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Beschreibung des Verlags
First published in 1941, this is a biography of Frederick William I (1688-1740), known as the “Soldier-King,” who was the King of Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg from 1713 until his death, and the father of Frederick the Great, who (following his father’s death in 1740) would go on to hold the longest reign of any Hohenzollern king.
Born in Berlin to Frederick I of Prussia, who had acquired the title King for the margraves of Brandenburg, and Sophia Charlotte of Hanover, he ascended the throne in 1713 and promptly sold most of his fathers’ horses, jewels and furniture; he did not intend to treat the treasury as his personal source of revenue the way Frederick I and many of the other German Princes had. During his own reign, Frederick William I did much to centralize and improve Prussia. He replaced mandatory military service among the middle class with an annual tax, established schools and hospitals, and resettled East Prussia (which had been devastated by the plague in 1709).
The king encouraged farming, reclaimed marshes, stored grain in good times and sold it in bad times. He concerned himself with every aspect of his relatively small country, planning to satisfy all that was needed for Prussia to defend itself. His rule was absolutist and he was a firm autocrat. He practiced rigid, frugal economy, never started a war, and led a simple and austere lifestyle, in contrast to the lavish court his father had presided over.
Dr. Robert Ergang’s biography is based on an extensive use of source as well as secondary materials, and includes many personal anecdotes of Frederick William I, which altogether make this a book that is sure to hold the interest of scholars and the general reader alike.
“Amid the great flood of hastily-written and poorly-conceived works about Prussia and Germany, it is a great pleasure to find such a scholarly and well-written book as that of Professor Ergang…”—W. O. Shanahan, “The Review of Politics,” Jan. 1942.