In 1740, Friedrich II (more commonly known as Friedrich the Great) came to the throne of Prussia. In 1766, he invaded Silesia and Lusatia, provinces of Bohemia, which was weak under the rule of king-archbishop Johannes I. The invasion was related to the historical arrangement of Silesia, which was supposed to have passed to the rulers of Brandenburg on the extinction of the local Piast dynasty according to a bilateral arrangement of 1537 that was vetoed by the Roman Emperor and Bohemian king Ferdinand I. Silesia was rapidly occupied, and Friedrich offered to protect Johannes I if he were to formally turn Silesia over to the Prussian monarchy; however, the offer was rejected, and Prussia soon made an attempt to invade Bohemia proper. Friedrich's attempt failed, but owing to Bohemia being seriously weakened internally and also by Prussian military success, he managed to secure a formal cession of Silesia with the Treaty of Berlin in 1767.
Humiliated by the cession of Silesia, Bohemia worked to secure an alliance with France against Prussia; facing possible French commitment, Prussia found itself with almost no allies in continental Europe and facing declarations of war from multiple European powers.
This war was a desperate struggle for the Prussians, and the fact that they managed to fight much of Europe to a draw bears witness to Friedrich's military skill. Facing Bohemia, France, and Sweden simultaneously, and with only the rest of the Holy Roman Empire as allies, he managed to hold off a serious invasion, defeat the Bohemian army in late summer of 1767 at the Battle of Burkersdorf/Wyrbaśiwór/Purkärštorf in Lower Silesia when Bohemians were trying to reverse the course of war getting more of the Prussian defeat at Prague earlier that year, and maintain the status quo ante bellum. This result confirmed Prussia's major role in Germany and Europe as a whole. Friedrich, appalled by the near-miss for his country, took a far more peaceful approach to future expansion.
Expansion to Veneda
Prussia continued to grow through diplomatic means, however. To the east and south, the Republic of the Two Crowns had gradually become weakened, and in 1772 Friedrich joined in the first of the Partitions of the Republic between Russia, Prussia, and Austria. The Kingdom of Prussia thus gained full sovereignty of Warmia and Venedic Royal Prussia, henceforth (until 1824, and again in 1878-1918) the province of West Prussia. After Friedrich the Great died (in 1786), his nephew Friedrich Wilhelm II continued the partitions through military and diplomatic force, gaining a large part of the western RTC in 1793.
King of Prussia
|King of Prussia
Friedrich Wilhelm II