Above all, Frederick William I (1688-1740) helped to establish the Prussian military as one of the most powerful in Europe, equal to that of England, France and other mainland powers. Frederick restricted government waste in spending, and served as an example to the people by living without the extravagances of most rulers. Despite his concerns to establish a strong military, he abolished mandatory service, replacing it with a tax for citizens who chose not to serve. He preferred his strong military standing primarily for defensive purposes, since he never invaded another country nor acquired new territories during his reign. He allied himself with Great Britain through his marriage to the sister of King George II. He created new schools and placed importance upon farming and creating a surplus of stored grains. Upon his death, the national treasury (which he personally managed) had also accumulated a large surplus.
Frederick's treatment of his own eldest son, Frederick II (1712-1772), was a stormy one. He groomed the boy, known as Old Fritz, to be a military leader, but young Frederick was more interested in music and the arts. When he attempted to escape Prussia with his tutor, the king had the teacher executed and Fritz imprisoned and later exiled from court. Upon his ascension to the throne, Fritz would come to be known as one of Europe's greatest military leaders: Frederick the Great.