Friedrich II der Grosse, König von Preussen

BORN 24 Jan 1712, Berlin - DIED 17 Aug 1786, Potsdam, Brandenburg: Schloss Sanssouci
GRAVE LOCATION Potsdam, Brandenburg: Schloss Sanssouci

Son of king Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia. He was raised in a strict and military fashion by Charles Egide Duhan. In 1728 Johann Joachim Quantz secretly learned him to play the flute and conflicts with his father followed. He tried to run away to France with his friend Hans Hermann von Katte in 1730, but their attempt failed and Von Katte was arrested and sentenced to life. But the king ordered the judges to change the verdict to a death sentence. He was executed before the eyes of Friedrich. His father considered executing Friedrich as well, but he was spared.

He served in the army and in after he married Elisabeth Christine von Braunschweig-Bevern in 1733 his father reinstated him as crown prince. They had no children and it is possible that he preferred men above women. From 1736 onwards he lived with Christine in Rheinsberg, where he invested his time in philosophy, history and poetry. He corresponded with Voltaire and in 1738 he composed a symphony.

His father died in 1740 and he became king. He immediately restricted the use of torture and abandoned in completely in 1754. Religiuos freedom and freedom for the press were other changes.

In September, 1740 he finally met Voltaire. In December of that year he attacked the Austrians in Silesia and at the Peace of Breslau Silesia and Glatz became Prussian territory. Further battles followed until the Peace of Dresden in 1745. In 1747 his famous Schloss Sanssouci in Potsdam was completed.

In 1756 the Seven Years War started and in 1763 Prussia retained Silesia and was now among the dominant powers in Europe. Friedrich had won many battles in which he commanded the Prussian army, but after 1763 he was a changed and more cynical man.

He continued to reform Prussia and in 1778/1779 he prevented that Bavaria became a part of Austria. In 1786 he died in his chair at Sanssouci. His wishes to be buried in the crypt that was already built in the garden of Sanssouci were denied and he was buried at the Garnizonskirch in Potsdam near his father. Only on 17 Aug 1791 his last request was granted and his remains were transferred to the crypt in the garden of Sanssouci.

Related persons
• has a connection with Algarotti, Francesco, Count
• employed Knobelsdorff, Georg Wenzeslaus von
• was painted by Pesne, Antoine
• was painted by Rode, Bernhard
• corresponded with Voltaire

11/9/1740First meeting between king Frederick II the Great and Voltaire [Voltaire]


Tombstone of Frederick the Great in the Garden of Sanssouci, Potsdam.
Picture by Androom (9 Jul 2002)


Die Grosse Dynastien, Südwest Verlag, München, 1978
WDR Videotext, Westdeutscher Rundfunk, Köln
Winkler Prins Encyclopedie (editie 1909), 1909
Wikipedia (DE)

Friedrich III, emperor of Germany

Published: 25 Dec 2009
Last update: 02 May 2022