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Political Testament of Frederick William ("the Great Elector") (May 19, 1667)

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I must admit that there are many officials in office now, but there are also many old people at the end of their lives, to whom one must reasonably give bread as long as they live, as it happens with old horses and dogs. I won't mention that one should not do this to old officials, God bless them amply again, but officials who are just unnecessary can mostly be released, with the consolation that when positions are vacant again, then they will be promoted ahead of others, as I have made a start doing thus in analyzing the finances and the court. [ . . . ]

Your own proper subjects in the districts must buy the salt and the herring from those you have assigned, and not from merchants or officials, as happens now. One will want to object that this is something new, but the previous Dukes of Prussia also did it, and the old receipts prove such adequately, and what was right for one's predecessors must be right for you. Let yourself in no way be distracted from this, because this can bring in many thousands annually for you. You must, however, arrange for loyal people who understand this work and perform it loyally. The officials themselves now use one who was already drawn in, and they will try to hinder this necessary work through their clients, and thereby spare no effort and toil.

Take good care that you do not keep a much too extensive court, but instead reduce it on occasion. Always regulate the expenditures according to the revenues, and have officials diligently render receipts every year. When the finances are in a good state again, then you will have enough means, and you will not have to request money from the estates or address them. Then it is also not necessary to hold the many and expensive parliaments [Landtage], because the more parliaments you hold, the more authority is taken from you, because the estates always try something that is detrimental to the majesty of the ruler.

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