The story of how one remarkable woman’s drive to survive secured the succession of the British crown to this day.
Elizabeth Stuart (1596-1662), daughter of King James I, was 6 years old when her father, son of Mary, Queen of Scots, succeeded Queen Elizabeth I as the king of England. Elizabeth was married to Frederick, Elector Palatine of the Rhine, a marriage many considered to be beneath her royal status. The reasoning behind the marriage was that James I would support Frederick’s claim to become king of Bohemia. In his usual manner, it was a claim that James promised but never delivered. The Bohemian revolt of 1618 brought an offer to Frederick to assume the throne, which he quickly did. Unfortunately, the Hapsburgs and Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand took umbrage and quickly recovered the kingdom. Frederick and Elizabeth ruled for only one season, thus the title of Winter King and Queen. Living at the court of the Prince of Orange, they struggled to regain their titles. Fortunately, the Prince of Orange left Elizabeth a significant piece of the West India Company, which contributed to a new army to regain Frederick’s realm. However, it was not to be, and then came the Thirty Years’ War, which precipitated Frederick’s death in 1632. Though the narrative could have devolved into a complicated morass of intertwined royal families, Goldstone (The Rival Queens: Catherine de' Medici, Her Daughter Marguerite de Valois, and the Betrayal that Ignited a Kingdom, 2016, etc.), a seasoned historian, effectively keeps the lines clear as she relates Elizabeth’s repeated, frustrated attempts to secure strong marriages for her children under trying circumstances. Her children’s stories are fascinating, as well—e.g., one daughter had a long correspondence with Descartes, another with Leibniz. Ultimately, it was her youngest daughter, Sophia, who secured the family’s future as the Electress of Hanover.
A great book for history fans seeking illumination on the connections of European royalty.