Timeline Description: Frederick II of Prussia was known as Frederick the Great. Through diplomacy and brilliant military campaigns, he greatly expanded Prussia's territories and established the empire as a key military power in Europe, despite continued challenges from Austrian Habsburgs. He also instituted legal reforms as well as agricultural and artistic innovations, thereby spreading ideas of the Enlightenment throughout his empire.
|January 24, 1712||Frederick II is born in Berlin.
Frederick II is born in Berlin to his parents, Frederick William I of Prussia and Princess Sophia-Dorothea. He is part of the Hohenzollern dynasty. During his childhood, his mother introduces him to a wide range of Enlightenment ideas, including French culture and classical texts, while his strict father enrolls him in military training.
|August 1730||Frederick is caught attempting to escape Prussia.
Frederick and his best friend, Hans Herman von Katte, attempt to escape to England,in part because of Frederick's miserable home life. They are caught in Kustrïnand court-martialed, and Frederick is forced to watch Hans' execution.
|November 18, 1730||Frederick begins to study political administration.
Frederick's father pardons him and releases him from prison. He is forced to remain in Kustrïn and study political administration in preparation for his future leadership.
|June 12, 1733||Frederick marries Elizabeth Christine of Brunswick-Bevern.
Frederick's father arranges for him to marry Elizabeth Christine of Brunswick-Bevern, a purely political alliance. The marriage is ultimately unsuccessful.
|May 13, 1740||Frederick becomes the leader of Prussia.
Frederick's father dies and he ascends the throne as King in Prussia, taking over his father's powerful army and funds. He is immediately swept up into the political machinations overtaking Europe.
|December 16, 1740||Frederick begins the First Silesian War.
Frederick invades the Austrian territory of Silesia without provocation, thus beginning the First Silesian War, which is caught up in the larger War of Austrian Succession. His goal is to expand and unify a Prussian empire.
|June 11, 1742||Frederick conquers Silesia.
Frederick makes peace with Silesia and becomes the ruler of nearly the entire region. Between 1744 and 1745 Austria attempts to retake Silesia from Prussia, but in the Treaty of Dresden, Frederick forces Austrian ruler Maria Theresa to adhere to previous boundaries.
|August 29, 1756||Frederick begins the Seven Years' War.
Hoping to preempt a conspiracy between Prussia's neighboring countries, Frederick invades Saxony, allied with Austria, and begins the Seven Years' War, along with his ally, Great Britain. Despite several victories, the war soon turns into a stalemate for Prussia.
|May 15, 1762||The Miracle of the House of Brandenburg rescues Frederick from an unsuccessful war.
Russia withdraws from the Seven Years' War when pro-Prussia Peter III ascends the throne and seeks a title from Frederick II, who happily obliges. Russia's favorable reversal convinces Sweden to make peace with Prussia as well, and the war quickly comes to a close, to Frederick's relief. He terms this event the "Miracle of the House of Brandenburg."
|February 15, 1763||The end of the Seven Years' War leaves Prussia as a major power.
The Seven Years' War formally ends, leaving Prussia without any new territory. Nevertheless, Frederick is allowed to keep Silesia and his country becomes known as one of the most powerful in Europe.
|August 5, 1772||Frederick participates in the First Partition of Poland.
Frederick signs a treaty along with Russia and Austria that partitions Poland and removes 1/3 of its land area. The three countries divide up the winnings; Prussia gains a number of economically valuable provinces.
|July 23, 1785||Frederick allies princes in the Fürstenbund.
Frederick forms the Fürstenbund, an alliance of Protestant princes in the Holy Roman Empire. It is meant to protect the empire and prevent Joseph II from adding Bavaria to the Habsburg empire. This alliance marks the first organization of German states under Prussia, which later will unify Germany.
|August 17, 1786||Frederick dies.
Frederick dies in Potsdam, leaving a legacy of ruling as an "enlightened despot."