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Hedwig Eleonora of Holstein-Gottorp (October 23, 1636 – November 14, 1715) Queen of Sweden.


Hedwig Eleonora was born on October 23, 1636, in the Palace of Gottorp at Schleswig, to Duke Friedrich III of Holstein-Gottorp and Marie Elisabeth of Saxony, daughter of Johann Georg I, Elector of Saxony, and his spouse Princess Magdalene Sibylle of Prussia.

Magdalene Sibylle of Prussia was the daughter of Albrecht Friedrich, Duke of Prussia and Marie Eleonore of Cleves.

Duke Friedrich III of Holstein-Gottorp

Magdalene Sibylle of Prussian also was a great-granddaughter of Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor. She is also in three ways an ancestor of Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, mother of George III of the United Kingdom. In that way, she connected the ancestry of the British monarchs to the Catholic Monarchs.

Hedwig Eleonora of Holstein-Gottorp was the sixth of the couple’s sixteen children.

Duke Friedrich III of Holstein-Gottorp was the elder son of Duke Johann Adolph of Holstein-Gottorp and Princess Augusta of Denmark, the third daughter of King Frederik II of Denmark and Sophia of Mecklenburg-Güstrow. Augusta of Denmark was politically influential during the reign of her son, Duke Friedrich III of of Holstein-Gottorp.


In 1654 Duke Friedrich III of Holstein-Gottorp hosted the recently abdicated Christina, Queen of Sweden. She wrote to her successor King Carl X Gustaf of Sweden to recommend two of his daughters as potential brides. King Carl X Gustaf chose to marry Friedrich III’s daughter Hedvig Eleonora.

Hedwig Eleonora was welcomed by King Carl X Gustaf of Sweden at Dalarö in Sweden October 5, 1654, and stayed at Karlberg Palace before her official arrival at Stockholm for the wedding October 24. She was greeted, dressed in silver brocade, by queen dowager Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg at the Stockholm Royal Palace, where the wedding was celebrated the same day.

She was crowned queen at Storkyrkan October 27. Shortly after, her husband left for Poland to participate in the Deluge (history). Hedwig Eleonora remained in Sweden for the birth of the future Carl XI the November 24, 1655 and the following Christmas.

Hedwig Eleonora of Holstein-Gottorp, Queen of Sweden.

The spring of 1656, she left Sweden and followed Carl X Gustaf during his campaign, during which she displayed both physical and mental strength. She was present during the Battle of Warsaw (1656), during which she received the official praise from the Swedish army alongside her spouse. She returned to Sweden in the autumn of 1656.

In Sweden, she took control over her dower lands, which she strictly controlled during her life. After the Dano-Swedish War (1657–1658), she was called to join her husband at Gothenburg, then she followed him to Gottorp and Wismar. During the Dano-Swedish War (1658-1660), she and her sister-in-law Maria Eufrosyne of Pfalz lived at Kronborg in Denmark after it had been taken by the Swedish general Carl Gustaf Wrangel.

At Kronborg, Hedwig Eleonora was visited by her husband and entertained the foreign ambassadors. She visited Frederiksborgs Palace and hunted in the woods with the English ambassador. During the Falster campaign, she entertained the ambassadors at Nyköbing Falster. Hedwig Eleonora left for Gothenburg in December 1659, where the Swedish parliament was to assemble in January 1660.

King Carl X Gustaf of Sweden

Soon after the estates opened on January 4, 1660, King Carl X Gustaf fell ill with symptoms of a cold. Ignoring his illness, he repeatedly went to inspect the Swedish forces near Gothenburg, and soon broke down with chills, headaches and dyspnoea.

On January 15, court physician Johann Köster arrived, and in medical error mistook King Carl X Gustaf’s pneumonia for scorbut and dyspepsia. Köster started a “cure” including the application of multiple enemata, laxatives, bloodletting and sneezing powder.

While after three weeks the fever eventually was down and the coughing was better, the pneumonia had persisted and evolved into a sepsis by February 8.

On February 12, King Carl X Gustaf signed his testament: His son, Crown Prince Carl of Sweden, was still a minor, and Carl X Gustaf appointed a minor regency consisting of six relatives and close friends. CarlnX Gustaf died the next day at the age of 37.

Queen Hedwig Eleonora served as regent during the minority of her son, King Carl XI, from 1660 until 1672, and during the minority of her grandson, King Carl XII, in 1697. She also represented King Carl XII in Sweden during his absence in the Great Northern War from 1700 until the regency of her granddaughter Ulrika Eleonora in 1713. Queen Hedwig Eleonora was described as a dominant personality, and was regarded as the de facto first lady of the royal court for 61 years, from 1654 until her death.