The frigate Friedrich Wilhelm zu Pferde (1681-1693). This 1:48 scale model is part of our exhibition on the West and East Indian Trading Companies on deck 2 of the museum.
The fleet of Friedrich Wilhelm, Elector of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia was initially a chartered fleet. It was created in cooperation between the Electorate of Brandenburg and Benjamin Raule, a merchant from Vlissingen in the Netherlands. The Raule fleet was financed by electoral letters of marque, especially in Brandenburg’s disputes with Sweden, and by business on the African Gold Coast. With the purchase of the Raule fleet by Friedrich Wilhelm, also known as the Great Elector, on 1 October 1684, the frigate „Friedrich Wilhelm zu Pferde” also became state property.
The „Friedrich Wilhelm zu Pferde“ was the flagship of the Brandenburg navy from 1684 to 1693. Her construction was begun in 1680 in Pillau, today’s Baltijsk, and completed a year later in Königsberg, today’s Kaliningrad. The ship was designed for a maximum of 60 guns on two gundecks, but the number of guns varied greatly over time. The same applies to the size of the crew, which increased over time from 160 to 250 men. The chronicles describe the ship as an excellent sailor with great maneuverability. Considering her size and armament, she was a large frigate, and thus unable to compete with the larger ships of the established naval powers.
In 1685, the „Friedrich Wilhelm zu Pferde“ was transferred from Königsberg to her new home port of Emden. In 1691, she served as a convoy ship to protect merchant ships on the route to the Shetlands. A year later, the ship was put into the service of the Brandenburg African Company and sailed from West Africa to St. Thomas in the Caribbean, participating directly in the Atlantic slave trade. For her use as a slave trader, the ship had been converted to carry as many human cargo as possible. To make room, her armament was therefore reduced to 25 cannons in 1692. On her way back from the Caribbean, the ship was attacked by French ships on 31 October 1693. As a result of the attack the ship burned and sank.