained the esteem of Frederick William, who no longer feared that he would leave the crown to one unworthy of wearing it. At the same time the crown prince was able to indulge to the full his personal tastes. He carried on a lively correspondence with Voltaire and other French men of letters, and was a diligent student of philosophy, history and poetry. Two of his bestknown works were written at this time-Considérations sur l'état présentaucorps politique de l'Europe and his Anti-Macchiavel. In the former he calls attention to the growing strength of Austria and France, and insists on the necessity of some third power, by which he clearly means Prussia, counterbalancing their excessive influence. The second treatise, which was issued by Voltaire in Hague in 1740, contains a generous exposition of some of the favourite ideas of the 18th-century philosophers respecting the duties of sovereigns, which may be summed up in the famous sentence: “the prince is not the absolute master, but only the first servant of his people.” On the 31st of May 1740 he became king. He maintained all the forms of government established by his father, but ruled in a far more enlightened spirit; he tolerated every fprm of religious opinion, abolished the use of torture, was most careful to secure an exact and impartial administration of justice, and, while keeping the reins of government strictly in his own hands, allowed every one with a genuine grievance free access to his presence. The Potsdam regiment of giants was disbanded, but the real interests of the army were carefully studied, for Frederick realized that the two pillars of the Prussian state were sound finances and a strong army. On the 20th of October 1740 the emperor Charles VI. died. Frederick at once began to make extensive military preparations, and it was soon clear to all the world that he intended to enter upon some serious enterprise. He had made up his mind to assert the ancient claim of the house of Brandenburg to the three Silesian duchies, which the Austrian rulers of Bohemia had ever denied, but the Hohenzollerns had never abandoned. Projects for the assertion of this claim by

force of arms had been formed by more than one of Frederick's.

predecessors, and the extinction of the male line of the house of Habsburg may well have seemed to him a unique opporttfnity for realizing an ambition traditional in his family. For this resolution he is often abused still by historians, and at the time he had the approval of hardly any one out of Prussia. He himself, writing of the scheme in his Mémoires, laid no claim to lofty motives, but candidly confessed that “it was a means of acquiring reputation and of increasing the power of the state.” He firmly believed, however, in the lawfulness of his claims; and although his father had recognized the Pragmatic Sanction, whereby the hereditary dominions of Charles VI. were to descend to his daughter, Maria Theresa, Frederick insisted that this sanction could refer only to lands which rightfully belonged to the house of Austria. He could also urge that, as Charles VI, had not fulfilled the engagements by which Frederick William's recognition of the Pragmatic Sanction had been secured, Prussia was freed from her obligation. Frederick sent an ambassador to Vienna, offering, in the event of his rights in Silesia being conceded, to aid Maria Theresa against her enemies. The queen of Hungary, who regarded the proposal as that of a mere robber, haughtily declined; whereupon Frederick immediately invaded Silesia with an army of 30,000 men. His first victory was gained at Mollwitz on the 10th of April 1741. Under the impression, in consequence of a furious charge of Austrian cavalry, that the battle was lost, he rode rapidly away at an early stage of the struggle-a mistake which gave rise for a time to the groundless idea that he lacked personal courage. A second Prussian victory was gained at Chotusitz, near Časlau, on the 17th May 1742; by this time Frederick was master of all the fortified places of Silesia. Maria Theresa, in the heat of her struggle with France and the elector of Bavaria, now Charles VII., and pressed by England to rid herself of Frederick, concluded with him, on the 11th of June 1742, the peace of Breslau, conceding to Prussia, Upper and Lower Silesia as far as the Oppa, together with the county of Glatz. Frederick made good use of the next two years, fortifying his new territory, and repairing the evils inflicted upon it by the war. By the death of the prince of East Friesland without heirs, he also gained possession of that country (1744). He knew well that Maria Theresa would not, if she could help it, allow him to remain in Silesia; accordingly, in 1744, alarmed by her victories, he arrived at a secret understanding with France, and pledged himself, with Hesse-Cassel and the palatinate, to maintain the imperial rights of Charles VII., and to defend his hereditary Bavarian lands." Frederick began the second Silesian War by entering Bohemia in August 1744 and taking Prague. By this brilliant but rash venture he put himself in great danger, and soon had to retreat; but in 1745 he gained the battles of Hohenfriedberg, Soor and Hennersdorf, and Leopold of Dessau (“Der alte Dessauer”)won for him the victory of Kesselsdorf in Saxony. The latter victory was decisive, and the peace of Dresden (December 25, 1745) assured to Frederick a second time the possession of Silesia. (See AUSTRIAN SUCCESSION, WAR of THE.) Frederick had thus, at the age of thirty-three, raised himself to a great position in Europe, and henceforth he was the most conspicuous sovereign of his time. He was a thoroughly absolute ruler, his so-called ministers being mere clerks whose business was to give effect to his will. To use his own famous phrase, however, he regarded himself as but “the first servant of the state”; and during the next eleven years he proved that the words expressed his inmost conviction and feeling. All kinds of questions were submitted to him, important and unimportant; and he is frequently censured for having troubled himself so much with mere details. But in so far as these details related

