September 27, 1788: Death of Augusta of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. Duchess of Württemberg. Part II.


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A new life in Estonia and death

While the divorce conditions were being ironed out between Augusta, Friedrich, the Empress Catherine, Duke Charles Wilhelm Ferdinand of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, during which time the Empress was on a long journey to the south, Augusta was sent to one of the Imperial estates, Lohde castle, in Lohde (now Koluvere) in Kullamaa Parish to the south-west of Tallinn, Estonia., for her own safety.

Because Friedrich insisted on having custody of all three children, Augusta refused to sign the divorce papers. Fearing retribution should she return to Brunswick, Augusta accepted Catherine’s suggestion to settle in Estonia. Augusta’s companions were a gentleman, Major-general Wilhelm von Pohlmann 1727 – 1796), and three ladies – Madame Wilde (replaced by Madame Bistram in 1788) and Pohlmann’s two daughters.

The sixty-year-old Pohlmann, who had retired to his estate near Lohde six years before, had enjoyed an illustrious career at the Russian Court; he was a close and trusted friend of the Empress, who had appointed him to the board of the prestigious Free Economic Society of Russia.

From Lodhe, Augusta kept up a regular correspondence with the Empress, who never ceased to care for her, and with her mother, to whom she expressed her satisfaction with the peaceful country life. The Empress sold Augusta’s house in St Petersburg on her behalf, advised her to invest the money wisely and allowed her to live off the income from the Lohde estate.

For a few years already, Augusta had been suffering from amenorrhea, for which her doctor had been treating her with potentially dangerous herbal potions, designed to stimulate menstruation. On the morning of September 27, 1788 (new style), at the age of 23, Augusta suddenly experienced violent vaginal bleeding, which continued for six-and-a-half hours, by which time she died.

Her doctor had been summoned but due to the long distance, he arrived too late. The Princess’s parents received a letter of condolences from the Empress, as well as Pohlmann’s report of her death and her doctor’s report. Many years later, her eldest son had the matter investigated and her body was exhumed. Although rumours were spread about her death from miscarriage they were disproven through the exhumation. It was found that she had neither been buried alive nor with the bones of a baby. Augusta’s story was fictionalized by Thackeray in The Luck of Barry Lyndon.

Augusta was buried under the floor of Kullamaa church. On her tombstone is the text: “Hic jacet in pace Augusta Carolina Friderica Luisa Ducis Brunsuicencis-Guelferbytani Filia Friderici Guilielmi Caroli Ducis Vurtembergensis et Supremi Praefecti Viburgiensis Uxor Nat. d. III. Dec. MDCCLXIV Denat. d. XIV. Sept. MDCCLXXXVIII” The date is false – it should have been XVI September. Over the years, her coffin decayed, causing her bones to get lost in the bottom of the deep crypt. Her tombstone is still in the church, albeit in a different position, surrounded by an iron rail.

The castle and lands of Koluvere were afterwards granted to Count Frederik Vilhelm Buxhoevden.

Friedrich of Württemberg’s father, Friedrich II Eugen, Duke of Württemberg, helped his son make contact with the British royal family – Friedrich’s first wife Augusta, had been a niece of George III of the United Kingdom. On May 18, 1797, Friedrich married George III’s eldest daughter Charlotte, Princess Royal, at the Chapel Royal in St James’s Palace.

Friedrich succeeded his father as the reigning Duke of Württemberg on December 22, 1797. The new Duke Friedrich III had two sons and two daughters by his first marriage to the late Princess Augusta – The marriage between Duke Friedrich III and the Princess Royal produced one child: a stillborn daughter on April 27, 1798.

In 1803, Napoleon raised the Duchy of Württemberg to the Electorate of Württemberg, the highest form of a princedom in the Holy Roman Empire. Duke Friedrich III assumed the title Elector of Württemberg on February 25, 1803. In exchange for providing France with a large auxiliary force, Napoleon recognized Elector Friedrich as King of Württemberg on December 26, 1805. Then on January 1, 1806, Friedrich officially assumed the title of King of Württemberg. Later that year, the last Holy Roman Emperor, Franz II, abolished de facto the empire on August 6, 1806.

September 28, 1663: Birth of Henry FitzRoy, 1st Duke of Grafton


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Henry FitzRoy, 1st Duke of Grafton, KG (September 28, 1663 – October 9, 1690) was an illegitimate son of King Charles II of England, Scotland and Ireland and his mistress Barbara Villiers. A military commander, Henry FitzRoy was appointed colonel of the Grenadier Guards in 1681 and Vice-Admiral of England from 1682 to 1689. He was killed in the storming of Cork during the Williamite–Jacobite War in 1690.

Early life and military career

Born to Barbara Villiers, Countess of Castlemaine in 1663, Henry FitzRoy was an illegitimate son of King Charles II of England, the second by Barbara Villiers. His mother was the daughter of William Villiers, 2nd Viscount Grandison, and Mary Bayning (1623-1672), heiress to a fortune of £180,000. Viscount Grandison was a colonel of one of King Charles I’s regiments who was killed in action during the Civil War.

William Villiers, 2nd Viscount Grandison, was born in 1614, eldest son of Sir Edward Villiers (1585-1626) and Barbara St. John (ca 1592-1672). His father was the older half-brother of George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, favourite of both James I-VI of England, Scotland and Ireland and Charles I, a relationship from which he greatly benefitted.

On August 1, 1672, at the age of nine, a marriage was arranged for Henry FitzRoy to the five-year-old Isabella Bennet, the only daughter of Henry Bennet, 1st Earl of Arlington, a Royalist commander, by his wife, Elisabeth of Nassau (1633–1718). Elisabeth was a daughter of Louis of Nassau-Beverweerd and thus a granddaughter of Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange, and a great-granddaughter of Prince Willem I the Silent, Prince of Orange.

In 1675 Charles II created Henry, Duke of Grafton. A wedding ceremony between Henry FitzRoy and Isabella Bennet took place on November 7, 1679. At the time of his marriage, Henry FitzRoy was created Baron Sudbury, Viscount Ipswich, and Earl of Euston. After their wedding the couple lived at Euston Hall. Isabella and her husband had one son, Charles FitzRoy, who succeeded his parents as 2nd Duke of Grafton and 3rd Earl of Arlington.

King Charles II made his son a Knight of the Garter in 1680. He was appointed colonel of the Grenadier Guards in 1681.

FitzRoy was brought up as a sailor and saw military action at the siege of Luxembourg in 1684. In that year, he received a warrant to supersede Sir Robert Holmes as Governor of the Isle of Wight, when the latter was charged with making false musters. However, Holmes was acquitted by court-martial and retained the governorship.

