Campaigns of Frederick the Great





Campaigns of Frederick the Great


Frederick the Great was the informal name given to Fredrick II, the King of Prussia who reigned between 1740 and 1786. He is widely renowned for his impressive success in battle and conquests, extensive military reorganization and his preference for Prussian art. His entry into official military and political affairs was the result of coercion rather than free will. However, his initial attacks and conquest over Austria indicated that he had finally embraced life as the successor to Fredrick William I. The essay seeks to analyze the wide array of arguments and discussions as provided by five diverse authors on the topics surrounding Fredrick the Great. The examination of the approaches taken by these authors will reveal the personal, social, and political aspects surrounding the leader.

Franz Kugler’s Approach

Kugler’s analysis of the campaigns of Frederick the Great focused mostly on his contact with other European countries and leaders such as Napoleon. His analysis of the German-born political figure adopted a chronological manner starting from his youth to adulthood. Most of his analyses went into evaluating the specific details of major events that surrounded the legendary leader. Kugler’s analysis of his infancy and boyhood are scathingly shallow since not much occurred in terms of political and military activity (Kugler 65). A greater part of the author’s analysis at this level concentrated mostly on Frederick William’s activities in preparation of his forthcoming son. Kugler’s accounts started becoming interesting after he introduces the emerging discord between father and son. Frederick the Great illustrated a lack of enthusiasm in academics, military conduct and even leadership. Kugler worked to inform the audience about Frederick the Great’s personal preferences for a simple yet lofty lifestyle. His preference was characterized by writing poetry and embracing French fashion. At the regional front, England-Prussia negotiations were commencing smoothly while Austria was building a silent opposition to the relations. Initial efforts by Fredrick William I involved signing treaties with Austria to ensure that peace was maintained without disrupting England’s earlier agreements. Detached from all these international politics activities, Frederick the Great drifted further away from his father. Further events including some which were orchestrated by King Augustus, the King of Austria widened the gap between Frederick William and his son (Kugler 65). Fredrick’s antics soon reached a senseless height when he ran off to England with his close friend, Peter Keith. After their arrest and consequential execution of his friend, Fredrick’s freedom was limited. His education process was restored in which he was limited to learning about statecraft and public administration (Kugler 12). Kugler’s accounts also concentrated on Frederick’s initial years as the King of Prussia following his father’s death. In all these sections, Kugler organizes his works around the major social, regional, and domestic events. Fredrick’s assumption of the throne, the Silesian Wars and the Seven Year’s War is the peak of Kugler’s account of the activities that occurred in Prussia (Kugler 8).

Dennis Showalter’s Approach

Dennis Showalter also provided an elaborate summary of the individuals and events that took part in shaping the European environment. However, his approach towards outlining the events was different to Kugler’s. Showalter arranged his works according to the political events that were facilitated by Frederick William I (Showalter 67). His analysis became detailed with the analysis of the Wars of Silesia. Covering the events that occurred between 1740 and 1745, Showalter managed to illustrate the way in which Fredrick the Great managed to balance political responsibilities with individual preferences (Showalter 4). On numerous occasions, his soldiers noted that Frederick preferred to deviate from the 18th century approach that prioritized endurance and instead focused on performance. Showalter noted several details concerning all the details of the wars. For instance, Frederick the Great reduced most of his battles to a day, campaigns in the barren plains of East Prussia were survival exercises (Showalter 42). Showalter also introduced an element of democracy in discussing the way the king shared his loot with the rest of the soldiers. According to the author, this increased Frederick’s legitimacy as the leader-elect and engendered respect as well as allegiance.

