Brandenburg-Prussia has always occupied a special place in the German-speaking historiography. However, this has not resulted in a particularly differentiated state of research. Rather, the Prussian military of the 18th century is still characterized by attributes such as ‘monarchic’ and ‘absolutist, which unreflectively continues the narratives of 19th-century historiography. This article is explicitly challenging this image by assuming a differentiated concept of rulership as well as of the military in the 18th century. Using the aristocratic elites, it will examine how Frederick William I (1713–1740) and Frederick II (1740–1786) ruled the army, and ruled using the army.