In 1686 Henry FitzRoy killed John Talbot, brother of the Earl of Shrewsbury, in a duel. FitzRoy was appointed Vice-Admiral of the Narrow Seas from 1685 to 1687. At King James II-VII’s coronation, Grafton was Lord High Constable. During the rebellion of the Duke of Monmouth he commanded the royal troops in Somerset.

Originally called James Crofts or James Fitzroy, the Duke of Monmouth was Henry Fitzroy’s half-brother, the eldest illegitimate son of Charles II of England, Scotland, and Ireland with his mistress Lucy Walter.

Monmouth led the unsuccessful Monmouth Rebellion in 1685, an attempt to depose his uncle King James II-VII. After one of his officers declared Monmouth the legitimate king, (alleging his mother was legally married to Charles II) in the town of Taunton in Somerset, Monmouth attempted to capitalise on his Protestantism and his position as the son of Charles II, in opposition to James, who was a Roman Catholic. The rebellion failed, and Monmouth was beheaded for treason on July 15, 1685.

Henry FitzRoy acted with John Churchill, and joined his cousin and his wife’s kinsman, Prince Willem III of Orange to overthrow the King in the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, 1st Prince of Mindelheim, 1st Count of Nellenburg, Prince of the Holy Roman Empire, KG, PC (1650 – 1722 O.S.) played a defining role in defeating both the Monmouth Rebellion in 1685 that helped secure James on the throne, but he was also a key player in the military conspiracy that led to James being deposed during the Glorious Revolution.


Henry FitzRoy died in Ireland on October 9, 1690 aged 27, of a wound received at the storming of Cork while leading King William III’s forces. His body was returned to England for burial.

On October 14, 1697 his widow married Sir Thomas Hanmer, a young Buckinghamshire baronet, who became Speaker of the House of Commons and an authority on the works of William Shakespeare. The Dowager Duchess of Grafton died in 1723.


The Duke of Grafton owned land in what was then countryside near Dublin, Ireland, which later became part of the city. A country lane on this land eventually developed into Grafton Street, one of Dublin’s main streets. Grafton Alley in Cork, close to where he was shot, also bears his name.

September 27, 1788: Death of Augusta of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. Duchess of Württemberg. Part I.


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Duchess Augusta Caroline Friederika Luise of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (December 3, 1764 – September 27, 1788) was the first wife of King Friedrich of Württemberg and the mother of King Wilhelm I of Württemberg.

Like her sister, Caroline of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, Augusta had a scandalous personal life and an unhappy marriage.Early life Princess Augusta was born in Brunswick, the eldest child of Charles Wilhelm Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick and Princess Augusta of Great Britain, the elder sister of George III of the United Kingdom. Augusta was a great-granddaughter of King George II of Great Britain.

She was named in honour of her mother and grandmother. Augusta was the eldest of seven children, and her younger sister, Princess Caroline, would marry the future George IV of the United Kingdom.


On October 15, 1780, at the age of 15, Augusta was married in Brunswick to the 6 foot 11 inch, 25 year old Duke Friedrich of Württemberg, eldest son of Duke Friedrich Eugene, himself the youngest brother of the reigning Charles Eugene, Duke of Württemberg. As neither the reigning Duke nor the middle brother had any sons, Friedrich’s father (and then Friedrich himself) were expected to succeed in time as Duke of Württemberg.

That eventuality was however many years in the future, and the birth of a legitimate heir would end Friedrich’s hopes conclusively. Moreover, his uncle the Duke was not disposed to give any member of his family any role in affairs of government. Friedrich was in Prussian employ as Major-general. After the wedding, Augusta followed him to Lüben, a small town in Eastern Prussia, where his regiment was stationed.

At that time, the Empress of Russia, Catherine II, and the Holy Roman Emperor, Joseph II, were forging a new alliance, which would be sealed by a marriage between Elisabeth of Württemberg (younger sister of both Friedrich and Maria Feodorovna (Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg), who was married to Tsesarevich Paul, future Emperor of Russia) and Archduke Franz, son of the Holy Roman Emperor’s brother and successor, Leopold II.

The King of Prussia, Friedrich II, was opposed to this alliance, which he accused Friedrich of supporting. Accordingly, the relations between Friedrich of Württemberg and King Friedrich II of Prussia soured to the point that Friedrich saw himself forced to leave Prussia. Prince Friedrich resigned in December 1781, sent Augusta and their baby son Wilhelm back to Brunswick and joined his sister Maria Feodorovna and her husband on the Italian leg of their extended tour through Europe.

While in Naples, in February 1782, Friedrich received an invitation from the Russian Empress to move to St Petersburg as Lieutenant-general in her army and Governor-General of Eastern Finland, with his seat at Viipuri. After spending the summer with Augusta in Montbéliard, his parents’ home, they finally arrived in St Petersburg in October 1782, where the Empress had renovated and lavishly furnished a mansion for them.


It was no secret that the marriage between Augusta and Friedrich was an unhappy union of two mismatched personalities. Already in the first year of marriage, there was talk of a divorce but Augusta’s father absolutely refused, threatening his daughter with social ostracization should she leave her husband. After secret investigations, Empress Catgerine II discovered that Prince Friedrich, whom she would call a ‘ferocious rogue’, was to blame for the discord.

The Russian Empress took it upon herself to protect Augusta, whose conduct she found ‘perfectly blameless’, from her husband’s violent nature. Over the next three years, three more children were born, of which the second daughter, Dorothée, would die at nine months. The relationship between Augusta and her abusive husband deteriorated to the point where Catherine wrote an urgent letter to Duke Charles Wilhelm Ferdinand of Brunswick that his daughter’s life was in danger.

When the Duke was hesitant to take action, Catherine urged Augusta to leave her husband and arranged for a police carriage to be on standby at all times. Eventually, on December 28, 1786 (new style), Augusta fled to the Hermitage, where Catherine gave her asylum and ordered Friedrich to leave Russia. When Maria Feodorovna protested at this treatment of her brother, Catherine replied curtly, ‘It is not I who covers the Prince of Württemberg with shame; instead, I try to cover up his appalling behaviour. It is my duty to suppress such things.’ It became known that shortly before Augusta fled, Frederick had plotted (unsuccessfully) to have his wife raped in order to have her reputation dishonoured.

1590-1591: The Reign of Three Popes.


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From The Emperor’s Desk: Between September 15, 1590 to December 30, 1591, a time period lasting 1 year, 3 months, 15 days, saw three Pope’s reign over the Roman Catholic Church.

Pope Urban VII ( August 4, 1521 – September 27, 1590), born Giovanni Battista Castagna, was head of the Catholic Church, and ruler of the Papal States from September, 15 to 27 1590. His twelve-day papacy was the shortest in history.

