Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

Queen consort of Prussia (1776–1810)

Duchess Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (German: Luise Auguste Wilhelmine Amalie Herzogin zu Mecklenburg; 10 March 1776 – 19 July 1810) was Queen consort of Prussia as the wife of King Frederick William III.

Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Queen consort of Prussia
Electress consort of Brandenburg
Portrait by Josef Grassi
Reign16 November 1797 – 19 July 1810
Born(1776-03-10)10 March 1776
Died19 July 1810(1810-07-19) (aged 34)
Schloss Hohenzieritz
SpouseFrederick William III
IssueFrederick William IV, King of Prussia
William I, German Emperor
Alexandra Feodorovna, Empress of Russia
Princess Frederica
Prince Charles
Alexandrine, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Prince Ferdinand
Louise, Princess Frederick of the Netherlands
Prince Albert
Full name
Luise Auguste Wilhelmine Amalie
HouseHouse of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
House of Hohenzollern
FatherCharles II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
MotherLandgravine Friederike of Hesse-Darmstadt
SignatureLouise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz's signature
Painting of Queen Louise, c. 1801

After her husband's ascension, Louise developed many ties to senior ministers and became a powerful figure within the government as she began to command universal respect and affection. The queen always tried to stay informed of political developments at court, and from the very beginning of his reign the new king consulted Louise on matters of state.[1]

Though Prussia had not fought in a war since 1795, its military leaders were confident that they could win against Napoleon's troops. After a small incident concerning an anti-French pamphlet occurred, King Frederick William was finally pressured by his wife and family to break off his uneasy peace and enter the war against the French emperor.[2] Prussian troops began mobilizing, culminating in the October 1806 Battle of Jena-Auerstedt, which was a disaster for Prussia, as the ability of its armed forces to continue the war were effectively wiped out. The king and queen had accompanied their troops into battle at Jena (with Louise apparently dressed "like an Amazon"), but had to flee from French troops.[3]

The infamous meeting of Queen Louise and Napoleon Bonaparte (far left), 1807. Painted posthumously by Nicolas Gosse, c. 1900
Queen Louise with her husband and children, c. 1806

Napoleon himself occupied Berlin, and the king, queen and the rest of the royal family had to flee, despite Louise's illness, in the dead of winter to Königsberg in the easternmost part of the kingdom.[4] On the journey there, there was no food or clean water, and the king and queen were forced to share the same sleeping arrangements in "one of the wretched barns they call houses", according to one witness traveling with them.[5]

Napoleon demanded, from a highly superior position, peace terms in what was to be called the Peace of Tilsit (1807).[6] In the midst of these negotiations, the emperor agreed to keep half of Prussia intact. Louise reluctantly agreed to meet the emperor at Tilsit, but only to save "her Prussia." She tried to use her beauty and charm to flatter him into more favorable terms. Before she had called him "the Monster", but now she made a request for a private interview with the emperor. She threw herself at his feet;[7] Napoleon was impressed by her grace and determination, but he refused to make any concessions. Queen Louise's efforts to protect her adopted country from French aggression became well admired by future generations.

Queen Louise in a riding habit, c. 1810
Louise's sarcophagus in Charlottenburg Palace

On 19 July 1810, the Queen died in her husband's arms from an unidentified illness. The queen's subjects attributed the French occupation as the cause of her early death. Louise's death left her husband alone during a period of great difficulty, as the Napoleonic Wars and need for reform continued. Napoleon remarked the king "has lost his best minister."[8]

Ancestry change

Adolf Frederick I, Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Adolf Frederick II, Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Duchess Marie Katharina of Brunswick-Dannenberg
Duke Charles Louis Frederick of Mecklenburg, Prince of Mirow
Christian Wilhelm, Prince of Schwarzburg-Sondershausen
Princess Christiane Emilie of Schwarzburg-Sondershausen
Countess Antonie Sibylle of Barby-Muhlingen
Charles II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Ernest, Duke of Saxe-Hildburghausen
Ernest Frederick I, Duke of Saxe-Hildburghausen
Countess Sophie of Waldeck
Princess Elizabeth Albertine of Saxe-Hildburghausen
Count Georg Ludwig of Erbach-Erbach
Countess Sophie Albertine of Erbach-Erbach
Countess Amalia Katharina of Waldeck
Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Ernest Louis, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt
Louis VIII, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt
Margravine Dorothea Charlotte of Brandenburg-Ansbach
Prince George William of Hesse-Darmstadt
Count Johann Reinhard III of Hanau
Countess Charlotte Christine Magdalene Johanna of Hanau
Countess Dorothea Friederike of Brandenburg-Ansbach
Princess Friederike of Hesse-Darmstadt
Count Johann Karl August of Leiningen-Dagsburg
Count Christian Karl Reinhard of Leiningen-Dagsburg
Countess Johanna Magdalene of Hanau-Lichtenberg
Maria Luise Albertine von Leiningen-Dagsburg-Falkenburg
Count Ludwig of Solms-Rödelheim
Countess Katharina Polyxena of Solms-Rödelheim
Charlotte Sibylla Ahlefeld, Countess of Ahlefeld

References change

  1. Clark, p. 217.
  2. Herold, p. 179.
  3. Herold, p. 180.
  4. Clark, p. 307.
  5. Clark, p. 312.
  6. Clark, p. 309.
  7. Herold, p. 188.
  8. Knowles Bolton, p. 58.

Sources change

Further reading change

Other websites change