Elisabeth Christine of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel-Bevern
Elisabeth Christine von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel-Bevern , Queen of Prussia , (born November 8, 1715 in Wolfenbüttel , † January 13, 1797 in Berlin ) was the daughter of Duke Ferdinand Albrecht II of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel and his wife Antoinette Amalie of Braunschweig - Wolfenbüttel . As the wife of Frederick II, she was Queen of Prussia .
Elisabeth was born in the early morning of November 8, 1715. After the birth of two sons, she was the third child of Ferdinand Albrecht II and his wife. Elisabeth was instructed in the Lutheran faith.
Elisabeth Christine was betrothed to the Crown Prince of Prussia, later King Friedrich II , on March 10, 1732 in Berlin . The marriage of the Crown Prince to a second cousin of Empress Elisabeth Christine , the mother of the presumptive Empress Maria Theresa , was the result of the efforts of the “imperial party” for King Friedrich Wilhelm I , which was in sharp contrast to the “English” for the Queen Sophie Dorothea and the Crown Prince Friedrich stood. The wedding took place on June 12, 1733 in Salzdahlum Castle. In the marriage contract of June 11, 1733, both the financial resources and the composition of the court of the Crown Princess were specified. At the wedding celebrations there was ballet , a pastoral event in which the Crown Prince played the flute , and operas by Carl Heinrich Graun and Georg Friedrich Handel . In all likelihood, the marriage was consummated, because Friedrich said to Ernst Christoph von Manteuffel : “She is pretty and can't complain that I don't love her at all, in short - I really don't know why we don't have children After the death of his father in 1740, Friedrich lived separated from his wife, the couple remained childless. This is attributed to the fact that he may have been homosexual like his brother Heinrich .
Until the completion of the interior of the Rheinsberg Palace in August 1736, the Crown Princess lived in Berlin in the Kronprinzenpalais Unter den Linden, which was rebuilt and expanded by Philipp Gerlach in 1732 . Friedrich stayed mainly with his regiment in Ruppin and rarely appeared in Berlin. On August 21, 1736, the Crown Prince couple moved to Rheinsberg to the castle that Friedrich Wilhelm had given his son. Elisabeth Christine had a happy time in Rheinsberg, as she wrote enthusiastically to her father-in-law: "My stay in Rheinsberg is as pleasant as it ever can be, as I am united with the dearest thing I have in the world." More than 40 years later, in a conversation with Count Mirabeau, she still raved about the happy time she had spent in Rheinsberg. During the years in Rheinsberg, the Crown Princess also practiced using paintbrushes and paint under the guidance of the painter Antoine Pesne .
The reign of Frederick II began on May 31, 1740 with the death of Frederick William I. While still on the deathbed of his father, Frederick ordered that Elisabeth Christine step back as reigning queen behind Sophie Dorothea, who was now the queen mother . The following day, Elisabeth Christine received his written instruction to pay her respects to “the Queen”. From then on, Elisabeth Christine initially fulfilled the duties of a Prussian queen in a rather relegated position. The move to Berlin to the Crown Prince's Palace took place immediately, and in mid-July the Queen moved into her new apartment in the Berlin Palace , which was larger than the King's. Together with the Elisabeth Hall, this apartment formed “the heart of everyday court life in Berlin” for 46 years. The king assigned his wife Schönhausen Palace near Berlin as a summer residence. Elisabeth Christine spent the following decades here, with a few exceptions due to the war, the summer months from early June to early September. Schönhausen Palace, intended as a summer residence, was not suitable for a year-round stay. There were only inadequate heating facilities and there was hardly enough space available for the queen's court of around 80 people and their representative duties. It is noteworthy that after the death of his mother in 1757, Friedrich did not give Monbijou Castle to his wife for use. Significantly larger and more representative than Schönhausen and closer to the city palace, picturesquely located directly on the Spree, it was the ideal place to live for a reigning or widowed queen. Friedrich, however, left the building mostly unused, and only when the residence was handed over to Queen Friederike Luise in 1789 "for usufruct" , Friedrich Wilhelm II brought new life to the walls in need of renovation.
