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

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This is briefly what occurred to me. Follow my devoted warnings, admonitions, and advice, and live up to all of it. I would have found myself fortunate if my lord father had been inclined to want to leave behind for me as much information as I have left for you about your state, because it would have made my reign less difficult at the beginning. Therefore I remind and admonish you again, to fear, love, and honor God with your entire heart, because he who honors Him will be honored by Him, and he who disdains Him will be disdained by Him. Serve him with a righteous heart and live true to His ways, and He will never abandon you in your difficult reign, but instead will always stand by you with His grace and fatherly help. It will all go fortuitously and proceed well, your enemies will be forced to fear you, while your friends will be delighted with you. All the world will look to you, and you will have no one but God to fear. You will have blessings and constant peace in the land, you will be blessed in your reign, blessed in your house, and you will see with great joy the blessings in the children God will give you. Yes, you will finally bring everything to an end felicitously and well, and with blessings and peace, and honor and glory in the world, but the greatest thing will be that you have a gracious God and Father. Ultimately after you have done much work and toil, when you have become weary of life, and you rest, and you blessedly depart from this world, which is only transitory, then you will pass on to a better and immortal glorious kingdom, which out of grace God has promised to His own, who live in his way. You will have complete joy and satisfaction and an eternal life for always and forever. In His time the Almighty will help you with joy, which I wish you from the heart, and hereby conclude.

I have had this copied from my own handwritten draft, which I immediately burned, in the year 1667.

The 19th of May in Cölln on the Spree.
Frederick William, Elector.

Source: Politisches Testament des Großen Kurfürsten [Political Testament of the Great Elector] (May 19, 1667), Geheimes Staatarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin: BPH, Urk. III.1, No. 18.

Reprinted in Richard Dietrich, ed., Die politischen Testamente der Hohenzollern [The Political Testaments of the Hohenzollerns]. Cologne and Vienna: Böhlau Verlag, 1986, pp. 179-204.

Translation: Ben Marschke

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