Elisabeth Christine of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel

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Elisabeth Christine von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel (1691–1750) by Johann Gottfried Auerbach
Elisabeth Christine of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel
Elisabeth Christine von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel, anonymous portrait from the 18th century.

Elisabeth Christine von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel (born August 28, 1691 in Braunschweig ; † December 21, 1750 in Vienna ) was Princess of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel and as the wife of Emperor Charles VI. from the House of Habsburg Archduchess of Austria , German Queen and (titular) Empress of the Holy Roman Empire . She was the mother of Maria Theresa .


Princess Elisabeth Christine von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel was born on August 28, 1691 as the first child and eldest daughter of Ludwig Rudolf , Duke of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel, and his wife Christine Luise von Oettingen-Oettingen in Braunschweig .

As a 13-year-old Elisabeth Christine was betrothed to her brother-in-law Karl by her ambitious grandfather Anton Ulrich in agreement with Empress Wilhelmine Amalie . After the childless death of Charles II in 1703 , he was proclaimed King of Spain by his father, Emperor Leopold I , which gave rise to the War of the Spanish Succession . However, the decidedly Protestant bride initially opposed the planned wedding, since it involved converting to the Catholic faith. Her conversion, prepared according to plan by her grandfather, attracted a lot of attention and arguments. Thanks to his grandfather's reputation and with the help of his theologians, Anton Ulrich was finally able to dispel his granddaughter's concerns about conscience. Elisabeth Christine converted on May 1, 1707 with great festivities in Bamberg Cathedral , publicly declaring her commitment to the Roman Catholic Church in front of the Archbishop of Mainz and Bishop of Bamberg, Lothar Franz von Schönborn .

Two weeks after her conversion, Elisabeth Christine arrived in Vienna and won the sympathy of the imperial family. On April 23, 1708 their marriage by proxy took place in the next to the Schoenbrunn Palace nearby parish church Maria Hietzing place where Charles of his brother Joseph I was represented as a church legal procurator. Two days later she began her journey to see her husband. She first went to Genoa and then sailed on the fleet commanded by the English general John Leake to Spain, where her husband as the rival king Charles III. acted. On August 1, 1708, accompanied by her husband, she made her solemn entry into Barcelona , where the Archbishop of Tarragona once again blessed the marriage. On this occasion, the serenata Il più bel nome was composed and performed by the Italian composer Antonio Caldara .

The marriage began happily, but Elisabeth did not agree to Spanish etiquette; She was also concerned about the political situation and her husband's unfavorable situation. When Emperor Joseph I, her brother-in-law, died unexpectedly on April 17, 1711, his brother Karl, who had just been trapped in Barcelona, ​​was called back to Austria. Although he did not trust Elisabeth Christine with any political abilities, he immediately made her his deputy, left Spain himself in September and was crowned emperor on December 22, 1711 in Frankfurt am Main . Elisabeth Christine remained in Catalonia as a symbol of the Habsburgs' will to assert themselves , became governor and endured an adverse situation. When the situation there became increasingly unfavorable and Karl finally gave up Spain, the "white Liesl", as Karl called his wife because of her complexion, left the country on March 19, 1713. She reached Genoa on March 28th, was received by her husband in Linz and entered Vienna on July 11th, 1713 to the cheers of the people.

Grave of Empress Elisabeth Christine in the Imperial Crypt in Vienna

Elisabeth Christine first had four children in Austria, but her long-awaited son Leopold Johann died at the end of 1716, just seven months after the birth, her youngest daughter Maria Amalia died in 1730 at the age of six and her second daughter Maria Anna died before her December 1744 in childbed, so that she was only survived by her eldest daughter, Maria Theresia . Because of these strokes of fate, she is said to have been depressed in her later years. In addition, the devious treatments to increase her fertility had a bad effect on the physical and mental health of the empress.

Elisabeth Christine was generally not involved in politics by her husband. So she stood in the background in Vienna and was quite uninfluential. She supported the Welfenhaus, but it was difficult to stabilize her father's problematic financial situation. She also had to put up with the fact that the Dowager Empress Wilhelmine Amalie poked at her. But she was successful in initiating the marriage of her niece Elisabeth Christine with the Prussian Crown Prince Friedrich II in 1732 and in 1739 the marriage of her nephew Anton Ulrich von Braunschweig with the Russian regent Anna Leopoldowna . However, she did not achieve the Austro-Prussian rapprochement she had hoped for through the first marriage project.

With the death of her husband, the House of Habsburg died out in the male line in 1740. Maria Theresa followed in accordance with the provisions of the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713 in the government of the Habsburg hereditary kingdoms and lands. Just as little as by her husband, Elisabeth Christine was not entrusted with political tasks by her daughter. Maria Theresa cherished her mother all her life and from 1740 had Hetzendorf Castle (today in the 12th district of Vienna), very close to the imperial summer residence Schönbrunn Palace, which Maria Theresa loved, expanded as a widow's residence. Elisabeth Christine became obese in old age and suffered from swollen legs, rheumatism and shingles .

Shortly before Christmas 1750, Empress Elisabeth Christine died at the age of 59 in Vienna. She is one of the 41 people who received a " separate burial " with the body being divided between all three traditional Viennese burial sites of the Habsburgs ( imperial crypt , heart crypt , ducal crypt ).



Web links

Commons : Elisabeth Christine von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Elisabeth Badinter: Maria Theresia. A woman's power . Ed .: Zsolnay. Vienna 2017, p. 26 .
predecessor Office Successor
Eleonore Magdalene von der Pfalz (short term); actually: Wilhelmine Amalie from Braunschweig-Lüneburg Roman-German Empress
1711 until October 20, 1740
Maria Amalia of Austria