To hesitant guards at the battle of Kolin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Kol%C3%ADn#Battle, 18 June 1757
Attributed in E. M. Knowles, Oxford Dictionary Of Quotations (5th Edition) (Oxford University Press, 1999)
"Kerels, wollt ihr den euwig leben?" Frederick the Great, by David Fraser, Penguin 2000, p. 353 Other versions have it: "Hünde, wollt ihr euwig leben?" (Dogs, do you want to live for ever?).
Frederick II of Prussia quotes
Frederick II of Prussia
Birthdate: 24. January 1712
Date of death: 17. August 1786
Other names: Friedrich der Große, Fridrich II. Veľký, Re Federico il Grande
Frederick II ruled the Kingdom of Prussia from 1740 until 1786, the longest reign of any Hohenzollern king, at 46 years. His most significant accomplishments during his reign included his military victories, his reorganization of Prussian armies, his patronage of the arts and the Enlightenment and his final success against great odds in the Seven Years' War. Frederick was the last Hohenzollern monarch titled King in Prussia and declared himself King of Prussia after achieving sovereignty over most historically Prussian lands in 1772. Prussia had greatly increased its territories and became a leading military power in Europe under his rule. He became known as Frederick the Great and was nicknamed Der Alte Fritz by the Prussian people and eventually the rest of Germany.In his youth, Frederick was more interested in music and philosophy than the art of war. Nonetheless, upon ascending to the Prussian throne he attacked Austria and claimed Silesia during the Silesian Wars, winning military acclaim for himself and Prussia. Toward the end of his reign, Frederick physically connected most of his realm by acquiring Polish territories in the First Partition of Poland. He was an influential military theorist whose analysis emerged from his extensive personal battlefield experience and covered issues of strategy, tactics, mobility and logistics.
Considering himself "the first servant of the state", Frederick was a proponent of enlightened absolutism. He modernized the Prussian bureaucracy and civil service and pursued religious policies throughout his realm that ranged from tolerance to segregation. He reformed the judicial system and made it possible for men not of noble status to become judges and senior bureaucrats. Frederick also encouraged immigrants of various nationalities and faiths to come to Prussia, although he enacted oppressive measures against Polish Catholic subjects in West Prussia. Frederick supported arts and philosophers he favored as well as allowing complete freedom of the press and literature. Most modern biographers agree that Frederick was primarily homosexual, and that his sexual orientation was central to his life. Frederick is buried at his favorite residence, Sanssouci in Potsdam. Because he died childless, Frederick was succeeded by his nephew, Frederick William II, son of his brother, Augustus William.
Nearly all 19th-century German historians made Frederick into a romantic model of a glorified warrior, praising his leadership, administrative efficiency, devotion to duty and success in building up Prussia to a great power in Europe. Historian Leopold von Ranke was unstinting in his praise of Frederick's "heroic life, inspired by great ideas, filled with feats of arms ... immortalized by the raising of the Prussian state to the rank of a power". Johann Gustav Droysen was even more extolling. Frederick remained an admired historical figure through Germany's defeat in World War I. The Nazis glorified him as a great German leader pre-figuring Adolf Hitler, who personally idolized him. Associations with him became far less favorable after the fall of the Nazis, largely due to his status as one of their symbols. However, by the 21st century a re-evaluation of his legacy as a great general and enlightened monarch returned opinion of him to favour.