Giovanni Battista Castagna was born in Rome in 1521 to a noble family as the son of Cosimo Castagna of Genoa and Costanza Ricci Giacobazzi of Rome.

Castagna studied in universities all across Italy and obtained a doctorate in civil law and canon law when he finished his studies at the University of Bologna. He served as a constitutional lawyer and entered the Roman Curia during the pontificate of Pope Julius III as the Referendary of the Apostolic Signatura.

Castagna was chosen to be the new Archbishop of Rossano on March 1, 1553, and he would quickly receive all the minor and major orders culminating in his ordination to the priesthood on 30 March 30, 1553 in Rome. Pope Gregory XIII elevated him to the cardinalate on 12 December 1583 and he was appointed as the Cardinal-Priest of San Marcello.

After the death of Pope Sixtus V a conclave was convoked to elect a successor. Castagna, a seasoned diplomat of moderation and proven rectitude was elected as pope on September 15, 1590 and selected the pontifical name of “Urban VII”.


Urban VII was known for his charity to the poor. He subsidized Roman bakers so they could sell bread under cost, and restricted the spending on luxury items for members of his court. He also subsidized public works projects throughout the Papal States. Urban VII was strictly against nepotism and he forbade it within the Roman Curia.


Urban VII died in Rome on September 27, 1590, shortly before midnight, of malaria. He was buried in the Vatican. The funeral oration was delivered by Pompeo Ugonio. His remains were later transferred to the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, on 21 September 1606.

Pope Gregory XIV (February 11, 1535 – October 16, 1591), born Niccolò Sfondrato or Sfondrati, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from December 5, 1590 to his death in 1591.

Niccolò Sfondrati was born at Somma Lombardo, then part of the Duchy of Milan, in the highest stratum of Milanese society. His mother, of the house of Visconti, died in childbirth. His father Francesco Sfondrati, a senator of the ancient comune of Milan, was created Cardinal-Priest by Pope Paul III in 1544.

In his youth he was known for his modest lifestyle and stringent piety. He studied law at Perugia and Padua, was ordained a priest and swiftly appointed Bishop of Cremona, in 1560, in time to participate in the sessions of the Council of Trent from 1561 to 1563. Pope Gregory XIII made him a Cardinal-Priest of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere on 12 December 12, 1583.

After the death of Pope Urban VII on September 27, 1590, the Spanish ambassador Olivares presented the conclave a list of the seven cardinals who would be acceptable to his master King Felipe II of Spain. On December 5, 1590, after two months of deadlock, Sfondrati, one of Felipe II’s seven candidates but who had not aspired to the office, was elected pope. Alessandro Cardinal Montalto came to Sfondrati’s cell to inform him that the Sacred College had agreed on his election and found him kneeling in prayer before a crucifix.

On the day after he was elected Pope, Gregory XIV burst into tears and said to the cardinals: “God forgive you! What have you done?” In his bull of March 21, 1591, Cogit nos, he forbade under pain of excommunication all betting concerning the election of a Pope, the duration of a pontificate, or the creation of new cardinals.


Gregory XIV’s brief pontificate was marked by vigorous intervention in favour of the Catholic party in the French Wars of Religion. Instigated by King Felipe II of Spain and the Duke of Mayenne, he excommunicated Henri IV of France on March 1, 1591, reiterating the 1585 declaration of Pope Sixtus V that as a heretic (Protestant) Henri was ineligible to succeed to the throne of Catholic France and ordered the clergy, nobles, judicial functionaries, and the Third Estate of France to renounce him.

Gregory XIV levied an army for the invasion of France, and dispatched his nephew Ercole Sfondrati to France at its head. He also sent a monthly subsidy of 15,000 scudi to Paris to reinforce the Catholic League. By coming down solidly on the side of Spanish interests, in part because Gregory XIV was elected due to the influence of the Spanish cardinals, the recent papal policy of trying to maintain a balance between Spain and France was abandoned.

Gregory XIV created five cardinals, among whom was his nephew Paolo Emilio Sfondrati, his Secretary of State. The biographers mention that Pope Gregory XIV had a nervous tendency to laughter, which occasionally became irresistible and even manifested itself at his coronation. Gregory XIV, who was in poor health before his election to the papacy, died due to a large gallstone.

Pope Innocent IX ( July 20, 1519 – December 30, 1591), born Giovanni Antonio Facchinetti, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from October 29 to December 30, 1591.

Prior to his short papacy, he had been a canon lawyer, diplomat, and chief administrator during the reign of Pope Gregory XIV (r. 1590–1591).

Giovanni Antonio Facchinetti, whose family came from Crodo, in the diocese of Novara, northern Italy, was born in Bologna on July 20, 1519. He was the son of Antonio Facchinetti and Francesca Cini. He studied at the University of Bologna – which was pre-eminent in jurisprudence — where he obtained a doctorate in both civil and canon law in 1544. He was later ordained to the priesthood on March 11, 1544 and was appointed a canon of the church of Saints Gervasio and Protasio of Domodossola in 1547.

He travelled to Rome and he became the secretary to Cardinal Nicolò Ardinghelli before entering the service of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, brother of the Duke of Parma and grandson of Pope Paul III (1534–1549), one of the great patrons of the time.

Pope Gregory XIII made him a cardinal on December 12 ,1583 as the Cardinal-Priest of Santi Quattro Coronati and he was to receive the red hat and title on January 9,1584. Pope Gregory XIV made him the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura in 1591.


Even before Pope Gregory XIV died, Spanish and anti-Spanish factions were electioneering for the next pope. Felipe II of Spain’s (r. 1556–1598) high-handed interference at the previous conclave was not forgotten: he had barred all but seven cardinals. This time the Spanish party in the College of Cardinals did not go so far, but they still controlled a majority, and after a quick conclave they raised Facchinetti to the papal chair as Pope Innocent IX.

It took three ballots to elect him as pope. Facchinetti received 24 votes on October 28 but was not successful in that ballot to be elected as pope. He received 28 votes on October 29 in the second ballot while the third saw him prevail.

The cardinal protodeacon Andreas von Austria crowned Innocent IX as pontiff on November 3, 1591. He elevated two cardinals to the cardinalate in the only papal consistory of his papacy on December 18, 1591.

Mindful of the origin of his success, Innocent IX supported, during his two months’ pontificate, the cause of Felipe II and the Catholic League against Henri IV of France (r. 1589–1610) in the French Wars of Religion (1562–1598), where a papal army was in the field. His death, however, prevented the realisation of Innocent IX’s schemes.


On December 18, the pope made a pilgrimage of Rome’s seven pilgrimage churches, despite being ill, and caught a cold as a result. This became a heavy cough combined with a fever that led to his death.

Innocent IX died in the early morning of December 30, 1591. He was buried in the Vatican grottoes in a simple tomb.

