Frederick William II (German: Friedrich Wilhelm II.; 25 September 1744 – 16 November 1797) was King of Prussia from 1786 until his death. He was in personal union the Prince-elector of Brandenburg and (via the Orange-Nassau inheritance of his grandfather) sovereign prince of the Canton of Neuchâtel. Pleasure-loving and indolent, he is seen as the antithesis to his predecessor, Frederick II. Under his reign, Prussia was weakened internally and externally, and he failed to deal adequately with the challenges to the existing order posed by the French Revolution. His religious policies were directed against the Enlightenment and aimed at restoring a traditional Protestantism. However, he was a patron of the arts and responsible for the construction of some notable buildings, among them the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
Frederick William was born in Berlin, the son of Prince Augustus William of Prussia (the second son of King Frederick William I of Prussia) and Duchess Luise of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. His mother's elder sister, Elisabeth, was the wife of Augustus William's brother King Frederick II ("Frederick the Great"). Frederick William became heir-presumptive to the throne of Prussia on his father's death in 1758, since Frederick II had no children. The boy was of an easy-going and pleasure-loving disposition, averse to sustained effort of any kind, and sensual by nature.
His marriage with Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, Crown Princess of Prussia, daughter of Charles I, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, contracted 14 July 1765 in Charlottenburg, was dissolved in 1769. He then married Frederica Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt, daughter of Ludwig IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt on 14 July 1769 also in Charlottenburg. Although he had seven children by his second wife, he had an ongoing relationship with his mistress, Wilhelmine Enke (created Countess Wilhelmine von Lichtenau in 1796), a woman of strong intellect and much ambition, and had five children by her—the first when she was still in her teens.
Frederick William, before the corpulence of his middle age, was a man of singularly handsome presence, not without mental qualities of a high order; he was devoted to the arts — Beethoven and Mozart enjoyed his patronage, and his private orchestra had a Europe-wide reputation. He also was a talented cellist. But an artistic temperament was hardly what was required of a king of Prussia on the eve of the French Revolution, and Frederick the Great, who had employed him in various services (notably in an abortive confidential mission to the court of Russia in 1780), openly expressed his misgivings as to the character of the prince and his surroundings. For his part, Frederick William, who had never been properly introduced to diplomacy and the business of rulership, resented his uncle for not taking him seriously.
The misgivings of Frederick II appear justified in retrospect. Frederick William′s accession to the throne (17 August 1786) was, indeed, followed by a series of measures for lightening the burdens of the people, reforming the oppressive French system of tax-collecting introduced by Frederick, and encouraging trade by the diminution of customs dues and the making of roads and canals. This gave the new king much popularity with the masses; the educated classes were pleased by his removal of Frederick's ban on the German language, with the admission of German writers to the Prussian Academy, and by the active encouragement given to schools and universities. Frederick William also terminated his predecessor's state monopolies for coffee and tobacco and the sugar monopoly. However, under his reign the codification known as Allgemeines Preußisches Landrecht, initiated by Frederick II, continued and was completed in 1794.
In 1781 Frederick William, then prince of Prussia, inclined to mysticism, had joined the Rosicrucians, and had fallen under the influence of Johann Christoph von Wöllner and Johann Rudolf von Bischoffwerder. On 26 August 1786 Wöllner was appointed privy councillor for finance (Geheimer Oberfinanzrath), and on 2 October 1786 was ennobled. Though not in name, he in fact became prime minister; in all internal affairs it was he who decided; and the fiscal and economic reforms of the new reign were the application of his theories. Bischoffswerder, too, still a simple major, was called into the king′s counsels; by 1789 he was already an adjutant-general. The opposition to Wöllner was, indeed, at the outset strong enough to prevent his being entrusted with the department of religion; but this too in time was overcome, and on 3 July 1788 he was appointed active privy councillor of state and of justice and head of the spiritual department for Lutheran and Catholic affairs. From this position Wöllner pursued long lasting reforms concerning religion in the Prussian state.
The king proved eager to aid Wöllner's crusade. On 9 July 1788 a religious edict was issued forbidding Evangelical ministers from teaching anything not contained in the letter of their official books, proclaimed the necessity of protecting the Christian religion against the "enlighteners" (Aufklärer), and placed educational establishments under the supervision of the orthodox clergy. On 18 December 1788 a new censorship law was issued to secure the orthodoxy of all published books. This forced major Berlin journals like Christoph Friedrich Nicolai's Allgemeine Deutsche Bibliothek and Johann Erich Biester's Berliner Monatsschrift to publish only outside the Prussian borders. Moreover, people like Immanuel Kant were forbidden to speak in public on the topic of religion.
