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Frederick II was King in Prussia of the Hohenzollern dynasty. He is best known for his military victories, his reorganization of Prussian armies, his innovative drills and tactics, and his final success against great odds in the Seven Years' War. He became known as Frederick the Great

Frederick was a proponent of enlightened absolutism. He modernized the Prussian bureaucracy and civil service and pursued religious policies throughout his realm that ranged from tolerance to oppression. He reformed the judicial system and made it possible for men not of noble stock to become judges and senior bureaucrats. Some critics however point out his oppressive measures against conquered Polish subjects. Frederick supported arts and philosophers he favored, but at the same enacted several laws censoring the press. Frederick is buried at his favorite residence, Sanssouci in Potsdam. Because he died childless, Frederick was succeeded by his nephew, Frederick William II of Prussia, son of his brother, Prince Augustus William of Prussia.

Nearly all 19th century German historians made Frederick into a romantic model of a glorified warrior, praising his leadership, administrative efficiency, devotion to duty and success in building up Prussia to a leading role in Europe. Historian Leopold von Ranke was unstinting in his praise of Frederick's "Heroic life, inspired by great ideas, filled with feats of arms...immortalized by the raising of the Prussian state to the rank of a power." Johann Gustav Droysen was even more extolling. He remained an admired historical figure through the German Empire's crushing defeat in First World War, and the Nazis glorified him as great German leader pre-figuring Hitler, but his reputation became far less favorable after the fall of the Nazi regime in 1945 in both East and West Germany. ...more


Panel #168
Frederick the Great
King of Prussia

Reign 31 May 1740 – 17 August 1786

King of Kings - by Lewis Lavoie