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Prussia became a kingdom relatively late, in 1701 to be precise - much later than the old kingdoms of Western and Central Europe. In fact, only the kingdoms of the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Greece and some other German states are younger. Some of them were very good to great, some others pretty bad to abysmal, but barely anyone came down to "just average".

  • Friedrich Wilhelm, the Great Elector (1640-88). Came to power while his country was occupied by Swedish troops. Acquired most of Pomerania and some other lands in the Westphalian Peace after the Thirty Years War, making Prussia the second-biggest German state by far. Worked hard to build up the war-destroyed and mismanaged (by his father) country. Even acquired some colonies in Africa, although they were lost again later. Invited the huguenots who were kicked out from France by Louis XIV.
  • Friedrich I, first king (1688-1713; king since 1701). Technically, he wasn't king of Prussia, but king in Prussia - because of very obscure laws (maybe even then), East Prussia was inhabited by Germans, but not part of the Holy Roman Empire proper. For his Awesome Moment of Crowning he spent the whole income of the state during three years. Also, he turned a blind eye to the rampant corruption in his administration. Not surprisingly, when he died, the state was almost bankrupt.
  • Friedrich Wilhelm I, the Soldier King (1713-40). Built up a strong army, up to the point where Voltaire would say "Prussia is an army with a state!" Still, he only went to war once during his reign. Introduced compulsory education and a centralized administration. Didn't care at all for luxuries, almost lived an ascetic life, thus managed to get the financial troubles inherited from his father under control. Still was very much a tyrant, which caused his son (the very Frederick the Great, below) and his best friend to try to flee to France, which caused the latter to be executed. The prince himself only escaped this fate because the Emperor himself intervened.
  • Frederick the Great (1740-86) aka "Old Fritz". Has his own page.
  • Friedrich Wilhelm II (1786-97), nicknamed "the fat". Nephew of Frederick the Great. Had many affairs with women, very different than his uncle. Started a war with the Netherlands for insulting his sister, and later saw the war against revolutionary France as a kind of crusade for the monarchist principle. Responsible for two divisions of Poland, after which this state disappeared from the map.
  • Friedrich Wilhelm III (1797-1840). Didn't act very strongly against Napoleon Bonaparte and was subsequently defeated by him, losing half of Prussia; only in 1813, when the Grande Armee was destroyed in Russia, he finally changed his mind; and even then, his stronger-minded queen and one general named Yorck (who changed sides before) had to influence him. As you can see, he wasn't that great in governing himself, but was lucky enough to find several competent men who helped rebuilding Prussia and its army - men like von Stein, Hardenberg, Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Humboldt and Blücher. Under their government, Jews became full citizens for the first time. Donated the Iron Cross. Participated in bringing down Napoleon in the two wars during 1813-15. Disappointed the German democrats and nationalists, when the German Confederation which was formed afterwards neither was united nor liberal nor democratic. Also was a composer at the young age of ten.
  • Friedrich Wilhelm IV (1840-61). Started to liberalize Prussia somewhat when he came to power. Decided to finish the cathedral of Cologne. But then he managed to screw up big time during the revolution of 1848. When the Democrats set up a constitution for Prussia, he said that he didn't want "a piece of paper" between him and his people, and advised his successors not to acknowledge it. One part of the parliamentarians in Frankfurt offered him the German emperor's crown, but he declined, not wanting a crown from the hands of the people (the fact that the diplomatic situation would have made that a suicidal act didn't exactly help either).
  • Wilhelm I (1861-88). Brother of Friedrich Wilhelm IV. Had become infamous during the failed German revolution of 1848, for ordering to shoot on democrats demonstrating. His first years weren't that mentionable, but then he appointed Otto Von Bismarck Prussian chancellor. Then, during only seven years, Prussia defeated Denmark and took Schleswig-Holstein, then defeated Austria so they were free to found the North German Confederation, then defeated France, toppling indirectly Napoleon III, uniting all of Germany and taking Alsace-Lorraine, too. See also Imperial Germany. As Bismarck said, he didn't care who was king below him. (Or was it Wilhelm stating it wasn't easy being king below Bismarck? Whatever.)
  • Frederick III (1888). Died after 99 days in office, because his incompetent doctor misdiagnosed his cancer. Some people wonder whether a longer reign of him would have helped democratizing and liberalizing Germany, let alone avoiding World War One and what followed, but that's speculation for Alternate History.
  • Wilhelm II (1888-1918). Grandson of Queen Vicky. Had a crippled arm, because an incompetent doctor messed up during his difficult birth. Many people claim this is the reason why he was Overcompensating For Something, with his uniform fetish and building up the German navy (together with admiral Tirpitz), with had to tick off Britain. Also had a bad relationship with his mother, British-born Victoria, who was in favor of liberalism and democracy. Fired Bismarck after two years in office. Sometimes acted like a Jerk Jock, frex when he once slapped the Bulgarian czar on his butt. No, really! Once met Annie Oakley in her Wild West show and volunteered for a stunt that could have backfired - she would shoot off the tip of a cigar he held in his hand. Wanted "a place in the sun" for Germany. Infamously made his "Hun speech" during the boxer rebellion. (Making things easier for British propaganda in World War One.) With the "Daily Telegraph" affair, he was close to stepping down, but stayed at the end. Wasn't able to prevent World War One, despite being related to most European monarchs. After 1916, practically powerless because the generals Hindenburg and Ludendorff now ran the country. Stepped down in 1918 and went to exile in the Netherlands, in the city of Doorn. Spent most of his time there with woodcutting, killing thousands of trees. Wasn't too fond of The Nazis (and even less of the fact that some of his sons liked them), but hoped that they might help him to return Germany to the monarchy. Still congratulated Hitler for defeating France. Died in 1941.
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