Elisabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate (1597–1660)

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Elisabeth Charlotte von der Pfalz, Electress of Brandenburg

Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate (born November 9, jul. / 19th November  1597 greg. In Neumarkt in the Upper Palatinate , † April 16 . Jul / 26. April  1660 . Greg in Crossen an der Oder ) was Duchess of Prussia and electress von Brandenburg and mother of the future Great Elector Friedrich Wilhelm von Brandenburg .


Elisabeth Charlotte was a daughter of Elector Friedrich IV of the Palatinate and his wife Luise Juliana of Orange-Nassau . On July 24, 1616, she married Georg Wilhelm in Heidelberg , who three years later became Elector of Brandenburg. The marriage was supposed to connect the Protestant houses of Brandenburg and Palatinate politically.

The brother of the young Electress was Friedrich V of the Palatinate , who as head of the Protestant Union also played an important role in imperial politics. She was thus the sister-in-law of Elisabeth Stuart, the daughter of the first British King James I. Since Frederick V had obtained the Bohemian royal crown as the “winter king” in the Bohemian Estates uprising in the autumn of 1618 and thus triggered the Thirty Years' War , the situation of the worsened Brandenburg Electorate. Georg Wilhelm was considered weak and fickle, so that Elisabeth Charlotte made sure that after his expulsion from Bohemia, her brother first found protection in Küstrin in Brandenburg . Brandenburg thus increasingly came into opposition to the Austrian imperial family.

In the internal affairs of the electorate, it played a major role - although it was actually politically uninterested. With the “Protestant Court Party ” she unsuccessfully opposed the pro-Austrian and Catholic minister of her husband Adam von Schwarzenberg . The future Minister of Brandenburg, Otto Freiherr von Schwerin , made a career in civil service after being accepted into court service by the Electress in 1637.

Elisabeth Charlotte (on the throne on the right) at her son's marriage; Painting by Matthias Czwiczek (around 1650)

Another importance of Elisabeth Charlotte lay in her role as mother of the later "Great Elector" Friedrich Wilhelm. She and the court master Johann Friedrich von Kalkum were largely responsible for his education. It shaped the Protestant-religious consciousness of the later ruler. The son shared a deep affection for his mother later on, which was unusual for the circumstances at the time.

The Electress spent the last years of her life at her widow's residence in Crossen an der Oder, where she died on April 26th (April 16th according to the old Julian calendar) 1660. Her tomb is now in the Hohenzollern Crypt of the Berlin Cathedral .


Elisabeth Charlotte married Elector Georg Wilhelm von Brandenburg on July 24, 1616 in Heidelberg, with whom she had the following children:

⚭ 1645 Duke Jakob Kettler of Courland (1610–1681)
⚭ 1. 1646 Princess Luise Henriette of Orange (1627–1667)
⚭ 2. 1668 Princess Dorothea Sophie of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg (1636–1689)
⚭ 1649 Landgrave Wilhelm VI. of Hessen-Kassel (1629–1663)
  • Johann Sigismund (* / † 1624)


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