Finally, in 1791, a Protestant commission was established at Berlin (Immediate-Examinationscommission) to watch over all ecclesiastical and scholastic appointments. Although Wöllner's religious edict had many critics, it was an important measure that, in fact, proved an important stabilizing factor for the Prussian state. Aimed at protecting the multi-confessional rights enshrined in the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, the provisions of Wöllner's edict were intended to safeguard against religious strife by imposing a system of state sponsored limits. The edict was also a notable step forward regarding the rights of Jews, Mennonites, and Herrnhut brethren, who now received full state protection. Given the confessional divides within Prussian society, primarily between Calvinists and Lutherans but increasingly Catholics as well, such a policy was important for maintaining a stable civil society.
In his zeal for establishing Prussia as a paragon of stable Christian statehood, Frederick William outstripped his minister; he even blamed Wöllner′s "idleness and vanity" for the inevitable failure of the attempt to regulate opinion from above, and in 1794 deprived him of one of his secular offices in order that he might have more time "to devote himself to the things of God"; in edict after edict the king continued to the end of his reign to make regulations "in order to maintain in his states a true and active Christianity, as the path to genuine fear of God".
The attitude of Frederick William II towards the army and foreign policy proved fateful for Prussia. The army was the very foundation of the Prussian state, as both Frederick William I and Frederick the Great had fully realised. The army had been their first care, and its efficiency had been maintained by their constant personal supervision. Frederick William II had no taste for military matters and put his authority as "Warlord" (Kriegsherr) into commission under a supreme college of war (Oberkriegs-Collegium) under the Duke of Brunswick and General Wichard Joachim Heinrich von Möllendorf. It was the beginning of the process that ended in 1806 at the disastrous Battle of Jena. Although the Prussian army reached its highest peacetime level of manpower under Frederick William II (189,000 infantry and 48,000 cavalry), under his reign the Prussian state treasury incurred a substantial debt, and the quality of the troops' training deteriorated.
Under the circumstances, Frederick William′s interventions in European affairs were of little benefit to Prussia. The Dutch campaign of 1787, entered into for purely family reasons, was indeed successful, but Prussia received not even the cost of her intervention. An attempt to intervene in the war of Russia and Austria against the Ottoman Empire failed to achieve its objective; Prussia did not succeed in obtaining any concessions of territory, and the dismissal of minister Hertzberg (5 July 1791) marked the final abandonment of the anti-Austrian tradition of Frederick the Great.
Meanwhile, the French Revolution alarmed the ruling monarchs of Europe, and in August 1791 Frederick William, at the meeting at Pillnitz Castle, agreed with Emperor Leopold II to join in supporting the cause of King Louis XVI of France. However the king's character and the confusion of the Prussian finances could not sustain effective action in this regard. A formal alliance was indeed signed on 7 February 1792, and Frederick William took part personally in the campaigns of 1792 and 1793, but the king was hampered by want of funds, and his counsels were distracted by the affairs of a deteriorating Poland, which promised a richer booty than was likely to be gained by the anti-revolutionary crusade into France. A subsidy treaty with the sea powers (Great Britain and the Netherlands, signed at The Hague, 19 April 1794) filled Prussia's coffers, but at the cost of a promise to supply 64,000 land troops to the coalition. The insurrection in Poland that followed the partition of 1793, and the threat of unilateral intervention by Russia, drove Frederick William into the separate Treaty of Basel with the French Republic (5 April 1795), which was regarded by the other great monarchies as a betrayal, and left Prussia morally isolated in the struggle between the monarchical principle and the new republican creed of the Revolution. Although the land area of the Prussian state reached a new peak under his rule after the third partition of Poland in 1795, the new territories included parts of Poland such as Warsaw that had virtually no German population, severely straining administrative resources due to various pro-Polish revolts.
