Monday, January 9, 2012

The Winter Princesses

Daughters of Princess Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia

The Mother:

Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia
Elizabeth was the daughter of King James I and Anne of Denmark. She was thus a granddaughter of Mary, Queen of Scots. This beautiful and accomplished princess became known in history as the "Winter Queen" because of her short tenure as Queen of Bohemia. She was a rather fascinating character based from what I had gathered about her so far. Her four daughters are also quite interesting characters.

The Daughters:

Elizabeth
Elizabeth was the eldest daughter of the Winter Queen, and reputedly one of  Europe's greatest beauties. Serious-minded and with profound intellectual attainments, she was one of the most learned women of her day. She was fluent in six languages, and was called "the Greek" because of her knowledge in classical languages. She developed a close friendship with writer and philosopher Rene Descartes, to whom she established and maintained a philosophical correspondence. Elisabeth never married despite plans to marry her off to a Polish king. A committed Protestant, she became the abbess of Herford Abbey in Germany.


Louise Hollandine
Louise, the second daughter, was born shortly after her parents' escape to Holland.  She was a very talented artist and painter. She painted many portraits of her and her family, all of them could be mistaken for the work of a professional artist. She studied under the tutelage of Gerard van Honthorst, but she can be considered an "amateur". Like her sister Elisabeth, she was inclined towards intellectual pursuits, but in contrast to her sister, Louise possessed a passionate nature. She converted to Catholicism, much to the dismay of her devoutly Protestant family, and fled to France.


Henrietta Maria
Henrietta Maria was described as gentle and sweet-tempered. She was a "homemaker" sort of princess. She had a great talent in embroidery, preserve-making, and confectionery, and was at her happiest when she was at the kitchen. She was the only blonde daughter in the family, and her sister Sophia considered her the beauty of the family. She married Prince Sigmund of Siebenbergen in Transylvania when she was 24. She had an extremely happy married life, but unfortunately, she died five months after the wedding. She was buried in her wedding gown and pearls.


Sophia, Electress of Hanover
Sophia, the best known of the Elizabeth's daughters, was the youngest daughter of the family. She was a well-educated woman, very accomplished, strong-willed, and possessed a sharp tongue. When she was 28, she married Ernest Augustus, Elector of Brunswick-Luneberg, and had several children. One of them was the future King George I of Britain.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Amalia of Oldenburg, Queen of Greece

Queen Amalia was the first queen of Greece. She was born a Princess of Oldenburg on December 21, 1818, the eldest daughter of Augustus, Grand Duke of Oldenburg and Princess Adelheid of Anhalt. Princess Adelheid died when Amalia was only two years old. Her father remarried, this time to Amalia's maternal aunt. She was a loving stepmother to her niece/stepdaughter, but unfortunately she also died after only three years of marriage. Augustus' third wife was a Swedish princess, Cecilia. She did not get along well with her stepchildren, and so Amalia was raised by her governess. From an early age, Amalia exhibited a keen intellect. She was taught in foreign languages, painting, music, and dancing, but she showed more interest in theater, dancing, horseback riding and hunting.

Amalia was 17 years-old when King Otto of Greece made a trip to Germany. Born a Prince of Bavaria, he was chosen to become the first King of Greece when he was only 18 years old. He had been king for three years when he decided to visit his homeland. He made a trip to Oldenburg, where he met the beautiful and talented Amalia. It was a love-match. The marriage of the Catholic Otto and the Protestant Amalia took place in Munich in 1836.

Amalia's arrival in Greece caused so much sensation, as well as curiosity among the people. Her fair hair and complexion were a novelty in Greece. The Greek people were fascinated of her. With her beauty, charm and robust, well-made figure, she brought a spirit of smart fashion and progress to the impoverished country. She created the Amalia dress, a sort of romantic-folksy dress that became the Greek national costume. She actively labored towards social improvement and the beautification of Athens. A keen horticulturist, she was determined to create gardens in Athens despite its novel concept, and the scarcity of water and adverse climate conditions. The gardens were commissioned in 1836 and developed in the next 25 years. The gardens (now the National Garden of Athens) with its shady green spaces and alleys and its romantic hideaways has been an attraction ever since the 19th century. Amalia's efforts were greatly appreciated  in Greece, and the town of Amalias and the village of Amaliapolis were named after her.

As for her personality and physical appearance, Amalia was generally described as beautiful, but she became plump as she got older. Bremer described her manners as "lively and extremely agreeable", and she was charmed by the Queen's friendliness and her lively conversation. As she is agreeable in private, Amalia is equally pleasant in public. Tastefully dressed in expensive Parisian crinolines, an able dancer excelling especially in waltzes, fluent in French and Greek, she was a delightful conversationalist who neglected no one at the ball  - "her eyes, full of the joy of life, emulated in brightness the diamonds around her head and neck". She was, as Bremer exclaims, after Queen Caroline Amalie of Denmark, "the handsomest queen I have seen...a real Semiramis, a queenly figure captivating all eyes". She was also extremely vivacious and a daring horsewoman. She liked to ride wearing the Amalia dress, and visited the whole of Greece in horseback, down to the very last village.

When she became more politically involved, she became the target of harsh attacks and criticism. Her image suffered further when she became unable to provide an heir, and chose to remain a Protestant in an almost universally Orthodox country. She also became a target of an assassination attempt. The would-be assassin was a student. He was sentenced to death but he was pardoned due to Amalia's intervention.

While to royal couple were on a visit to the Pelopennese, an uprising took place in Athens. King Otto was urged not to resist the uprising and his reign came to an end. He and Amalia left Greece aboard a British flagship. They arrived in Bavaria where they settle down and spent their remaining years as exiles.
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