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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

Frederick alone against Austria


In

1736 Francis of Lorraine and Maria Theresa were married, and Prince Eugene of Savoy died, worn out with the hardships of his long and victorious career. The next year, the Empress Anna of Russia persuaded Karl VI. to unite with her in a war against Turkey, her object being to get possession of Azov. By this unfortunate alliance Austria lost all which she had gained by the Treaty of Passarowitz, twenty years before. There was no commander like Prince Eugene, her military strength had been weakened by useless and unsuccessful wars, and she was compelled to make peace in 1739, by yielding Belgrade and all her conquests in Servia and Wallachia to Turkey.

On the 31st of May, 1740, Frederick William I. died, fifty-two years of age. He left behind him a State containing more than 50,000 square miles, and about 2,500,000 of inhabitants. The revenues of Prussia, which were two and a half millions of thalers on his accession to the throne, had increased to seven and a half millions annually, and there were nine millions in the treasury. Berlin had a population of nearly 100,000, and Stettin, Magdeburg, Memel and other cities had been strongly fortified. An army of more than 80,000 men was perfectly organized and disciplined. There was the beginning of a system of instruction for the people, feudalism was almost entirely suppressed, and the charge of witchcraft (which, since the fifteenth century, had caused the execution of several hundred thousand victims,

throughout Germany!) was expunged from the pages of the law. Although the land was almost wholly Protestant, there was entire religious freedom, and the Catholic subjects could complain of no violation of their rights.

[Sidenote: 1740.]

On the 24th of October, 1740, Karl VI. died, leaving a diminished realm, a disordered military organization, and a people so demoralized by the combined luxury and oppression of the government that for more than a century afterwards all hope and energy and aspiration seemed to be crushed among them. The outward show and trappings of the Empire remained with Austria, and kept alive the political superstitions of that large class of Germans who looked backward instead of forward; but the rude, half-developed strength, which cuts loose from the Past and busies itself with the practical work of its day and generation, was rapidly creating a future for Prussia.

Frederick William I. was succeeded by his son, Frederick II., called Frederick the Great. Karl VI. was succeeded by his daughter, the Empress Maria Theresa. The former was twenty-eight, the latter twenty-three years old.

CHAPTER XXXIII.

THE REIGN OF FREDERICK THE GREAT.

(1740--1786.)

Youth of Frederick the Great. --His attempted Escape. --Lieutenant von Katte's Fate. --Frederick's Subjection. --His Marriage. --His first Measures as King. --Maria Theresa in Austria. --The First Silesian war. --Maria Theresa in Hungary. --Prussia acquires Silesia. --Frederick's Alliance with France and the Emperor Karl VII. --The Second Silesian war. --Frederick alone against Austria. --Battles of Hohenfriedberg, Sorr and Kesselsdorf. --War of the Austrian Succession. --Peace. --Frederick as a Ruler. --His Habits and Tastes. --Answers to Petitions. --Religious Freedom. --Development of Prussia. --War between England and France. --Designs against Prussia. --Beginning of the Seven Years' War. --Battle at Prague. --Defeat at Kollin. --Victory of Rossbach. --Battle of Leuthen. --Help from England. --Campaign of 1758. --Victory of Zorndorf. --Surprise at Hochkirch. --Campaign of 1759. --Battle of Kunnersdorf. --Operations in 1760. --Frederick victorious. --Battle of Torgau. --Desperate Situation of Prussia. --Campaign of 1761. --Alliance with Russia. --Frederick's Successes. --The Peace of Hubertsburg. --Frederick's Measures of Relief. --His arbitrary Rule. --His literary Tastes. --First Division of Poland. --Frederick's last Years. --His Death.


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