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King Frederick William I of Prussia
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    (August 14, 1688-May 31, 1740)
    Born in Berlin, Germany
    King of Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg (1713-1740)
    Father of Frederick the Great
    Nicknamed 'the Soldier King'
    As a child, he threatened to jump out of a third story window if his governess did not let him have his way.
    He had a regiment of giant soldiers that he was obsessed with, to the point of sending out agents to kidnap tall people from other countries.
    He was described by a biographer as 'Uncontrollably violent in temper, vulgar in speech and manner, scornful of education and culture.'
    He would walk the streets of Berlin tearing 'extravagant finery' off the clothes of women and beating workers he felt were loafing with his walking stick.
    He would beat the snot out of Prince Frederick over any sign of 'effeminacy,' such as wearing gloves or eating with a three-pronged sliver fork instead of a two-pronged iron one.
    His violent outbursts may have been a result of the hereditary disease porphyria.
    Unlike most monarchs of the era, he was faithful to his wife, commenting 'There are no such things as mistresses, only harlots and whores.'
    He reformed Prussia's government and finances, leaving an efficient bureaucracy and a large surplus in the royal treasury.
    He overhauled the Prussian army's training, tactics and conscription program, creating the best disciplined force in Europe.

Credit: C. Fishel

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