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Thread: Frederick the Great a Homosexual?

  1. #1

    Default Frederick the Great a Homosexual?

    I was just surprised while I was reading The Reader's Companion to Military History when I came across that Frederick the Great was possibly a homosexual. I don't have anything against gay people, but I am just amazed how our idea of a homosexual is so contrasted with by the acts of this man on the battlefield. Especially in early modern history.

    He is still one of my favorite military leaders and his private life has no effect on my military opinion of him.

  2. #2
    Sol Invictus's Avatar Domesticus
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    Default Re: Frederick the Great a Homosexual?

    Caesar was possibly bi as well. Frederick's brother was definately gay and he was also a good commander. The entire Spartan military system was based on state sponsored homosexuality. Bottom line, don't piss off gay people.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Frederick the Great a Homosexual?

    Frederick wasn't Gay but he didn't like women very much... he's strange...

    What's this explosion of "he's Gay - no he's Gay!"?

  4. #4

    Default Re: Frederick the Great a Homosexual?

    He was also forced by his father to watch his friend (and possible lover) executed for helping him try to escape Prussia in his youth. Which shocked me when I read about it; it sounds more like Medieval fantasy than Enlightenment Prussia.

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    Orko's Avatar Praeses
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    Default Re: Frederick the Great a Homosexual?

    Quote Originally Posted by Deathofjams View Post
    He was also forced by his father to watch his friend (and possible lover) executed for helping him try to escape Prussia in his youth. Which shocked me when I read about it; it sounds more like Medieval fantasy than Enlightenment Prussia.
    Prussia wasn't an enlightened country until Friedrick the great's reign.
    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus Aurelius
    Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Frederick the Great a Homosexual?

    Quote Originally Posted by orko View Post
    Prussia wasn't an enlightened country until Friedrick the great's reign.
    And I think that incident clearly illustrates that! Anyway I was using the word "Enlightenment" as a shorthand for the period as a whole (basically the 18th century).

  7. #7

    Default Re: Frederick the Great a Homosexual?

    Probably one for the historical research board.

    Voltaire is the prime source of this as far as I can recall, a rumor he started after the two fell out, and Voltaire was a notorious gossip and none too trustworthy.

    Frederick's sexuality is open to iterpretation, his childhood was not the happiest and one can see the seeds of his complex and somewhat melancholy mind being planted. His father was a tyrant who mercilessly beat and humiliated the young Frederick for not living up to expectations. He formed a very close relationship with an officer called Katte and both tried to flee Prussia as Frederick so hated and feared his father. They were caught, both sentenced to death as deserters, and while Frederick was eventually reprieved he was forced to watch Katte's decapitation. It was been suggested this relationship was homosexual but there is little evidence for it.
    He does not appear to have been much interested in women, he did not pay his wife much attention at all. He was very close to his sister, who in some ways his only refuge and help as he was growing up; he was completely distraught when she died.
    On the other hand when a young man, he spent time in the Saxon court which was very libertine in nature, its been rumored that he was involved with at least one woman there . He was plucked out before too much damage could be done, but it has been suggested that he caught a sexual infection which required long term treatment., and that this in part explains why he hated the Saxons so much. Again its hard to know.
    Another possibility is the "married to the state" approach sometimes adopted by monarchs, i.e. that the demands of kingship made realtionships too difficult to include. Elizabeth I of England had adopted such a line.
    One should also bear in mind the somewhat strange world of Prussian military aristocracy; Frederick father's court was almost exclusively composed of men, who drank and smoked constantly and when they danced they danced with each other not women. Frederick's more civilized francophile court was most likely a welcome change from that.

    My own view is that homosexuality and heterosexuality seem equally plausible in Frederick's case

  8. #8
    Primicerius
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    Default Re: Frederick the Great a Homosexual?

    Two cents: think of ancient Greeks... In certain cases, homosexuality was even cultivated to foster "bond" among soldiers being part of one unit.

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    Default Re: Frederick the Great a Homosexual?


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    Default Re: Frederick the Great a Homosexual?

    Stay on topic pleas. If it keeps derailing this thread will get closed.
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    Junius's Avatar Domesticus
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    Default Re: Frederick the Great a Homosexual?

