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Frederick the Great

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Frederick II, king of Prussia from 1740 to 1786.

Frederick the Great ruled Prussia from 1740 until his death in 1786. Born in 1712, he increased the power of the state, he made Prussia the leading military power in Europe and his bold campaigns had great implications for the European political landscape. An absolute monarch in the age of enlightenment, he was a prolific writer, attracted figures such as Voltaire to his court, fostered education and put Berlin firmly on the cultural map. He was much admired by Napoleon and was often romanticised by German historians, becoming a hero for many in united Germany in the 19th and 20th centuries. Others, however, vilified him for aspects such as his militarism and the partition of Poland.


Tim Blanning
Emeritus Professor of Modern European History at the University of Cambridge

Katrin Kohl
Professor of German Literature at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Jesus College


Thomas Biskup
Lecturer in Early Modern History at the University of Hull

Producer: Simon Tillotson.

Available now

43 minutes

Last on

Thu 2 Jul 2015 21:30


Tim Blanning at the University of Cambridge

Katrin Kohl at the University of Oxford

Thomas Biskup at the University of Hull

The dynastic court in an age of change

How to Domesticate the History of a King: Reflections on the ‘Friederisiko’ Project

Frederick the Great and Imperial Politics, 1740-56

Frederick the Great - Wikipedia



Tim Blanning, Frederick the Great: King of Prussia (Allen Lane, 2015)

Clarissa Campbell Orr (ed.), Queenship in Europe, 1660-1815: The Role of the Consort (Cambridge University Press, 2004), especially ‘The Hidden Queen Elisabeth Christine and Queenship in Eighteenth-century Prussia’ by Thomas Biskup

Christopher Clark, Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia 1600-1947 (Allen Lane, 2006)

David Fraser, Frederick the Great (Penguin, 2000)

Karin Friedrich and Sara Smart, The Cultivation of Monarchy and the Rise of Berlin: Brandenburg-Prussia 1700 (Ashgate, 2010)

Eva Giloi, Monarchy, Myth, and Material Culture in Germany 1750 - 1950 (Cambridge University Press, 2011)

R. Oresko, G. Gibbs and H. M. Scott (eds.), Royal and Republican Sovereignty in Early Modern Europe: Essays in Memory of Ragnhild Hatton (Cambridge University Press, 1997), especially the essay by Timothy Blanning ‘Frederick the Great and German Culture’

Theodor Schieder (eds. Sabina Berkeley and H.M. Scott), Frederick the Great (Longman, 2000)



Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest Tim Blanning
Interviewed Guest Katrin Kohl
Interviewed Guest Thomas Biskup
Producer Simon Tillotson


  • Thu 2 Jul 2015 09:00
  • Thu 2 Jul 2015 21:30

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