The Kingdom of Prussia was formally established in 1701 by Elector Frederick III of the Hohenzollern dynasty. He dubbed himself Frederick I calling himself the “King in Prussia” rather than the ‘King of Prussia’ because as subjects of the Holy Roman Empire, only the emperor and his heir could have royal titles.
Disjointedly stretching over 750 miles across the European continent from the Duchy of Prussia that was bordered by the Baltic Sea across to the Hohenzollern dynasties stronghold in Brandenburg. The kingdom of Prussia also included three smaller areas in the Rhineland. These enclaves were known as Ravensberg, Cleves, and Mark.
In 1713, Frederick I died, and his son Frederick William I of Prussia came to reign. Known to many as ‘The Soldier King’, Frederick William is perhaps best remembered for doing much to centralize the Prussian State by introducing taxes on the middle classes and establishing Primary Schools. Frederick also focussed greatly on the rebuilding of Eastern Prussia, who to its detriment had lost almost one third of its population in 1708 due to the bubonic plague.
Although he had inherited a large amount of land from his father, Frederick William I found himself living in a kingdom that was geopolitically vulnerable. With The Russian Empire to the East, The Swedish to the North, The French to the West, and the mighty Hapsburg Austrian Empire to the South He knew that for Prussia to survive, he would need to create a strong and organised military.
He brought together the tallest men from all over Europe to fight in the Potsdam Giants. One of Prussia’s most famed infantries known to the locals as "Lange Kerls.” Made up of over 40,000 mercenaries from all over Europe, they were left them under the tutelage of The King, and Prince Leopold I. A strong disciplinarian who was known for his tactical preference of using infantry brigades instead of cavalries to dictate battles.
Two famous Irishmen fought in the Potsdam Giants, James Kirkland, who was dubbed “The Irish Giant” was over 7 feet tall and came from County Longford, And poet Tomás Ó Caiside, a mercenary from Roscommon who travelled all over Europe following his dismissal from his local Friary for a failed marriage.
Frederick was so passionate about the giants that he is quoted as saying "The most beautiful girl or woman in the world would be a matter of indifference to me, but tall soldiers--they are my weakness." And even though Frederick never waged war, The Potsdam Giants were kept busy on diplomatic journeys, and they trained daily under the inspection of The King.
The militaristic nature of Frederick William I can be confirmed upon learning that he cut back on all other sectors of society to make way for his army, Militarisation spread to all parts of Prussian Society, with a large amount of the population employed either directly or indirectly by the armed forces.
He was known to be a strong, authoritarian, absolutist King, who came from a very Puritanical...