Pope Innocent IX was succeeded by Pope Clement VIII who’s pontificate lasted for 13 years.

Juliane of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, Grand Duchess of Russia. Conclusion


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Despite her misery in her marriage to Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich, the young Grand Duchess began to grow up and became more and more attractive to the Russian court, who nicknamed her the “Rising Star”. This made Constantine extremely jealous, even of his own brother Alexander.

Constantine forbade Anna to leave her room, and when she had the opportunity to come out, Constantine took her away. Countess Golovina recalled: The married life of Anna Fyodorovna was hard and impossible to maintain, in her modesty, she needed the friendship of Elizabeth Alexeievna (Louise of Baden, wife of her brother-in-law Alexander), who was able to smooth things out between the frequent quarrelling spouses…”. During the difficult years in the Russian court, Anna became close to Grand Duchess Elizabeth, of similar age.

In 1799 Anna left Russia for medical treatment and didn’t want to return. She went to her family in Coburg; however, they didn’t support her, as they feared for the reputation of the Ducal family and their finances. Anna left Coburg to have a water cure; but at the same time, the St Petersburg’s court made their own plans. Under the pressure of the Imperial family and her own relatives, the Grand Duchess was forced to return to Russia. In October 1799 the weddings of Grand Duchesses Alexandra and Elena were celebrated. Anna was forced to attend.

The assassination of Emperor Paul I on March 23, 1801 gave Anna an opportunity to carry out her plan to escape. By August of that year, her mother was informed that the Grand Duchess was seriously ill. Once informed about her daughter’s health, Duchess Augusta came to visit her. In order to have a better treatment she took Anna to Coburg, with the consent of both the new Emperor Alexander I and Grand Duke Constantine. Once she arrived to her homeland, Anna refused to come back. She never returned to Russia.

Life after separation

Almost immediately after her return to Coburg, Anna began negotiations for a divorce from her husband. Grand Duke Constantine wrote in response to her letter:

You write to me that I allowed you to go into foreign lands because we are incompatible and because I can’t give you the love which you need. But humbly I ask you to calm yourself in consideration to our lives together, besides all these facts confirm in writing, and that in addition to this other reason you don’t have.

By 1803 the divorce was still refused, because Dowager Empress Maria Fyodorovna feared that her son Constantine could contract a second morganatic marriage, and the official separation would damage the reputation of the Grand Duchess.

At first, the grand duchess feared an unfavorable opinion about her conduct among the European courts; however, they showed their sympathy. Still legally married, Anna, eager to have a family, found solace in clandestine affairs.

On 28 October 1808, Anna gave birth to an illegitimate son, named Eduard Edgar Schmidt-Löwe. The father of this child may have been Jules Gabriel Émile de Seigneux, a minor French nobleman and officer in the Prussian army. Eduard was ennobled by his mother’s younger brother, Ernst I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and assumed the surname von Löwenfels by decree on 18 February 1818.

Later, Anna moved to Bern, Switzerland, and gave birth to a second illegitimate child in 1812, a daughter, named Louise Hilda Aglaë d’Aubert. The father was Rodolphe Abraham de Schiferli, a Swiss surgeon, professor and chamberlain of Anna’s household from 1812 to 1837. In order to cover another scandal in Anna’s life, the baby was adopted by Jean François Joseph d’Aubert, a French refugee. After the affair ended, Schiferli maintained a tender and close friendship with the Grand Duchess until his death.

Two years later, in 1814, during the invasion of France by Russian troops, Emperor Alexander I expressed his desire of a reconciliation between his brother and Anna. Grand Duke Constantine, accompanied by Anna’s brother Leopold, tried to convince her to return with him, but the Grand Duchess categorically refused. That year, Anna acquired an estate on the banks of Aare River and gave it the name of Elfenau. She spent the rest of her life there, and, as a lover of music, made her home not only a center for domestic and foreign musical society of the era but also the point of reunion of diplomats from different countries who were in Bern.

Finally, on March 20,1820, after 19 years of separation, her marriage was officially annulled by a manifesto of Emperor Alexander I of Russia. Grand Duke Constantine remarried two months later morganatically with his mistress Countess Joanna Grudzińska and died on June 27, 1831. Anna survived her former husband by 29 years.

In 1835, her son Eduard married his cousin Bertha von Schauenstein, an illegitimate daughter of the Duke Ernest I; this was one of the few happy events in Anna’s last years – she soon lost almost all the people she loved: her parents, her sisters Sophie and Antoinette, her own daughter Louise (who, married Jean Samuel Edouard Dapples in 1834 died three years later in 1837 at the age of twenty-five), her former lover and now good friend Rodolphe de Schiferli (just a few weeks after their daughter’s demise), her protector Emperor Alexander I, her childhood friend Empress Elizabeth…at that point the Grand Duchess wrote that Elfenau became the House of Mourning.

Anna Fyodorovna died in her Elfenau estate in 1860, aged 79. In her grave was placed a simple marble slab with the inscription, “Julia-Anna” and the dates of her birth and death (1781-1860); nothing more would indicate the origin of the once Princess of Saxe-Coburg and Grand Duchess of Russia. Through the five children of her son Eduard she has many descendants.

Alexandrine of Baden, wife of her nephew Ernst II, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha wrote:

Condolences must be universal, because Aunt Juliane was extremely loved and respected, because much involved in charity work and in favor of the poor and underprivileged.

September 25, 1744: Birth of King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia


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Friedrich Wilhelm II (September 25, 1744 – November 16, 1797) was King of Prussia from 1786 until his death. He was in personal union as the Prince-Elector of Brandenburg and (via the Orange-Nassau inheritance of his grandfather) was the sovereign P rince of the Canton of Neuchâtel. Pleasure-loving and indolent, he is seen as the antithesis to his predecessor, Friedrich the Great. (Friedrich II).

Under the reign of Friedrich WilhelmII, Prussia was weakened internally and externally, as he failed to deal adequately with the challenges to the existing order posed by the French Revolution. His religious policies were directed against the Enlightenment and aimed at restoring a traditional Protestantism. However, he was a patron of the arts and responsible for the construction of some notable buildings, among them the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

Early life

Friedrich Wilhelm was born in Berlin, the son of Prince August Wilhelm of Prussia (the second son of King Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia) and Duchess Luise of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. His mother’s elder sister, Elisabeth, was the wife of August Wilhelm’s brother, King Friedrich II.

Friedrich Wilhelm became heir-presumptive to the throne of Prussia on his father’s death in 1758, since Friedrich II had no children. The boy was of an easy-going and pleasure-loving disposition, averse to sustained effort of any kind, and sensual by nature.

