Caroline of Ansbach
(1684-1737)

 

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Spouses/Children:
King George II Hanover of Great Britain and Ireland

Caroline of Ansbach

  • Born: 1 Mar 1684, Ansbach, Prussia
  • Marriage: King George II Hanover of Great Britain and Ireland on 22 Aug 1705 in Kingdom of Hannover, Prussia
  • Died: 20 Nov 1737, St. James Palace, London, England at age 53
  • Buried: 17 Dec 1737, Westminster Abbey, Middlesex, England

  General Notes:

Caroline of Ansbach (later Queen Caroline; Wilhelmina Charlotte Caroline; 1 March 1683 \endash 20 November 1737) was the queen consort of George II.

Early life

Margravine Caroline of Brandenburg-Ansbach was born on 1 March 1683, at Ansbach in Germany, the daughter of Johann Friedrich, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach and his second wife, Princess Eleonore Erdmuthe of Saxe-Eisenach. Orphaned at an early age, Caroline grew up an intelligent, cultured and attractive woman, and was much sought-after as a bride. Her brother was Wilhelm Friedrich (Brandenburg-Ansbach).

Marriage

However, when the opportunity to become Queen of Spain presented itself, she turned it down because it would have meant renouncing her Protestant faith. Shortly afterwards, she met and married George, son of the Elector of Hanover, who would later become heir to the throne of Great Britain and eventually George II of Great Britain. Their wedding took place in Hanover on 22 August 1705, and their first child, Prince Frederick, was born on 1 February 1707.

Princess of Wales

On the accession of George I in 1714, Caroline's husband automatically became Duke of Cornwall, and was invested, shortly afterwards, as Prince of Wales, whereupon she became Princess of Wales. They moved to England at this time.

As the King had in 1694 divorced his wife Sophia Dorothea of Celle, there was no Queen of England, and Caroline was the most important woman in the kingdom. Within three years of their arrival in England, however, her husband fell out with his father at the 1717 baptism of her fourth living child, George William. The Duke of Newcastle was put forth as a godfather to the child, but the King despised him and, instead, put forth his brother, the Duke of York and Albany, as a candidate. For this action, the Prince of Wales was temporarily arrested, banned by his father from St. James's Palace, and excluded from all public ceremonies.

Caroline had struck up a friendship with Sir Robert Walpole, politician and occasional Prime Minister, and his influence ensured that the Prince and Princess of Wales were able to maintain their position and lifestyle during the estrangement. He also played a role in the 1720 reconciliation.

Caroline's mind far outstripped George's. As a young woman, she corresponded with Gottfried Leibniz, the intellectual colossus who was courtier and factotum to the House of Hanover. She also helped initiate the Leibniz-Clarke correspondence, arguably the most important of all 18th-century philosophy of physics discussions, which is still widely read today.

By and large, however, George and Caroline had a successful marriage, though he continued to keep mistresses, as was customary for the time. The best-known of these was Henrietta Howard, Countess of Suffolk, one of Caroline's ladies of the bedchamber.

Queen

Caroline became Queen on the death of her father-in-law in 1727. In the course of the next few years, she and her husband fought a constant battle against their eldest son, Frederick, Prince of Wales, who had been left behind in Germany when they came to England. He joined the family in 1728, by which time he was an adult and had formed many bad habits. He opposed his father's political beliefs, and, once married, applied to Parliament for the increase in financial allowance which had been denied him. Caroline, despite having personally selected her new daughter-in-law, Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, seemed determined that the marriage should not be a happy one, and was dismayed when she learned, in 1736, that Augusta was pregnant. A peculiar episode followed, in which the prince, on discovering that his wife had gone into labour, sneaked her out of Hampton Court Palace in the middle of the night, in order to ensure that the queen could not be present at the birth.

Queen Caroline held a powerful position; she was made Guardian of the Kingdom of Great Britain, and His Majesty's Lieutenant within the same during His Majesty's absence, thus acting as regent when her husband was in Hanover. It is also worth noting that she was co-heiress to Sayn-Altenkirchen through her mother, whose mother Johanette reigned as Countess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn-Altenkirchen, but ultimately never inherited it. Her grandson, George III, was compensated for this in 1803.

As Queen, she continued to surround herself with artists, writers, and intellectuals, commissioning works such as terracotta busts of the kings and queens of England and even cottages. She collected jewelery, especially cameos and intaglios, acquired important portraits and miniatures, and enjoyed the visual arts.

A satirical verse of the period went:

You may strut, dapper George, but 'twill all be in vain,
We all know 'tis Queen Caroline, not you, that reign.

Later life

Further quarrels with her son followed the birth of the Prince of Wales's daughter, and a complete estrangement between them occurred in the remaining months before Caroline's death.

She died of complications following a rupture of the womb on 20 November 1737, and was buried at Westminster Abbey. Handel composed an elaborate 10-section anthem for the occasion, The ways of Zion do mourn / Funeral Anthem for Queen Caroline. The King had arranged for a pair of matching coffins with removable sides, so that when he followed her to the grave (twenty-three years later), they could lie together again.

Queen Caroline famously asked him to remarry on her deathbed, to which he replied, in French, "No, I will have mistresses!"

It is probable that, alongside Mary of Modena, who caused the Glorious Revolution, and Prince Albert, who determined foreign policy, Queen Caroline was one of the most important consorts in British history.

Titles, styles, honours and issue

Titles

* 1 March 1683-22 August 1705: Her Serene Highness Margravine Caroline of Brandenburg-Ansbach
* 22 August 1705-\endash 9 November 1706: Her Serene Highness The Hereditary Princess of Hanover
* 9 November 1706\endash 1 August 1714: Her Serene Highness The Duchess of Cambridge
* 1 August\endash 27 September 1714: Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge
* 27 September 1714\endash 11 June 1727: Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales
* 11 June 1727\endash 20 November 1737: Her Majesty The Queen

Honors

Caroline County in the British Colony of Virginia was named in her honor when it was formed in 1728.

Issue

Caroline's nine pregnancies (from 1707-1724) resulted in eight live births - one of whom, Prince George William (13 November 1717-17 February 1718), died in infancy, and seven of whom lived to adulthood:
Name Birth Death Notes
*Frederick, Prince of Wales 1 February 1707 31 March 1751 married 1736, Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha-Altenberg; had issue
*Anne, Princess Royal 2 November 1709 12 January 1759 married 1734, *Prince Willem IV of Orange-Nassau; had issue
*Princess Amelia Sophia 10 July 1711 31 October 1786
*Princess Caroline Elizabeth 21 June 1713 28 December 1757
*Prince George William of Wales November 13, 1717 February 17, 1718 died in infancy
*Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland 26 April 1721 31 October 1765
*Princess Mary 5 March 1723 14 January 1772 married 1740, Frederick II, Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel; had issue
*Princess Louise 18 December 1724 19 December 1751 married 1743, Frederick V, King of Denmark and Norway; had issue

Caroline married King George II Hanover of Great Britain and Ireland, son of King George I Hanover of England and Sophia Dorothea of Celle, on 22 Aug 1705 in Kingdom of Hannover, Prussia. (King George II Hanover of Great Britain and Ireland was born on 10 Nov 1683 in Schloß Herrenhausen, Hanover, died on 25 Oct 1760 in London, Middlesex, England and was buried in Westminster Abbey, Middlesex, England.)



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