Friedrich Wilhelm, Count Brandenburg

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Friedrich Wilhelm, Count Brandenburg
Friedrich Wilhelm Graf von Brandenburg
Minister President of Prussia
In office
2 November 1848 – 6 November 1850
MonarchFrederick William IV
Preceded byErnst von Pfuel
Succeeded byOtto Theodor von Manteuffel
Foreign minister of Prussia
In office
3 May – 3 July 1849
Preceded byHeinrich Friedrich von Arnim-Heinrichsdorff-Werbelow
Succeeded byAlexander von Schleinitz
Personal details
Born(1792-01-24)24 January 1792
Berlin, Kingdom of Prussia
Died6 November 1850(1850-11-06) (aged 58)
Aurora von Massenbach (m. 1818)
ParentsFrederick William II of Prussia
Sophie von Dönhoff

Friedrich Wilhelm, Count of Brandenburg (24 January 1792 – 6 November 1850) was a German soldier and politician, who served as Minister President of Prussia from 1848 until his death.


Born in the Prussian capital Berlin, he was the son of King Frederick William II of Prussia (1744–1797) from his morganatic marriage with Countess Sophie von Dönhoff (1768–1838). He and his younger sister Julie (1793–1848) received the comital title von Brandenburg in 1794, and were raised with the sons of Hofmarschall Valentin von Massow. His sister married Duke Frederick Ferdinand of Anhalt-Köthen in 1816.

On 18 April 1806, Friedrich Wilhelm joined the Prussian Army by entering the Gardes du Corps regiment and from the next year participated in the Napoleonic War of the Fourth Coalition. In 1812 he achieved the rank of Rittmeister in the staff of Ludwig Yorck von Wartenburg, leading the Prussian auxiliary forces in support of the French invasion of Russia. In 1839 he was elevated to Lieutenant general of the VI Army Corps. By 1848, he had distinguished himself in several battles and was a cavalry general.

Ministers Brandenburg, Manteuffel, Radowitz

During the German revolutions of 1848–49, in November 1848, King Frederick William IV called him back to Berlin to succeed Ernst von Pfuel as Prussian minister president. The appointment reflected the king's intention to quell the ongoing uprisings. Jointly with Interior Minister Otto Theodor von Manteuffel, he had the revolutionary Prussian National Assembly suppressed and dissolved on December 5, while a reactionary Constitution was decreed.

In October 1850, he traveled to the Warsaw Conference to meet with Czar Nicholas and sound out the Russian stance in the Austria-Prussia rivalry. Though he had initially supported the implementation of the Prussian-led Erfurt Union, he shied away from an armed conflict with Austria as State Chancellor Prince Felix of Schwarzenberg was able to strengthen the alliance with the Russian Empire isolating the Prussian side. After his return, Friedrich Wilhelm spoke out against mobilising the Prussian Army as advocated by Foreign Minister Joseph von Radowitz. Shortly afterwards, he took seriously ill and died, it is said from the humiliation of the Czar's abandonment of the Erfurt policy. He was buried in the crypt of Berlin Cathedral.


  • Ferdinand Freiherr von Meerheimb, “Brandenburg, Friedrich Wilhelm, Count” in Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, Band 3 (Leipzig, 1876), S. 238-239. (in German)
  • Carl Schurz, Reminiscences (3 volumes), New York: The McClure Company, 1907. In Chapter VI of Volume One, Schurz mentions Brandenburg's appointment as prime minister of Prussia as a step of reactionary character.