His marriage with his first cousin Princess Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, daughter of Charles I, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and his wife Philippine Charlotte, (daughter of King Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia) that was contracted on July 14, 1765 in Charlottenburg, was dissolved in 1769.

Friedrich Wilhelm then married Frederica Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt, daughter of Ludwig IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt and Countess Palatine Caroline of Zweibrücken on July 14, 1769 also in Charlottenburg. Although he had seven children by his second wife, he had an ongoing relationship with his mistress, Wilhelmine Enke (created Countess Wilhelmine von Lichtenau in 1796), a woman of strong intellect and much ambition, and had five children by her—the first when she was still in her teens.

Friedrich Wilhelm, before the corpulence of his middle age, was a man of singularly handsome presence, not without mental qualities of a high order; he was devoted to the arts – Boccherini, Mozart and the young Beethoven enjoyed his patronage, and his private orchestra had a Europe-wide reputation. He also was a talented cellist.

However, an artistic temperament was hardly what was required of a king of Prussia on the eve of the French Revolution, and Friedrich II the Great, who had employed him in various services (notably in an abortive confidential mission to the court of Russia in 1780), openly expressed his misgivings as to the character of the prince and his surroundings. For his part, Friedrich Wilhelm, who had never been properly introduced to diplomacy and the business of rulership, resented his uncle for not taking him seriously.


The misgivings of Friedrich II appear justified in retrospect. Friedrich Wilhelm II’s accession to the throne (August 17, 1786) was, indeed, followed by a series of measures for lightening the burdens of the people, reforming the oppressive French system of tax-collecting introduced by Friedrich II, and encouraging trade by the diminution of customs dues and the making of roads and canals.

This gave the new king much popularity with the masses; the educated classes were pleased by Friedrich Wilhelm II’s reversal of his uncle’s preference for the French language and the promotion of the German language, with the admission of German writers to the Prussian Academy, and by the active encouragement given to schools and universities. Friedrich Wilhelm II also terminated his predecessor’s state monopolies for coffee and tobacco and the sugar monopoly. Under his reign the codification known as Allgemeines Preußisches Landrecht, initiated by Friedrich II, continued and was completed in 1794.

Mysticism and religious policies

In 1781 Friedrich Wilhelm II, then The Prince of Prussia, inclined to mysticism, had joined the Rosicrucians, and had fallen under the influence of Johann Christoph von Wöllner and Johann Rudolf von Bischoffswerder. On August 26, 1786 Wöllner was appointed privy councillor for finance (Geheimer Oberfinanzrath), and on October 2, 1786 was ennobled. Though not in name, he in fact became prime minister; in all internal affairs it was he who decided; and the fiscal and economic reforms of the new reign were the application of his theories.

Bischoffswerder, too, still a simple major, was called into the king’s counsels; by 1789 he was already an adjutant-general. The opposition to Wöllner was, indeed, at the outset strong enough to prevent his being entrusted with the department of religion; but this too in time was overcome, and on July 3, 1788 he was appointed active privy councillor of state and of justice and head of the spiritual department for Lutheran and Catholic affairs. From this position Wöllner pursued long lasting reforms concerning religion in the Prussian state.

The king proved eager to aid Wöllner’s crusade. On July 9, 1788 a religious edict was issued forbidding Evangelical ministers from teaching anything not contained in the letter of their official books, proclaimed the necessity of protecting the Christian religion against the “enlighteners” (Aufklärer), and placed educational establishments under the supervision of the orthodox clergy.

On December 18, 1788 a new censorship law was issued to secure the orthodoxy of all published books. This forced major Berlin journals like Christoph Friedrich Nicolai’s Allgemeine Deutsche Bibliothek and Johann Erich Biester’s Berliner Monatsschrift to publish only outside the Prussian borders. Moreover, people like Immanuel Kant were forbidden to speak in public on the topic of religion.

Finally, in 1791, a Protestant commission was established at Berlin (Immediate-Examinationscommission) to watch over all ecclesiastical and scholastic appointments. Although Wöllner’s religious edict had many critics, it was an important measure that, in fact, proved an important stabilizing factor for the Prussian state. Aimed at protecting the multi-confessional rights enshrined in the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, the provisions of Wöllner’s edict were intended to safeguard against religious strife by imposing a system of state sponsored limits.

The edict was also a notable step forward regarding the rights of Jews, Mennonites, and Herrnhut brethren, who now received full state protection. Given the confessional divides within Prussian society, primarily between Calvinists and Lutherans but increasingly Catholics as well, such a policy was important for maintaining a stable civil society.
In his zeal for establishing Prussia as a paragon of stable Christian statehood, Friedrich Wilhelm II outstripped his minister; he even blamed Wöllner’s “idleness and vanity” for the inevitable failure of the attempt to regulate opinion from above, and in 1794 deprived him of one of his secular offices in order that he might have more time “to devote himself to the things of God”; in edict after edict the king continued to the end of his reign to make regulations “in order to maintain in his states a true and active Christianity, as the path to genuine fear of God”.

Foreign policies

The attitude of Friedrich Wilhelm II towards the army and foreign policy proved fateful for Prussia. The army was the very foundation of the Prussian state, as both Friedrich Wilhelm II and Friedrich II the Great had fully realised. The army had been their first care, and its efficiency had been maintained by their constant personal supervision.

Friedrich Wilhelm II had no taste for military matters and put his authority as “Warlord” (Kriegsherr) into commission under a supreme college of war (Oberkriegs-Collegium) under the Duke of Brunswick and General Wichard Joachim Heinrich von Möllendorf. It was the beginning of the process that ended in 1806 at the disastrous Battle of Jena. Although the Prussian army reached its highest peacetime level of manpower under Friedrich Wilhelm II (189,000 infantry and 48,000 cavalry), under his reign the Prussian state treasury incurred a substantial debt, and the quality of the troops’ training deteriorated.

Under the circumstances, Friedrich Wilhelm II’s interventions in European affairs were of little benefit to Prussia. The Dutch campaign of 1787, entered into for purely family reasons, was indeed successful, but Prussia received not even the cost of her intervention. An attempt to intervene in the war of Russia and Austria against the Ottoman Empire failed to achieve its objective; Prussia did not succeed in obtaining any concessions of territory, and the dismissal of minister Hertzberg (July 5, 1791) marked the final abandonment of the anti-Austrian tradition of Friedrich II the Great.

Meanwhile, the French Revolution alarmed the ruling monarchs of Europe, and in August 1791 Friedrich Wilhelm II at the meeting at Pillnitz Castle, agreed with Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II to join in supporting the cause of King Louis XVI of France. However the king’s character and the confusion of the Prussian finances could not sustain effective action in this regard. A formal alliance was indeed signed on February 7, 1792, and Friedrich Wilhelm II took part personally in the campaigns of 1792 and 1793, but the king was hampered by want of funds, and his counsels were distracted by the affairs of a deteriorating Poland, which promised a richer booty than was likely to be gained by the anti-revolutionary crusade into France.

