Frederick the Great

When Mendelssohn arrived in Berlin in 1743, Frederick the Great was already in power. Frederick’s rule embodied many of the contradictions of the Enlightenment. On the one hand, he was a great patron of the arts, encouraged freedom of thought, and sought to unify Prussia under a single set of laws. But he was also a notorious anti-Semite who perpetuated and extended the special laws that governed every detail of Jewish life in Prussia. When the Berlin Academy of Sciences recommended that Mendelssohn be made a member in 1771, Frederick effectively vetoed the Academy’s recommendation.

Frederick the Great