In contrast to the older historiography, more recent research has shown that the queen was by no means exiled by Friedrich to Schönhausen. The radical spatial separation of the couple can rather be explained by the fact that the king did not want to continue the married life forced upon him by his father. As the ruling queen, Elisabeth Christine only stood above her mother-in-law in terms of protocol, but the queen mother Sophie Dorothea remained the dominant female member of the royal family until her death in 1757. During these years the queen was already performing representational tasks, but Frederick II's mother, for example, completed the lion's share of representative tasks in 1755 with 120 events. On the other hand, the court protocol was observed, according to which on official occasions the queen's carriage drove directly behind that of the king, followed by the queen mother's carriage. Because despite his ironic statements to the contrary, Friedrich attached great importance to maintaining rank and etiquette. After the death of her mother-in-law in 1757, Elisabeth Christine actually took over the role of the first lady in the state, and after the Peace of Hubertusburg in 1763, the number of her public appearances rose rapidly and remained at a high level, while the number of appearances by the king tended to decrease and in the last years of his life he devoted himself almost to no representational tasks. In the summer months the Queen regularly organized brokerage fees twice a week in Schönhausen, the rest of the year in the spacious representative rooms in her apartment in the city palace. In addition to the courts, large dinners, balls, opera performances, embassy receptions and family celebrations for members of the royal house (birthdays, baptisms, weddings) were on their program.
The king at a distance
Queen Elisabeth Christine was not free in her decisions to take part in family celebrations or state political events. Like all other members of the royal family, she was in principle dependent on the king's permission. In general, the king did not invite them to events outside of Berlin, e.g. B. took place at his residence in Potsdam. She received just as little invitation to the inauguration of the new wing at Charlottenburg Palace in the summer of 1746 as to a big party that the king gave in August 1749 in honor of his mother in Sanssouci . The waiting for an invitation to Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm's engagement party in July 1764 was nerve-wracking for the Queen and her sister Luise Amalie , the Princess of Prussia. In a double sense, it was an important family event for the two women Bride Elisabeth Christine Ulrike von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel , niece of Queen Elisabeth Christine and Luise Amalie, the groom's mother. Only at the last moment did the king let the ladies know that they should attend the ceremony in Charlottenburg Palace. Both the Queen and Princess Luise Amalie took part in the wedding celebration the following year and Count Lehndorff stated in his diary: "The Queen flutters around and screams mercilessly, although she has nothing to say." When the Queen's youngest sister, Juliane Marie , married the Danish King Friedrich V in Braunschweig in 1752 , Elisabeth Christine did not even ask her husband for his permission to attend the wedding and stayed in Berlin. Incidentally, Frederick II conducted the "most friendly and intimate correspondence" with Queen Juliane of Denmark, whom he held in high esteem.
Frederick's accession to the throne introduced the double court which was to be characteristic of the entire reign of Frederick II. If Elisabeth Christine, as Crown Princess, still feared that Friedrich would divorce her after his accession to the throne, the King immediately incorporated her into his system of rule. He transferred the majority of the ceremonially representative, recurring routine duties to her. Friedrich instrumentalized the queen, like other family members, for his dynastic rule and in this way made the members of the royal family useful. With this division of tasks, however, the king also accepted "that in Prussia under Frederick the Great there was no court in the sense of a permanent, politically significant point of contact." The king lacked court life as the constituent center of the court state. The king withdrew more and more of the extensive representational tasks in the course of his life. His withdrawal from conventional court life was initially due to the absence of the warring monarch and later, after the Peace of Hubertusburg in 1763, his consequent retreat to Potsdam as a "roi philosophe". Elisabeth Christine represented the royal family and the dynasty in Berlin and carried out the “public-ceremonial” duties here. For the reasons mentioned, Theodor Schierer's statement: "[...] the factual exclusion of Elisabeth Christines from the royal court and her exile to Schönhausen made the Prussian court a court without a queen [...]" to the effect that the court was more likely to be the King when the queen was absent. The ambivalent relationship between the spouses was shown on the one hand by the admiration that the queen showed her husband in letters and traditional remarks and on the other hand by the neglect, even humiliation, with which the king treated her. Friedrich was very concerned about his wife's well-being, as an order to his personal doctor reveals: “I recommend you visit the Queen without delay and connect with the other two doctors in Berlin. Remember that this is the most expensive and necessary person for the state, for the poor and for me ”. And also precious gifts e.g. B. in the form of valuable jewelry the king made his wife.
