(Sophia, dressed as an Indian, painted by her sister Elizabeth)
As the eldest, surviving child of Elizabeth of Bohemia (daughter of James I) to be a protestant, Sophia of Hanover was the nearest heir to the British throne, and thus was made heiress presumptive for the purpose of cutting off any claim by the Catholic James Francis Edward Stuart (half-brother to sisters and queens, Mary and Anne). Sophia was actually the youngest of all her siblings, but they had all died when the succession to the throne of Britain was in jeopardy, Sophia herself being 71 years old at the time when an act settled by the parliament in 1701 said that in the default of legitimate issue from Anne or William III, the crowns were to settle upon “the most excellent Princess Sophia, electress and duchess-dowager of Hanover” and “the heirs of her body, being Protestant”. The fact that Mary and William died without issue, and not one of Queen Anne’s eighteen babies lived through infancy, led England into the lack of a Protestant heir. It was out of the question to have a Catholic monarch on the throne ever again. Sophia was born in The Wassenaer Hof, at The Hague in the Dutch Republic the 14 October 1630. Her parents, Elizabeth of Bohemia and Frederick V, the Elector Palatine, had fled from Bohemia after the sequestration of their Electorate during the Thirty Years’ War (which is too long and complicated to sum up here). Sophia was the youngest child, and as her older siblings, she was taught classic and modern languages, art and literature.
She was first courted by her cousin, King Charles II, but this came to nothing, and in 1658, at the age of 28, she married Ernest August at Heidelberg, and it proved to be a love match. In 1692 Ernest August became the first Elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg, making Sophia Electress of Hanover. When her husband died in 1698, she was devastated and grieved her husband deeply. Sophia was a devoted mother, and she and her husband had seven children who survived infancy, among them George who would later become George I of Great Britain, becoming the heir presumptive to the throne when his mother died. In 1676 Sophia befriended Gottfried Leibniz, a German mathematician and philosopher. Letters between them proves Sophia to have been a woman of exceptional intellectual ability and curiosity. She was also well-read in the works of René Descartes and Baruch Spinoza. Sophia died at the advanced age of 83, the 8th of June, 1714 of a stroke, just seven weeks before Queen Anne died. If she had lived for just a little longer, she would have been the next monarch of Britain, but it passed to her son George instead.
She was declared heiress presumptive to Queen Anne of Great Britain and Ireland, countries she never visited. Although considerably older than Queen Anne, Sophia enjoyed much better health. In June 1714, Sophia was walking in the garden when she ran to shelter from a sudden downpour of rain and collapsed and died, aged 83. Queen Anne died a few weeks later at the age of 49. Had Anne died before June 1714, Sophia would have been the oldest person to ascend to the British throne.
The four daughters of Frederick V, Elector Palatine, and his wife Elizabeth Stuart, who survived to adulthood. (A fifth daughter, Charlotte, was born between Henriette and Sophia, but died at the age of two).
Elisabeth - Known for being caring and intelligent, she never married and became a “Princess-Abbess” at
in Westphalia. She provided refuge for persecuted Protestants, and influenced the philosopher Rene Descartes.
Louise Hollandine - She was a talented artist, with many of her paintings attributed to artist
Gerard van Honthorst
due to her ability to mimic his style. She fled to France in 1657, converting to Catholicism and becoming an Abbess by 1664.
Henriette Marie - Married to
Sigismund Rákóczi, brother of the Prince of Transylvania, she died suddenly 5 months after her wedding, her husband also passing away two months after she did.
Sophia - She was married to Ernest Augustus, Elector of Hanover. She’s perhaps most well known for becoming heiress to the English throne. This was done in a bid to prevent the Roman Catholic James Francis Edward Stuart, or any other Roman Catholic for that matter, from seizing it after the deaths of William III (Who had no children) and then Queen Anne (Who had no living children, despite numerous pregnancies). Sophia passed away only a few months before Anne did, and Sophia’s eldest son took the throne as George I, beginning the House of Hanover.
On May 28th, 1660, the German Prince who would one day become King of England was born. The eldest son of Ernest Augustus and Sophia of Hanover, the birth of Prince George Louis was seen as a great relief. At the time of his birth he was heir to not just his father, but his father’s three older brothers, all of whom were childless at the time.
His mother became the heiress to the English throne in 1701, as she was the most closely related person who was Protestant. Sophia would die just over a month before Queen Anne, passing the claim to her eldest son. George I became King of England on August 1st, 1714, becoming the first monarch of the House of Hanover. His direct descendant still sits on the throne today.
Because I do funny things when I’m bored. A family tree showing the line of descent directly from William the Conqueror to the last Imperial Children:
William I —> Henry I —> Empress Matilda —> Henry II —> King John —> Henry III —> Edward I —> Edward II —> Edward III —> Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence —> Philippa Plantagenet, 5th Countess of Ulster —> Roger de Mortimer, 4th Earl of March —> Anne de Mortimer —> Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York —> Edward IV —> Elizabeth of York —> Margaret Tudor—>James V —> Mary, Queen of Scots —> James I/IV —>Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia —>Sophia, Electress of Hanover —>George I —>George II —> Frederick, Prince of Wales —> George III —> Edward, Duke of Kent —> Queen Victoria —> Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse —> Alix, Empress of Russia —> OTMAA