Count Karl-Wilhelm Finck von Finckenstein

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Reichsgraf und Graf Karl Wilhelm Finck von Finckenstein

Karl Wilhelm Finck von Finckenstein (11 February 1714 – 3 January 1800) was a German-Prussian diplomat and later Prime Minister of Prussia.

He was the son of Count Albrecht Konrad Finck von Finckenstein, who was a Field Marshal and Governor of the Crown Prince, the future King Frederick II. Karl Wilhelm studied in Geneva and traveled in France and the Netherlands. In 1735 he was appointed to the Prussian diplomatic service.

Frederick II, who became king in 1740, knew Finckenstein well from his own childhood and had great confidence in him. Frederick sent him as minister to Sweden until 1740, then to Denmark, and in 1742 to Britain. In 1744 he went again to Sweden, when Frederick's sister Louisa Ulrika married King Adolf Frederick of Sweden. In 1747, Finckenstein was made a Minister of state, and became envoy to Russia.

He returned to Prussia in 1749, where he became a Cabinet Minister and henceforth the most trusted advisor to the King.

During the Seven Years' War, Frederick issued a secret decree on 10 January 1757, "for the case of his death or capture", which appointed Finckenstein to run the country in that event.

After the end of the Seven Years' War, Finckenstein had sole control of Prussia's foreign relations, and had also a prevailing influence on the King. This continued after Frederick's death in 1786, under his successor Frederick William II of Prussia, and right up to Finckenstein's death in 1800.

In 1785, he negotiated the Prussian-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce with the United States Ambassador to France Thomas Jefferson (1785–1789), and renewed it in 1799 after negotiations with United States Ambassador to Prussia John Quincy Adams (1797–1801). The Treaty promoted free trade and commerce and additionally demanded the unconditionally humane custody for war prisoner, a novelty at the time.

Finckenstein died 3 January 1800. He was 85 years old, and had been a State Minister for 53 years. He was a knight of the Order of the Black Eagle.