FRIEDRICH II. VON PREUSSEN
* 24. Januar 1712 in Berlin, today Germany
† 17. August 1786 in Potsdam, today Germany
Frederick II of Prussia was King of Prussia from 1740 until 1786. He was also called „Frederick the Great“ and „the old Fritz.“ He is regarded as a representative of enlightened absolutism. He described himself as the „first servant of the state.“ He carried out far-reaching social reforms, abolished torture, and pushed for the development of the education system.
Several wars against Austria established Prussia as the fifth great power next to France, Great Britain, Austria, and Russia.
Frederick‘s merits are varied: he reformed the General State Law, introduced potatoes as foodstuffs, built hundreds of schools, founded the Royal Porcelain Manufactory in Berlin, and promoted expansion of agriculture for independent farmers. His proposal to abolish serfdom failed because of massive resistance from aristocratic estate owners.
In 1733, Frederick reluctantly married Elisabeth Christine von Braunschweig-Bevern. The marriage was childless. After his accession to the throne, he removed his wife from his life, although they remained married. Instead he surrounded himself with philosophers and artists. In 1745, he had his summer palace built and named it Sanssouci – meaning, “carefree.”
As a young Crown Prince Frederick declared that he was too little attracted to the female sex. In case of his death, he made a list of the names of the people „whom I loved most in my life“ – only names of men followed, including that of his valet Michael Gabriel Fredersdorf. His intimate relationship with Lieutenant Hans Hermann von Katte, whose execution he had to witness upon his father’s orders, also supports the assumption that Frederick II of Prussia was gay.