Luise Dorothea of ​​Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg

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Duchess Luise Dorothea von Sachsen-Gotha-Altenburg, detail from a painting in the possession of the DHM Berlin
The Duchess on a lithograph appeared in the journal Die Gartenlaube in 1858
The monument to Luise-Dorothea von Sachsen-Meiningen, created by Professor Bernd Göbel ( right in the picture ), unveiled in Gotha on April 22, 2017

Luise Dorothea of ​​Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (born August 10, 1710 in Coburg , † October 22, 1767 in Gotha ) was a born princess of Saxe-Meiningen and the wife of Friedrich III. from 1732 until her death, Duchess of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg .


Luise Dorothea was born the princess of Saxe-Meiningen , her father was Duke Ernst Ludwig I , her mother Dorothea Maria of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg , an aunt of her future husband. In 1729 she married her cousin Prince Friedrich in Gotha, who in 1732 was named Friedrich III. ruling Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg became.

The highly educated and sensitive duchess played an important role in the fact that her husband's duchy rose to become a cultural center in Thuringia . Luise Dorothea had a great influence on her husband's politics and regularly took part in the meetings of the Privy Council, the government of the duchy. She was a staunch follower of the Enlightenment , but committed to absolutism all her life, and was in correspondence with the great minds of her time, such as Voltaire , Friedrich Melchior Grimm , Count von Manteuffel as well as Luise and Johann Christoph Gottsched .

At her invitation, Voltaire stayed in Gotha from April 15 to May 25, 1753 and then raved about Luise Dorothea's hospitality and her court: “In the castle of Gotha one cultivates virtue in peace”, “There is in my eyes nothing more beautiful than your court [...] I should never have left it. "," I have been to the temple of graces, reason, spirit, charity and peace ". Voltaire also called the Duchess the "best princess on earth" and a "German Minerva ". Luise Dorothea was also in correspondence with Frederick the Great ; the Prussian king visited them on December 3rd and 4th, 1762 at Friedenstein Castle .

In her will of October 21, 1767, Luise Dorothea stated: “I wish and demand that my dead body, without having to be opened beforehand and without any pomp, as briefly and quietly as possible in the Margarethenkirche at the feet of Duke Ernst and his wife will be buried. ”A planned tomb in St. Margarethen , which the renowned French sculptor Houdon and later the Gotha court sculptor Friedrich Wilhelm Eugen Döll was to be commissioned to create, was never realized. The simple grave slab for Luise Dorothea above the crypt below the chancel presumably disappeared during later renovations, so that today nothing in the nave reminds of her burial place.

Marriage and offspring

Luise's marriage with Friedrich on September 17, 1729 in Gotha gave birth to nine children, of which only three survived their mother:

  • Friedrich Ludwig (1735–1756), Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
  • Ludwig (* / † 1735)
  • stillborn, nameless son (* / † 1735, twin of Ludwig)
  • stillborn male twins (* / † 1739)
  • Friederike Luise (1741–1776)
  • Ernst II (1745–1804), later Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
  • Sophie (* / † 1746)
  • August (1747–1806)


The person of Duchess Luise Dorothea has been one of the main characters of the two-day baroque festival at Friedenstein Castle, which takes place every year in the former royal seat of Gotha . On the last weekend in August, the glamorous late baroque era comes to life again in the historical ambience of the palace and the orangery : the actors of Friedrich III. and Luise Dorothea, together with the court made up of amateur actors , hold guard parades, hold audiences , go on trips into the city and stroll through the orangery garden. Luise Dorothea was one of the main characters in the historical film "Vive la joie!" (Long live joy!), Which was filmed parallel to the 2nd Baroque Festival in 2002.

In August 2010, on the occasion of her 300th birthday, the city of Gotha paid tribute to the Duchess for the first time with an official ceremony in the Ekhoftheater at Friedenstein Castle , while a cabinet exhibition was dedicated to her in the historic rooms of the former residence.

In 2017, the year of the 250th anniversary of her death, the special exhibition "Full of esprit and thirst for knowledge - Duchess Luise Dorothea of ​​Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (1710-1767) in her time" was presented at Friedenstein Castle in Gotha from August to October . This, as well as the accompanying publication of the same name, shows that the Duchess had a physical cabinet set up in the castle in the early 1740s and not only, as previously known, philosophy and literature, but also the natural sciences and, in particular, the experimental physics of the time was inclined to. Furthermore, it was possible to prove that Luise Dorothea was not in (direct) contact with Jean-Jacques Rousseau , but that this is to be seen as a late phenomenon of the legendary formation that began during her lifetime about the princess, who became known as a patron of art and science.


The Francophile Duchess, who is now considered the most important princess of the House of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, set herself a permanent monument with the installation of the Gotha Orangery based on the French model. In 1747 the ducal couple commissioned the Weimar master builder Gottfried Heinrich Krohne with the planning and construction of the complex. Due to the long construction period (due to delays during the Seven Years' War ), Luise Dorothea did not see the completion of the garden.

A place 20 kilometers south of Gotha reminds us of the Duchess to this day. Duke Friedrich III. acquired the "Black Forest Hammer", an iron smelter, located in the Ohra valley in 1753 and named the settlement here on October 1, 1753 in honor of his wife with the name Luisenthal .

Dorotheenstrasse in Gotha is also named after the Duchess.

Luise Dorothea's private library, which comprises more than 3,500 volumes, is still completely included in the holdings of the Gotha Research Library .

On September 17, 2016, the foundation stone for a monument to Luise Dorothea was laid south of Friedenstein Castle, above the Wasserkunst. On April 22nd, 2017, on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of her death, a bronze sculpture of the Duchess by the sculptor Bernd Göbel was unveiled.


  • Correspondence with King Frederick II of Prussia = Correspondance de Frédéric avec la Duchesse Louise-Dorothée de Saxe-Gotha , in: Oeuvres complètes de Frédéric le Grand . Edited by Johann David Erdmann Preuß , Berlin 1846–56, Vol. 18 (= Correspondance , Vol. 3), pp. 163–256.


Web links

Commons : Luise Dorothea von Sachsen-Meiningen  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Christoph Streckhardt: "The Scholar Network Duchess Luise Dorotheas of Saxony-Gotha-Altenburg and the politics of a literary court culture", in: Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein Gotha (ed.): Full of esprit and thirst for knowledge. Duchess Luise Dorothea of ​​Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (1710-1767). With an annotated edition of her estate inventory. Gotha 2017, pp. 45–80
  2. Bärbel Raschke, The Correspondence Between Luise Dorothée von Sachsen-Gotha and Voltaire 1751-1767 , Leipzig 1998
  3. ^ Jenny von der Osten: Luise Dorothee Duchess of Saxony-Gotha 1732-1767 , Leipzig 1893, p. 274
  4. Gotha reminds of Duchess Luise Dorothea (MDR Thuringia)  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (accessed on August 11, 2010)@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  5. ^ Exhibition of the Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein Gotha (accessed on September 29, 2017)
  6. Christoph Streckhardt: "The Scholar Network Duchess Luise Dorotheas of Saxony-Gotha-Altenburg and the politics of a literary court culture", in: Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein Gotha (ed.): Full of esprit and thirst for knowledge. Duchess Luise Dorothea of ​​Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (1710-1767). With an annotated edition of her estate inventory. Gotha 2017, pp. 45–80, here pp. 49, 61 and 76
  7. The private library of Duchess Luise Dorothea (Gotha Research Library)
  8. Press release from the City of Gotha about laying the foundation stone