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Frederick William III of Prussia

Frederick William III was the king of Prussia from 1797 to 1840 and known in German as Friedrich Wilhelm III.

The son of King Frederick William II of Prussia, Frederick William was born in Potsdam on August 3, 1770[?], and became Crown Prince in 1786, when his father ascended to the throne. On December 24, 1793, Frederick William married Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz[?], a princess noted for her beauty.

Frederick William came to the throne on November 16, 1797, on the death of his father. At first he and his advisors attempted to pursue a policy of neutrality in the Napoleonic Wars. Although they were successful in keeping out of the Third Coalition in 1805, Napoleon's provocations ultimately forced Frederick William into war in the fall of 1806. On October 14, 1806, the Prussian army led by Frederick William was defeated by the French at the Battle of Jena-Auerstädt[?], and the Prussian army collapsed. The royal family fled to East Prussia, where they fell on the mercy of Emperor Alexander I of Russia (who, it was said, had fallen in love with Queen Louise).

Alexander, too, was defeated by the French, and at Tilsit[?] on the Niemen, France made peace with Russia and Prussia. Prussia was treated very harshly, despite the pregnant Queen's personal interview with Napoleon. Prussia lost all its Polish territories, as well as all territory west of the Elbe, and was forced to pay a large indemnity and pay for French troops to occupy key strong points within the Kingdom.

Although the ineffectual King himself seemed resigned to Prussia's fate, various reforming ministers, such as Baron Karl vom Stein[?], Prince Karl August von Hardenberg, Gerhard Johann David von Scharnhorst[?], and Count August von Gneisenau[?], set about reforming Prussia's administration and military, with the encouragement of the Queen (who died, greatly mourned, in 1810.

In 1813, following Napoleon's defeat in Russia, Frederick William turned against France and signed an alliance with Russia at Kalitsch[?], although he was forced to flee Berlin, still under French occupation. Prussian troops played a key part in the victories of the allies in 1813 and 1814, and the King himself travelled with the main army of Prince Schwarzenberg, along with Alexander of Russia and Francis of Austria.

At the Congress of Vienna, Frederick William's ministers were able to secure important territorial increases for Prussia, although they were unable to obtain the annexation of all of Saxony, as they wished. Following the war, Frederick William turned towards reaction, abandoning the promises he had made in 1813 to supply Prussia with a constitution. He died on June 7, 1840, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Frederick William IV



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