It is said that George III mistook a tree for him shaking its hand and having a conversation with it (due to his deteriorating metal health)
Frederick William's first marriage, to Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick (his first cousin) had ended after four years during which both spouses had been unfaithful. Their uncle, Frederick II, granted a divorce reluctantly, as he was more fond of Elisabeth than of Frederick William. His second marriage lasted until his death, but he continued his relationship with Wilhelmine Enke. In 1794–1797 he had a castle built for her on the Pfaueninsel. Moreover, he was involved in two more (bigamist) morganatic marriages: with Elisabeth Amalie, Gräfin von Voß, Gräfin von Ingenheim in 1787 and (after her death in 1789) with Sophie Juliane Gräfin von Dönhoff. He had another seven children with those two women, which explains why his people also called him der Vielgeliebte ("the much loved") and der dicke Lüderjahn ("the fat scallywag"). His favourite son—with Wilhelmine Enke—was Graf Alexander von der Mark. His daughter from Sophie Juliane, Countess Julie of Brandenburg (4 January 1793, Neuchâtel – 29 January 1848, Vienna), married to Frederick Ferdinand, Duke of Anhalt-Köthen.
On 16 November 1797, Frederick William II died in Potsdam. He was succeeded by his son, Frederick William III, who had resented his father's lifestyle and acted swiftly to deal with what he considered the immoral state of the court. Frederick William II is buried in the Berliner Dom.
|Ancestors of Frederick William II of Prussia|
Frederick William II had the following children:
Frederick William II of PrussiaBorn: 25 September 1744 Died: 16 November 1797
| King of Prussia
Elector of Brandenburg
Prince of Neuchâtel
Frederick William III
Daniel Itzig (also known as Daniel Yoffe 18 March 1723 in Berlin – 17 May 1799 in Potsdam) was a Court Jew of Kings Frederick II the Great and Frederick William II of Prussia.Declaration of Pillnitz
The Declaration of Pilnite, more commonly referred to as the Declaration of Pillnitz, was a statement issued on 27 August 1791 at Pillnitz Castle near Dresden (Saxony) by Frederick William II of Prussia and the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II who was Marie Antoinette's brother. It declared the joint support of the Holy Roman Empire and of Prussia for King Louis XVI of France against the French Revolution.Frederick William
The name Frederick William usually refers to several monarchs and princes of the Hohenzollern dynasty:
Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg (1620–1688)
Frederick William, Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1675–1713)
Frederick William I of Prussia (1688–1740), King of Prussia
Frederick William II of Prussia (1744–1797), King of Prussia
Frederick William III of Prussia (1770–1840), King of Prussia
Frederick William IV of Prussia (1795–1861), King of Prussia
Frederick William, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1819–1904)
Frederick III, German Emperor (1831–1888), German Emperor and King of Prussia. He was known as Frederick William when he was Crown Prince.
Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia (1880–1925), son of Prince Albert of Prussia and great-grandson of Frederick William III.Other nobility with the name Frederick William are:
Frederick William von Steuben (1730–1794), Prussian officer in the American Revolutionary War
Frederick William von Hessenstein (1735–1808), Swedish statesman and soldier
Frederick William Hervey, 1st Marquess of Bristol (1769–1859)
Frederick William, Duke of Brunswick and Lüneburg (1771–1815)
Frederick William Pethick-Lawrence, 1st Baron Pethick-Lawrence (1871–1961)
Frederick William Mulley (1918–1995), British politician and economist
Prince Frederick of Great Britain (1750–1765), son of Frederick, Prince of WalesOther uses:
Frederick William University (Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität), a predecessor to the Humboldt University of Berlin
Mount Frederick William, Jervis Inlet region, British Columbia, CanadaGoejanverwellesluis
The Goejanverwellesluis is a lock in Hekendorp, Netherlands. The 'Goejannen' - the men from the surrounding polders who went to sea - said their last farewells by this channel.
According to the tradition, Wilhelmina of Prussia, wife of stadholder William V was captured here on 28 June 1787 by the Patriots from Gouda. In reality, her entourage were arrested at Bonrepas on the river Vlist, on the way to Schoonhoven near Haastrecht. Wilhelmina was at a farm overhanging the Goejanverwellesluis, where Cornelis Johan de Lange, commander of the free corps of Gouda, had been billeted. Informed of her plans by the gentleman Martinus van Toulon, former bailiff of Gouda, the Commission of Defense stopped her from driving on to Gouda that night. The princess left the very same evening after 10pm in the direction of Schoonhoven and turned back to her spouse stadholder William V at Nijmegen. This event formed the main reason for the Prussians' raid into Holland, with Frederick William II of Prussia coming to his sister Wilhelmina's aid and so making possible William's return to the Hague. This raid led to an exodus of the Patriots from the United Republic of the Seven Netherlands in 1787.
