Asexuals in History: Frederick the Great, Part I

Just what made him so great?

Image for post
Image for post

Early Years

Birth and Family

The son of Crown Prince Frederick William and Sophia Dorothea of Hanover, Frederick was born in Berlin on January 24, 1712. While most of you can recognize Berlin as the capital of Germany today, at the time, there was no official Germany. German people existed more as an idea than as an official nation. Most of them lived in the Holy Roman Empire, which (despite the mighty-sounding name) was a loose confederation of mostly independent states, such as Bavaria, Saxony, Hanover, and Brandenburg. The Empire also variously included parts of France, the Low Countries, Italy, and Austria. Each region in the Empire was led by a monarch called an Elector, all of whom would elect a new Emperor when the previous one died or abdicated. Interestingly, one German area was not part of this Empire: Prussia. It was a duchy within the Polish kingdom.

Childhood

Frederick’s father wanted him to follow in a similar mold as a Soldier-king. He woke Frederick with the sound of cannon fire every morning and, at age six, gave him command of a regiment of children. The new Crown Prince, however, had a far-different personality than that of his father, and their relationship would grow hostile.

Young Adulthood

Around 1729, a teenage Frederick met a man eight years his senior by the name of Hans Hermann von Katte, a Prussian aristocrat who had classes with him. Katte shared his passion for art, music, poetry, and the Enlightenment, and the Crown Prince greatly admired Katte for his values and cosmopolitan attitudes. Not surprisingly, the two quickly became best friends.

Image for post
Image for post
The execution of Katte, as Frederick watches.

Early Reign

Frederick William died in 1740. By the end, his relationship with his son had improved, even if they never really liked each other. He came to tolerate his son’s interests and hobbies more, while Frederick came to appreciate some of his father’s strengths. Frederick later said of him:

The Things Inherited

Image for post
Image for post

War of the Austrian Succession

In the first year of his reign, Frederick found himself in a major war. It was sparked by the death of the Holy Roman Emperor and the doubt about the ability of a female (the twenty-three-year-old Maria Theresa) to inherit the throne.

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Frederick also inherited East Frisia in 1744 (near Hanover), following the extinction of the family that ruled it.

I discuss politics, economics, art, video games, and other interests.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store