A subsidy treaty with the sea powers (Great Britain and the Netherlands, signed at The Hague, April 19, 1794) filled Prussia’s coffers, but at the cost of a promise to supply 64,000 land troops to the coalition. The insurrection in Poland that followed the partition of 1793, and the threat of unilateral intervention by Russia, drove Friedrich Wilhelm II into the separate Treaty of Basel with the French Republic (April 5, 1795), which was regarded by the other great monarchies as a betrayal, and left Prussia morally isolated in the struggle between the monarchical principle and the new republican creed of the Revolution.

Although the land area of the Prussian state reached a new peak under his rule after the third partition of Poland in 1795, the new territories included parts of Poland such as Warsaw that had virtually no German population, severely straining administrative resources due to various pro-Polish revolts; it also removed the last remaining buffer state between Prussia and Russia.

Personal life and patronage of the arts

Friedrich Wilhelm II’s first marriage, to Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick (his first cousin) had ended after four years during which both spouses had been unfaithful. Their uncle, Friedrich II, granted a divorce reluctantly, as he was more fond of Elisabeth than of Friedrich Wilhelm. His second marriage lasted until his death, but he continued his relationship with Wilhelmine Enke. In 1794–1797 he had a castle built for her on the Pfaueninsel.

Moreover, he was involved in two more (bigamist) morganatic marriages: with Elisabeth Amalie, Gräfin von Voß, Gräfin von Ingenheim in 1787 and (after her death in 1789) with Sophie Juliane Gräfin von Dönhoff. He had another seven children with those two women, which explains why his people also called him der Vielgeliebte (“the much loved”) and der dicke Lüderjahn (“the fat scallywag”).

His favourite son—with Wilhelmine Enke—was Graf Alexander von der Mark. His daughter from Sophie Juliane, Countess Julie of Brandenburg (January 14, 1793 – January 29, 1848, Vienna), married to Friedrich Ferdinand, Duke of Anhalt-Köthen.

Other buildings constructed under his reign were the Marmorpalais in Potsdam and the world-famous Brandenburger Tor in Berlin.

On November 16, 1797, Friedrich Wilhelm II died in Potsdam. He was succeeded by his son, Friedrich Wilhelm III, who had resented his father’s lifestyle and acted swiftly to deal with what he considered the immoral state of the court. Friedrich Wilhelm II is buried in the Berliner Dom.

The Life of Archduchess Hermine of Austria


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Hermine of Austria (Hermine Amalie Marie, September 14, 1817 – February 13, 1842 ) was a member of the Hungarian branch of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine as an Archduchess of Austria.

Archduchess Hermine, with her twin brother Archduke Stephen, Palatine of Hungary, c. 1840.

Hermine of Austria was the daughter of Archduke Joseph of Austria, Palatine of Hungary and his second wife, Princess Hermine of Anhalt-Bernburg-Schaumburg-Hoym, and she was eldest daughter of Victor II, Prince of Anhalt-Bernburg-Schaumburg-Hoym, and Princess Amelia of Nassau-Weilburg.

Hermine’s father, Archduke Joseph of Austria, was one of fifteen children born to Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II and Infanta Maria Louisa of Spain, the fifth daughter, and second surviving child of King Carlos III of Spain, Naples and Sicily, and Maria Amalia of Saxony.

Archduke Joseph of Austria was born in Florence, where his father Leopold was ruling as Grand Duke of Tuscany at that time. In 1796, Archduke Joseph was made Palatine of Hungary. This old title was, in effect, a deputy of the King of Hungary, and ruled when the king was absent from the country. Archduke Joseph became the founder of the Hungarian branch of the Habsburg family

Archduke Joseph first married the Grand Duchess Alexandra Pavlovna of Russia (1783–1801), on October 30, 1799 at Saint Petersburg. Grand Duchess Alexandra Pavlovna was the third child and eldest daughter of Emperor Paul I of Russia and his second wife Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg (renamed Maria Feodorovna after her wedding). Archduke Joseph was 23 years old, while Grand Duchess Alexandra Pavlovna was 16. She died of puerperal fever at the age of 18 soon after delivering a short-lived daughter, the Archduchess Alexandrine of Austria, on March 9, 1801 in Buda.

Archduke Joseph married his second wife, Princess Hermine of Anhalt-Bernburg-Schaumburg-Hoym on August 30, 1815 at Schaumburg Castle. The princess was just 17 years old when she married the 39-year-old Archduke. This marriage was also short lived when she died in childbirth two years later at the age of 19, after giving birth to Archduchess Hermine of Austria and her faternal twin brother, Archduke Stephen of Austria, Palatine of Hungary.

Archduke Joseph’s third wife was the Duchess Maria Dorothea of Württemberg, the daughter of Duke Ludwig of Württemberg (1756–1817) and Princess Henriette of Nassau-Weilburg (1780–1857) whom he wed on August 24, 1819 at Kirchheim unter Teck. He was 43 years old, and she was 21. They were the parents of five children, Hermine’s half-siblings.

Hermine of Austria was brought up by her stepmother, and spent much of her childhood in Buda and at the family estate in Alcsútdoboz and received an excellent education.

Contemporaries described Archduchess Hermine as a pretty, kind and modest. However, she was a slim young woman, frail body, and prone to diseases. Hermine was Princess-Abbess of the Theresian Royal and Imperial Ladies Chapter of the Castle of Prague (1835-1842), and she died February 13, 1842 in Vienna, Austria at the young age of aged 24. However, I have been unable to find the cause of her death. She never married.

Her full brother, Archduke Stephen was appointed governor of Bohemia by Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria. He stayed in that capacity until, in January 1847, his father died. Stephen succeeded him as Palatine of Hungary on November 12, 1847, but resigned in September 1848 as a result of the Hungarian Revolution. Archduke Stephan died in 1867, unmarried and without issue at the age of 49.

A bit of genealogical trivia for you. Princess Amelia of Nassau-Weilburg, the mother of Archduke Joseph’s second wife, Princess Hermine of Anhalt-Bernburg-Schaumburg-Hoym, and Princess Henriette of Nassau-Weilburg, mother of Archduke Joseph’s third wife, Duchess Maria Dorothea of Württemberg, were siblings, the daughters of Charles Christian, Prince of Nassau-Weilburg and his wife Princess Carolina of Orange-Nassau.

This means that Archduke Joseph’s second and third wives were first cousins.

