Frederick William III
Frederick William III. (1770-1840), son and successor of the last-named, was an amiable man, but not an able ruler. Up to the year 1806, partly owing to jealousy of Austria, partly to the hope of obtaining Hanover, and partly from natural timidity, he took no part in the coalitions against Napoleon. When he was at length forced into action by the indignation of his subjects at the violation of their territory, and by the spirit of his Queen (Louise), it was too late. Prussia, with a disorganised army and alone, was speedily crushed at Jena and Auerstadt, and was brought lower than she had been for a century. After a time, however, the army was secretly reorganised, and Stein (q.v.) was summoned to advise on civil matters; so that when the Russian campaign had brought down the pride of Napoleon, Prussia was ready to join with the Allies in the War of Liberation. Frederick William, as a true Hohenzollern, accompanied the army in person, and at the end of the war not only recovered his lost possessions, but gained part of Saxony, Jiilich and Berg, and Swedish Pomerania. The peace was followed by a short period of reform; but from the year 1818 arbitrary government prevailed in Prussia, as in Austria, and, to some extent also, in France. Frederick William joined the Holy Alliance; assisted Russia to suppress the rising of the Poles; and suppressed freedom on the platform and in the press. He was a well-meaning and hardworking, but weak king.