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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.