The beautious Palatinate princesses

11 December 2010

Elizabeth of Bohemia, Honthorst. Photo: National Trust at Ashdown House.

Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia (1596-1662) was the daughter of James I & VI and Anne of Denmark, sister of Charles I, grand-daughter of Mary, Queen of Scots and mother not only of the dashing Prince Rupert of the Rhine but also a bevy of beautious daughters, who were every bit as lovely and charming as one would expect the great grand-daughters of Mary, Queen of Scots to be:

Elizabeth of the Palatinate, Honthorst. Photo: National Trust at Ashdown House.

Princess Elisabeth of the Palatinate (1618-1680), reputedly the most lovely of the princesses, she eschewed marriage in favour of more intellectual pursuits and counted René Descartes amongst her philosophical pen pals.

Princess Louise Hollandine of the Palatinate, Honthorst. Photo: National Trust at Ashdown House.

Princess Louise Hollandine of the Palatinate (1622-1709) was the second girl and possibly the most interesting. Princess Louise had a lively intellectual curiosity and was an extremely talented artist who studied with the great Honthorst. She fell in love with the Earl of Montrose but then converted to Catholicism after his execution and, with the help of Louis XIV, fled to France to escape the wrath of her devoutly Protestant family.

Princess Henriette Marie of the Palatinate, Honthorst. Photo: National Trust at Ashdown House.

Princess Henriette Marie of the Palatinate (1626-1651), named for her aunt, Henrietta Maria of England, she was the sweetest natured of the princesses who longed for nothing but a husband and a family of her own. On the 4th of April 1651, she got her wish and was married to Sigismund Rakoczi, prince of Transylvania but sadly she died only a few months after the wedding, leaving her husband devastated.

Princess Sophia of the Palatinate, Honthorst. Photo: National Trust at Ashdown House.

Princess Sophia of the Palatinate (1630-1714) was the youngest of Elizabeth’s daughters and probably the best known. A strong minded, intelligent, affectionate girl, she was married on the 30th September 1658 to Ernest Augustus, Elector of Brunswick-Luneburg and had several children, one of whom was to become King George I of England, thanks to her claim to the throne of England.

It’s weird but I always think of the Palatine princesses as a lot like the March girls of Little Women, living in often impecunious exile at the Hague under the direction of a softly dictatorial mother while all their menfolk were away fighting in various wars. The four girls were by all accounts very close and it’s easy to see serious, sensible Elisabeth as Meg; artistic, dramatic Louise as Jo; sweet natured, loving and ultimately tragic Henriette as Beth and then finally strong willed, flighty Sophia as Amy.

 

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