Memoirs of the House of Brandenburg

by Frederick the Great

A New Translation by Levi Bookin


Frederick 2nd was nicknamed Iron-tooth, because of his strength. He could have been called the Magnanimous because he refused the crown of Bohemia, offered to him by the Pope in return for deposing George Podiebrad; and the crown of Poland, that he declared he would not accept, unless Casimir, brother of the last king, Ladislaus, refused it. The greatness of spirit of this elector attracted the confidence of the people, and the dominions of Lower Lusatia gave themselves over to him voluntarily. Lusatia was a fief of Bohemia. George Podiebrad, who was king [of Bohemia], had no wish that this province should pass under Frederick's domination. He therefore made war in Lusatia and in the Mark. In 1462, the two princes made a treaty at Guben, by which Cottbus, Peitz, Sommerfeld, Bobersberg, Storkow, and Beeskow were ceded in perpetuity to the Elector by the crown of Bohemia.

Frederick, who did not wish to make any unjust acquisitions, was careful to assert his legitimate rights. He redeemed the New Mark from the Teutonic Order, by which, I have already said, it was controlled. In 1464, Otto 3rd,last Duke of Stettin,had just died, and the Elector declared war on the Duke of Wolgast. The reason was that in 1338 Ludwig of Bavaria, Elector of Brandenburg, had made a treaty with the dukes of Pomerania, under which, if their line became extinct, Pomerania should revert to the Electorate of Brandenburg. This treaty had been confirmed by the Emperor. The dispute was ended by an agreement in 1464, pursuant to which the Duke of Wolgast remained, in truth, in possession of the Duchy of Stettin; but it became a feudatory of the Elector, and Pomerania eventually paid him homage. In 1469, Frederick 2nd re-united, as a vacant fief, the county of Wernigerode with the Mark; and took the titles of Duke of Pomerania, of Mecklenburg, of Vandalia, of Schwerin, and of Rostock, in respect of which he had right of reversion.

Because he had no children, the same disinterested spirit that had made him refuse two crowns made him abdicate the Electorate in the year 1469, in favor of his brother Albert, known as Achilles. Frederick 2nd, who had professed disinterest and moderation all his life, did not abandon these principles and reserved for himself a modest pension of only six thousand florins, with which he lived philosophically until the year 1471, when he died, overwhelmed with illnesses.

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