Born: January 24, 1712, Kingdom of Prussia
Died: August 17, 1786, Potsdam, Germany
Lived: Sanssouci Palace, Maulbeerallee, 14469 Potsdam, Germany (52.4042, 13.03849)
Buried: Sanssouci Palace, Potsdam, Potsdamer Stadtkreis, Brandenburg, Germany, Plot: buried in the lawn of the south patio of Sans Souci
Spouse: Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel-Bevern (m. 1733–1786)
Parents: Sophia Dorothea of Hanover, Frederick William I of Prussia
Count Francesco Algarotti was a man of vast knowledge and an expert in art and music who charmed his way into the lives of many of the leading figures of his time. His chief work on art is the Saggi sopra le belle arti (Essays on the Fine Arts). Among his other books are Poems, Travels in Russia, Essay on Painting, and Correspondence. At the age of twenty, Algarotti left his native Italy for the bright lights of Paris. He soon became friendly with Voltaire, who referred to him as his “cher cygne de Padoue” (dear swan of Padua). Voltaire wrote in a letter on December 15, 1740, that seeing “tender Algarotti strongly hugging handsome Lugeac, his young friend, I seem to see Socrates reinvigorated on Alcibiades’ back” (referring to Charles-Antoine de Guerin, Marquis de Lugeac (1720-1785)). At twenty-two, in London, the bisexual Algarotti became entangled in a love triangle with the bisexual Lord John Hervey, and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762). Hervey and Montagu competed for Algarotti’s love and attention for many years. Frederick the Great fell in love with the charming young Algarotti and named him a count of Prussia and Court Chamberlin. Augustus III of Poland honored Algarotti with the title of councilor. In 1754, after seven years in Berlin and Dresden, Algarotti returned to Italy, where he died in 1764. Frederick erected a monument to his memory on the Campo Santo at Pisa.
Count Francesco Algarotti (December 11, 1712 – May 3, 1764)
Frederick II the Great, King in Prussia (January 24, 1712 – August 17, 1786)
Days of Love edited by Elisa Rolle
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Sanssouci is the former summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, in Potsdam, near Berlin. It is often counted among the German rivals of Versailles.
Address: Maulbeerallee, 14469 Potsdam, Germany (52.4042, 13.03849)
Type: Museum (open to public)
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday 10.00-18.00
Phone: +49 331 9694200
Built between 1745 and 1747, Design by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff (1699-1753)
While Sanssouci is in the more intimate Rococo style and is far smaller than its French Baroque counterpart, Versailles, it too is notable for the numerous temples and follies in the park. The palace was built to fulfill King Frederick’s need for a private residence where he could relax away from the pomp and ceremony of the Berlin court. The palace’s name emphasises this; it is a French phrase (sans souci), which translates as "without concerns,” meaning "without worries" or "carefree,” symbolising that the palace was a place for relaxation rather than a seat of power. Sanssouci is little more than a large, single-story villa—more like the Château de Marly than Versailles. Containing just ten principal rooms, it was built on the brow of a terraced hill at the centre of the park. The influence of King Frederick’s personal taste in the design and decoration of the palace was so great that its style is characterised as "Frederician Rococo,” and his feelings for the palace were so strong that he conceived it as "a place that would die with him.” Because of a disagreement about the site of the palace in the park, Knobelsdorff was fired in 1746. Jan Bouman, a Dutch architect, finished the project. During the XIX century, the palace became a residence of Frederick William IV. He employed the architect Ludwig Persius to restore and enlarge the palace, while Ferdinand von Arnim was charged with improving the grounds and thus the view from the palace. The town of Potsdam, with its palaces, was a favourite place of residence for the German imperial family until the fall of the Hohenzollern dynasty in 1918. After WWII, the palace became a tourist attraction in East Germany. Following German reunification in 1990, Frederick’s body was returned to the palace and buried in a new tomb overlooking the gardens he had created. Sanssouci and its extensive gardens became a World Heritage Site in 1990 under the protection of UNESCO; in 1995, the Foundation for Prussian Palaces and Gardens in Berlin-Brandenburg was established to care for Sanssouci and the other former imperial palaces in and around Berlin. These palaces are now visited by more than two million people a year from all over the world.
Who: Frederick II (24 January 1712 – 17 August 1786), King of Prussia, aka Frederick the Great
Voltaire, long guest in the royal palace of Sans-Souci in Potsdam, left unequivocal evidence on Frederick the Great’s homosexuality, arriving, in a letter of 1 December 1740, to define him “the respectable, unique and lovable bitch.” On 15 June 1743 he wrote, addressing Frederick II as "Caesar":
I love Caesar in the embrace
Of his mistress that gives up to him;
I laugh and I’m not offended
to see him, young and handsome,
above and below Nicomede.
I admire him more than Cato,
Since he is tender and magnanimous.
And in the same letter Voltaire wrote: "Your Majesty is with me a civettina (a coquette), very seductive.” Always him, talking about the Court of Potsdam with a female correspondent on 17 November 1750 specifies: "I know, my dear child, all that is said about Potsdam around Europe. Especially women are wild (...) but this does not concern me (...) I well see, my dear child, that this country is not for you. I see that people spend ten months a year in Potsdam. This is not a Court, is a retreat from which the ladies are banned. And yet we are not in a monastery. Considering everything, wait for me in Paris." The meaning of the allusions by Voltaire is made clear by another witness, Giacomo Casanova (1725-1798), who wrote in his memoirs that he saw in Potsdam Frederick II drive the first battalion of his soldiers, all with a gold watch donated from him for having the courage to subdue him... like Caesar had made with Nicomedes. The thing, he assured, was no one mystery. Frederick the Great died on August 17, 1786 in the armchair of his study in Sanssouci. He wished to be buried in a tomb next to his "Weinberghäuschen" and next to his favourite dogs. His nephew and successor Frederick William II did not obey these instructions and ordered him to be buried in the Potsdam garrison church (destroyed in 1945) next to his father, the soldier-king Frederick William I. Almost 160 years later, in the turmoil of WWII, German soldiers took the coffins to safety in an attempt to save them from possible destruction. In March 1943 they were taken into an underground bunker in Potsdam-Eiche and then in March 1945 to the salt mine at Bernterode in Eichsfeld (Thüringen). From there they were carried off after the war by soldiers of the U.S. Army to Marburg (Hesse). The coffins stayed in the Marburg Elisabeth Church until their transfer to Burg Hohenzollern at Hechingen (Baden-Württemberg) in August 1952. After the reunification of Germany the final wish of Frederick the Great was fulfilled. On August 17, 1991, the 205th anniversary of his death, the sarcophagus with the mortal remains of the King was laid out in the forecourt of Sanssouci palace, escorted by an honour guard of the Bundeswehr. The burial took place that night in the tomb Frederick had planned for the purpose since 1744 on the highest terrace of vineyards. His soldier-king father found his final resting place in the Kaiser-Friedrich-Mausoleum at the Church of Peace in Sanssouci Park.
Queer Places, Vol. 3 edited by Elisa Rolle
Release Date: July 24, 2016
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