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German History in Documents and Images
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Prussia is proclaimed a Kingdom on January 18, 1701 (1712)
Frederick III (r. 1688-1713), the son of Frederick William (the “Great Elector”), was in many ways the opposite of his father, who, after the devastations of the Thirty Years War, had pursued a determined – if sometimes Machiavellian – policy of aggrandizement based on military order, Calvinist discipline, and economic improvement. Frederick III, on the other hand, spent lavishly on Baroque pomp and display – expenditures that happily benefited the arts and sciences as well. Despite bureaucratic growing pains and painful agrarian crises, he achieved his goal of elevating the Duchy of Prussia to the Kingdom of Prussia by honoring his father’s commitment to the Empire and supporting Leopold I (r. 1658-1705) in the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14). In exchange, the emperor recognized Frederick’s self-coronation as King in Prussia (an eastern Baltic duchy outside of the Empire). The coronation took place in Königsberg on January 18, 1701. The engraving shows the accompanying coronation festival for the common folk. Copperplate engraving by Johann Georg Wolffgang (1662-1744) after a drawing by Johann Friedrich Wentzel the Elder (1670-1729), 1712.