Frederick William

Frederick William

Beechey, Frederick William, 1796-1856, British admiral and Arctic explorer. He accompanied an expedition N of Spitsbergen in 1818 and wrote an account of it in his Voyage of Discovery towards the North Pole (1843). He accompanied W. E. Parry to the Canadian Arctic in 1819, and in 1825-28 he commanded the Blossom in its explorations of the NW Alaska coast and search for the Northwest Passage. On this voyage he reached Point Barrow and explored Hotham inlet. He also surveyed the North African, South American, and Irish coasts.
Frederick William, crown prince of Germany: see William.
Frederick William, known as the Great Elector, 1620-88, elector of Brandenburg (1640-88), son and successor of George William. At his accession the scattered lands of the Hohenzollern were devastated and depopulated by the Thirty Years War and occupied by Swedish troops. Frederick William immediately negotiated an armistice with Sweden and then turned to building his military strength. Beginning with few resources and no dependable troops, he raised an efficient army. At the Peace of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years War, he received E Pomerania and several other territories. Frederick William subsequently joined Sweden in its war against Poland (1655-60) but deserted the Swedes after Russia and Denmark entered the war. In a treaty with Poland (1657) he obtained recognition of his sovereignty over Prussia, previously held as a fief of the Polish crown. Now allied against Sweden, he gained W Pomerania, but was deprived of it by the Peace of Oliva (1660). In succeeding years Frederick William continued in his attempt to consolidate his widely scattered lands, at the same time trying to avoid French or Hapsburg domination. In the Dutch War of 1672-78 he achieved his objective of uniting all of Pomerania, but was forced to give up his conquest as a result of the peace between France and the Holy Roman Empire. Nevertheless, his prestige was enormously enhanced by his brilliant victory at Fehrbellin (1675) over France's Swedish allies. Frederick William laid the foundation of the Prussian state by repressing the estates, strengthening central administration, husbanding the resources of his lands, improving communication, and building the army. His son became king of Prussia as Frederick I.

See biography by F. Schevill (1947).

Frederick William, 1771-1815, duke of Brunswick, German military hero. On the death (1806) of his father, Charles William Ferdinand, his duchy was seized by Napoleon I and added to the kingdom of Westphalia. He attempted to liberate his duchy from French control in 1809, when Austria reopened war against France. Frederick William formed a free corps, the "Black Brunswickers," and in a dashing foray advanced through Germany and captured Brunswick. He soon was driven out but succeeded in fleeing with his troops to England. Returning in 1813, he took possession of Brunswick but was killed at Quatre Bras in the Waterloo campaign.
Faber, Frederick William, 1814-63, English theologian and hymn writer. A friend of John Henry Newman and an adherent of the Oxford movement, he became (1843) rector of Eton. In 1845 he entered the Roman Catholic Church and with some of his friends and parishioners founded a religious community in Birmingham, which merged in 1848 into the Oratory of St. Philip Neri. Ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1847, he helped found in 1849 the oratory in London, of which he was superior for the rest of his life. His poetical works include "The Cherwell Water-Lily" (1840); his many well-known hymns were collected in Hymns (1848). Other writings include nine contributions to Lives of the Canonized Saints (1844-45), The Blessed Sacrament (1855), and The Foot of the Cross (1853-60).

See biography by R. Chapman (1961).

MacMonnies, Frederick William, 1863-1937, American sculptor and painter, b. Brooklyn, N.Y., studied with Augustus Saint-Gaudens and with Falguière in Paris. His fountain for the Court of Honor at the World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893, brought him fame. Among his numerous other works are a statue of Nathan Hale (City Hall Park, New York City); reliefs on the central bronze doors and the Shakespeare statue (Library of Congress); the army and navy groups for the Brooklyn Arch (Prospect Park, Brooklyn, N.Y.); and the Pioneer Monument (Denver).
Rolfe, Frederick William, 1860-1913, English novelist, also known as Baron Corvo. After a vain attempt to become a priest, Rolfe earned a living painting and teaching before he began to write under the name Baron Corvo. His most famous work is the novel Hadrian the Seventh (1904), which chronicles the life of Arthur Rose, who, although rejected for the priesthood, eventually becomes pope. One of the strangest novels in English, Hadrian the Seventh was dramatized by Peter Luke in 1967 and successfully produced in London and New York. Rolfe's bizarre, abusive, and erudite personality is revealed in his The Desire and Pursuit of the Whole (1934), which tells of his final sordid years in Venice.