    I don't see why a military commander cannot be homosexual, except from some cultural indoctrination of a gay man being a camp man. Alexander, the greatest military commander of his era, and possibly of any era, was homosexual, as has been mentioned. The Greeks were very open to differing sexualities, and we find a lot of instances of homosexuality in their military, such as the Sacred Band. I am sure there were many more gay military commanders, but due to social pressures and fear of prosecution they kept quiet about it.
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    CaptainAnthony's Avatar Civis
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    Default Re: Frederick the Great a Homosexual?

    Quote Originally Posted by pditty8811 View Post
    ...I don't have anything against gay people, but I am just amazed how our idea of a homosexual is so contrasted with by the acts of this man on the battlefield. Especially in early modern history.

    He is still one of my favorite military leaders and his private life has no effect on my military opinion of him.
    A persons sexuality has nothing to do with their other capabilities. There are many heterosexual males who make horrible soldiers, much less generals; and there are many homosexuals in every military organization, quietly serving who are both excellent soldiers and leaders of other men (and women). Don't assume stereotypes of behavior are an indicator of anything more than stereotypes.

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    VVILHELM DUX's Avatar Tiro
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    Default Re: Frederick the Great a Homosexual?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sol Invictus View Post
    Caesar was possibly bi as well. Frederick's brother was definately gay and he was also a good commander. The entire Spartan military system was based on state sponsored homosexuality. Bottom line, don't piss off gay people.
    Ditto that!

    The modern US military dosnt know what kind of mean little some can be. The public only sees those that fit their steriotype, its like an iceburg the strength is hiding under the water where you cant see it.
    Last edited by VVILHELM DUX; August 19, 2009 at 06:37 PM.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Frederick the Great a Homosexual?

    I was about to say that you should remember the quote 'the most beautiful girl or woman in the world is a matter of indifference to me, but tall soldiers, they are my weakness.' Then I remebered this was from Frederick's father, William. Perhaps William set the stage for his son to follow?

    I'm afraid I don't really see what relevance Frederick's sexual predelictions would have on military history.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Frederick the Great a Homosexual?

    frederick liked surrounding himself with men (he became angry at voltaire once when he wrote about the queen and read it inside that "menclub") some others suggest that he was too busy to really care about women, he could be homo hetero bi or a-sexual

  16. #16

    Default Re: Frederick the Great a Homosexual?

    Quote Originally Posted by A1_Unit View Post
    Frederick wasn't Gay but he didn't like women very much... he's strange...

    What's this explosion of "he's Gay - no he's Gay!"?
    His father had his "friend" whom he was fleeing the country with executed while people forced him to watch by holding his face to the bars of his cell. Do you really think FW II would've went to such lengths to humiliate his son in such a manner if he didn't believe Frederick had a particular fondness for that person?

    Not to mention his whole close friendship with Voltaire...

  17. #17
    Gunodd's Avatar Semisalis
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    Default Re: Frederick the Great a Homosexual?

    Maybe he had some type of social disorder? Maybe he was asexual or just had a very low sex-drive?

  18. #18

    Default Re: Frederick the Great a Homosexual?

    Quote Originally Posted by pditty8811 View Post
    He is still one of my favorite military leaders and his private life has no effect on my military opinion of him.
    Same here, I've been aware of the fact that Frederick the Great was homosexual for decades, it makes no difference to his achievements. Likewise Alexander the Great murdered his own friend and lover in a fit of rage and was almost certainly bi-sexual, which was common in that period of history. The Spartan culture being a case in point, not to mention Roman social and sexual habits.

    Even in the 19th Century homosexual behaviour was accepted as a social norm in military life. Mercer for example makes no morale judgements over the gangs of small belgian boys who he says followed the army everywhere selling their bodies to the men for sex.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Frederick the Great a Homosexual?

    I prefer to think that these were false rumors being spread around at the time.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Frederick the Great a Homosexual?

    Its more likely to be the truth which was written out of the history books by prudish Victorian publishers in the 19th Century.
    Last edited by Didz; March 03, 2013 at 04:12 AM.

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