Frederick William II of Prussia
Frederick William II was King of Prussia from 1786 until his death. He was in personal union the Prince-elector of Brandenburg and sovereign prince of the Canton of Neuchâtel. Pleasure-loving and indolent, he is seen as the antithesis to his predecessor, Frederick II. Under his reign, Prussia was weakened internally and externally, he failed to deal adequately with the challenges to the existing order posed by the French Revolution, his religious policies were directed against the Enlightenment and aimed at restoring a traditional Protestantism. However, he was a patron of the arts and responsible for the construction of some notable buildings, among them the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Frederick William was born in Berlin, the son of Prince Augustus William of Prussia and Duchess Luise of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, his mother's elder sister, was the wife of Augustus William's brother King Frederick II. Frederick William became heir-presumptive to the throne of Prussia on his father's death in 1758, since Frederick II had no children.
The boy was of an easy-going and pleasure-loving disposition, averse to sustained effort of any kind, sensual by nature. His marriage with Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, Crown Princess of Prussia, daughter of Charles I, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, contracted 14 July 1765 in Charlottenburg, was dissolved in 1769, he married Frederica Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt, daughter of Ludwig IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt on 14 July 1769 in Charlottenburg. Although he had seven children by his second wife, he had an ongoing relationship with his mistress, Wilhelmine Enke, a woman of strong intellect and much ambition, had five children by her—the first when she was still in her teens. Frederick William, before the corpulence of his middle age, was a man of singularly handsome presence, not without mental qualities of a high order, he was a talented cellist. But an artistic temperament was hardly what was required of a king of Prussia on the eve of the French Revolution, Frederick the Great, who had employed him in various services expressed his misgivings as to the character of the prince and his surroundings.
For his part, Frederick William, who had never been properly introduced to diplomacy and the business of rulership, resented his uncle for not taking him seriously. The misgivings of Frederick II appear justified in retrospect. Frederick William′s accession to the throne was, followed by a series of measures for lightening the burdens of the people, reforming the oppressive French system of tax-collecting introduced by Frederick, encouraging trade by the diminution of customs dues and the making of roads and canals; this gave the new king much popularity with the masses. Frederick William terminated his predecessor's state monopolies for coffee and tobacco and the sugar monopoly. However, under his reign the codification known as Allgemeines Preußisches Landrecht, initiated by Frederick II, continued and was completed in 1794. In 1781 Frederick William prince of Prussia, inclined to mysticism, had joined the Rosicrucians, had fallen under the influence of Johann Christoph von Wöllner and Johann Rudolf von Bischoffwerder.
On 26 August 1786 Wöllner was appointed privy councillor for finance, on 2 October 1786 was ennobled. Though not in name, he in fact became prime minister. Bischoffswerder, still a simple major, was called into the king′s counsels; the opposition to Wöllner was, indeed, at the outset strong enough to prevent his being entrusted with the department of religion. From this position Wöllner pursued long lasting reforms concerning religion in the Prussian state; the king proved eager to aid Wöllner's crusade. On 9 July 1788 a religious edict was issued forbidding Evangelical ministers from teaching anything not contained in the letter of their official books, proclaimed the necessity of protecting the Christian religion against the "enlighteners", placed educational establishments under the supervision of the orthodox clergy. On 18 December 1788 a new censorship law was issued to secure the orthodoxy of all published books; this forced major Berlin journals like Christoph Friedrich Nicolai's Allgemeine Deutsche Bibliothek and Johann Erich Biester's Berliner Monatsschrift to publish only outside the Prussian borders.
Moreover, people like Immanuel Kant were forbidden to speak in public on the topic of religion. In 1791, a Protestant commission was established at Berlin to watch over all ecclesiastical and scholastic appointments. Although Wöllner's religious edict had many critics, it was an important measure that, in fact, proved an important stabilizing factor for the Prussian state. Aimed at protecting the multi-con
Prince Henry of Prussia (1726–1802)
Frederick Henry Louis known as Henry, was a Prince of Prussia and the younger brother of Frederick the Great. He served as a general and statesman, leading Prussian armies in the Silesian Wars and the Seven Years' War, having never lost a battle in the latter. In 1786, he was suggested as a candidate for a monarch for the United States. Born in Berlin, Henry was the 13th child of King Frederick William I of Prussia and Princess Sophia Dorothea of Hanover. Henry's conflicts with his older brother, King Frederick II of Prussia, are legendary. Although remarkably similar in appearance and personality Henry resented being in Frederick's shadow. Nonetheless, he loyally served as one of his brother's top generals throughout Frederick's reign. Henry tended to be less aggressive than the King in battle; when he was only 14, Henry was appointed as Colonel of the 35th Infanterieregiment by Frederick after he became king in 1740, leading Henry to participate in the first two Silesian Wars. Henry lived in the shadow of his older brother and sometimes criticized the king's military strategies and foreign policies, although in years the brothers became closer.
In 1753 he published his memoirs under the pseudonym "Maréchal Gessler". On 25 June 1752 Henry married Princess Wilhelmina of Hesse-Kassel in Charlottenburg, but they had no children. Henry lived in Rheinsberg Palace after receiving it as a gift from his brother who had a grand palace built for him in Berlin between 1748 and 1753. Despite the marriage, he scarcely concealed his passion for other men and developed intimate friendships with the actor Blainville and the French emigre Count La Roche-Aymon. One favourite, Major von Kaphengst, exploited the prince's interest in him to lead a dissipated, wasteful life at Schloss Meseberg, an estate not far from Rheinsberg which Henry had given to him. Henry led Prussian armies as a general during the Third Silesian War, he distinguished himself during his brother's victory at the Battle of Prague and fought heroically during the Prussians' subsequent defeat at Kolin. After the Prussian Army's initial success against one wing of the joint Russian and Austrian Armies in the Battle of Kunersdorf, Henry urged his brother Frederick to stop attacking.
The king, who had sent a message of victory to Berlin, pressed the attack. The day ended with a destroyed Prussian army, a defenseless Kingdom of Prussia, a complete victory by the Russo-Austrian force. Afterwards, Henry reorganized the routed Prussian forces. Frederick came to rely on his brother as commander of the Prussian forces in the east, Frederick's strategic flank. Henry won his most famous victory at Freiberg in 1762, the final battle of the war between Austria and Prussia. After the Seven Years' War, Henry worked as a shrewd diplomat who helped plan the First Partition of Poland through trips to Stockholm and St. Petersburg. During the War of the Bavarian Succession he commanded one of the two Prussian main armies, but saw little action. In the 1780s he made two diplomatic trips to France, he was a friend of Jean-Louis Favier. Henry attempted to secure a principality for himself and twice tried to become King of Poland, but was opposed by a displeased Frederick; the king frustrated Henry's attempt to become ruler of a kingdom Catherine II of Russia planned to create in Wallachia.
In 1786 either Nathaniel Gorham, then-President of the Continental Congress, or Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, the Prussian general who served in the Continental Army, suggested to Alexander Hamilton that Henry should become President or King of the United States, but the offer was revoked before the prince could make a reply. After the death of Frederick in 1786, Henry hoped to become more influential in the Prussian government as the advisor of his nephew, the new King Frederick William II of Prussia. Although he was less influential than he hoped, Henry was more important during the last years of his life in advising King Frederick William III, who began his reign in 1797. Voltaire had seen in Frederick the embodiment of his "Philosopher King". Arguably, Henry was by deed the man. Henry died at Rheinsberg Palace. Biography at Preussen.de
The Directory or Directorate was a five-member committee that governed France from 2 November 1795, when it replaced the Committee of Public Safety, until 9 November 1799, when it was overthrown by Napoleon Bonaparte in the Coup of 18 Brumaire, replaced by the French Consulate. It gave its name to the final four years of the French Revolution; the Directory was continually at war with foreign coalitions which at different times included Britain, Prussia, the Kingdom of Naples and the Ottoman Empire. It annexed Belgium and the left bank of the Rhine, while Bonaparte conquered a large part of Italy; the Directory established 196 short-lived sister republics modelled after France, in Italy and the Netherlands. The conquered cities and states were required to send to France huge amounts of money, as well as art treasures, which were used to fill the new Louvre museum in Paris. An army led by Bonaparte tried to conquer Egypt and marched as far as Saint-Jean-d'Acre in Syria; the Directory defeated a resurgence of the War in the Vendée, the royalist-led civil war in the Vendée region, but failed in its venture to support the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and create an Irish Republic.
The French economy was in continual crisis during the Directory. At the beginning, the treasury was empty; the Directory stopped printing assignats and restored the value of the money, but this caused a new crisis. In its first two years, the Directory concentrated on ending the excesses of the Jacobin Reign of Terror; the Jacobin political club was closed and the government crushed an armed uprising planned by the Jacobins and an early socialist revolutionary, François-Noël Babeuf, known as "Gracchus Babeuf". However, following the discovery of a royalist conspiracy including a prominent general, Jean-Charles Pichegru, the Jacobins took charge of the new Councils and hardened the measures against the Church and émigrés; the Jacobins took two additional seats in the Directory, hopelessly dividing it. In 1799, after several defeats, French victories in the Netherlands and Switzerland restored the French military position, but the Directory had lost the support of all the political factions. Bonaparte returned from Egypt in October, was engaged by the Abbé Sieyès and others to carry out a parliamentary coup d'état on 8–9 November 1799.
The coup abolished the Directory, replaced it with the French Consulate led by Bonaparte. On 27 July 1794, members of the French Convention, the revolutionary parliament of France, rose up against its leader Maximilien Robespierre, in the midst of executing thousands of suspected enemies of the Revolution. Robespierre and his leading followers were declared outside the law, on 28 July were arrested and guillotined the same day; the Revolutionary Tribunal, which had sent thousands to the guillotine, ceased meeting and its head, Fouquier-Tinville, was arrested and imprisoned, after trial was himself guillotined. More than five hundred suspected counter-revolutionaries awaiting trial and execution were released. In July 1794, the members of the Convention began planning a new form of government and drafting a new Constitution, which would become the Constitution of the Year III. An important aim was to prevent too much power from becoming concentrated in the hands of one man. One of the authors of the new Constitution, François Antoine de Boissy d'Anglas, wrote to the Convention: We propose to you to compose an executive power of five members, renewed with one new member each year, called the Directory.
This executive will have a force concentrated enough that it will be swift and firm, but divided enough to make it impossible for any member to consider becoming a tyrant. A single chief would be dangerous; each member will preside for three months. By the slow and gradual replacement of members of the Directory, you will preserve the advantages of order and continuity and will have the advantages of unity without the inconveniences; the Constitution of the Year III began with the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen and declared that "the Rights of Man in society are liberty, equality and property". It guaranteed freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of labour, but forbade armed assemblies and public meetings of political societies. Only individuals or public authorities could tender petitions; the judicial system was reformed, judges were given short terms of office: two years for justices of the peace, five for judges of department tribunals. They were elected, could be re-elected, to assure their independence from the other branches of government.
The new legislature had two houses, a Council of Five Hundred and a Council of Ancients with two hundred fifty members. Electoral assemblies in each canton of France, which brought together a total of thirty thousand qualified electors, chose representatives to an electoral assembly in each department, which elected the members of both houses; the members of this legislature had a term of three years, with one-third of the members renewed every year. The Ancients could not initiate new laws, but could veto those proposed by the Council of Five Hundred; the Constitution established a unique kind of executive, a five-man Directory chosen by the legislature. It required the Council of Five Hundred to prepare, by secret ballot, a list of candidates for the Directory; the Council of Ancients chose, again by secret ballot, the Direct
Treaties of Tilsit
The Treaties of Tilsit were two agreements signed by Napoleon I of France in the town of Tilsit in July 1807 in the aftermath of his victory at Friedland. The first was signed on 7 July, between Emperor Alexander I of Russia and Napoleon I of France, when they met on a raft in the middle of the Neman River; the second was signed with Prussia on 9 July. The treaties were made at the expense of the Prussian king, who had agreed to a truce on 25 June after the Grande Armée had captured Berlin and pursued him to the easternmost frontier of his realm. In Tilsit, he ceded about half of his pre-war territories. From those territories, Napoleon had created French sister republics, which were formalized and recognized at Tilsit: the Kingdom of Westphalia, the Duchy of Warsaw and the Free City of Danzig. Napoleon not only cemented his control of Central Europe but had Russia and the truncated Prussia ally with him against his two remaining enemies, Great Britain and Sweden, triggering the Anglo-Russian and Finnish War.
Tilsit freed French forces for the Peninsular War. Central Europe became a battlefield again in 1809, when Austria and Great Britain engaged France in the War of the Fifth Coalition. Following the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, the Congress of Vienna would restore many Prussian territories; the treaty ended war between Imperial Russia and the French Empire and began an alliance between the two empires that rendered the rest of continental Europe powerless. The two countries secretly agreed to aid each other in disputes. France pledged to aid Russia against the Ottoman Empire while Russia agreed to join the Continental System against the British Empire. Napoleon convinced Alexander to enter into the Anglo-Russian War and to instigate the Finnish War against Sweden to force Sweden to join the Continental System. More the tsar agreed to evacuate Wallachia and Moldavia, occupied by Russian forces as part of the Russo-Turkish War, 1806-1812; the Ionian Islands and Cattaro, captured by Russian admirals Ushakov and Senyavin, were to be handed over to the French.
In recompense, Napoleon guaranteed the sovereignty of the Duchy of Oldenburg and several other small states ruled by the Tsar's German relatives. The treaty with Prussia stripped the country of about half its territory: Cottbus passed to Saxony, the left bank of the Elbe was awarded to the newly created Kingdom of Westphalia, Białystok was given to Russia, most of the Polish lands in Prussian possession since the Second and Third Partitions became the quasi-independent Duchy of Warsaw. Prussia was to reduce the army to 43,000 and on 9 March 1808, France fixed its tribute to be levied from Prussia at 154,500,000 francs, deducting 53,500,000, raised so far during the ongoing French occupation, the sum was lowered in two steps to 120 million francs by 1 November 1808. Talleyrand had advised Napoleon to pursue milder terms; until 1812, the French occupants requisitioned in money and kind from various corporations and persons by billetting soldiers on cities, further contributions additionally amounting to between 146 and 309 million francs, according to different calculations.
The Prussian government indebtedness soared between 1806 and 1815 by thaler 200 million to altogether 180.09 million interest-bearing debts, 11.24 million non-interest-bearing unconsolidated treasury notes and another 25.9 million former provincial debts assumed by the royal government. The cities' debts those of Berlin billetted on, were not assumed by the Prussian government. Since the creditors deemed Prussia to be over-indebted in 1817, the 4-per cent state bonds were traded at the bourses with a disagio of 27 to 29 per cent, in 1818 with a discountor of 35 per cent, causing the effective interest to rise to 6.15 per cent. At restructuring part of the debts in 1818 by a £5 million loan at 5% at the London financial market, the Prussian government had to accept a disagio of 28⅓%, thus paying an annual effective rate of 6.98%. When the Treaty was being formulated, it was noted by an observer that the Prussian king was pacing on the bank of the Neman river. Hence, many observers in Prussia and Russia viewed the treaty as unequal and as a national humiliation.
The Russian soldiers refused to follow Napoleon's commands, as the Lisbon Incident demonstrated to all Europe. Napoleon's plans to marry the tsar's sister were stymied by Russian royalty. Cooperation between Russia and France broke down in 1810 when the tsar began to allow neutral ships to land in Russian ports. In 1812, Napoleon crossed invaded Russia, ending any vestige of alliance; the Prussian state was diminished by nearly half under the terms of the treaty of Tilsit from 5,700 Prussian square miles to 2,800. Instead of 9.75 million inhabitants, no more than 4.5 million remained within the new boundaries of Prussia. The state revenue, which amounted to forty million dollars per annum, was decreased in a still greater proportion. All that Prussia had gained by the partitions of Poland was taken from it. Saxony, a former confederate of Prussia, was the recipient of the provinces; the followin
The French nobility was a privileged social class in France during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period to the revolution in 1790. The nobility was revived in 1805 with limited rights as a titled elite class from the First Empire to the fall of the July Monarchy in 1848, when all privileges were abolished for good. Hereditary titles, without privileges, continued to be granted until the Second Empire fell in 1870, they survive among their descendants as a social convention and as part of the legal name of the corresponding individuals. In the political system of pre-Revolutionary France, the nobility made up the Second Estate of the Estates General. Although membership in the noble class was inherited, it was not a closed order. New individuals were appointed to the nobility by the monarchy, or they could purchase rights and titles, or join by marriage. Sources differ about the actual number of nobles in France. For the year 1789, French historian François Bluche gives a figure of 140,000 nobles and states that about 5% of nobles could claim descent from feudal nobility before the 15th century.
With a total population of 28 million, this would represent 0.5%. Historian Gordon Wright gives a figure of 300,000 nobles, which agrees with the estimation of historian Jean de Viguerie, or a little over 1%. In terms of land holdings, at the time of the revolution, noble estates comprised about one-fifth of the land; the French nobility had specific financial rights and prerogatives. The first official list of these prerogatives was established late, under Louis XI after 1440, included the right to hunt, to wear a sword and, in principle, to possess a seigneurie. Nobles were granted an exemption from paying the taille, except for non-noble lands they might possess in some regions of France. Furthermore, certain ecclesiastic and military positions were reserved for nobles; these feudal privileges are termed droits de féodalité dominante. With the exception of a few isolated cases, serfdom had ceased to exist in France by the 15th century. In early modern France, nobles maintained a great number of seigneurial privileges over the free peasants that worked lands under their control.
They could, for example, levy an annual tax on lands leased or held by vassals. Nobles could charge banalités for the right to use the lord's mills, ovens, or wine presses. Alternatively, a noble could demand a portion of vassals' harvests in return for permission to farm land he owned. Nobles maintained certain judicial rights over their vassals, although with the rise of the modern state many of these privileges had passed to state control, leaving rural nobility with only local police functions and judicial control over violation of their seigneurial rights. In the 17th century this seigneurial system was established in France's North American possessions. However, the nobles had responsibilities. Nobles were required to honor and counsel their king, they were required to render military service. The rank of "noble" was forfeitable: certain activities could cause dérogeance, within certain limits and exceptions. Most commercial and manual activities, such as tilling land, were prohibited, although nobles could profit from their lands by operating mines and forges.
A nobleman could emancipate a male heir early, take on derogatory activities without losing the family's nobility. If nobility was lost through prohibited activities, it could be recovered as soon as the said activities were stopped, by obtaining letters of "relief". Certain regions such as Brittany applied loosely these rules allowing poor nobles to plough their own land; the nobility in France was never an closed class. Nobility and hereditary titles were distinct: while all hereditary titleholders were noble, most nobles were untitled, although many assumed titres de courtoisie. Nobility could be granted by the king or, until 1578, acquired by a family which had occupied a government or military post of high enough rank for three generations. Once acquired, nobility was hereditary in the legitimate male-line for all male descendants. Wealthy families found ready opportunities to pass into the nobility: although nobility itself could not be purchased, lands to which noble rights and/or title were attached could be and were bought by commoners who adopted use of the property's name or title and were henceforth assumed to be noble if they could find a way to be exempted from paying the taille to which only commoners were subject.
Moreover, non-nobles who owned noble fiefs were obliged to pay a special tax on the property to the noble liege-lord. Properly, only those who were noble could assume a hereditary title attached to a noble fief, thereby acquiring a title recognised but not conferred by the French crown; the children of a French nobleman, unlike those of a British peer, were not considered commoners but untitled nobles. Inheritance was recognized only in the male line, with a few exceptions in the independent provinces of Champagne and Brittany; the king could grant nobility to individuals, convert land into noble fiefs or, elevate noble fiefs into titled estates. The king could confer special privilege
Insurrection of 10 August 1792
The Insurrection of 10 August 1792 was a defining event of the French Revolution. The storming of the Tuileries Palace by the National Guard of the Paris Commune and fédérés from Marseille and Brittany caused the fall of the French monarchy. King Louis XVI and the royal family took shelter with the suspended Legislative Assembly; the formal end of the monarchy occurred six weeks as one of the first acts of the new National Convention. This insurrection and its outcomes are most referred to by historians of the Revolution as "the 10 August". War was declared on 20 April 1792 against the King of Hungary; the initial battles were a disaster for the French, Prussia joined Austria in active alliance against France. The blame for the disaster was put upon the King and his ministers, after upon the Girondin party; the Legislative Assembly passed decrees sentencing any priest denounced by 20 citizens to immediate deportation, dissolving the King's guard because it was manned by aristocrats, establishing in the vicinity of Paris a camp of 20,000 Fédérés.
The King dismissed Girondists from the Ministry. When the King formed a new cabinet of constitutional monarchists, this widened the breach between the King and the Assembly and the majority of the common people of Paris; these events happened on 16 June when Lafayette sent a letter to the Assembly, recommending suppression of "anarchists" and political clubs in the capital. The King's veto of the Legislative Assembly's decrees was published on 19 June, one day before the 3rd anniversary of the Tennis Court Oath, which had inaugurated the Revolution; the popular journée of 20 June 1792 was organized to put pressure on the King. Appearing before the crowd, the King put on the bonnet rouge of liberty and drank to the health of the nation, but refused to ratify decrees or to recall the ministers; the Paris mayor, Pétion, was suspended. On 28 June, Lafayette left his post with the army and appeared before the Assembly to call on the deputies to dissolve the Jacobin Club and punish those who were responsible for the demonstration of 20 June.
The deputies indicted the general for deserting his command. The King rejected all suggestions of escape from the man who had long presided over his imprisonment; the crowd burnt him in effigy at the Palais-Royal. There was no place for Lafayette beside the republican emblem, nor in the country which had adopted it. Within six weeks he was arrested whilst immured in an Austrian prison. Lafayette failed because his views clashed with French national sentiment, his passive leadership of French armies had given the Prussians time to finish their preparations and concentrate upon the Rhine undisturbed. A decree of 2 July authorized national guards, many of whom were on their way to Paris, to come to the Federation ceremony. A decree of 5 July declared that in the event of danger to the nation all able-bodied men could be called to service and necessary arms requisitioned. Six days the Assembly declared la patrie est en danger. Banners were placed in the public squares, with the words:Would you allow foreign hordes to spread like a destroying torrent over your countryside!
That they ravage our harvest! That they devastate our fatherland through fire and murder! In a word, that they overcome you with chains dyed with the blood of those whom you hold the most dear... Citizens, the country is in danger! On 3 July Pierre Vergniaud gave a wider scope to the debate by uttering a terrible threat against the King's person: "It is in the King's name that the French princes have tried to rouse all the courts of Europe against the nation, it is to avenge the dignity of the King that the treaty of Pillnitz was concluded and the monstrous alliance formed between the Courts of Vienna and Berlin. Vergniaud recalled the royal veto, the disorders it had caused in the provinces, the deliberate inaction of the generals who had opened the way to invasion. By this means he put the idea of deposing the King into the minds of the public, his speech, was circulated by the Assembly through all the departments. Evading the royal veto on an armed camp, the Assembly had invited National Guards from the provinces, on their way to the front, to come to Paris, ostensibly for 14 July celebrations.
By mid-July the Fédérés were petitioning the Assembly to dethrone the king. The Fédérés were reluctant to leave Paris before a decisive blow had been struck, the arrival on 25 July of 300 from Brest and five days of 500 Marseillais, who made the streets of Paris echo with the song to which they gave their name, provided the revolutionaries with a formidable force; the Fédérés set up a central committee and a secret directory that included some of the Parisian leaders and to assure direct contact with the sections. A c