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(born Feb. 16, 1620, Cölln, near Berlindied May 9, 1688, Potsdam) Elector of Brandenburg (1640–88) who restored the Hohenzollern dominions after the Thirty Years' War. At his accession to the electorship, Brandenburg was ravaged by war and occupied by foreign troops. He cautiously maintained neutrality between the warring Swedes and Habsburgs, started to build a standing army, and added to his territories with the Peace of Westphalia (1648). In the First Northern War (1655–60) he gained sovereignty over the duchy of Prussia. In the complex power struggles in Europe starting in 1661, he shifted allegiance by always joining with the weaker party, hoping to maintain the balance of power. He issued the Edict of Potsdam in 1685, granting asylum to Huguenots expelled from France. When he died, he left a centralized political administration, sound finances, and an efficient army, laying the foundation for the future Prussian monarchy.
Variants of FREDERICK WILLIAM
Frederick William German Friedrich Wilhelm known as the Great Elector
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Frederick William, visit Britannica.com.