Friedrich Freiherr von der Trenck (February 1726– 25 July 1794) was a Prussian officer, adventurer, and author.
Von der Trenck was born in Königsberg
, East Prussia
. He entered the Prussian army
in 1740 and became an orderly officer of King Frederick II of Prussia
. However, he was imprisoned one year later, in 1745, at Glatz
under the guard of Heinrich August de la Motte Fouqué
. It is unclear whether the imprisonment was due to an affair with Princess Anna Amalia
, the younger sister of the king, or it was because of the relation with his cousin Franz Freiherr von der Trenck
, who served in Austria
In 1746, von der Trenck escaped from the fortress of Glatz (Kłodzko). Then, in 1749, he obtained an employment as Rittmeister of an imperial cuirassier regiment in Hungary. In 1753, he went to Danzig for family reasons, but was again captured, on the orders of Frederick II, and was sent to the "Sternschanze" (literally: Star-shaped Redoubt) in Magdeburg. To prevent him from attempting to escape, they fastened his hands, feet, and body with heavy chains and manacles. In 1763, he was released through the intervention of Empress Maria Theresa.
During the next ten years, von der Trenck led an active life. He busied himself in writing literature, running a wine trading business, and travelling to England and France.
By the order of Austria, von der Trenck was sent, as an observer of the events of the French Revolution, to Paris, where he was accused as a spy and executed by the guillotine in 1794, two days before the fall of Robespierre and the end of the Terror.
Literature and Film
In 1972 Fritz Umgelter
directed a five part TV series Die merkwuerdige Lebensgeschichte des Friedrich Freiherrn von der Trenck
, which was shown the following year on the public channel ZDF
. The series showed von der Trenck in a romantic light, highlighting his nobility of character and honourable behaviour on various occasions. The role of von der Trenck was played by Matthias Habich
In 2003, ZDF broadcast a two-part series Trenck = Zwei Herzen gegen dir Krone. The leading
roles were played by Ben Becker and Alexandra Maria Lara..
His life was also the basis of the novel Trenck by Bruno Frank