Frederick the Great and His Court: Kings don’t cry

This is the fifth post in a series retelling Luise Mühlbach’s Friedrich der Grosse und sein Hof (Frederick the Great and His Court), originally published in serial form in Germany and later reprinted by the Baltimore newspaper Der Deutsche Correspondent in 1858. Jill Fosse is translating the story from German for our enjoyment.

In the last installment, three men summoned by Frederick had just arrived, although their purpose wasn’t revealed until now…

January 12, 1858.

“The emperor of Austria is dead. What use can we make of this?” Friedrich is bent on retaking Silesia, which Austria wrenched away from his ancestors. They swore revenge, and Friedrich can be that avenger.

“Are you ready to help and give me advice in this quest?”

“Yes!” they roar. The king then brings out the battle plans he has been working on. He has also prepared a document to publish to the people, justifying the war to win back lands from the Austrians. The three men are sworn to secrecy.

January 13, 1858.

Further consultations on war plans leave the king pumped and ready to avenge Prussia’s treatment by Austria as a constantly snubbed vassal. He also feels the need to do something heroic, to earn the love and respect of the people. And he wants fame. He can only get all this on the battlefield, as he tells his friend Jordan, who swears undying loyalty to him. But Friedrich is alarmed at his old friend’s appearance—he looks close to death.

January 14, 1858.

Friedrich is gloomily staring out of the window, self pityingly musing on how lonely is the life of a prince, with few friends—and those may be dying. At that moment Jordan comes back with the sad news that the king’s friend Ulrich Friedrich von Suhm has indeed died and hands the king Suhm’s last letter. This is the last straw, and after reading the letter the king bewails his terrible loss and sheds bitter tears. He then pulls himself together and says that death can no longer have any hold over him. He will not die in battle as death has taken his friend in his place.

Poor Fredrick. I guess it really is lonely at the top, but I suspect the king won’t be down for long with a war to think about. Frederick’s plan kicks into action in the next post.

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