Frederick August the Procrastinator

Frederick August, the King of Saxony, was one of history’s great procrastinators. While he began as one of Napoleon’s greatest foes, he soon became his greatest ally. In return, Napoleon elevated him from prince elector to king.

But by 1813, his alliance with Napoleon would cause him to lose the Battle of Leipzig. Though Frederick August was careful in attempting to side himself with the great forces who opposed him, a treaty that he had made with Austria eventually dissolved. Taken into captivity by the Prussians, Frederick August was forced to turn more than half of his territory over to his archrivals.

But why was Frederick August on the losing side of the Battle of Leipzig? Historians consider him to have been incapable of making decisions. He is credited with coining the phrase “no decision is better than a bad decision.”

During the revolt he spent his time sitting almost apathetically in the basement in the city hall of Leipzig. To add to the confusion, Frederick August was an exceptionally unpredictable monarch; very few rulers changed their mind so often.

Not only was he incapable of making decisions, but as soon as a decision was made it essentially would have lost all meaning in the moment of its creation, having already been undermined in significance and seriousness by the probability that Frederick August would again change direction.