A foot ferry at Goejanverwellesluis was replaced by the Wilhelmina van Pruisen Bridge in 1992.Julie von Voss
Julie Amalie Elisabeth von Voss (24 July 1766, Buch (Berlin) – 25 March 1789) was a German lady-in-waiting and a bigamous morganatic spouse of King Frederick William II of Prussia.Marmorpalais
The Marmorpalais (or Marble Palace) is a former royal residence in Potsdam, near Berlin in Germany, built on the grounds of the extensive Neuer Garten on the shores of the Heiliger See (lake). The palace was commissioned by King Friedrich Wilhelm II (Frederick William II of Prussia) and designed in the early Neoclassical style by the architects Carl von Gontard and Carl Gotthard Langhans. The palace remained in use by the Hohenzollern family until the early 20th century. It served as a military museum under communist rule, but has since been restored and is once again open to the public.Miełżyński
The Miełżyński family (Polish pronunciation: [mʲɛlˈʐɨɲskʲi]), originally of Lithuanian and Polish stock in the first millennium, was a noble family within Poland from the 13th century to the 20th century. Part of the Nowina clan, the Mielzynskis were players in politics, the arts and military endeavours. Their wealth included palaces like Pawłowice and Iwno. As magnates and members of the szlachta, their dynastic connections to the royal houses of Europe were extensive, including lineages to the kings of France and modern Spain.
Mielzynski of Nowina: Maximilian, Antoni, Jan (sons of Andrzej by his wife Anna-Petronella Bninska), (1738–1799) obtained the hereditary title of Count from Kaiser Frederick William II of Prussia on 19 September 1786. His two children, Stanislaw and Mikolaj, appeared in the 1824 list of persons authorised to bear the title of Count in the Kingdom of Poland. Josef (1765–1824; son of Maceij by his wife Seweryna Lipska) obtained the hereditary title of Count from King Frederick William III of Prussia on 12 July 1817 (L.P. 20 January 1818).
Anna Miełżyńska (1600-1640) was the grandmother of Catherine Opalinska, the queen consort of King Stanislaus Leszczynski of Poland. She was also the great-grandmother of Maria Leszczynska, the queen consort of Louis XV of France.Pillnitz
Pillnitz is a quarter in the east of Dresden, Germany. It can be reached by bus, ship, walking along the river or by bicycle. Pillnitz is most famous for its Baroque palace and park, the Pillnitz Castle.
Pillnitz Palace consists of the Riverside Palace (Wasserpalais) at the river, the parallel Upper Palace (Bergpalais) towards the hills and the linking building New Palace (Neues Palais). The first two were designed by Matthäus Daniel Pöppelmann. The buildings frame the Baroque inner garden; this entire ensemble is surrounded by a park.
Pillnitz is known for the Declaration of Pillnitz of 1791: Emperor Leopold II and King Frederick William II of Prussia, urged by Charles X, then Comte d'Artois, declared that the French King Louis XVI was not to be harmed or deprived of power as a way to attack the progress of the French Revolution.
Pillnitz is also a site of wine production. During the millennium flood of 2002 in Dresden, it was one of the most affected areas.Prince Augustus William of Prussia
Augustus William of Prussia (German: August Wilhelm; 9 August 1722 – 12 June 1758) was Prince of Prussia and a younger brother and general of Frederick II.
Augustus was the second surviving son of Frederick William I and Sophia Dorothea. His older siblings included Wilhelmina (later Margravine of Bayreuth), Frederick II (later King of Prussia), Friedrike Louise (later Margravine of Ansbach) and Louisa Ulrika (later Queen of Sweden).
Augustus was favored by his father over Frederick and popular at the Prussian court. When his brother Frederick became king in 1740, Augustus became heir presumptive and moved into the Fredrick's former residence, the Crown Prince's Palace in Berlin. When his older sister Louisa Ulrika married the King of Sweden in 1744, she founded the Ordre de l'Harmonie, of which Augustus was one of the first recipients.
