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Countess Augusta Caroline Sophie Reuss-Ebersdorf (January 19, 1757 –November 16, 1831), was by marriage the Duchess of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. She was born in Saalburg-Ebersdorf. She was the maternal grandmother of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and the paternal grandmother of her husband Prince Albert, of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, The Prince Consort.

Family

She was the second of seven children of Heinrich XXIV, Count Reuss of Ebersdorf and his wife Countess Karoline Ernestine of Erbach-Schönberg. Her birthplace, Ebersdorf, was a center of Pietism in Thuringia and Augusta’s grandparents were ardent admirers of this religious movement. Augusta’s great-aunt Countess Erdmuthe Dorothea of Reuss-Ebersdorf was married to Count Nicholas Louis von Zinzendorf und Pottendorf, leader of the revivalist Moravian Church. This background explains the deep religious feelings of Duchess Augusta in later years.

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Marriage

Her father commissioned a portrait of Augusta as Artemisia by the painter Johann Heinrich Tischbein. Count Heinrich XXIV showed this painting during the Perpetual Diet so potential marriage candidates were aware of his beautiful daughter. One of those potential marriage candidates was Franz, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. Duke Franz, previously acquired the Artemisia painting for four times the original price because he was deeply in love with Augusta, but he had to marry a relative, Princess Sophie of Saxe-Hildburghausen.

Franz, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (July 15, 1750 – December 9, 1806), was the eldest son of Ernest Friedrich, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld and Sophia Antonia of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. Duke Franz was one of the ruling Thuringian dukes of the House of Wettin. Despite being in love with Countess Augusta Caroline Sophie Reuss-Ebersdorf, on March 6, 1776, in Hildburghausen Franz married Princess Sophie of Saxe-Hildburghausen, a daughter of his Ernestine kinsman, Duke Ernst Friedrich II. She died on October 28, 1776, only seven months after her wedding. There were no children born from this marriage. With death of Princess Sophie the duke was free to pursue the hand of his beloved.

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Franz, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld

In Ebersdorf on June 13, 1777 Countess Augusta Caroline Sophie Reuss-Ebersdorf married Franz, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. During her marriage, Augusta bore her husband ten children; some of them played important roles in European history: Victoria, who married Edward, Duke of Kent (son of King George III of the United Kingdom & Hanover) and King Leopold I of Belgium.

Countess Augusta is the grandmother of many notable monarchs of Europe, including both Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom (through her mother Victoria) and her husband, Prince Albert (through his father Ernst), King Consort of Portugal Ferdinand II (through his father Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha), and also Empress Carlota of Mexico and her brother Leopold II of Belgium (through their father Leopold I who was elected King of the Belgians on June 26, 1831).

Countess Augusta Caroline Sophie Reuss-Ebersdorf was from a family of Imperial Counts of the junior line of the House of Reuss which had split into many lines, with Reuss-Ebersdorf being one of them.

Although most German counts belonged officially to the lower nobility, those who were mediatised belonged to the Hochadel, the heads of their families being entitled to be addressed as Erlaucht (“Illustrious Highness”), rather than simply as Hochgeboren (“High-born”). Reuss-Ebersdorf is such an example.

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Countess Augusta Caroline Sophie Reuss-Ebersdorf

Countess Augusta Caroline Sophie Reuss-Ebersdorf was born with the style Her Illustrious Highness. In examining her titles I want to know if her title included Princess of The Holy Roman Empire?

Sources are confusing. One source said that the head of each branch of the Imperial County of Reuss Family bore the German title Fürst (Prince) as did their male children……I assume that the female children held the title of Princess? Yet another source mentions it wasn’t until 1806 that the title of the ruler of Reuss-Ebersdorf was upgraded to that of Prince of the Holy Roman Empire.

As soon as I have this figured out I will post more.