Frederick II; Frederick the Great

[Frederick the Great] King of Prussia, born Berlin, Germany, 1712; died Sans Souci, Germany, 1786. Son of Frederick William I and Sophia Dorothea, English princess, his father planned his education along strictly military lines. Frederick acquired a thorough knowledge of French and in his early youth wrote two of his best works, "Considerations sur l'etat present du corps politique de l'Europe," and "Anti-Macchiavel." Succeeding to the throne, 1740, he took advantage of the War of the Austrian Succession to enter Silesia, and signed the Peace of Breslau, 1742; a second Silesian war, 1744, secured his possession. Victories during the Seven Years' War (1756-1763) placed Prussia at the head of the European powers and Frederick, whose absolutism was motivated always by the greater good of the state, undertook improvements at home. He aided the Catholics gathering from Silesia and Poland, gave his protection to the Jesuits even after their suppression, and made an unsuccessful attempt to establish a "Catholic Vicariate of Berlin" having complete authority over Prussian Catholics. Education and science were encouraged; the Bank of Berlin established; the city became a center of commerce and industry; and the opera house and other buildings testify to his love of art. The partition of Poland toward the end of his reign marred his career.

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