What Are Some Interesting Facts About Frederick the Great?

King Frederick the Great of Prussia was an art patron and reformer who abolished torture and established freedoms of religion and the press. When he was 18, Frederick's abusive father forced him to watch his friend be beheaded. Later, Frederick left his wife from an arranged marriage and never showed interest in women again.

Frederick II was born in Berlin in 1712 and was king from 1740 to 1786. Frederick's father, Frederick I of the House of Hohenzollern, often humiliated and abused him. Frederick's mother, Princess Sophia-Dorothea, sister of the King of England, was good to him. Frederick II was a gifted musician whose mother had him tutored in poetry, Greek and Roman classics, and French culture. His father, however, wanted him educated in statecraft and military science. Frederick's father placed him in a junior government position in local administration.

Under Frederick II, Prussia became a great European power, which it had not been under his father. Frederick, known as the Philosopher King, reformed the government and military and established the first German code of law.