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Frederick William I ("the Soldier King"), Instructions on the Formation and Functioning of the General Directory (December 20, 1722)

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We shall not accept such excuses nor recognize them as valid. The General Directory must personally inform itself of the matter and examine it in full, to see whether the reports from the Provinces are not partial and whether human considerations and intrigues, etc., have not colored them, for under these instructions Our said Directory must be collectively responsible, each for all and all for each, in such and all other cases. [ . . . ]


[ . . . ]

2. We have already (above) ordered that the Directory shall correspond diligently with the Commissariats and Chambers, and the members of each Department with the private informants and spies to be organized in the Provinces, in order that they may be informed in minutest detail of what goes on in the Provinces, either in the Commissariat, Crown Property, financial, Provincial, or political fields; also new journals and all sorts of particulars of Provincial events. For example: in Prussia a good winter and heavy frost. Big quantities of provisions, etc., being brought into the towns. Large supplies of timber for the new constructions are coming in from the forests. The construction is going on well. A good harvest is anticipated. Commerce, shipping, and manufactures are looking up. Were Your Royal Majesty to come here, you would–we hope–deign to be satisfied with the way things are progressing.

This or that town or village has been burnt down. There is a secret movement among the nobles to get rid of the general tax on holdings, strong resistance to this or that edict. This or that nobleman is objecting to the land tax. This or that regiment is buying fodder from neighboring foreign countries. The Chamber will pay its quarterly dues in full, or it will fail to do so, but will be able to give reasons so valid that H.M. will, under the instructions, be obliged to accept them; or, it will be necessary to put strong pressure on the Chamber, to force it to pay. The Chamber works very diligently, as does the Commissariat. The Royal Edicts and the substance of the instructions are carried out, or not. Twenty new houses are being built in this or that town. The attendance in the Commissariats and Chambers is regular, or not. This or that regiment has carried out forced requisitions. The Commissariat has asked the officer commanding the regiment to pay compensation for such requisitions, without effect, etc.; also, in general, any new developments.

As now the General Directory has been instructed by Us to summarize all such and similar information reaching it from the Provinces in a short report and to submit such report to Us weekly, so it is also permitted, should any matter be contained therein on which it regards it necessary to ask for Our gracious opinion and command, to request the same from Us.

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