About Frederick Wilhelm von der Trenck, Freiherr
Militär, äventyrare, författare.
Von der Trenck was not born in Königsberg, East Prussia but in Haldensleben, which is north of Magdeburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Prussia on 16 Februrary 1727. His parents were Major-General Baron Christopher Ehrenreich von der Trenck and Marie Charlotte von Derschau. His father was transferred to Konigsberg in 1729. Friedrich's grandfather was Albrecht Frederick von Dershau, who was President of the Royal Law Court in Konigsberg. Documents show that Friedrich was a law student in 1741 at the University of Konigsberg. In November of 1742 he became a cadet in Frederick "the Great's garde-du-corps" and six weeks later was given the commission of Cornet. In August of 1744 Friedrich was sent to Silesia and became an orderly officer of King Frederick II of Prussia. Unfortunately for Friedrich, his first cousin Franz Freiherr von der Trenck, who was on the side of Austria, nearly captured Frederick II "The Great" and probably thought it was amusing when he returned his cousin's horses that had been taken by the Austrian officer. The Prussian King didn't find this act amusing. Rumors were spread that Friedrich was a Austrian spy and after it was learned that young Friedrich was to be Franz von Trenck sole heir, the rumors were impossible to silence. Friedrich was imprisoned one year later, in 1745, at Glatz under the guard of Heinrich August de la Motte Fouqué.
Some believe it wasn't just Franz von Trenck attention that caused the King's wrath and they remind us of Friedrich's affair with Princess Anna Amalia, the younger sister of the king who sent his pregnant sister off to Quedlinburg Abby, known to house the females of nobility who were with child out of web lock.
In 1746, von der Trenck escaped from the fortress of Glatz (Kłodzko). Then, in 1749, he obtained an employment as Rittmeister of an imperial cuirassier regiment in Hungary. He traveled to Russia where he, or so he claimed, became gentleman of the bed chamber in Tsarina Elisabeth II's court. He fell in love with a married woman, whose name he never revealed. In 1753, he went to Danzig for the funeral of his mother, but was again captured on the orders of Frederick II and was sent to the "Sternschanze" (literally: Star-shaped Redoubt) in Magdeburg. To prevent him from attempting to escape, they fastened his hands, feet, and body with heavy chains and manacles. In 1763, he was released through the intervention of Empress Maria Theresa.
During the next ten years, von der Trenck led an active life. He busied himself in writing literature, running a wine trading business, and travelling to England and France.
In December of 1765 he married Maria Elisabeth de Broe zu Dipenbendt. They had fourteen children.
In August of 1787, the Prussian King Frederick Wilhelm II granted Friedrich a yearly pension as well as his wife. The Austrians, also, granted him a pension.
By the order of Austria, von der Trenck was sent, as an observer of the events of the French Revolution, to Paris, where he was accused as a spy and executed by the guillotine [on 25 July 1794,] two days before the fall of Robespierre and the end of the Terror.
The son of Friedrich von der Trenck, the Austrian Lieutenant Field Marschall Karl Albrecht's von der Trenck, inherited the title of Count, a title which the King of Prussia had awarded his father after his father's death. When Karl died the title was inherited by his brother's son Leopold von der Trenck.
Picture: Trenck's cell in Fort Berge, Magdeburg. The high fortress walls towering over his cell blocked out the sun during winter, leaving his world ruled by eternal darkness. Chained up like a dog in his cell, as ordered by King Frederick the Great, he was further tortured by the icy-cold water which incessantly dripped from the ceiling keeping him constantly wet. Trenck was gaoled in Magdeburg between July 1754 and December 1763.
Friedrich von der Trenck's Timeline
February 16, 1726
Magdeburg, Haldensleben, Deutschland(HRR)
July 25, 1794