Rise of Prussia
Prussia's landlord nobility
Poor agricultural land and labor shortages led to establishment of serfdom by 16th century
Junkers were guaranteed control over their serfs by the state
In exchng for service and obedience to the government
Junkers didn't pay taxes
Middle class didn't grow
Because of lack of towns
And prohibition against selling land to commoners
A prince from the Hohenzollern family was given the margravate of Brandenburg
"Margrave" is a medieval title for a commander charged with protecting one of the border regions of the Holy Roman Empire
Another Hohenzollern family member became the duke of Prussia ("Duchy of Prussia")
A member of a branch of the Hohenzollerns in Brandenburg married a member of the Prussian branch uniting the provinces
Along with the principalities of Cleves, Mark and Ravensberg that were acquired in 1614).
The Thirty Years War (1618-1648) devastated the Brandenburg-Prussian territory
Killing or dislocating half the population and leaving cities, like Berlin, in ruins.
FREDERICK WILLIAM (R. 1640-1688) "Great Elector"
Elector of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia
Referred to as the "Great Elector"
Electors had the privilege of electing the Holy Roman Emperor (who would then be crowned by the Pope).
After 1440, all but one Holy Roman Emperor came from the Hapsburg family.
The title of "Elector" was prestigious (but not as prestigious as kings).
Electors had exclusive privileges not enjoyed by other princes in the HRE.
Frederick William inherited three disconnected chunks of land
No natural borders to defend from enemies
Land weakened by years of war and depopulation (see Thirty Years War, 1618-1648)
Frederick William wanted to build an army
But didn't have the resources.
Worked out agreement with Junkers:
Junkers would provide him with revenue.
And serve in his army and bureacracy.
And Frederick William would let them have complete control over the serfs
By 1640s Frederick William had tripled the size of his army
New strength = won more territories at end of Thirty Years War.
Frederick William centralized his rule over the Estates (representative assemblies in the realm)
And acquired the authority to collect taxes using his army to enforce tax payments.
Jews expelled from Austria in 1670 were welcomed into Prussia by the Great Elector who tolerated all religious beliefs.
By his death 1688
Brandenburg-Prussia on road to becoming a major player in European politics.
PEACE OF WESTPHALIA 1648
Ended Thirty Years War
Prussia got eastern Pomerania, Halberstadt and Magdeburg (see map above)
Rest of Holy Roman Empire was weak (German princes got autonomy)
FREDERICK III/KING FREDERICK I (1688-1713)
Frederick William's son
Elector of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia (later, "King" of Prussia)
Inherited a well-organized army and most efficient civil service in Europe
Frederick III made Prussia into a kingdom in 1701
Got title of King Frederick I
In exchange for helping the HRE Leopold I in War of Spanish Succession against France
Title accepted by Treaty of Utrecht in 1713
Built Berlin into a great social and cultural center.
KING FREDERICK WILLIAM I (1713-1740) ("The Soldier King")
Elector of Brandenburg and King of Prussia
Did much to centralize and improve Prussia
Resettled East Prussia after a devastating plague (1709)
Became a rigid absolutist ruler and micromanaged every aspect of the country
Created a Manual of Regulations outlining the duties of every public servant in Prussia
Established schools and hospitals
Created a huge army
Put 70% of Prussia's budget towards the military
Only Junkers could become officers
Although he was religiously prejudiced against Jews
He granted Jews some privileges because of their wealth and manufacturing skills
Frederick William was frugal (no expensive wars, austere lifestyle)
Leaving a large surplus in the royal treasury.
KING FREDERICK II/ FREDERICK "THE GREAT" (1740-1786) "Fritz"
Elector of Brandenburg, King of Prussia (longest reigning Hohenzollern king)
Prussian power at its zenith
When Fritz was 6, his father gave him his own regiment of children to command
At age 7, he was given his first arsenal
Though his father wanted him to be a great general, Frederick preferred education and was fascinated with French culture
Example of an Enlightened Absolutist
Voltaire lived at his palace
Frederick wrote philosophical tracts and played flute
Freed serfs on the royal estates (not on Junker land)
Ended capital punishment
Limited use of corporal punishment on serfs
Considered himself "the first servant of the state"
Made improvements to Prussian agriculture (example from physiocrats)
imported clover, potatoes, crop rotation and iron plow
But rejected laissez-faire economics in favor of mercantilism.
Was a deist and religiously tolerant but though Jews were "useless to the state" and levied a tax on them.
Frederick the Great modernized Prussia's bureaucracy and civil service
Took Silesia from Austria in 1742
Conquered Polish territory in the First Partition of Poland in 1772