Also, the parents of these two Nassau-Weilburg siblings, were Charles Christian, Prince of Nassau-Weilburg and his wife Princess Carolina of Orange-Nassau, and they were from separate branches of the House of Nassau. The Nassau-Weilburg branch ruled the Duchy of Nassau until 1866 and from 1890 the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The younger (Ottonian) branch of the House of Nasau, (Orange-Nassau) gave rise to the Princes of Orange and later the monarchs of the Netherlands, whom also ruled Luxembourg for a while.

September 24, 1950: Death of Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine (later Victoria Mountbatten, Marchioness of Milford Haven). Part I


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Princess Victoria Alberta Elizabeth Mathilde Marie of Hesse and by Rhine, later Victoria Mountbatten, Marchioness of Milford Haven (April 5, 1863 – September 24, 1950) was the eldest daughter of Ludwig IV, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine (1837–1892), and his first wife, Princess Alice of the United Kingdom (1843–1878), daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

Victoria was born on Easter Sunday at Windsor Castle in the presence of her maternal grandmother, Queen Victoria. She was christened in the Lutheran faith in the Green Drawing Room at Windsor Castle, in the arms of the Queen on April 27. Her godparents were Queen Victoria, Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, Ludwig III, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine (represented by Prince Alexander of Hesse and by Rhine), the Prince of Wales and Prince Heinrich of Hesse and by Rhine.

Her early life was spent at Bessungen, a suburb of Darmstadt, until the family moved to the New Palace in Darmstadt when she was three years old. There, she shared a room with her younger sister, Elisabeth, until adulthood. She was privately educated to a high standard and was, throughout her life, an avid reader.

During the Prussian invasion of Hesse in June 1866, Victoria and Elisabeth were sent to Britain to live with their grandmother until hostilities were ended by the absorption of Hesse-Cassel and parts of Hesse-Darmstadt into Prussia. During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, military hospitals were set up in the palace grounds at Darmstadt, and she helped in the soup kitchens with her mother. She remembered the intense cold of the winter, and being burned on the arm by hot soup.

In 1872, Victoria’s eighteen-month-old brother, Friedrich, was diagnosed with haemophilia. The diagnosis came as a shock to the royal families of Europe; it had been twenty years since Queen Victoria had given birth to her haemophiliac son, Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, and it was the first indication that the bleeding disorder in the royal family was hereditary. The following year, Friedrich fell from a window onto stone steps and died. It was the first of many tragedies to beset the Hesse family.

In early November 1878, Victoria contracted diphtheria. Elisabeth was swiftly moved out of their room and was the only member of the family to escape the disease. For days, Victoria’s mother, Princess Alice, nursed the sick. The youngest, Marie, became seriously ill on November 15, and Alice was called to her bedside, but by the time she arrived, Marie had choked to death.

A distraught Alice wrote to Queen Victoria that the “pain is beyond words”. Alice kept the news of Marie’s death secret from her children for several weeks, but she finally told Ernst in early December. His reaction was even worse than she had anticipated; at first he refused to believe it. As he sat up crying, Alice broke her rule about physical contact with the ill and gave him a kiss.

At first, however, Alice did not fall ill. She met her sister Victoria as the latter was passing through Darmstadt on the way to England, and wrote to her mother with “a hint of resumed cheerfulness” on the same day. However, by Saturday, December 14, the anniversary of her father’s death, she became seriously ill with the diphtheria caught from her son. Her last words were “dear Papa”, and she fell unconscious at 2:30 am. Just after 8:30 am, she died.

As the eldest child, Victoria partly assumed the role of mother to the younger children and of companion to her father. She later wrote, “My mother’s death was an irreparable loss … My childhood ended with her death, for I became the eldest and most responsible.”

Marriage and family

At family gatherings, Victoria had often met Prince Louis of Battenberg, who was her first cousin once removed and a member of a morganatic branch of the Hessian royal family. Prince Louis had adopted British nationality and was serving as an officer in the Royal Navy. In the winter of 1882, they met again at Darmstadt, and were engaged the following summer.

After a brief postponement because of the death of her maternal uncle Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, Victoria married Prince Louis on April 30, 1884 at Darmstadt. Her father did not approve of the match; in his view Prince Louis—his own first cousin—had little money and would deprive him of his daughter’s company, as the couple would naturally live abroad in Britain.

However, Victoria was of an independent mind and took little notice of her father’s displeasure. Remarkably, that same evening, Victoria’s father secretly married his mistress, Countess Alexandrine von Hutten-Czapska, the former wife of Alexander von Kolemine, the Russian chargé d’affaires in Darmstadt. His marriage to a divorcee who was not of equal rank shocked the assembled royalty of Europe and through diplomatic and family pressure Victoria’s father was forced to seek an annulment of his own marriage.

September 23, 1781: Birth of Princess Juliane of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. Part I.


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Princess Juliane Henriette Ulrike of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (September 23, 1781 – August 12, 1860), also known as Grand Duchess Anna Feodorovna of Russia was a German princess of the ducal house of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (after 1826, the house of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha) who became the wife of Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich of Russia.


Princess Juliane was the third daughter of Franz Friedrich, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld and Countess Augusta Caroline Reuss of Ebersdorf. She was named in honour of her grand-aunt, Queen Juliane Marie of Denmark and Norway. Juliane Marie was born a Princess of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, and was one of the 17 children of Ferdinand Albert II, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and his wife Antoinette Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg (1696–1762), youngest daughter of his first cousin Louis Rudolph, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and his wife Princess Christine Louise of Oettingen-Oettingen, she was queen of Denmark and Norway between 1752 and 1766, second consort of King Frederik V of Denmark and Norway.

Juliane Marie of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel sister, Sophie Antoinette of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel was Juliane of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld’s paternal grandmother. Sophie Antoinette of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel married Ernst Friedrich, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld on April 23, 1749 at Wolfenbüttel. Among her notable great-grandchildren were Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, his wife and cousin, Queen Victoria oftheUnitedKingdom, Ferdinand II of Portugal, Empress Carlota of Mexico and Leopold II of Belgium. Her eldest son was Franz Friedrich, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld father of Princess Juliane of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, the subject of this blog entry, bring her family information full circle.

Marriage Plans

Empress Catherine II of Russia began to search a suitable wife for her second grandson, Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich after the marriage of her eldest grandson, Grand Duke Alexander, with Louise of Baden in 1793. The empress spoke of pride about the young grand duke as an enviable match for many brides in Europe, as he was the second in line to succession to the Russian Empire.

Soon a marriage offer arrived from the court of Naples: King Ferdinand I of the Two-Siciles and Queen Maria Carolina, the thirteenth child of Empress Maria Theresa and Holy Roman Emperor Franz I, (and a sister of France’s queen consort, Marie Antoinette) suggested a marriage between the Grand Duke and one of their many daughters, which the Empress immediately rejected.