Quotes Frederick II of Prussia
To hesitant guards at the battle of Kolin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Kol%C3%ADn#Battle, 18 June 1757
„Christianity… is an old metaphysical fiction, stuffed with fables, contradictions and absurdities: it was spawned in the fevered imagination of the Orientals, and then spread to our Europe, where some fanatics espoused it, where some intriguers pretended to be convinced by it and where some imbeciles actually believed it. Attributed in "The West and the Rest", by Niall Ferguson, Penguin 2011“
„Compare Holland with Russia; you see only marshy and sterile islands in the former, which rise from the center of the ocean: a small republic which is only 48 miles length by 40 wide. But this small body is the very nerve-center of the region: immense people live in it, and these industrious people are both powerful and rich. They shook the yoke of the Spanish domination, which was then the most formidable monarchy of Europe. The trade of this republic extends to the ends of the world; and new trade appears almost immediately; it can maintain in times of war an army fifty thousand men, without counting a many and well maintained fleet.“
Source: Anti-Machiavel, Ch. 5 : How It Is Necessary To Control The Cities, Or The Principalities, Which Are Controlled By Their Own Laws Before They Were Conquered
„The cruel man is of misanthropic temperament, and is a man of moods, oscillating from quiet brooding to sudden explosions. If a man like this does not fight this unhappy provision of his soul during his youth, under no circumstances could he avoid becoming furious - and foolish. There are those who would leave it up to God, but to ensure justice on the earth, and not fob it off to the Divinity, it is mandatory that people know both virtue and its benefits, since the virtues lead to unity among them, not the war of all against all. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to conserve them, and show that crime can only return misfortunes and destruction, including of the criminal himself. Who is the last victim of his crimes.“
Source: Anti-Machiavel, Chapter VIII
„I think it better to keep a profound silence with regard to the Christian fables, which are canonized by their antiquity and the credulity of absurd and insipid people.“
Letters of Voltaire and Frederick the Great (New York: Brentano's, 1927), trans. Richard Aldington, letter 37 from Frederick to Voltaire (June 1738)
Il nous faut de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace! http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext04/8dscs10.txt
We must dare, dare again, always dare!
Georges Danton, speech, Assemblée legislative, Paris (1792-09-02), reported in Le Moniteur (1792-09-04)
„My people and I," he said, "have come to an agreement which satisfies us both. They are to say what they please, and I am to do what I please.“
Attributed by Thomas Babington Macaulay, Life of Frederick the Great (1882), pg 48.
Repeated by Thomas Babington Macaulay in a review of "Frederick the Great and his Times. Edited, with an Introduction, by Thomas Campbell, Esq". Edinburgh Review, ISSN 1751-8482, 04/1842, Volume 75, Issue 151, p. 241-242, though it does not appear in the original work.
Knowles, Oxford Dictionary Of Quotations (5th Edition) (Oxford University Press, 1999)
„Neither antiquity nor any other nation has imagined a more atrocious and blasphemous absurdity than that of eating God. — This is how Christians treat the autocrat of the universe.“
Letters of Voltaire and Frederick the Great (New York: Brentano's, 1927), trans. Richard Aldington, letter 215 from Frederick to Voltaire (1776-03-19)
„I wanted to have a water jet in my garden: Euler calculated the force of the wheels necessary to raise the water to a reservoir, from where it should fall back through channels, finally spurting out in Sans Souci. My mill was carried out geometrically and could not raise a mouthful of water closer than fifty paces from the reservoir. Vanity of vanities! Vanity of geometry!“
Je voulus faire un jet d’eau dans mon jardin; Euler calcula l’effort des roues pour faire monter l’eau dans un bassin, d’où elle devait retomber par des canaux, afin de jaillir à Sans-Souci. Mon moulin a été exécuté géométriquement, et il n’a pu élever une goutte d’eau à cinquante pas du bassin. Vanité des vanités! vanité de la géométrie!
