Baron Franz Von Der, an Austrian soldier, born in Reggio, Calabria, Jan. 1, 1711, died in prison at Brunn, Oct. 14, 1749. In his 17th year he entered the Austrian service, but was obliged to leave it on account of his insubordination and excesses. In 1738 he became captain in a Russian hussar regiment. He was twice condemned to death for violations of discipline, but was saved by Marshal Munnich, and after six months' penal labor retired to his estates in Slavonia. In 1740 he was permitted by the empress Maria Theresa to raise a corps of pandoors at his own expense, which soon numbered 5,000 men. At the head of these he served in the war of the Austrian succession, and distinguished himself by his courage, cruelty, and rapacity. Having at length, while undergoing trial by court martial, throttled one of the judges and attempted to throw him out of a high window, he was condemned to perpetual imprisonment in the castle of Spielberg at Brunn, where, according to some, he poisoned himself. He possessed astonishing physical strength, united with a disposition of extraordinary ferocity.
His autobiography appeared at Vienna in 1807, under the title of Merkioilrdiges Leben und Thaten des Freiherm Franz von der Trenck'; and his life has been written by Hubner, under the title of Franz von der Trench, darge-stellt von elnem Unparteiischen, mit einer Vor-rede von Schubart (3 vols., Stuttgart, 1788).
Baron Friedrich Yon Der, a German adventurer, cousin of the preceding, born in Konigsberg, Feb. 16, 1726, guillotined in Paris, July 25, 1791. He was admitted in 1742 into the body guard of Frederick the Great, and when only 18 years old was selected to instruct the Silesian cavalry. In the campaign of 1744 he served with distinction, acting as the adjutant of Frederick, with whom he became a favorite. In his memoirs he says he offended the king by an amour with the princess Amelia, but the story is apparently without foundation. In 1745 he again distinguished himself; but having corresponded with his cousin Baron Franz, then in the Austrian service, he was arrested and imprisoned in the fortress of Glatz for more than a year. After several desperate efforts he escaped and went to Vienna, where he got into much trouble and fought several duels. After the peace he was received with much favor at Moscow. His cousin left him his estate, on condition that he should become a Catholic and should serve only the house of Austria. To secure this he went to Vienna in 1750, but after three years of waiting he received only 63,000 florins. By the Austrian court he was made captain of cavalry.
In March, 1754, he made a journey to Dantzic to settle some family affairs, and was there apprehended by the Prussian authorities, carried to Berlin and thence to Magdeburg, where he was confined in a dungeon in the citadel. He made several desperate efforts to escape, but failed in all of them, and after ten years' imprisonment, during which he was more and more heavily loaded with irons, he was finally released by order of Frederick in December, 1763, and carried to Prague. Disappointed of preferment at the Austrian court, he retired to Aix-la-Chapelle, married there in 1765, and lived for several years in peace, occupying himself with literary pursuits. In 1767 appeared his poem Der macedonische Held, which gave him considerable reputation in Germany. He also engaged in the wine trade. From 1774 to 1777 his time was spent chiefly in travelling through England and France. Subsequently he retired to his estate at Zwerbach, spent several years in agricultural pursuits, and published a collection of his works and a history of his life. After the death of Frederick in 1786 the confiscation of his estates was annulled, and he was permitted to return to his native country.
During the French revolution he went to Paris, where he was arrested by the committee of public safety and put to death on the charge of being a secret emissary of the king of Prussia. His autobiography is very interesting, and has still considerable circulation, though it is certain that Trenck was a braggart and a liar, and has immensely exaggerated his adventures.