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Frederick the Great and Imperial Politics

Wilson, Peter H.

Frederick II’s well-publicised contempt for the imperial constitution has led most historians to conclude that the Empire mattered little to Prussia after 1740 until his apparent, belated conversion to the cause of German unity in 1785 when he sponsored the Fürstenbund. This reappraises Prussian policy to demonstrate that Frederick quickly appreciated the imperial constitution as a means of enhancing Prussian security and frustrating Habsburg policy. However, it proved far more difficult to manipulate imperial politics than he expected, not least because Prussian interests conflicted with the growing desire for constitutional reform.