Friedrich Wilhelm von Hohenzollern, Kurfürst von Brandenburg

BORN 16 Feb 1620, Köln, Nordrhein-Westfalen - DIED 9 May 1688, Potsdam, Brandenburg

Known as der Grosse Kurfürst (the Great Elector). He was the only son of Elector Georg Wilhelm and Elisabeth Charlotte of he Palatinate. His studies in Leiden (in the Netherlands) led to a tolerant attitude towards religion. In 1638 he returned to Berlin, but soon he had to flee for the Swedisch army together with his father. In 1640 his father died and he succeeded him.

He developed stronger military forces and this enabled him to put an end to the Thirty Years War by the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. In 1660 he disentangled Prussia from Poland. In 1672 and 1674 he fought with the Austrians and the Dutch against the French and in 1677 he captured Stettin, that he had to return to Sweden in 1679. In 1685 he once more joined Austria against the French.

In old age he suffered from asthma and arthritis, but he continued working until his death in 1688.

• Wife: Louise Henriëtte, Countess of Nassau (1646-)


Statue of Friedrich Wilhelm, the Great Elector in front of Charlottenburg Castle in Berlin. It was designed by Andreas Schlüter and unveiled on 12 Jul 1703.
Picture by Androom (18 Aug 1996)


Friedrich Wilhelm the Great's tomb at the Dom in Berlin.
Picture by Androom (14 Aug 2000)


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Friedrich, Caspar David

Published: 05 Apr 2009
Last update: 25 Apr 2022