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Joachim Bernhard von Prittwitz

Joachim Bernhard von Prittwitz

The basics
Quick Facts
Gender male
Birth 3 February 1726 (Wołów)
Death 4 June 1793 (Berlin)
Joachim Bernhard von Prittwitz
The details

Joachim Bernhardt von Prittwitz and Gaffron (1726–1793), born in Groß Läswitz, died in Berlin, was a Prussian officer credited with saving the life of Frederick the Great at the Battle of Kunersdorf. At the time, was cavalry captain in Hans Joachim von Zieten's Hussar regiment. He became a lieutenant general and the head of gendarmes regiment, and inspector general of the cavalry of Brandenburg March and Magdeburg in 1775. He was promoted to Lieutenant General in 1785 and general of cavalry in 1788. Frederick awarded him the Order Pour le Mérite and the Order of the Black Eagle. In 1851, he was included on the panels of the Equestrian statue of Frederick the Great as one of the key figures in the establishment of the Prussia state.


Prittwitz came from the old and established Silesian nobility of Prittwitz, and was the son of the Prussian military captain and landowner Joachim Wilhelm von Prittwitz (13 March 1693–5 June 1758), master of Groß Läswitz, and Sophie Wilhelmine Gottesliebe von Domnig (9 February 1698–28 October 1752).

As a 36-year-old on 16 December 1762 in Berlin, he married the widowed Eleanor of Paczensky and Tenczin, born Freiin von Seherr-Thoß (12 January 1739 on the estate at Schönfeld, Kr. Schweidnitz, Lower Silesia, died 23 February 1799 in Berlin), the daughter of the Junker Karl Heinrich von Seherr-Thoss, lord on the estates Schönfeld and Ludwigsdorf, and the Anna Elisabeth von Zedlitz and Leipe. Eleonore, a wealthy heiress, brought to the marriage fourteen properties in Lower Silesia near Breslau and Hirschberg. He had children with her:

  • Charlotte Eleonore (1763–1827) ∞ Friedrich Detlef von Moltke ( 28 August 1750–2 September 1825)
  • Friedrich Wilhelm Bernhard (11 December 1764–2 October 1843), finance minister, ∞ Charlotte Friederike von Bernard (1767–1815)
  • Karl Heinrich (5 February 1766–9 June 1826) ∞ Gräfin Friederike von Blankensee (12 July 1783–17 December 1856)
  • Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels, Adelige Häuser A Band VI, Seite 321, Band 29 der Gesamtreihe, C. A. Starke Verlag, Limburg (Lahn) 1962, ISSN 0435-2408.
  • Robert von Prittwitz: Das v. Prittwitz'sche Adelsgeschlecht. Verlag Wilhelm Gottl. Korn, Breslau 1870, Seite 230 f. Properties included Peterwitz, Kr. Strehlen, Pollogwitz, and Groß- und Klein-Sägewitz, all in county of Breslau, Schönfeld, Ludwigsdorf, Schwenkfeld, Esdorf and Erlicht Kupferberg and Buchwald near Schmiedeberg, both in the region of Hirschberg. Before that, she had been married to Hans Adam von Paczensky and Tenczin (1700–1761), lord of Groß- und Klein-Sägewitz and Peterwitz.

Military career

Prittwitz first went to a village school, later to the Oelser Gymnasium. In August 1741 he entered the cadet corps in Berlin, and in November of that same year as a Fahnenjunker in the Dragoon Regiment No. 1 (von Posadowski). From here, Prittwitz's military career modeled that of other Junker sons. Many of the Junkers owned immense estates, especially in the north-eastern half of Germany, specifically, the Prussian provinces of Brandenburg, Pomerania, Silesia, West Prussia, East Prussia and Posen. Their younger sons followed careers as soldiers and were called, as recruits, Fahnenjunker.