Letter H 7434 from Frederick to Voltaire (1778-01-25)
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„It is thus the justice (one would have to say) which must be the main responsibility of a sovereign. Since it is the prime interest of the many people whom they control, they must give it priority over any other interest of their own. What then becomes of Machiavel's recommendations of naked self-interest, self-aggrandizement, unleashed ambition and despotism? The sovereign, far from being the absolute Master of the people which are under his domination, is only the first servant.“
Source: Anti-Machiavel, Ch. 1 : What A Strong Prince Really Is, And How One Can Reach That Point
„I feel the deepest veneration for the divine being, and therefore I am careful not to attribute to him unjust, fickle behavior, which would be condemned by the meanest mortal. Because of that, dear sister, I prefer not to believe that the almighty, benevolent being is at all concerned with human affairs. Rather I do attribute everything that happens to the living beings and certain effects of incalculable causes and I silently bow down before this being which is worthy of adoration, by admitting my ignorance concerning his ways, which his godly wisdom chose not to reveal.“
Ich empfinde für das göttliche Wesen die tiefste Verehrung und hüte mich deshalb sehr, ihm ein ungerechtes, wankelmütiges Verhalten zuzuschreiben, das man beim geringsten Sterblichen verurteilen würde. Aus diesem Grunde, liebe Schwester, glaube ich lieber nicht, dass das allmächtige, gütige Wesen sich im mindesten um die menschlichen Angelegenheiten kümmert. Vielmehr schreibe ich alles, was geschieht, den Geschöpfen und notwendigen Wirkungen unberechenbarer Ursachen zu und beuge mich schweigend vor diesem anbetungswürdigen Wesen, indem ich meine Unwissenheit über seine Wege eingestehe, die mir zu offenbaren seiner göttlichen Weisheit nicht gefallen hat.
Letter to princess Amalie von Preußen
„Just as people are born, live a time, and die by diseases or old age, in the same way republics are formed, flower a few centuries, and perish finally by the audacity of a citizen, or by the weapons of their enemies. All has their period; all empires, and largest monarchies even, have only so much time: the republics feel continually that this time will arrive, and they look at any too-powerful family as the carriers of a disease which will give them the blow of death.“
Source: Anti-Machiavel, Chapter IX
„It is disgusting to notice the increase in the quantity of coffee used by my subjects, and the amount of money that goes out of the country as a consequence. Everybody is using coffee; this must be prevented. His Majesty was brought up on beer, and so were both his ancestors and officers. Many battles have been fought and won by soldiers nourished on beer, and the King does not believe that coffee-drinking soldiers can be relied upon to endure hardships in case of another war.“
1777; quoted by Bert L. Vallée, Alcohol in the Western World, Scientific American, Vol. 278, No. 6 (June), 1998, pp. 80-85
„It does not pay a man to exist until the age of Methuselah by making his days indolent and useless. The more this is reflected upon, the more the reflector will desire to undertake meaningful and useful actions, the more they will have lived.“
Source: Anti-Machiavel, Chapter XIV
„Machiavel's The Prince is to ethics what the work of Spinoza is to faith. Spinoza sapped the fundamentals of faith, and drained the spirit of religion; Machiavel corrupted policy, and undertook to destroy the precepts of healthy morals: the errors of the first were only errors of speculation, but those of the other had a practical thrust. […] I always have regarded The Prince as one of the most dangerous works which were spread in the world; it is a book which falls naturally into the hands of princes, and of those who have a taste for policy. […] There is a real injustice in concluding that the rotten apples are representative of all of them.“
„As to your Newton, I confess I do not understand his void and his gravity; I admit he has demonstrated the movement of the heavenly bodies with more exactitude than his forerunners; but you will admit it is an absurdity to maintain the existence of Nothing.“
Letters of Voltaire and Frederick the Great (New York: Brentano's, 1927), trans. Richard Aldington, letter 221 from Frederick to Voltaire (1777-11-25)
„If the men were without passions, it would be forgivable to see Machiavel try to give some to them; he would be the new Prometheus bringing celestial fire to breathe life into robots. But no man is without passions. When they are moderated, they are the heart of the enterprise; but when the brake is stripped of them, they are its destruction.“
Source: Anti-Machiavel, Ch. 6 : New States That The Prince Acquires By His Valor And His Own Weapons
„But France's powerful armies, and a very large number of fortresses, ensure that the French Sovereign will possess the throne forever, and they do not have anything to fear now concerning internal wars or their neighbors invading France.“
Source: Anti-Machiavel, Chapter IV