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Prussian Germany in the 1700s

Odenkirchen is in the vicinity of Cologne (Koln) Germany. This area was controlled by Prussia in the 1700s. A brief history of Prussia and this area in the 1700s follows:


In 1713, Frederick William I became king of Prussia, and ruled until 1740. Two big achievements marked Frederick William's reign which were to form the basis of a strong state. First, he developed the Prussian government into an efficient, centralized organization, personally taking charge of the chief offices of central and local government. Secondly, he created a powerful Prussian regular army, which he doubled in size to 80,000 soldiers, making it one of the largest in Europe. Frederick also introduced measures to improve the Prussian economy by actively reforming agriculture, and made education compulsory for children.

Frederick II or Frederick the Great (1712–86)

King of Prussia (1740–86), son and successor of Fredrick William I


In the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–48) against Maria Theresa, Frederick invaded Silesia without warning, simultaneously offering his aid to Maria Theresa if she ceded a portion of Silesia to him. A brilliant campaigner, Frederick acted with utter disregard of his allies, notably France, and twice concluded separate peace treaties with Maria Theresa (1742, 1745), both times securing Upper and Lower Silesia for Prussia.

In the Seven Years War (1756–63), possession of Silesia was again in dispute; Maria Theresa wished to recover it, and Frederick faced a strong coalition including Austria, Russia, and France. England was his only strong ally. Victorious at Rossbach and Leuthen (1757), he was routed (1759) at Kunersdorf by the Austro-Russian forces, who in 1760 occupied Berlin. In that dark period, it is said, Frederick was on the verge of suicide. However, the accession (1762) of his admirer, Peter III of Russia, took Russia out of the war and opened Frederick's way to victory.

The Peace of Hubertusburg (1763) left Frederick his previous conquests and made Prussia the foremost military power in Europe. His tactics were studied and admired by Napoleon Bonaparte and exerted great influence on the art of warfare.

After the peace of 1763 Frederick promoted an alliance with Russia, which had nearly defeated him in the Seven Years War. The establishment of a Russo-Prussian alliance prepared the way for the eventual dismemberment of Poland. Frederick vastly expanded the limits of Prussia. His rivalry with Austria persisted. He opposed any attempts by Austria to extend its power within the Holy Roman Empire and instigated the War of the Bavarian Succession (1778–79) to prevent Austrian annexation of Bavaria. He also created (1785) the Fürstenbund [league of princes] to check Austrian schemes.

Frederick continued his father's fundamental domestic policies. His first care was the strength and discipline of his army. An “enlightened despot,” he instituted important legal and penal reforms, set up trade monopolies to create new industries, forwarded education, and accomplished internal improvements such as drainage projects, roads, and canals. Though he improved the lot of his own serfs, the nobility had more control over their peasants after his reign than before.

When my ancestor left Germany (Prussia) in 1771 it was an era of military build-up, the seven years war was over but the country remained in a military posture.

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Odenkirchen is in the vicinity of Cologne (Koln) Germany

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