            The rest of Showalter’s narration concentrated on the different battles fought between the Prussians, the Austrians, and the English. In the book’s introduction, Showalter had indicated that his intention was to “highlight” war-making in the eighteenth-century (Showalter 16). He emphasized the conduct of the ambassadors, the armies, and the institutions to which they were members. Showalter’s book offers the audience an acknowledgment for the challenges of authority and control and for battlefield implementation in 18th century warfare. He narrated the Clausewitzian aspects of risks, fog, resistance, opportunity, and insecurity. Moreover, he offers the dynamic character of a battle occurring from disparate perspectives (Showalter 22). The audience is presented with several anachronisms, however. For instance, the author regularly applied the phrase “task force” to define a combined element of infantry and cavalry allocated for an indefinite amount of time to finish a particular mission. While Showalter’s point was to stress the uncertain, substandard nature of such associations, the phrase is rather ambiguous since the contemporary task force also comprises command and support structures created for particular missions that were not normally the case during that period. Conversely, until a better expression was discovered, “task force” would remain the best term to denote to the reader the unorthodox strategies in which groups of soldiers were prepared for action around the 1700s (Showalter 34). Frederick came out from Showalter’s publication as the archetypal political being, sly, shrewd, scheming, deceitful, ruthless, disreputable, and on certain occasions, appalling. He placed the blame onto his juniors when his campaigns failed to achieve the desired effect; and took all the grandeur and credit when they realized success. In spite of his statements in Anti-Machavel, Frederick the Great, in a very Machiavellian manner, entered into, and violated treaties with an ease that was very disturbing (Showalter 87). After serving four decades as Prussia’s supreme ruler, with over ten years as a warrior-king, Frederick the Great had evolved. His judgment had changed while his goals became more practical.

Christopher Duffy Approach

Christopher Duffy’s approach on Frederick the Great includes his military prowess, his appeal among the public and the armies as well as the political progress. Duffy concentrated on addressing the strategic and tactical ingenuity, for brave and brutal determination and the ability to motivate troops, Frederick the Great could not be compared to any other leader during his time. In this thorough analysis of the warrior-king, Christopher Duffy, an author with vast experience publishing material on Frederick’s army and that of his enemies, Russia and Austria, provided a definitive explanation of his military mastermind. Duffy considered this publication to be an accurate biography of the unfathomable King of Prussia, Frederick the Great, who altered his nation from a low-class military state into a terrifying nation. The author is a renowned writer on the Seven Years’ War and the culmination of his studies and works was captured in the study of Prussia’s bright warrior-king (Duffy 67). The author applied his understanding of military science to illustrate the way in which Frederick was consistently able to realize victories over his adversaries using advanced drill and strategies even though he maintained a relatively small army. Using his skillful maneuvers, Frederick was able to maximize the size of his empire considerably, yet limit the effects of military funding on his local economy. The author also expounded on Frederick’s regular emotional associations with his military officials as well as his approach toward the ordinary soldier (Duffy 14). Frederick’s numerous contributions toward the war strategies were also covered within the publication. The publication is expected to provide readers with an in depth understanding of the Prussian nation. However, most of the contents and ideas in the book are quite familiar to other publications on the same subject. While not directly saying that the book is worthless, Duffy created an average publication. It covers Frederick’s three muse a unique approach. Christopher Duffy covered the Bavarian Succession, Seven Years War, and the War of the Austrian Succession. Certain sections of the book discussing Frederick’s military life start well but drift into subject matter that is difficult to understand for most people. For instance, Duffy dedicates a complete chapter to explaining Potsdam and the design of the fortress. This lacks any form of military topics. Furthermore, the discussion on the coverage of the wars was an ordinary spectacle. All of the fundamentals were addressed but no factual substance is mentioned explicitly. Any reader that is interested in understanding Frederick’s conflicts in detail can realize this objective by studying ‘The Wars of Frederick the Great’ by Showalter.

David Fraser Approach

Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, was a renowned ruler, artistic supporter, man of letters, lawgiver, and leader. David Fraser stated, “One of the most extraordinary men ever to sit on a throne or command an army” (Fraser 32). He personally administered his army during battle after war with such advanced skills that he became known as the greatest soldier during the period (Fraser 32). The author, Fraser, noted that soldier responsibility took up a massive amount of his time and energy. This allowed the audience to equally understand his strengths and limitations in the field compared to any other biography writing about Frederick the Great. Fraser not only introduced to this content the original fragrance of battle in addition to offering a sweeping retelling of tactics and strategies, of mental power games, morale, and the influence of victory and failure on both the winner and the loser. However, David Fraser was also aware of the perception of military action, European relations, and the constantly shifting balance of the diverse political factors altering the political environment (Fraser 12). Fraser’s mesmerizing description is a full-blown picture of a mysterious historical figure, delivered with refinement and contagious spirit. However, in general, it is a relatively good publication because it is interesting and it speaks about appealing figures that contributed in different ways towards shaping European history (Fraser 17). The book also jumped partly into Prussian history, and assisted in describing the initial opinion of fascism created by Fredrick William I.

