Frederick I of Prussia

Frederick I of Prussia

Frederick I ( _de. Friedrich I., July 11, 1657 – February 25, 1713), of the Hohenzollern dynasty, was (as Frederick III) Elector of Brandenburg (1688 – 1713) and the first King in Prussia (1701 – 1713).


Born in Königsberg, he was the third son of Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg by his father's first marriage to Louise Henriette of Orange-Nassau, eldest daughter of Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange and Amalia of Solms-Braunfels. His maternal cousin was King William III of England. Upon the death of his father on April 29, 1688, Frederick became Elector Frederick III of Brandenburg.

The Hohenzollern state was then known as Brandenburg-Prussia, as the family's main possessions were the Margraviate of Brandenburg within the Holy Roman Empire and the Duchy of Prussia outside of the Empire. Although he was the Margrave and Prince-elector of Brandenburg and the Duke of Prussia, Frederick desired the more prestigious title of king. However, according to Germanic law at that time, no kingdoms could exist within the Holy Roman Empire, with the exception of the Kingdom of Bohemia.

Leopold I, Archduke of Austria and Holy Roman Emperor, was convinced by Frederick to allow Prussia to be ruled as a kingdom. This agreement was ostensibly given in exchange for an alliance against King Louis XIV of France in the War of the Spanish Succession. Frederick's argument was that Prussia had never belonged to the Holy Roman Empire and therefore there was no legal or political barrier to prevent the Elector of Brandenburg from being King in Prussia. Frederick was aided in the negotiations by Charles Ancillon.

Frederick crowned himself "King Frederick I in Prussia" on January 18 1701 in Königsberg. To indicate that Frederick's royalty was limited to Prussia and did not reduce the rights of the Emperor in Frederick's Imperial territories, he had to call himself "King in Prussia", instead of "King of Prussia"; his grandson Frederick II of Prussia was the first Prussian king to formally style himself "King of Prussia".

Frederick was a patron of the arts. The Akademie der Künste in Berlin was founded by Frederick in 1696, as was the Academy of Sciences in 1700.

Frederick was married three times: first to Elizabeth Henrietta of Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel), with whom he had one child, Louise Dorothea, b. 1680, who died without issue at age 25; then to Sophia Charlotte of Hanover, with whom he had Frederick William I, born in 1688, who succeeded him. In 1708, he married Sophia Louise of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, who survived him but had no children by him. Frederick died in Berlin in 1713.

His grandson, Frederick the Great, referred to Frederick I as "the mercenary king", due to the fact that he greatly profitted from the hiring of his Prussian troops to defend other territories, such as in northern Italy against the French. [Spencer, Charles, "Blenheim", Chapter 22: Vindication, p.316]



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