Front Page Titles (by Subject) 113.: Frederick the Great - Judgments on History and Historians
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113.: Frederick the Great - Jacob Burckhardt, Judgments on History and Historians 
Judgments on History and Historians, ed. Alberto R. Coll (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999).
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Frederick the Great
The change in his character, his final maturing, must have come about as the consequence of his attempt at escape in 1730. This marks the beginning of his inevitable contempt for people and undoubtedly his particular contempt for everything that existed in the Prussian states, while through his father he got to know the enormous fist of royalty. This time the methods of utter debasement had been applied, not in anima vili [in a spirit of wickedness], but to him as the successor to the throne, when Katte had been killed before his eyes and he had then been locked up with a Bible, a songbook, and Arndt’s True Christianity, and besides had been permitted to study the archives of Margrave Hans. In opposition to the king’s semi-Lutheran view of universal grace, Frederick took up with “Calvinist” predestination (William III of Orange had also been a vehement predestinationist). As late as 1737–1738 Voltaire most urgently remonstrates with him in behalf of human liberty as against his fatalism which, he says, hardens hearts.
Frederick’s sojourn at Küstrin had the great value of breaking his narrow orientation toward intellectual pleasures, which would later have impeded his great political development. He learned the knack of administration and military command in miniature. Then came the forced marriage to Elizabeth of Brunswick-Bevern, with whom he lived at Rheinsberg for the sake of appearances.
His adherence to things French is sufficient evidence of his desire to live separated from his state and people, above his people. If intellectual things had come his way in German, he would have been in danger of having to respect Germany.
On the very first day upon receiving the news of Charles VI’s death, his decision to get control of Silesia was made.
If he had foreseen all those with whom he would have to deal in consequence, if he had been older and more experienced, he probably would hardly have risked it.
Through his first martial act, the necessity for a personal dictatorship to the end of his life was determined for Frederick II.
The Age of Revolution