Charlotte (Gustava Charlotta) Slottsberg (29 May 1760 in Stockholm – 29 May 1800), was a Swedish ballerina, one of the first native dancers in the Royal Swedish Ballet at the Royal Swedish Opera and one of the most successful ones. In a time when the majority of the professional dancers in Sweden where from France and Italy, such as the French Ninon Dubois Le Clerc and the Italian Giovanna Bassi, she represented native talent in this profession.
Childhood and debut
Born in a poor home as the child of the wig-maker Andreas Slottsberg and the dancer Lovisa Charlotta Schumbardt, Charlotte Slottsberg danced as a child on smaller stages and at travelling theatre-companies around the city of Stockholm together with her mother and her aunts, who were also dancers. It appears she was later educated as a student of the dancers in the French Du Londel Troupe of the court of queen Louisa Ulrika of Prussia. In October 1771, her mother, "Madame Slottsberg", and her two aunts are mentioned as employees in the ballet in Bollhuset.
At the age of thirteen in 1773, she was formally hired at the Royal Swedish Opera in Bollhuset as a second-dancer. This first class of native talents on the grand stage consisted of former servants and children of musicians; it was soon to present great ballerinas such as Anna Sofia Lind and Ulrika Åberg, but in the first troupe of 1773, Charlotte Slottsberg and Magdalena Lundblad were two of the very few Swedish dancers with formal training and experience. The situation was the same among the male dancers, were the most notable Swedish dancer was Louis Deland, whose father was from Luxembourg.
Career in the Royal Swedish ballet
In 1773, she took part in the famous play Thetis and Phelée by Uttini, known as the first Swedish-speaking Opera-performance, at the inauguration of the Roysal Swedish Opera opposite Elisabeth Olin and Carl Stenborg in the main parts; another participant in the play, who were to become famous, was Christoffer Christian Karsten, the grandfather of Marie Taglioni. She played the part of Virtue, which she did very well, according to the judgements, and was good friends with Elisabeth Olin's daughter Betty Olin, who played the part of Love. Carl Christoffer Gjörwell wrote about her: "Our new Mlle Slottsberg will become one of the greatest dancers in Europe, and never set foot in the theatre without the most constant applaus from the Royal box.", and in 1778, Gjörwell describes her : "As beautiful as a spring day".
Charlotte Slottberg had a lot of confidence, and did not care much about good behaviour; she is described as vulgar, rude and a tease, and she certainly knew well how to attract attention - She is described racing through the streets of Stockholm in a fancy carriage after black horses. She was widely regarded as a courtesan, and she did have rich lovers she benefited financially from, but she was also supported by her career as a dancer.
She continued her career as a dancer in parallel; she was more successful than any other native dancer in Sweden of her time, became the favourite dance partner of Antoine Bournonville, and was in the 1786–87 season made premier-dancer. Among the parts she danced was Aurora in the Procris och Cephal by Grétry with Carl Stenborg and Lovisa Augusti the season 1777–1778 and Lucile in the pantomime ballet La Rosiére de Salency by Jean Marcadet with Antoine Bournonville and Carlo Uttini in 1786–1787 season and as Bellona opposite Giovanna Bassi as Pallas in the ballet made by Louis Gallodier to the opera Gustav Adolf och Ebba Brahe by Gustav III 1787-88. "The undenieble girl" Slottsbergs dance in Acis och Galathea by Lalin after Händel the 1773–74 season was one of the few individual performances to receive unanimous admiration in that opera. On 22 September 1789 she played Elmira in Soliman och de tre sultaninnorna (Soliman and the three sultanesses) by Kraus in the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Bollhuset. She retired as a dancer after the 1788–1789 season.
Life as courtesan and private life
In parallel to her career as a Ballerina, she was also a reputed courtesan. Just as her colleague Sophie Hagman, she became the lover of one of the princes: duke Charles, the later king Charles XIII of Sweden, and she is mainly remembered for this. She could not be officially seen at court as Hagman as she was a reputed courtesan, and neither was she the only lover of Prince Charles (who was talked about as having a harem and had at least two other lovers, Charlotte Eckerman and Françoise-Éléonore Villain, contemporary with her), but she was known as his "Favourite Sultaness" and does seem to have had a great influence over him. She gave him a great interest in culture, made him write plays, and cheered him up when he was depressed. She also gave him an interest in champagne, which she liked herself. She is reputed to have been politically active: in 1790, she was rumoured to receive a pension from Charle's brother king Gustav III of Sweden in exchange for influencing his brother During the pilloring of Magdalena Rudenschöld (1794), who was judged guilty of treason, it was reported that people in the crowd was heard saying that Charlotte Slottsberg should have been standing on the platform instead of Rudenschöld, and her carriage was also attacked. She was allowed to use a carriage of a design normally reserved for women of the royal court, with guards in the duke's uniform, until 1795, when Charles saw it necessary to make their relationship less official.
She was Charles' most long-term mistress; their relationship, though not exclusive on either part, lasted for twenty years; from 1777 until 1797.
She was not "kept" by Charles; rather, he was one of her clients. As a courtesan, she was already in 1774 reputed to be the mistress of "the nasty old" Austrian ambassador. Among her other lovers were the statesmen count Fredrik Sparre and C. W. Seele. In one of her letters to count Sparre, she informs him that she had noticed that a letter from the duke had been taken from her room. The letter, which is partially misspelled, is a part of the Sparre collection and quite well known:
Noble Sire. When I am so bold as to write a few lines to your Excellensy, I would most humbly ask Y. Ex. not to take offence if I remind you of the letter which Y. Ex. took from the pot in my bed room and which I did not with consent allow Y. Ex to take with him and it is now the second time I write to Y. Ex. about this withouth having it been given back to me and I did not expect such a noble gentelemen to behave this way. I must receive it before tonight if not the highly distinguished gentleman who will come to me then and who left the letter with me will know that it has left my rooms, but I will have to be as bold to say, that if it is not back by then, I will say that your Excellency have thaken the letter with him and that is something you do not wish for anything, and except the agony I have now suffered for the sake of Y. Ex, everything will be forgotten if I have the letter returned and Y.Ex. can be assured of as much favoritism as before. The letter must be with me at nine o'clock this evening. Your Excellency's most humble servant Ch. Slottsberg.
She herself was in love with the cavalry rider Adolf Fredrik Heitmüller, who pawned the jewelry given to her by the Duke. She lived in great luxury and had a country estate in Järva near Ulriksdal Palace.
In 1799, she married captain Adolph Granholm, a former marine officer: he was the same age as she and described as good looking but stupid as an oxe. Through her connections, she had acquired quite a substantial fortune. She died in Stockholm in a heart attack after a miscarriage.
After her death, her former lover Duke Charles confiscated her fortune despite the protests of her widower and her surviving mother, claiming that she had debts to him which amounted to the value of her entire estate, which was considered "not very royal" of him. Charlotte Slottsberg was given a grand funeral.