G. von Kleist
Prince Friedrich of Homburg
In the center of the drama – the battle of Ferbellin (1675), largely determined the fate of Germany.
Prince Friedrich Arthur of Hamburg, a general from the cavalry, sits under a tree in the garden of the castle in a sleepy sleep and wreathes a laurel wreath. Elector of Bradenburg, Friedrich Wilhelm; Elector, Princess Natalia of Orange and Count von Hohenzollern from the suite of Kurfürstine come out of the castle and look at the prince from the balustrade. While the prince is half asleep, they decide to play a trick on him. The Elector takes a wreath from the Prince, wraps it around his neck and hands it to the Princess. The prince gets up, and the Elector with the princess, raising the wreath high, retreats back. Everyone goes up the stairs. The prince seems that he is still sleeping. Elector with the princess enters the castle and slam the door in front of him, but he manages to tear off the glove from Natalia’s
hand. The Prince looks at the door and glove in extreme surprise, then, going down, at the cry of Hohenzollern falls like a wreck. Hohenzollern talks to the prince, and the prince gradually begins to realize where he is. He tells the Count his dream, and the Count, by arrangement with the Elector, does not let him know that everything happened to him happened in reality. Prince, however, does not remember what kind of girl was with the Elector, and is surprised that after waking up the glove did not disappear.
The next morning in the hall of the castle are the Elector, Field Marshal Derfling, Prince of Homburg with a glove behind the wheel and other officers. The Elector and Princess Natalia sit aside. The Field Marshal dictates to the officers the battle plan drawn up by the Elector. All but the prince, write down. The prince only pretends to write, he himself reflects on who owns the glove hidden behind his stiletto. Soon he finds out with the help of cunning that the glove belongs to the princess Natalia. By that time, it turned out that the Field Marshal had already finished dictating the order, and the prince
understood that he had listened to almost everything. The Elector in the order especially stressed that before his signal no one should move the troops into a decisive offensive. The prince is still under the impression of his prophetic, he believes, sleep.
On the battlefield, seeing as the elector enters the cannonball and he dies, the prince, seized with rage and thirst for revenge, before the general signal leads his troops on the offensive and causes the Swedes to flee. His maneuver contributes to victory over the enemy.
A little later the Elector, after learning about the death of her husband, laments his death. Princess Natalia tries to support the Elector, but she is very upset herself, since she has long been an orphan, and now she has lost the last relative and patron. Arriving at this time, the Prince of Homburg offers her his hand and heart and swears that she will forever be her support. Natalia accepts his offer and becomes his bride.
Suddenly the sergeant enters and informs that the Elector is alive. Instead of him, one of the officers was killed, who exchanged a horse with an Elector. Friedrich Wilhelm himself is at the moment in Berlin and orders to bring to justice the one who, though gaining the victory, but at the same time disobeyed, violating the order and speaking before the due date. He does not want casual victories and believes that the guilty person is worthy of execution.
The prince arrives in Berlin, where he is arrested and taken to prison back to Ferbelin. In prison to the prince enters his friend Count von Hohenzollern and reports that the court sentenced him to death. Prince does not at all disturb this news, because he does not believe that the Elector, who treated him as a son from his childhood, will bring this sentence to execution. However, when he learns that the Elector has already signed a court order, he is deprived of the presence of the spirit, Hohenzollern induces the Prince to think that he may have violated some plans of Frederick William. He suggests that the elector’s discontent is caused by the reluctance of Princess Natalia, engaged to the Prince of Homburg, to marry the Swedish King Charles, who places this as a condition for signing a peace treaty. Hohenzollern advises the prince to ask for intercession with the Elector, because the care of the prince, as his own son, was bequeathed to him by his deceased mother. The prince leaves the prison on parole and goes to the Elector and Natalia. The Kurfürstina says she already asked for him before the Elector, but to no avail. Then Natalia, learning that she might be guilty of Friedrich Wilhelm’s dissatisfaction, goes to his uncle to intercede for the Prince of Homburg. The Kurfürstina advises him to arm himself with courage.
Natalia goes into the study to Frederick of Brandenburg, kneels before him and begs to spare the prince. She describes in what a miserable state the once daring warrior Prince of Homburg is, and says that he does not want to die and asks for mercy. The Elector in confusion admits that he believed that the prince agreed with the verdict of the court and was aware of his guilt. If this is not so, then he will not dare to go against the prince’s opinion and write him a letter, where he says that if the prince does not approve the verdict of the court, then let him write confirmation to this and be free. Natalia takes the letter of the Elector, thanks him in tears and agrees to personally hand over the envelope to the prince.
An officer enters the room to the princess, who is also the chief of the dragoon regiment. He passes the package with a petition from her entire regiment in defense of the prince and asks that Natalia add her signature to the others. Princess willingly does it. In addition to this, on behalf of the Elector, the order instructing the commander of her dragoons, Colonel Kottwitz, to lead them from the standing in Arnstein to Fairbellin, closer to the rest of the army, and to petition all regiments in order to increase the number of signatures and make it more weighty.
After this, Natalia goes to prison to the Prince of Homburg with the joyful news that now his freedom is in his own hands. The prince carefully reads the letter of the Elector and several times tries to write an answer. But in the end he declares that he does not need mercy at the price of bickering. Natalia kisses him and admits that such an answer is to her heart. She calls the officer who came with her and gives him the final order to inform Kottwitz that the regiment in Ferbellin is waiting for the night.
The following morning, the Elector is surprised to find in the square a regiment of dragoons under the command of Kottwitz, who was to be quartered in Arnstein. In addition to this, it is reported that a meeting has been held in the Town Hall by the generals of Brandenburg. The Field Marshal says that the officers make a petition in the name of the Elector in favor of the prince, in case, if he does not soften, they threaten to release the prince by force.
The officers enter with a petition, and Kottwitz informs the Elector who was surprised by his presence in the city that on the eve he received an order signed by Natalia and allegedly drawn up at the behest of Prince Friedrich. He swears that the prince does not know anything about the initiative of the officers, and also says that he justifies and supports the behavior of the prince during the battle.
Count von Hohenzollern enters and declares that the Elector himself is guilty of the behavior of the Elector himself, because as a result of the nightly joke played on his initiative the next morning the prince was scattered and listened to half of the order dictated by the Field Marshal. The Elector ponders what his courtiers told him. Meanwhile, the Prince of Homburg is being brought in, summoned by the Elector. He says that he is ready to accept death for disobedience, and asks him to fulfill his last request: not to buy peace with Sweden at the price of the hands of the princess. The Elector promises to fulfill his request. The prince is taken back to prison.
Further, the prince is taken out of prison in the presence of the courtiers and the Elector. The latter gazes at the prince, then takes the death sentence and tears him.
Prince of Homburg sits in the garden, as in the beginning of the drama, with a bandage in his eyes. He is removed from the bandage, and he sees the kurfust taking the princess holding the laurel wreath from the stairs. She lays a wreath at the prince and puts on a chain. The prince falls without feeling. It is brought to life by blank cannon shots. He imagines that this is still his dream.