We're still in a travelling mood so I thought we'd make a stop in Prussia and meet a king who abandoned his plans for political neutrality and found his might tested by the Napoleonic armies.
|Luise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz by Jozef Maria Grassi, 1804|
|Frederick William III and his Family by Heinrich Anton Dähling, 1806|
Luise was crushed by the defeat and the pregnant queen sought a personal audience with Napoleon, at which she begged him not to be too harsh on Prussia; though he was charmed by her, he would make no concessions to the country he had defeated. Stripped of vast swathes of territory and subject to enormous financial punishment, Frederick accepted the punishment on behalf of his country. Queen Luise had other ideas and championed a number of minsters in their efforts to implement reforms in Prussia to ensure they would never face such humiliation again.
Frederick William III's efforts at reform were far narrower than his advisors or first wife would have liked, betraying his essentially traditional character. Initial plans for a constitution were to come to nothing and whilst he was keen to implement administrative reform, he stopped short of accepting changes that might have an impact on his own powers. He was conspicuously overshadowed in his political dealings not only with France and Russia, but with talented ministers from Prussia itself, including Baron von Stein, a particular favourite of the queen.
Frederick married again in 1824 though his second wife, Countess Auguste von Harrach, never enjoyed the political influence nor public affection of Luise. Upon his death in 1840 his son, Frederick William IV, took the throne of Prussia, once more starting along the road to reform.
Life in the Georgian Court, true tales of 18th century royalty, is available at the links below.