On ascending the Prussian throne, Frederick attacked Austria and Silesia during the Silesian Wars, winning military acclaim for Prussia. He also created a thoroughfare by conquering territories of Poland in its first partition. Corresponding with the enlightenment philosopher Voltaire, he was one of the first proponents of enlightened absolutism, encouraging religious tolerance throughout his kingdom and transforming Prussia from a European backwater into a strong, industrialized, if highly militaristic, modern state.

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