'Frederick the Great of Prussia, Voltaire and French Military Monarchy'Dr Adam Storring (King's College London) Monday 8 November 2021, 6pm - Online via Zoom (Registration here)
The Society for Court Studies http://www.courtstudies.org/seminars.html
King Frederick II (‘the Great’) of Prussia (1740-1786) has been portrayed as the personification of ‘Prussian Militarism’ – expanding his state through a series of aggressive wars. This lecture reveals, however, that Frederick was in fact greatly influenced by the culture of French military monarchy, and particularly by the ‘Sun King’ Louis XIV of France (1643-1715). The paper describes how, reacting to the austerity of his father King Frederick William I (1713 – 1740), Frederick adopted the flamboyant masculinity of the French baroque court, with its enthusiastic search for military glory. He was also attracted to French literature, particularly by the famous philosophe Voltaire, whose book The Age of Louis XIV inspired Frederick to try not only to emulate but to surpass the Sun King by taking personal command of his armies. Frederick aped the military strategy that Louis XIV had employed in the early decades of his reign and sought to emulate the famous French generals who had served the Sun King, modelling his battle tactics on the victories of the Vicomte de Turenne and Duc de Luxembourg. The spread of French culture across Europe in the long eighteenth century thus also had a military dimension, and the Prussian example highlights the important role of monarchs and their courts in the movement of ideas and culture across Europe.
Adam Storring teaches at King’s College London and was formerly a research fellow at the University of Göttingen. His PhD, completed at the University of Cambridge, was awarded the André Corvisier Prize by the International Commission of Military History.