Augustus served his brother as a general in the War of the Austrian Succession, and distinguished himself in the Battle of Hohenfriedberg. But in the Seven Years' War, owing to the fatal retreat of Zittau during the Battle of Kolin in 1756, he incurred the wrath of his brother the King, and withdrew from the army. This conflict between the two brothers led to a correspondence, which was published in 1769. Augustus died suddenly in 1758 at Oranienburg, according to some of "a broken heart", in reference to his brother Frederick II's harsh treatment of him for his incompetent military leadership in the Battle of Kolin. In reality, he died from a brain tumor.Augustus married Luise of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. Because his older brother had no children, Augustus's oldest son inherited the throne as Frederick William II of Prussia on Frederick's death.Prince Henry of Prussia (1747–1767)
Frederick Henry Charles, Prince of Prussia (German: Friedrich Heinrich Karl, 30 December 1747 – 26 May 1767) was the second son of Prince Augustus William, the brother of Frederick the Great. His older brother was Frederick William II of Prussia.Prince Louis Charles of Prussia
Prince Louis Charles of Prussia (German: Friedrich Ludwig Karl von Preußen; Potsdam, 5 November 1773 – Berlin, 28 December 1796) was the second son and third child of Frederick William II of Prussia and Frederika Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt.Prince Wilhelm of Prussia (1783–1851)
Prince Wilhelm of Prussia (Friedrich Wilhelm Karl von Preußen; 3 July 1783, Berlin – 28 September 1851, Berlin) was the son of Frederick William II of Prussia and Frederika Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt.Princess Augusta of Prussia
Princess Augusta of Prussia (Christine Friederike Auguste; 1 May 1780 – 19 February 1841) was a German salonist, painter, and Electress consort of Hesse by marriage to William II, Elector of Hesse. She was the third daughter and fifth child of Frederick William II of Prussia and Frederika Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt.Princess Elisabeth of Prussia
Princess Elisabeth of Prussia (18 June 1815 – 21 March 1885) was the second daughter of Prince Wilhelm of Prussia and Landgravine Marie Anna of Hesse-Homburg and a granddaughter of Frederick William II of Prussia. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh is her great-great-grandson.Princess Frederica
Princess Frederica may refer to:
Frederica of Hanover (1917–1981), queen consort of King Paul of Greece
Princess Frederica of Hanover (1848–1926), daughter of George V of Hanover and wife of Baron Alfons von Pawel-Rammingen
Frederica of Baden (1781–1826), queen consort of King Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden
Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1778–1841), wife of King Ernest Augustus I of Hanover
Princess Frederica Charlotte of Prussia (1767–1820), daughter of King Frederick William II of Prussia and wife of Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany
Princess Frederica Wilhelmina of Prussia (1796-1850), daughter of Prince Louis Charles of Prussia and wife of Leopold IV, Duke of Anhalt-Dessau
Princess Frederica Amalia of Denmark (1649–1704), duchess consort of Holstein-Gottorp, wife of Duke Christian Albrecht of Holstein-GottorpPrincess Frederika may refer to:
Frederika Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt (1751–1805), queen consort and second wife of King Frederick William II of PrussiaPrincess Friederike may refer to:
Princess Friederike of Hanover (born 1954), daughter of Prince George William of Hanover and Princess Sophie of Greece and Denmark
Princess Friederike of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg (1811–1902), daughter of Duke Friedrich Wilhelm of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg
Princess Friederike of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck (1780–1862), daughter of Friedrich Karl Ludwig, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck
Princess Friederike of Hesse-Darmstadt (1752–1782), daughter of Landgrave George William of Hesse-Darmstadt and wife of Charles II, grand duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Princess Friederike Luise of Prussia (1714–1784), daughter of King Frederick William I of Prussia and wife of Karl Wilhelm Friedrich, margrave of Brandenburg-AnsbachPrincess Frederica Charlotte of Prussia
Princess Frederica Charlotte of Prussia (Friederike Charlotte Ulrike Katharina; 7 May 1767 – 6 August 1820) was a Prussian and British princess. She was the eldest daughter of King Frederick William II of Prussia and the wife of Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, second son of King George III of the United Kingdom.Sophie von Dönhoff
Sophie Friederike Juliane von Dönhoff (17 October 1768 – 28 January 1838) was a German lady-in-waiting and a morganatic spouse by bigamy to King Frederick William II of Prussia.Treaty of Reichenbach (1790)
The Treaty of Reichenbach was signed on July 27, 1790 in Reichenbach (present-day Dzierżoniów) between Frederick William II of Prussia and Austria under Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II. The two countries tried to settle their differences, specifically Leopold attempted to be conciliatory toward Prussia, as Austria and Russia had recently made gains against the Ottoman Empire.Wilhelmine, Gräfin von Lichtenau
Wilhelmine, Gräfin von Lichtenau, born as Wilhelmine Enke, also spelled Encke (29 December 1753 in Potsdam – 9 June 1820 in Berlin), was the official mistress of King Frederick William II of Prussia from 1769 until 1797 and was elevated by him into the nobility. She is regarded as politically active and influential in the policy of Prussia during his reign.