The Seven Years War
During the Seven Years' War the Austrian General Hadik occupied Berlin on October 16, 1757 and the Queen fled with her court to the Spandau Fortress, from where she returned to Berlin on October 18, after the Austrians had left. On the orders of the king, the queen fled with the court again on October 23, this time to the fortress city of Magdeburg. The refugees arrived there on October 28th. On the way there, the court also passed Potsdam and the Queen saw the Potsdam City Palace for the first time in her life. On January 5, 1758 she was able to return to Berlin, but two years later she had to leave the city again for Magdeburg when the Russians occupied Berlin and looted Schönhausen Palace. From November 26, 1759 to March 18, 1760, the court was able to reside in Berlin again. With the approach of Russian troops on Berlin, another flight to Magdeburg was inevitable. In Magdeburg court life with cour, receptions, parties, etc. continued as in Berlin. Three years passed before peace and the final return to Berlin. The king wrote to his wife in Magdeburg at the beginning of February 1763, “She would be the mistress of her decisions if she wanted to leave for Berlin.” The queen left Magdeburg immediately and arrived on February 16, solemnly received by the citizens and the nobility Berlin. On March 30th the couple finally meet again after almost seven years of separation. The king went to the queen's rooms after greeting his brothers, Prince Heinrich and Prince Ferdinand, as well as the waiting diplomats. According to Count Lehndorff's notes, Friedrich addressed only one sentence to the Queen: "Madame have become more corpulent." And then turned to his waiting sisters.
Last years and death
After the devastation caused by the occupation troops, which also hadn't spared Schönhausen Palace, the queen rebuilt her residence enlarged, occupied herself a lot with literature and also wrote some moral writings in French. The feast of the golden wedding in June 1783 was not officially celebrated and the royal couple did not meet in their family for this event. Deaths in the wider and closer family formed the outstanding events of the Queen's last years. She was particularly shocked by the death of her sister Luise Amalie, the widowed Princess of Prussia, on January 13, 1780. The sisters had a very close relationship, not least because of their similar fates as unloved wives. King Friedrich II and his wife met for the last time on January 18, 1785 in Berlin on the occasion of the birthday party for Prince Heinrich. Elisabeth Christine found out about the death of her husband on the day the king died, August 17, 1786. In his will from 1769, which can already be seen as an expression of respect and recognition of her “loyalty and impeccable demeanor”, Friedrich had an increase in the arranged financial and material income for the queen and asked his successor to give his widow a suitable apartment in the city palace. Friedrich Wilhelm II also left Schönhausen Palace to his aunt for further use.
Her duties as reigning queen, which Elisabeth Christine had fulfilled in constant loyalty to her husband for 46 years, were passed on to the new queen. However, Elisabeth Christine did not completely withdraw from the public representative life, but continued to perform tasks. The new king visited his aunt frequently and was on good terms with her.
Elisabeth Christine died in 1797 in the Berlin Palace and was buried in the crypt of the Berlin Cathedral .
Her coffin was destroyed in an air raid in 1944 when the dome of the cathedral collapsed and the crypt ceiling broke through. Her remains were then burned until 2017. During restoration work, however, a small zinc coffin with remains of bones was found in an allegedly empty coffin in the crypt. It is believed that the zinc coffin is from 1944 or 1945 and that bones were collected in it that could no longer be assigned in 1945. Experts believe that it could also be the remains of Queen Elisabeth Christine.
The Berlin Elisabeth Christinen Primary School is named after her. Elisabeth-Christinen-Strasse is named after her in Niederschönhausen in the Berlin district of Pankow.
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- Bones discovered in the cathedral cellar: Is this where Old Fritz's wife lies? ( bz-berlin.de [accessed on January 18, 2017]).
Queen of Prussia
|SURNAME||Elisabeth Christine of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel-Bevern|
|BRIEF DESCRIPTION||Wife of Frederick II of Prussia and Queen of Prussia|
|DATE OF BIRTH||November 8, 1715|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Wolfenbüttel|
|DATE OF DEATH||January 13, 1797|
|Place of death||Schönhausen Palace near Berlin|