[blocks in formation]

by playing on the flute, of which he was passionately fond,

being a really skilful performer. At eleven came parade, and an hour afterwards, punctually, dinner, which continued till two, or later, if conversation happened to be particularly attractive. After dinner he glanced through and signed cabinet orders written in accordance with his morning instructions, often adding marginal notes and postscripts, many of which were in a caustic tone. These disposed of, he amused himself for a couple of hours with literary work; between six and seven he would converse with his friends or listen to his reader (a post held for some time by La Mettrie); at seven there was a concert; and at half-past eight he sat down to supper, which might go on till midnight. He liked good eating and drinking, although even here the cost was sharply looked after, the expenses of his kitchen mounting to no higher figure than £1800 a year. At supper he was always surrounded by a number of his most intimate friends, mainly 'Frenchmen; and he insisted on the conversation being perfectly

free. His wit, however, was often cruel, and any one who responded with too much spirit was soon made to feel that the licence of talk was to be complete only on one side. At Frederick's court ladies were seldom scen, a circumstance that gave occasion to much scandal for which there seems to have been no foundation. The queen he visited only on rare occasions. She had been forced upon him by his father, and he had never loved her; but he always treated her with marked respect, and provided her with a generous income, half of which she gave away in charity. Although without charm, she was a woman of many noble qualities; and, like her husband, she wrote French books, some of which attracted a certain attention in their day. She survived him by eleven years, dying in 1797. Maria Theresa had never given up hope that she would recover Silesia; and as all the neighbouring sovereigns were bitterly jealous of Frederick, and somewhat afraid of him, she had no difficulty in inducing several of them to form a scheme for his ruin. Russia and Saxony entered into it heartily, and France, laying aside her ancient enmity towards Austria, joined the empress against the common object of dislike. Frederick, meanwhile, had turned towards England, which saw in him a possible ally of great importance against the French. A convention between Prussia and Great Britain was signed in January 1756, and it proved of incalculable value to both countries, leading as it did to a close alliance during the administration of Pitt. Through the treachery of a clerk in the Saxon foreign office Frederick was made aware of the future which was being prepared for him. Seeing the importance of taking the initiative, and if possible, of securing Saxony, he suddenly, on the 24th of August 1756, crossed the frontier of that country, and shut in the Saxon army between Pirna and Königstein, ultimately compelling it, after a victory gained over the Austrians at Lobositz, to surrender. Thus began the Seven Years' War, in which, supported by England, Brunswick and Hesse-Cassel, he had for a long time to oppose Austria, France, Russia, Saxony and Sweden. Virtually the whole Continent was in arms against a small state which, a few years before, had been regarded by most men as beneath serious notice. But it happened that this small state was led by a man of high military genius, capable of infusing into others his own undaunted spirit, while his subjects had learned both from him and his predecessors habits of patience, perseverance and discipline. In 1757, after defeating the Austrians at Prague, he was himself defeated by them at Kolin; and by the shameful convention of Closter-Seven, he was freely exposed to the attack of the French. In November 1757, however, when Europe looked upon him as ruined, he rid himself of the French by his splendid victory over them at Rossbach, and in about a month afterwards, by the still more splendid victory at Leuthen, he drove the Austrians from Silesia. From this time the French were kept well employed in the west by Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, who defeated them at Crefeld in 1758, and at Minden in 1759. In the former year Frederick triumphed, at a heavy cost, over the Russians at Zorndorf; and although, through lack of his usual foresight, he lost the battle of Hochkirch, he prevented the Austrians from deriving any real advantage from their triumph, Silesia still remaining in his hands at the end of the year. The battle of Kunersdorf, fought on the 12th of August 1759, was the most disastrous to him in the course of the war. He had here to contend both with the Russians and the Austrians; and although at first he had some success, his army was in the end completely broken. “All is lost save the royal family,” he wrote to his minister Friesenstein; “the consequences of this battle will be worse than the battle itself. I shall not survive the ruin of the Fatherland. Adieu for ever!” But he soon recovered from his despair, and in 1760 gained the important victories of Liegnitz and Torgau. He had now, however, to act on the defensive, and fortunately for him, the Russians, on the death of the empress Elizabeth, not only withdrew in 1762 from the compact against him, but for a time became his allies. On the 29th of October of that year he gained his last victory over the Austrians at Freiberg. Europe was by that time sick of war, every power being more or less exhausted.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »