Frederick William III of Prussia
Frederick William III (born August 3, 1770 in Potsdam, died June 7, 1840 in Berlin) - King of Prussia from 1797, of the Hohenzollern dynasty.
Son of Frederick William II and Frederick Luisa née Hessen-Darmstadt. After his father's coronation in 1786, he became the official heir to the throne. He spent much of his childhood and early youth in Paretz in the Havelland district of Brandenburg, the residence of his tutor Count Hans von Blumenthal. Frederick William fondly recalled his stay with his tutor's family: in 1795 he bought Paretz from the von Blumenthal family and commissioned the architect David Gilly to build initially the so-called a gothic house (1796), later (1797–1804) a residence palace. Contemporaries remembered the heir to the throne as a melancholic, pious and honest young man.
After returning from a trip to Italy and France in 1780 (Grand Tour), he undertook military training. He obtained the rank of lieutenant in 1784, he became a colonel in 1790. In the years 1792–1794 he took part in military operations against France.
King of Prussia
After his father's death and assuming the throne on November 16, 1797, he introduced some timid reforms (cutting court expenses, dismissal of his father's most hated advisers). Like many Hohenzollerns, he had a tendency to power, but without the ability to use them. Too distrustful to rely on his ministers, he had too little willpower to consistently pursue politics alone.
During the Napoleonic Wars, he initially pursued a policy of neutrality, he managed, among other things, to avoid being entangled in the Third Coalition. However, provoked by the creation of the Confederation of the Rhine, he declared war on Napoleon in 1806, which he quickly lost. Under the Treaty of Tylża in 1807, he was forced to give up the lands to the west of the Elbe, and to agree to create the Duchy of Warsaw from the lands that fell into Prussian hands during the 2nd and 3rd (and also partly 1st) partition of Poland. Gdańsk became a free city. In addition, Prussia was forced to pay the contribution of France and the financing of the French occupation forces in its territory. Prussia also entered a trade blockade against Great Britain.
Although the inept king left the state to his fate after losing the war with resignation, a group of ministers (August von Gneisenau, Karl August von Hardenberg, Gerhard von Scharnhorst, Heinrich vom Stein), with the queen's kind support and encouragement, carried out some social, administrative and military reforms. The reforms slowed the death of the queen in 1810. On October 30, 1810, Frederick William issued a decree abolishing monasteries throughout the country. It was made the fastest in Silesia. Closing of the Franciscan monasteries on St. Anna and in Gliwice contributed to the weakening of Polishness in Upper Silesia.
In 1811 in Królewiec, on his order, the coronation insignia of Polish kings, stolen in 1795 from the Wawel treasury, were destroyed and then melted down for coins.
In 1812 Prussia was forced by Napoleon to send a small contingent to the war with Russia under the command of General Yorck. After Napoleon's defeat in Russia, Frederick William entered into an alliance with Russia and joined the anti-French coalition. Prussian troops played an important role in the battles of 1813 (including Leipzig) and 1814. At the Congress of Vienna, Frederick William obtained significant territories, although without the complete annexation of Saxony, which he had sought. The Prussian king was also a co-creator of the Holy Covenant.
In the later years of his life, he devoted his energy to the implementation of the process of unification of the Lutheran Church with the Church of the Old Prussian Union reformed into the Evangelical Church, which began in 1817. His views evolved gradually towards the reactionary. Contrary to the promises made in 1813, he did not grant Prussia