Bohemia · Pocket Profiles

Hall of Fame, Historical Division – The Winter Queen Part 1: Elizabeth Stuart

Thank you to our community member geogirl for this Historical Hall of Fame. It’s a two parter. Today, on the anniversary of Elizabeth Stuart’s death, we will take a look at her life – and it was quite a life. Tomorrow we will discuss her sumptuous wardrobe, and choose a Hall of Fame winner.

Don’t you think she looks like Mary, Queen of Scots in this picture?

Who was Elizabeth Stuart? A most interesting lady and queen! The briefest of history lessons…

  • Elizabeth Stuart (19 August 1596 – 13 February 1662) was Electress of the Palatinate and briefly Queen of Bohemia as the wife of Frederick V of the Palatinate. Because her husband’s reign in Bohemia lasted for just one winter, Elizabeth is often referred to as the “Winter Queen”.
  • Elizabeth was the second child and eldest daughter of James VI and I, King of Scotland, England, and Ireland, and his wife, Anne of Denmark.  She was also the granddaughter of Mary, Queen of Scots and the great great granddaughter of Margaret Tudor, Henry Vlll’s older sister.  Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth l were first cousins once removed through King Henry VII of England.  But what about the paternal side?  Her grandfather, Henry, Lord Darnley was Mary Queen of Scot’s first cousin; they both had Margaret Tudor as grandmother and thus a connection to the English crown.  Darnley was also distantly related to the Scottish crown through his father, a descendent of James II. 
Elizabeth I and Mar,y, Queen of Scots
Mary, Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley
  • Elizabeth was born in Scotland on 19 August 1596 at 2 o’clock in the morning.  At the time of her birth, her father was King of Scots only because Elizabeth l was still alive. Elizabeth was named in honour of Queen Elizabeth 1 of England, her godmother and first cousin three times removed.
  • Elizabeth was christened in 1596 at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. It was not a lavish christening, despite Elizabeth’s status. In fact, James informed those who did decide to come that they must bring their own dinner!
  • In 1603 her father James succeeded Elizabeth I to the English throne. Young Elizabeth was given into the care of Lord and Lady Harrington and took up residence at Coombe Abbey, Warwickshire, England.
  • At 16, Elizabeth married Frederick (Friedrich) V, Count Palatine of the Rhine. Frederick was of undeniably high lineage. His ancestors included the kings of Aragon and Sicily, the landgraves of Hesse, the dukes of Brabant (like our Princess Elisabeth, Duchess of Brabant now, in Belgium) and Saxony, and the counts of Nassau (the house of King Wilhelm Alexander now) and Leuven. He and Elizabeth also shared a common ancestor in Henry II of England.
  • The wedding took place on 14 February 1613 at the royal chapel at the Palace of Whitehall and was a grand occasion that saw more royalty than had ever visited England before. The marriage was an enormously popular match and was the occasion for an outpouring of public affection with the ceremony described as “a wonder of ceremonial and magnificence even for that extravagant age”. It was celebrated with lavish and sophisticated festivities both in London and Heidelberg, including mass feasts and lavish furnishings that cost nearly 50,000, and almost bankrupted King James.
  • Elizabeth had lead a complex life that I will only summarize. In 1619 ,Elizabeth’s husband Frederick was offered the throne of Bohemia. Frederick’s reign in Bohemia began well but only lasted one year. Frederick’s reign ended with defeat of Bohemian Protestant armies at the Battle of White Mountain (which ended the first phase of the Thirty Years’ War) on 8 November 1620. Elizabeth is remembered as the “Winter Queen”, and Frederick as the “Winter King”, in reference to the brevity of their reign, and to the season of the battle. After this, and following a courteous invitation from the Prince of Orange, they moved to The Hague as monarchs in exile. Eventually Frederick said farewell to Elizabeth and joined the King of Sweden on the battlefield. Things for Frederick did not go as planned and he died on the morning of 29 November 1632. He was 36 years old. Elizabeth remained in the Hague until 1660 when her nephew, Charles Stuart (Charles ll) was restored to the British throne. Now determined to visit her native land, Elizabeth arrived in England on 26 May 1661, never again to leave.
  • Elisabeth had 13 children, at least 4 of which had children as well. With the demise of the last Stuart monarch in 1714,  Elisabeth’s grandson succeeded to the British throne as George I, initiating the Hanoverian dynasty.
  • Elizabeth died 13th February, 1662 of pneumonia. She is buried in Westminster Abbey in the Chapel of Henry Vll.

Check back tomorrow to vote on her Hall of Fame ensembles!