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Sophia of Hanover Simmern


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Ernest Augustus Elector of Hanover

Sophia of Hanover Simmern

  • Born: 14 Oct 1631, The Hague, The Netherlands
  • Marriage: Ernest Augustus Elector of Hanover on 30 Sep 1658
  • Died: 8 Jun 1714, Herrenhausen, Hanover, Niedersachsen, Germany at age 82

  General Notes:

Electress Sophia of Hanover (born Sophia, Countess Palatine of Simmern; 14 October 1630 \endash 8 June 1714) was the youngest daughter of Frederick V, Elector Palatine, of the House of Wittelsbach, the "Winter King" of Bohemia, and Elizabeth Stuart. She is frequently referred to as the Duchess Sophia, particularly when the text is also discussing her future daughter in-law Princess Sophia.

Through the Act of Settlement 1701 which sought to step around various potential succession crises to the throne of England caused by aging and lack of Protestant fecundity, she became the heiress presumptive to her first cousin once removed, Queen Anne of England, Scotland and Ireland (later Queen of Great Britain and Ireland). She would have acceded to Anne's crowns had she not died a few weeks before Anne did. Her son George Louis, Elector of Hanover and Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg became heir apparent, and became King George I on Queen Anne's death.

As the mother of George I, she is therefore the legislative linchpin ancestor of the House of Hanover line of succession to the British throne. Her grandfather was James I & VI of England and Scotland and her uncle was Charles I of England and Scotland. As Electress, Sophia was the consort to Ernest Augustus, Elector of Hanover until his death in 1698.

Early life

Sophia was born in exile in The Hague (as a result of her father's defeat at the Battle of White Mountain) and was the youngest of five daughters of Frederick V, Elector Palatine and Elizabeth Stuart. She was brought up in Leiden until moving back to her mother's court at The Hague in 1641. Her mother later suggested she marry their neighbour, the exiled Charles II, but Sophia was not interested, and went to live with her brother, Charles I Louis (the new Elector Palatine, who had recently been restored to his lands) in Herrenhausen in 1650.

Electress of Hanover

Before her marriage, Sophia, as the daughter of Frederick V, Elector Palatine of the Rhine, was referred to as Sophie, Princess Palatine of the Rhine, or as Sophia of the Palatinate.

On 30 September 1658, she married Ernst August, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, at Heidelberg, who in 1692 became the first Elector of Hanover. (Electors were princes who had the right to vote to elect the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire).

Sophia became a friend and admirer of Gottfried Leibniz while he was a courtier to the House of Brunswick, from 1676 until his death in 1716. This friendship resulted in a substantial correspondence, published in the 19th century (Klopp 1973), that reveals Sophia to have been a woman of unusual intellectual ability and curiosity.

Sophia commissioned significant work on the Herrenhausen Gardens surrounding the palace at Herrenhausen, where she died.

Heiress of Great Britain

Sophia plays an important role in British history and royal lineage. As the daughter of Elizabeth Stuart and the grand-daughter of James I of England, VI of Scotland, she was the closest Protestant relative to William III (king of England and Scotland by marriage and by being the son of Princess Mary, daughter of Charles I), after his childless sister-in-law, Princess Anne. In 1701, the Act of Settlement made her heir presumptive, for the purpose of cutting off any claim by the Catholic James Francis Edward Stuart, who would otherwise have become James III, as well as denying the throne to many other Catholics who held a claim. The act restricts the British throne to the "Protestant heirs" of Sophia of Hanover who have never been Catholic and who have never married a Catholic. Presently there are almost 5,000 descendants of Sophia although not all are in the line of succession. The Sophia Naturalization Act 1705 granted the right of British nationality to Sophia's non-Catholic descendants (though this has been modified by subsequent laws).

Although considerably older than Queen Anne, Sophia enjoyed much better health. In 1714, Sophia was walking in the gardens of Herrenhausen when she ran to shelter from a sudden downpour of rain and collapsed and died, aged 83. Upon Sophia's death, her eldest son Elector Georg Ludwig of Hanover became heir presumptive in her place, and weeks later succeeded Queen Anne as George I. Sophia's daughter Sophia Charlotte of Hanover (1668-1705) married Frederick I of Prussia, from whom the later Prussian kings and German emperors descend. The connection between the German emperors and the British royal family, which was renewed by several marriages in future generations, would become an issue during World War I.

Sophia had additional sons, none of whom had children. Those who reached adulthood were:

* Friedrich August of Brunswick and Lunenburg, Imperial General, (1661-1691)
* Maximilian Wilhelm of Brunswick and Lunenburg, field marshal in the Imperial Army, (1666-1726)
* Karl Philipp of Brunswick and Lunenburg, colonel in the Imperial Army, (1669-1690)
* Christian of Brunswick and Lunenburg, (1671-1703)
* Ernst August II of Brunswick and Lunenburg, Duke of York and Albany, became bishop of Osnabrück (1674-1728)

British Royalty
House of Hanover
George I
George II
Sophia, Queen in Prussia
George II
Frederick, Prince of Wales
Anne, Princess of Orange
Princess Amelia Sophia
Princess Caroline Elizabeth
William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland
Mary, Landgravine of Hesse-Cassel
Louise, Queen of Denmark
Augusta Charlotte, Duchess of Brunswick
George III
Edward Augustus, Duke of York
Princess Elizabeth Caroline
William Henry, Duke of Gloucester
Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland
Caroline Matilda, Queen of Denmark
Princess Sophia of Gloucester
William Frederick, Duke of Gloucester
George III
George IV
Frederick, Duke of York
William IV
Charlotte, Queen of Württemberg
Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent
Princess Augusta Sophia
Elizabeth, Landgravine of Hesse-Homburg
Ernest Augustus I of Hanover
Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex
Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge
Mary, Duchess of Gloucester
Princess Sophia
Princess Amelia
Charlotte, Princess Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfield
Princess Elizabeth of Clarence
George V, King of Hanover
George, Duke of Cambridge
Augusta, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck
George IV
Charlotte, Princess Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfield
William IV
Princess Charlotte of Clarence
Princess Elizabeth of Clarence

Sophia married Ernest Augustus Elector of Hanover, son of Georg Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Anne Eleonore of Hesse-Darmstadt, on 30 Sep 1658. (Ernest Augustus Elector of Hanover was born on 20 Nov 1629 in Herzberg am Harz, Niedersachsen, Germany and died on 23 Jan 1698 in Herrenhausen, Hanover, Niedersachesen, Germany.)

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