Frederick William III
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Frederick William III,1770–1840, king of Prussia (1797–1840), son and successor of Frederick William II. Well-intentioned but weak and vacillating, he endeavored to maintain neutrality in the Napoleonic Wars. In 1806, French troops were massed on Prussia's frontier and Frederick William was forced to take up arms against France. His crushing defeat by the French at Jena and the humiliating Treaty of Tilsit (1807), which virtually made Prussia a French vassal, served to waken the king to the need of reconstruction in Prussia. Unable to carry through the reforms himself, he was far-sighted enough to appoint capable ministers. The reforms of Karl vom und zum SteinStein, Karl, Freiherr vom und zum
, 1757–1831, Prussian statesman and reformer. Rising through the Prussian bureaucracy, he became minister of commerce (1804–7) but was dismissed by King Frederick William III for his attempts to increase the power of the heads of the
..... Click the link for more information. , Karl August von HardenbergHardenberg, Karl August, Fürst von
, 1750–1822, Prussian administrator and diplomat, b. Hanover. After service for Hanover and Brunswick, he entered the Prussian service.
..... Click the link for more information. , and ScharnhorstScharnhorst, Gerhard Johann David von
, 1755–1813, Prussian general. A Hanoverian army officer, military writer, and director of the war college, he entered Prussian service in 1801.
..... Click the link for more information. laid the basis of the modern Prussian state and prepared for the eventual war against Napoleon. Forced to send an auxiliary force to aid Napoleon's Russian campaign, the king was finally persuaded to support the Convention of Tauroggen (see TaurageTaurage
, Ger. Tauroggen, town, W Lithuania, on the Yura River. Dating from the 13th cent., Taurage belonged to Prussia from 1691 to 1793, when it passed to Russia. It was incorporated into independent Lithuania in 1920.
..... Click the link for more information. ), concluded with the Russians by the commander of the Prussian auxiliary force, General Yorck von WartenburgYorck von Wartenburg or York von Wartenburg, Ludwig, Graf
, 1759–1830, Prussian army officer. He commanded the Prussian auxiliary corps that had been sent to aid in the campaign of the French emperor Napoleon I
..... Click the link for more information. . A few weeks later a military alliance with Russia was signed, and in Mar., 1813, the king declared war on France. After Napoleon's defeat and the Congress of Vienna, which he attended, Frederick William grew more reactionary. Influenced by Czar Alexander I and by Metternich, he joined the Holy AllianceHoly Alliance,
1815, agreement among the emperors of Russia and Austria and the king of Prussia, signed on Sept. 26. It was quite distinct from the Quadruple Alliance (Quintuple, after the admission of France) of Great Britain, Russia, Austria, and Prussia, arrived at first in
..... Click the link for more information. and refused to grant the constitution he had promised. His consort, Queen LouiseLouise
, 1776–1810, queen of Prussia, consort of Frederick William III; a princess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. During the Napoleonic Wars her patriotism and bravery won her lasting popularity.
..... Click the link for more information. , far more popular than the king, died in 1810. His elder son, Frederick William IV, succeeded him. His second son was to become Emperor William I.
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Frederick William III
1770--1840, king of Prussia (1797--1840)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005