See his letters (3 vol., 1959-62); biographical studies by A. J. A. Symons (1955) and D. Weeks (1971).

Frederick William (Friedrich Wilhelm; February 16 1620April 29 1688) was the Elector of Brandenburg and the Duke of Prussia from 1640 until his death. He was of the House of Hohenzollern and is popularly known as the Great Elector (Großer Kurfürst) because of his military and political skill. Frederick William was also a staunch pillar of the Calvinist faith, associated with the rising commercial class. He saw the importance of trade and promoted it vigorously. The Great Elector's shrewd domestic reforms gave Prussia a strong position in the post-Westphalia political order of north-central Europe, setting Prussia up for elevation from duchy to kingdom, achieved under his successor.


Frederick William was born in Berlin to George William, Elector of Brandenburg, and Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate. His inheritance consisted of the Margraviate of Brandenburg, the Duchy of Cleves, the County of Mark, and the Duchy of Prussia.

Foreign diplomacy

During Thirty Years' War, George William had striven to maintain with a minimal army a delicate balance between the Protestant and Catholic forces fighting throughout the Holy Roman Empire. Out of these meagre beginnings Frederick William managed to rebuild his war-ravaged territories. In contrast to the religious disputes in other European states, the elector supported religious tolerance. With the help of French subsidies, he built up an army to defend the country. Through the treaties of Wehlau, Labiau, and Oliva, Frederick William succeeded in revoking Polish sovereignty over the Duchy of Prussia, leaving the Holy Roman Emperor as his only liege.

Military career

Frederick William was a military commander of wide renown; his standing army would later become the model for the Prussian Army. He is notable for his joint victory with Swedish forces at the Battle of Warsaw (1656), but the Swedes turned on him at the behest of King Louis XIV of France and invaded Brandenburg. After marching 250 kilometers in 15 days back to Brandenburg, he caught the Swedes by surprise and managed to defeat them on the field at the Battle of Fehrbellin, destroying the myth of Swedish military invincibility. He later destroyed another Swedish army that invaded the Duchy of Prussia during the Great Sleigh Drive in 1678. He is noted for his use of broad directives and delegation of decision-making to his commanders, which would later become the basis for the German doctrine of Auftragstaktik, and he is noted for using rapid mobility to defeat his foes.

Domestic policies

Frederick William is notable for raising an army of 40,000 soldiers by 1678, through the General War Commissariat presided over by Joachim Friedrich von Blumenthal. He was an advocate of mercantilism, monopolies, subsidies, tariffs, and internal improvements. Following Louis XIV's revocation of the Edict of Nantes, Frederick William encouraged skilled French and Walloon Huguenots to emigrate to Brandenburg-Prussia with the Edict of Potsdam, bolstering the country's technical and industrial base. On Blumenthal's advice he agreed to exempt the nobility from taxes and in return they agreed to dissolve the Estates-General. He also simplified travel in Brandenburg and the Duchy of Prussia by connecting riverways with canals, a system that was expanded by later Prussian architects, such as Georg Steenke; the system is still in use today.



On 7 December 1646 at The Hague, Frederick William entered into marriage, proposed by Blumenthal as a partial solution to the Jülich-Berg question, with Luise Henriette of Nassau (1627-1667), daughter of Frederick Henry of Orange-Nassau and Amalia of Solms-Braunfels. Their children were

  • William Henry (1648-1649),
  • Charles (1655-1674),
  • Frederick (1657-1713), his successor,
  • Amalie (1656-1664),
  • Henry (1664-1664),
  • Louis (1666-1687).

On 13 June 1668 at Gröningen, Frederick William married Sophie Dorothea of Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, daughter of Philipp of Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg and Sophie Hedwig of Saxe-Lauenburg. Their children were

  • Philip William (1669-1711),
  • Marie Amalie (1670-1739),
  • Albert Frederick (1672-1731),
  • Charles (1673-1695),
  • Elisabeth Sofie (1674-1748),
  • Dorothea (1675-1676),
  • Christian Ludwig (1677-1734), recipient of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos.


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