Sunday, March 29, 2009
A Royal Pain
Mention has been made of Frederick the Great, who had an extremely weird and unhappy childhood. This was because his father, Frederick William I was... idiosyncratic to say the least. He was extremely frugal (he refused to leave candles burning in his palace when he wasn't using them, immaterial of whether or not someone else was using them) but spared no expense for his armies. This devotion to the military led to the creation of the "Postdam Giants," i.e. a military corps made up of the tallest soldiers in Europe, a vicious and abusive relationship with Frederick the Great, and the habit of carrying around a walking stick (which Frederick William I is actually carrying in his right hand in the portrait to the right) so he could more conveniently bludgeon anyone who displeased him.
As Frederick William I went walking one day, he saw a peasant obviously trying to hide. Frederick William I then asked what the man was doing, to which the peasant replied that he was afraid of His Majesty.
"Afraid?" roared Frederick William I. "You ought to love me and not be afraid; yes, to love me I tell you!" At this point, Frederick William I beat the peasant with his walking stick, since, as everyone knows, violent beatings with walking sticks are the best method of inducing tender feelings on the part of anyone.