Frederick William I, the "Soldier King"

Frederick William I
Frederick William I

(1688-1740, King in Prussia 1713)

Inspired by Czar Peter I, who had visited him in 1717, and by his development of St. Petersburg, during his reign the King had a town for ten thousand people erected on the marshy land surrounding the old core of Potsdam. He did this at first to create room for his soldiers.

In 1721 the rebellious citizenry of Berlin had refused to quarter his Guards Regiment. Potsdam was the alternative, since "Pottstam belonged to Sire Excellency Elector of Brandenburg above ground and below ground on waters and soil, as far the district extends". This was the wording of a text dating from 1700.

Nonetheless, the two town extensions were the basis for a prospering town, in which manufactories, trade and other businesses could develop. In truth, the often criticised "Soldier King", certainly a very polarising personality, was one of the most important builders of Potsdam, as can still be partly seen today.

He was buried in the mausoleum for Emperor Frederick III at the Peace Church.