On 4 April 1746, he was promoted to the cadet and was in garrison in Schwedt. On 8 May 1751, he became a second lieutenant. In the Seven Years' War, Prittwitz remained with the Dragoon Regiment and participated in all the major battles: in particular, he distinguished himself at the Battle of Hohenfriedberg on 7 June 1745, the Battle of Kolin on 18 June 1757 and the Battle of Zorndorf on 25 August 1758, after which he was honored with the Order Pour le Mérite. Short of cash, though, in 1758 he asked his king for money in a long poem, and he answered: "Wer dieses so artig in Verse gebracht, dem werden 500 Dukaten vermacht. – Ich bin Euer wohlaffectionirter König Friedrich." (He who has expressed himself so well in this verse will be left with 500 ducats. I am your well-disposed King Frederick."

At the end of 1758, the King instructed General von Zieten to choose the best officers for his Hussars from the whole army, and he also elected Prittwitz's first lieutenant. On the 12 August 1759, Prittwitz, then thirty-three years old, was promoted to the Rittmeister; rescued his King Frederick the Great at the Battle of Kunersdorf.

Joachim Bernhard rescues Frederick the Great from capture or death at the Battle of Kunersdorf.

Prittwitz was appointed Major on 10 December 1760 and received the command of the 1st Battalion of his regiment. In 1761, Prittwitz was often working for the king personally. On account of his merit in the battles, he was promoted to the lieutenant-colonel in 1763, after the end of the Seven Years' War, which he had begun as a lieutenant, and soon became commander of the Hussars' regiment. In addition, on 18 April 1763, upon the death of the previous owner, he was rewarded with a gift of several properties in the district of Lebus, including Quilitz.Upon the death of the margrave Charles Frederick Albert, Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt in 1762, his estate reverted to the crown. After the Treaty of Hubertusburg, Frederick II granted these fortunes to the two officers toward whom he had particular gratitude: Hans Sigismund von Lestwitz received the estate of Friedland, and Joachim Bernhard von Prittwitz, who had led the king from the battlefield in the Kunersdorf, received the estate at Quilitz (present-day Kwielice). Theodor Fontane gave this circumstance a special mention, by quoting a proverb: "Lestwitz a sauvé l'etat, Prittwitz a sauvé le roi." (Lestwitz saved the state, Prittwitz saved the king.")

In the years after 1763, Prittwitz carried out special assignments for the king: in 1765, the investigation of the suitability of the a proposed canal for shipping, and in 1767 the examination of irregularities in the casting of Berlin coin. On 12 December 1768 he was appointed colonel. On 20 May 1775, he became major general and commander of the "Regiment Gendarmes" in Berlin and Inspector General of the Cavalry of Brandenburg and Magdeburg.


  • Fahnrich: August 1741
  • Cadet: 4 April 1746
  • Second Lieutenant Dragoon Regiment No. 1: 8 May 1751
  • First Lieutenant: 1758
  • Captain (Rittmeister): 12 August 1759
  • Major: 10 December 1760
  • Lt Colonel: 1763
  • Colonel: 12 December 1768
  • Proprietor: 1745
  • Major General: 20 May 1775
  • Lt. General: 20 May 1785
  • Inspector of Cavalry: 20 May 1789
  • Order of the Black Eagle 26 May 1785

During the War of Bavarian Succession, Prittwitz commanded the right wing brigade, consisting of 13 squadrons, in 1778. In the years 1779–1783, Prittwitz founded the colony "Prittwitzdorf" at his Rudelstadt estate near Kupferberg, whose inhabitants were predominantly weavers and miners. He was promoted to lieutenant general on 20 May 1785, and on the 26 May 1785 he received the Order of the Black Eagle in Magdeburg. Until the king's death, he was often a guest in Sanssouci. A lithograph by Georg Schöbel shows Prittwitz, together with other generals, at the deathbed of Frederick the Great on 17 August 1786, at Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam.

Figure on the Equestrian statue of Frederick the Great: (left to right) Joachim Bernhard von Prittwitz, Hans Sigismund von Lestwitz, Prince Augustus William of Prussia, Heinrich Sigismund von der Heyde, Johann Dietrich von Hülsen.

On 20 May 1789, Prittwitz was appointed General of the Cavalry by the new Prussian king Frederick William II. His penchant for gambling caused his dismissal as inspector in 1790. He died on the 4 June 1793 in Berlin, and his body removed to his estate in Quilitz for burial.

Prittwitz was also commemorated with Frederick the Great on his equestrian statue, on the front of a large equestrian statue in Berlin and on a monument in Rheinsberg.

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