Jay Luvaas Approach

Jay Luvaas’ approach towards defining Frederick the Great and his various endeavors within Russia and Prussia is similarly strong. Luvaas started is publication with early childhood memories of Frederick who reigned between the years of 1712–1780 (Luvaas 22). During his reign in Prussia, Frederick II initiated the Seven Years’ War; battled and defeated the difficult Austrian, Russian, and French armies that were his direct enemies, and established Prussia as a hegemony thereby resolutely altering the next two hundred years of European history. Luvaas noted that Frederick II was also a clever military thinker whose clarifications emerged from widespread battlefield experience (Luvaas 54). Jay Luvaas presented an impartial collection from Frederick’s writings on tactics, campaigns, and mobility; the challenges associated with logistics and several major wars; the united use of infantry, cavalry, and weapons; the past elements of the Prussian army; the critical battles fought over the seven years; the role played by the general, and other related aspects. A greater portion of this material is altered for first time in English language before the process was discontinued. The result of Jay Luvaas’ works is the inner glimpse of a man with an unbroken a visionary military approach. This is an updated translation of the collective experience of one of the successful military geniuses in history, authored to teach his officers of his strategies of warfare. It is an indication of an unexpected attention to detail and organization that would be certainly enough wastage of time and resources epically within the contemporary context. Luvaas’ tactical observations could easily be implemented in an education setting. It has a massive amount of similarity to the 18th Century version that closely resembles a Total Quality Management book one could read today (Luvaas 43). Professor Luvaas introduced his work by identifying that the project was not a direct chronological representation of the text of Frederick the Great. However, he has categorized the poem and works of the king, particularly those that needed to be reevaluated, and showed them as themes with the work in each section presented according to their dates. This is an extremely practical approach for categorizing the work in a simple way while also permitting the audience to understand Fredericki’s transformation when he was acquiring experience in warfare (Luvaas 76). Most of Frederick’s writings on various themes such as logistics, plans, and policies in such a manner that the reader can quickly perceive the develop of the leader’s thoughts

Personal Opinion

At a personal level, I have a massive interest in matters concerned with international affairs, conflict, and influential individuals in history. Fredrick the Great stands out in any discussion related to the reorganization of European countries and societies. I have invested a significant amount of time towards understanding the motivational factors behind Fredrick’s campaign across sections of Western and Eastern Europe. His actions were vital in reshaping the powers and influence of the Prussian empire. His efforts were influential in reshaping European powers for several decades. I think that his ultimate goal was to form an empire similar to Alexander the Great or even Napoleon. Fredrick the Great represents the typical political figure in mid 18th –century Europe. His passion for acquisition of new territories was the only motivation that guided all his military strategies and activities throughout their contact with Austria. I think that during this period, most of the states were concerned with enlarging their territory. Therefore, it is only natural that Frederick the Great would want to pursue greater territories including Austria. However, his efforts were also questionable in that he opted to use aggressive means to realize his objectives. A massive amount of property and human lives were lost in the campaigns. It is rare that Fredrick the Great started out as the loyal son to his father. However, after several wars, he had the vision for taking every country within the region. He administered and managed to develop a name for them by combing military strategy and tact.

Works Cited

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Kugler, Franz. Life of Frederick the Great: Comprehending Complete History of the Silesian Campaigns and the Seven Years’ War. New York: The Perkins Book Company, 1902. Print.

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Showalter, Dennis E. Frederick the Great: A Military History. London: Frontline Books, 2012. Print.

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Duffy, Christopher. Frederick the Great: A Military Life. London: Routledge, 2015. Print.

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Jay Luvaas. Frederick the Great on the Art of War. New York: Free Press, 1966. Print.

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