Harry HouJanuary 15, 2018World History I – Research Assignment I: Q&A TranscriptWhat events or experiences in your childhood influenced your approach to government?I was born in Berlin in 1620 as the only son of the elector at the time, George William and Elizabeth Charlotte (“Frederick William.”; “Roider”). I apathetically attended lectures at the University of Leiden, located in Netherland (“Frederick William.”). During my free time I explored the Leiden, observing the commercial life and seafaring power of the Dutch (“Frederick William.”). The experience made a lasting impression on me by the time I left, which later pushed me to build an active navy that chartered Dutch ships, and the African Trading Company (which brought in moderate amounts of profits) (“Frederick William.”).How did you become ruler? Was it an easy process? Were you expecting to rule?I am part of the Hohenzollern family, the ambitious ruling house of Brandenburg-Prussia and imperial Germany (“Colon, Jose, et al.”; “Hohenzollern dynasty.”). My late father George William was in poor health, so during the year 1640, I succeeded him at twenty years old when he passed away (“Roider”; “Frederick William.”; “Colon, Jose, et al.”). Through the phase of becoming ruler, I inherited the duchies of Prussia from the east, and Cleve and Mark on the Dutch Frontier in 1640 (“Frederick William.”; “Colon, Jose , et al.”; “Roider”). When I began my rule, I had scattered possessions, with a variety of social and political systems (“Frederick William.”).What challenges did you face as a ruler and how did you deal with these challenges?When my father ruled, he delegated his power to the military adventurer, Adam von Schwartzenberg (“Roider”). Adam von Schwartzenberg created an army whom spent their efforts creating turmoil within our land rather than defending against our enemies (“Roider”). When I began my rule, I dismissed Schwartzenberg, after numerous complaints about him came in from different estates (“Roider”). Junkers, or young lords, dominated Brandenburg, Pomerania, and East Prussia in 1620 (“McKay”). Two thirds of the land in Brandenburg was controlled by Junkers, enserfing tenants who provided labor for them two to three times a week (“McKay”). My lands were caught in between warfare involving the Swedish and Polish, and I only had a small army (from Schwartzenberg), so I desperately needed an army to fend the two powers away (“Roider”). These Junkers did not support growing centralized power, nor care about our land’s vulnerability, which became an issue for me, especially when I needed funds from them to build up an army. (“Colon, Jose, et al.”; “Roider”; “Frederick William.”). After a refusal from the Estates, I immediately began reducing their authority, and increasing my own authority by bringing absolutism to Brandenburg-Prussia (“Roider”). I began ignoring the Estates, and using my small army to collect the proposed taxes anyways (“Roider”). Eventually, the Estates granted the sums I requested, because they could not think of another way to resist me (“Roider”).What is your philosophy of government? As you the Estates could not assist me in issues such as defending my land, so I knew I could not count on them in the future (“Roider”). As a result, I decided the best way for Brandenburg-Prussia to succeed would be to become the absolute ruler (“Roider”). To win over the Estates, I gradually delegated my power to them, giving them rights such as collecting taxes, official appointment, and quartering troops (“Frederick William.”; “Roider”). Slowly, my administration became centralized, as I replaced the old tax-collecting structure of the Estates with my own structure. I believed that reforms should not be made for long term benefits or a for a government philosophy, but only for what is necessary at the current moment (“Roider”; “Wilson”). Reforms should be specific, with limited targets (“Roider”). The future is the future, so the focus should be on the present.Discuss your approach to foreign policy. Throughout my reign, one particular goal I had was to maintain and increase the international standing between my family and our possessions (“Wilson”). I was not a major player when it came to warfare, but I generally favored more powerful rulers (“Wilson”). I built up an army force of eighty thousand men, and unashamedly used them to acquire territory (“Colon, Jose, et al.”; “Frederick William.”).I had an intervening foreign policy, and only act in the best interests of Brandenburg-Prussia (“Wilson”; “Frederick William.”). For an example, in the First Northern War between Sweden and Poland in 1655, I first allied with Sweden, then later changed sides in 1657 to join Poland (“Frederick William.”). In 1672 I joined the Austro-Dutch coalition against France and turned against Sweden, one of France’s northern allies (“Frederick William.”). In 1679, I rejoined France with Louis XIV, after he dominated Rhineland (“Frederick William.”). Finally, I stopped being allies with France, after a Turkish assault on Vienna in 1683 (“Frederick William.”).Discuss your domestic policy. I argue only when necessary, and feel I should have the right to override the Estates (“Wilson”). I am fair when it comes to recognizing the Estates and compromise whenever possible (“Wilson”). After constantly having to deal with noble landlords, I used conflicts between towns and the nobility to my advantage and weakened their power (“Frederick William.”). I created a large standing army, later on used to impose reforms or laws. Slowly, my army became nationalized and made up of many of my subjects (“Frederick William.”). I follow a mercantilist ideology. After seeing the Dutch’s sea power from my studies in Leiden, I attempted to build an active navy, chartering Dutch ships during their war with Sweden during 1675 to 1679 (“Frederick William.”). My African Trading Company brought in profits, from trading slaves with the West Indies (“Frederick William.”). At one point, I was also concerned about bringing new settlers into my land, so I offered tax exemptions and subsidies to craftsmen and immigrants (“Frederick William.”). As a result, twenty thousand French Huguenots settled in my territories, bringing manufacturing skills and developing our culture (“Frederick William.”).What have been your greatest successes as a ruler? How did you achieve these successes? In the beginning of my reign, I removed Schwartzenberg from office, and centralized my government by restructuring the power of Junkers, and my power (“Wilson”; “Roider”; “Frederick William.”). I built up a military and maintained my power by making foreign policy related decisions based on the best interests of Brandenburg-Prussia (“Frederick William.”; “Colon, Jose, et al.”; “Wilson”). Finally, reorganized my states, and recovered Brandenburg-Prussia from the state it was in when I began my ruling through various different reforms (“Frederick William.”; “Wilson”; “Roider”).What advice would you give to other rulers or to your successors? Was there a particular event or experience that taught you a valuable lesson? What was it and what did you learn from it? My advice to my successors is to maintain your power, from both a domestic and foreign perspective. If you have an opposition challenging your power, strategically plan out a way to defend your power. For an example, when the Junkers were not giving in to providing me the sufficient funds I requested, I decreased their power and used what I had to get the sufficient funds,and eventually they gave it to me (“Roider”; “McKay”; “Colon, Jose, et al.”; “Frederick William.”). From a foreign perspective, I jumped around different powers so I could gain power, and left them in times where I felt my power would be vulnerable (“Frederick William.”).
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