"The King changed Katte's sentence to that of death. He said Katte was not guilty of a mere juvenile escapade and that he was not an ordinary officer but an officer of the King's Guard. If such as he were unfaithful the whole structure of the State would be in peril. Katte had plotted with the rising sun. Should he get off lightly (a life sentence would only be for [King] Frederick William's life) the King would never be able to trust his Guards again. Justice must be done. Frederick William's severity was probably due to his conviction that [Prince] Frederick and Katte were lovers. Katte's father, the General, wrote to the King who replied: 'Your son is a canaille; so is mine; there is nothing we can do about it.' His grandfather, the Field Marshall, wrote and got a more sympathetic but negative reply. After that, Frederick William refused to see any more petitions. Katte's mother was dead.
"On the morning of 6 November Frederick was woken up in his cell by an old officer and some soldiers, all in tears. He thought they had come to execute him and told them to get it over quickly. But then he learnt that Katte had been brought to Küstrin the day before and was about to be beheaded in the courtyard outside Frederick's window. The Prince broke down completely. He implored his gaolers to put off the execution on any excuse, to give him time to write to the King. He would offer to renounce his succession to the throne if only his friend could be saved. In vain. At the appointed hour Katte, in such a cheerful mood that it seems probable he thought the whole thing was play-acting, and that there would be a last-minute reprieve, was led under the Prince's window where 'he saw his beloved Jonathan'. Frederick blew him a kiss and said, in French, 'My dear Katte, I beg your pardon a thousand times.' 'Monseigneur,' said Katte with a low bow, 'there is nothing to forgive.' He then knelt down and prayed, and his head was cut off with a saber. Frederick was spared the dreadful sight --he had fallen in a dead faint."-Nancy Mitford from her biography, Frederick the Great, 1970.
Rereading this book now, trying to channel my hero Frederick (as depicted by my other hero Nancy). The figure of a beautiful and troubled teenage faggot who resists despair and matures into a powerful military ruler, feared throughout Europe for his skill on the battlefield as well as for stealing Voltaire's boyfriend.