By Tim Blanning
The definitive biography of the mythical autocrat whose enlightened rule remodeled the map of Europe and adjusted the process history
Few figures loom as huge in ecu historical past as Frederick the nice. while he inherited the Prussian crown in 1740, he governed over a country of scattered territories, a minor Germanic backwater. by way of the top of his reign, the a lot higher and consolidated Prussia ranked one of the continent’s nice powers. during this magisterial biography, award-winning historian Tim Blanning offers us an intimate, in-depth portrait of a king who ruled the political, army, and cultural lifetime of Europe part a century sooner than Napoleon.
A extraordinary, formidable, occasionally ruthless monarch, Frederick used to be a guy of tremendous contradictions. This consummate conqueror was once additionally an ardent shopper of the humanities who attracted painters, architects, musicians, playwrights, and intellectuals to his court docket. Like his fellow autocrat Catherine the nice of Russia, Frederick was once captivated through the beliefs of the Enlightenment—for decades he saved up vigorous correspondence with Voltaire and different major thinkers of the age. but, like Catherine, Frederick drew the road while it got here to imposing Enlightenment ideas that would curtail his royal authority.
Frederick’s terrifying father instilled in him a stern army self-discipline that might make the long run king essentially the most fearsome battlefield commanders of his day, whereas deriding as effeminate his son’s ardour for contemporary principles and superb paintings. Frederick, pushed to surpass his father’s legacy, challenged the dominant German-speaking powers, together with Saxony, Bavaria, and the Habsburg Monarchy. It used to be an audacious international coverage gambit, one at which Frederick, opposed to the expectancies of his competitors, succeeded.
In interpreting Frederick’s inner most existence, Blanning additionally rigorously considers the long-debated query of Frederick’s sexuality, discovering facts that Frederick lavished presents on his male buddies and maintained gay relationships all through his existence, whereas restricting touch along with his estranged, unloved queen to visits that have been few and much between.
the tale of 1 man’s lifestyles and the full political and cultural transformation of a kingdom, Tim Blanning’s sweeping biography takes readers contained in the brain of the monarch, giving us a clean realizing of Frederick the Great’s striking reign.
Praise for Frederick the Great
“Writing Frederick’s biography . . . calls for a various set of abilities: services in eighteenth-century diplomatic and armed forces heritage, together with the intricacies of the Holy Roman Empire; a familiarity with the track, structure and highbrow traditions of Northern Europe; and, now not least, a profound experience of human psychology, the higher to understand the make-up of this complicated and tormented guy. thankfully, Tim Blanning . . . has all of those abilities in abundance.”—The Wall road Journal
“At as soon as scholarly and hugely readable . . . [Blanning] has given us a good portrait of an enlightened despot, both at domestic at the battlefield and within the opera residence, either completely ruthless and culturally refined.”—Commentary
“Blanning, in transparent considering and prose, investigates all points of Frederick’s character and reign. . . . the final word in this major king, for years to come.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Masterly . . . Blanning brilliantly brings to lifestyles essentially the most complicated characters of contemporary eu history.”—The Telegraph (five stars)
“A supremely nuanced account . . . This biography reveals [Blanning] on the top of his powers.”—Literary Review
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Additional info for Frederick the Great: King of Prussia
So deep was the imprint bludgeoned into Frederick by his terrifying father that it could never be erased. One episode, from the summer of 1730, when Frederick was eighteen, will illustrate their relationship. He had spent the morning, as usual, on the parade ground, his body encased in a tight uniform and tight boots, his hair crimped close to his scalp and gathered in a pigtail. Released after lunch, he could retire to his private apartment in the royal palace, where the virtuoso flautist Johann Joachim Quantz was waiting.
Just staying still meant falling behind. If the Elector of Brandenburg had sat idly by as his Hanoverian and Saxon neighbors moved from the well of the hall to the top table, he would soon have found himself being jostled by lesser fry. It was well known that other princes, notably the Electors of Bavaria and the Palatinate, were also on the hunt for royal or even imperial titles. It was to avoid being overtaken that in the 1690s the Elector of Brandenburg Frederick III embarked on his own campaign.
By this time, the desperate military situation had been stabilized. When the dream began, Frederick was at Strassburg with the Austrian Field Marshal Daun. He was then suddenly transported to the palace of Charlottenburg near Berlin, where his father was waiting for him, together with his most trusted general, Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Dessau. ” asked Frederick. “Yes,” said Frederick William. “Then I am content,” replied Frederick. ”3 Frederick was on the throne for forty-six years and was exceptionally active in all spheres, at home and abroad.
Frederick the Great: King of Prussia by Tim Blanning