Ok, all, I decided to take a few months off from my TL's. I started and didn't bother to finish two over the past couple years due to fatigue. Thought I'd recharge my batteries. I've had this idea recently. Over the years, I've had Frederick II's escapades as a key subplot in my various TL's, often with his aggressive actions in the 7 Years' War proving disastrous. This time, I'm going to make him more central to the plot at a remarkable POD, his attempted flight at Mannheim when he was 18 years old to escape his abusive father and arrive at the London court. Chapter 1: Escape into the night August 1730, Electorate of the Palatinate King Frederick William's royal procession through the western principalities of the Holy Roman Empire had numerous goals: showing his own subjects in his scattered western provinces he still existed, making friends with the independent Dukes and Princes (like the Palatinate) and some quiet diplomacy on the side with greater powers than the Palatinate. The King "IN" Prussia (the "in" was important rather than "of") had the misfortune of governing a lightly populated state without geographic defenses in the middle of Europe. Surrounded by demographically superior powers, only the efficient Prussian Army protected his scattered domains from ravenous powers, though at a high price in taxation yolked to the backs of his subjects. Prussia had suffered greatly in the 30 Years war. Only now, a century later, was the nation recovered. For the past several decades, the King and his ancestors had fought, scraped, bribed, schemed and every other verb that would improve the lot of his nation. For his services to the Emperor, the House of Hohenzollern was allowed to crown themselves King "in" Prussia as the actual Prussian duchy was outside of the HRE's borders. The subsequent rise in prestige mattered much in the eyes of Europe. Unfortunately, his ancestors' attempts to aggregate their domains usually fell short no matter how many times they switched sides in the middle of wars whenever the winds changed. Usually Prussia sought out an ally or two, most often France. The two nations had no mutually exclusive ambitions and, on paper at least, a mutual enemy in Britain. Ever since the House of Hanover's accession to the British throne, the Kings "in" Prussia desired to acquire Hanover as they were predominantly Protestants whose territory separated Brandenburg from the scattered territories of the Hohenzollerns in the west. France desired to conquer the Austrian Netherlands and threaten Britain by sea. The pair of powers made logical allies, as did Britain and Austria. However, those alliances had frayed since the War of Spanish Succession. It was increasingly difficult for the Ministers in any of the four great courts to see how these alliances were still relevant and supported their own ambitions. Frederick William was willing to consider alternate options. Indeed, with the alliance with France nearly up, he was willing to negotiate with both Austria (his rival to the south) and Britain (his rival to the west via Hanover). Both had their benefits and would leave Prussia in the next war with only one front, granting the German nation a greater chance at physical acquisition in the next war. There was always a next war. Thus Frederick wrote to his English cousins and asked them to send a quiet delegation to Mannheim. The English liked to bargain. By granting his alliance, the German-born King of England would see his beloved Hanover protected from Prussia in the east and have additional protection from the west (France). Britain and Austria may have been natural allies due to their nigh complete lack of similar objectives (thus no conflicts) but there were also few reasons for either to support the other in times of need. Britain was a naval nation intent on their colonies. All they wanted was France off the Channel (thus protecting the Netherlands was a British priority) and away from Hanover (only the King cared about that). George II had been on the throne three years and continued to allow himself to be pushed around by Parliament. Well, this may be the deal both King and Parliament could agree upon. Frederick William was willing to grant them any guarantee they wanted. It was not like he had any more intention of following through his agreements any more than his ancestors did. Indeed, Prussian perfidiousness was almost axiomatic. He could always change his mind. However, at the moment, Frederic William was more interested in the east than the west. The King of Poland was old and the Sejm would soon select another. An utterly dysfunctional Commonwealth, Poland-Lithuania had been under Russian, Austrian and Prussian domination for decades. Their arms would determine the election, not the dynastic claims of Saxony's Prince-Elector (whom claimed Poland). Still, the three powers were undetermined as to who to "suggest" the Sejm select as the new King of the failed state. Frederick William would agree to anyone provided he got "Royal Prussia", the north-eastern slice of the Commonwealth that separated his Kingdom of Prussia from his core domain in Brandenburg. Perhaps a swipe of a pen would gain his family more than all the recent wars put together. If he could forge an alliance with Britain, that would put Austria in a weaker position and perhaps force the Holy Roman Emperor to grant him Royal Prussia as part of any deal in Poland. If Britain was not interested, he could always renew his alliance with France, with nothing lost. At the moment, King Frederick William was just tired of riding around Germany, his spineless welp of a son endlessly whining about the hardship. He should never have brought Fritz. The boy was a waste. He'd actually brought the boy to tears the previous night when he mocked him in front of several Mannheim nobles. The weakling ran out crying, his junior officers trailing behind. Frederick William blamed himself. He had tried to install an austerity in the boy. He commanded a strict Protestant education and a limited curriculum. But the boy's tutor had quietly allowed him access to art and music and poetry and god-knows-what-else. He should have had that tutor hanged. With disgust, he thought of his effete dwarf of a son ruling Prussia. God help the Kingdom. It was at that point that one of the King's aides burst in exclaiming that the prince was nowhere to be found.