UCSB > History Dept. > Prof. Marcuse > Courses > Hist 133a > Lecture 2: Frederick the Great

UCSB Hist 133A, Fall 2006 (133a homepage)
19th Century Germany, Oct. 4, 2006

Prof. Marcuse (homepage)

Lecture 2:
Frederick the Great and Enlightened Despotism
(previous lecture, next lecture)


  • Was Germany different from other European countries in a "special" way? And if so, does that "specialness" come from long-standing, deeply rooted traditions, or is it of much more recent origin?

Last Time

  • Political organization: nation, principality, kingdom, empire, state,
  • The "butterfly effect:" small initial changes may result in large final differences

Austria vs. Prussia: Dualism in the German Lands

  • The Ascendancy of Prussia

1525 Mark Brandenburg becomes a duchy, as fiefdom of the Polish King
remains part of the Holy Roman Empire--why?
1555 Treaty of Augsburg: "cuius regio, eius religio"
1648 Treaty of Westphalia: 8 electors, federal principle, territory
Palatine/Rhine, Bohemia, Saxony, Brandenburg, archbishops Köln, Mainz, & Trier; Bavaria
1640-88: Frederick Wilhelm of Prussia, the Great Elector (*1620, 13 children--F III=3rd)

  • Long-serving dynastic leaders (preussen.de, the Hohenzollerns' website, has great pictures; unfortunately, they never got to translating more than the headings into English)
    • 1688-1713 Frederick III/I, 1701 King "in" Prussia (*1657, 3 children)
    • 1713-40 Frederick William I, the "Soldier King" (*1688, 14 children)
      80,000 soldiers/2 mio. pop.=4%; France 2/3% (173,000 soldiers)
    • 1740-80 Maria Theresa (Austria) (*1717, 16 children, incl. J. II, L. II, Marie-Ant.)
    • 1740-86 Frederick the Great (*1712, no children)
      1730: attempted flight
      Castle Rheinberg: Voltaire
      1742 Silesia, Wittelsbach as HR Emperor
      1785 "Princes' League" foils Joseph's Bavarian takeover plan
      reforms: army, law, education, agriculture
      Goethe: feeling "fritzisch"
    • 1765/80-90 Joseph II (Austria) (*1741, 1 daughter died infancy)

Absolutism and Enlightenment

  • "princeps legibus solutus"

Question 1

  • Based on Kitchen chap. 2 and Schulze pp. 35-55, name and briefly describe three or four underlying developments in the 18th and early 19th centuries that fundamentally transformed the nature of society in Europe.
    To what extent do you find these developments mentioned in Riesbeck's 1783 "letter" (Schulze S1)?
  • Write no more than 1 page (1.5 line spacing), or 2/3 page single-spaced; typed please
  • due at the start of class Friday, 11am sharp

prepared for web by H. Marcuse on Oct. 5, 2006, updated: 10/x/06
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