In 1795, her General, Baron Andrei von Budberg-Bönninghausen was sent in a secret mission to the ruling European courts, to find a bride for Constantine. He had a huge list of candidates, but during his trip became ill and was forced to stay in Coburg. He was attended by the Ducal court doctor, Baron Stockmar, who, once he knew the real intention of his trip, drew the general’s attention to the daughters of Duke Franz. Budberg wrote to Saint Petersburg that he found the perfect candidates, without visiting any other courts.

After a little consideration, Empress Catherine II consented. Juliane’s mother, Duchess Augusta Caroline, once she knew that one of her daughters would be a Grand Duchess of Russia, was delighted with the idea: a marriage with the Imperial Russian dynasty could bring huge benefits for the relatively small German Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld.

However, in Europe there were other views; for example, Charles-François-Philibert Masson, in his Secrets Memoirs of the court of Saint-Petersburg wrote about the unenviable role of German brides in the Russian court: Young touching victim, which Germany sends as a tribute to Russia, as did Greece who sent their maids to the Minotaur…

Life in Russia

Juliane, along with her mother and two elder sisters, Sophie and Antoinette, travelled to Saint Petersburg at the request of Empress Catherine II of Russia. After the first meeting, the Empress wrote: “The Duchess of Saxe-Coburg was beautiful and worthy of respect among women, and her daughters are pretty. It’s a pity that our groom must choose only one, would be good to keep all three. But it seems that our Paris give the apple to the younger one, you’ll see that he would prefer Julia among the sisters…she’s really the best choice.”

However, Prince Adam Czartoryski, in his Memoirs, wrote: Constantine was given an order by the Empress to marry one of the princesses, and he was given a choice of his future wife. This point of view was confirmed by Countess Varvara Golovina, who also wrote: After three weeks, the Grand Duke Constantine was forced to make a choice. I think that he did not want to marry anyone at all.

After the young Grand Duke chose Juliane, she began her training as a consort. On February 2, 1796, the 14-year-old German princess took the name of Anna Fyodorovna in a Russian Orthodox baptismal ceremony and 24 days later, on February 26, she and Constantine were married.

The Empress Catherine II died nine months later, on November 6, 1796. By virtue of her wedding, she was awarded with the Grand Cross of the Imperial Order of Saint Catherine and the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem.

This union, in connection with the wedding of her brother Leopold who had married Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales, daughter of King George IV of the United Kingdom, made the little Duchy of Saxe-Coburg the dynastic heart of Europe. In addition, thanks to relations with the Russian Empire, Saxe-Coburg was relatively safe during the Napoleonic Wars. However, on a personal level, the marriage was deeply unhappy. Constantine, known to be a violent man and fully dedicated to his military career, made his young wife intensely miserable.

Mysterious Disappearance of Mary Seymour


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Mary Seymour (August 30, 1548 – unknown), was the only daughter of Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley, and Catherine Parr, widow of Henry VIII of England and Ireland. Mary was born at her father’s country seat, Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire.


Catherine Parr was the eldest child of Sir Thomas Parr, lord of the manor of Kendal in Westmorland, (now Cumbria), and Maud Green, daughter and co-heiress of Sir Thomas Green, lord of Greens Norton, Northamptonshire, and Joan Fogge. Sir Thomas Parr was a descendant of King Edward III, and the Parrs were a substantial northern family which included many knights.

Catherine was Queen of England and Ireland as the last of the six wives of King Henry VIII from their marriage on July 12, 1543 until Henry’s death on January 28, 1547.

About six months after Henry VIII’s death, she married her fourth and final husband, Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley. The marriage was short-lived, as she died on Wednesday, September 5, 1548 at the age of 36, due to complications of childbirth. Although Catherine was married four times, Mary Seymour was her only child. Parr’s funeral was held on September 7, 1548. Parr’s funeral was the first Protestant funeral in England, Scotland or Ireland to be held in English.

Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley, KG PC (c.1508 – March 20, 1549) was the son of Sir John Seymour and Margaret Wentworth. He was the younger brother of Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector of England (1500–1552).

Despite his great wealth and high position, Thomas Seymour could not come to terms with his brother’s appointment as protector; and in his struggle with Somerset, he tried to ingratiate himself with the king, and vied for control of his nephew, the young King Edward VI (r. 1547–1553) who was just a little boy. In 1547 Seymour became the fourth husband of Catherine Parr. During his marriage to Catherine Parr, Seymour became involved with, the future Queen Elizabeth I (then 14 years old), who resided in his household, in flirtatious and possibly sexual behaviour.

In summer 1547, Edward Seymour, 1st duke of Somerset and the Protector of England, invaded Scotland. During his absence from the court, his brother, Thomas Seymour, fomented opposition to his authority, voicing open disapproval of his brother’s administrative skills. Because his activities seemed suspicious, several members of the nobility advised him to be content with his position, but he would not listen.

I will go into more detail on Thomas Seymour in an up coming post. So I’ll just mention that on February 20, the regency council officially accused him of thirty-three charges of treason. He was convicted of treason, condemned to death and executed on March 20, 1549.

Later in 1549, the Parliament of England passed an Act (3 & 4 Edw. 6 C A P. XIV) removing the attainder placed on her father from Mary, but his lands remained property of the Crown.

As her mother’s wealth was left entirely to her father and later confiscated by the Crown, Mary was left a destitute orphan in the care of Katherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk, who appears to have resented this imposition. After 1550 Mary disappears from historical record completely, and no claim was ever made on her father’s meager estate, leading to the conclusion that she did not live past the age of two.

Survival speculations

Victorian author Agnes Strickland claimed, in her biography of Catherine Parr, that Mary Seymour did survive to adulthood, and in fact married Sir Edward Bushel, a member of the household of Anne of Denmark, wife of King James I-VI of England, Scotland and Ireland. Strickland’s theory suggested that the Dowager Duchess of Suffolk, after her marriage to Richard Bertie in 1553, and before she fled England during the Marian Persecutions in or after 1555, arranged Mary’s marriage to Bushel. The problem with this theory is that Mary would have been only aged six at the time.

Another theory states that Mary was removed to Wexford, Ireland, and raised under the care of a Protestant family there, the Harts, who had been engaged in piracy off the Irish coast under the protection of a profit sharing arrangement with Thomas Seymour.

A lozenge-shaped ring inscribed “What I have I hold” was reputed to have been an early gift to Thomas by his brother Edward Seymour, and was passed down through generations of the Seymour-Harts until at least 1927.

There was reference to “Mary” found in old Elizabethan texts of ‘The Late Queen’s heir.’ However, this could be various other women. Historian S. Joy states that “Mary definitely lived past the age of 10, but after that little is known.”