|Birth||12 March 1781, Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe Government Region, Baden-Württemberg, Germany|
|Death||25 September 1826, Lausanne, Lausanne District, Canton of Vaud, Switzerland (aged 45 years)|
Friederike "Frederica" Dorothea Wilhelmina of Baden (12 March 1781, Karlsruhe – 25 September 1826, Lausanne), was Queen consort of Sweden from 1797 to 1809 by marriage to king Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden.
Frederica of Baden was born in Karlsruhe in the Duchy of Baden on 12 March 1781, as the daughter of Karl Ludwig of Baden and Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt. She was the younger sister of Empress Elisabeth Alexeievna (formerly Princess Louise of Baden), spouse of Tsar Alexander I of Russia.
Frederica, in her family known as Frick (Frique), was given a conventional and shallow education by a French-Swiss governess in Karlsruhe, and has been described as intellectually shallow. Already as a child, she was described as a beauty, but she was also reported to have a weak constitution, having suffered from rheumatism from the age of two.
Because her maternal aunt Natalia Alexeievna (Wilhelmina Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt) had been the first spouse of Grand Duke Paul of Russia, Frederica and her sisters were early considered by empress Catherine the Great as future brides of her grandsons, grand duke Alexander of Russia and grand duke Konstantin. In 1792, she and her sister Louise of Baden visited the empress in Russia. The purpose was, unofficially, to be inspected as future brides. Her sister was chosen to marry Alexander, and Frederica returned to Baden in the autumn of 1793.
In October 1797, Frederica of Baden married king Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden. The marriage had been arranged by Gustav IV Adolf himself, after he had refused to marry first Duchess Louise Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, since his desired marriage to Ebba Modée had been refused him, and second the Russian Grand Duchess Alexandra Pavlovna, because her proposed marriage contract would have allowed Alexandra to keep her Orthodox faith. Frederica of Baden was seen as a suitable choice: Russia could not officially disapprove a new bride after the Russian Grand Duchess had been refused if the bride was the sister-in-law of Grand duke Alexander, which indirectly preserved an alliance between Sweden and Russia, and additionally, Gustaf IV Adolf wanted a beautiful spouse and expected her to be so after having had a good impression of her sister during his visit to Russia the year prior. The king visited Erfurt to see her and her family himself in August 1797, the engagement was declared immediately after, and the first marriage ceremony conducted in October.
On 6 October 1797, Frederica of Baden was married per procura to king Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden in Stralsund in Swedish Pomerania, with the Swedish negotiator baron Evert Taube as proxy for the monarch. She left her mother and her sister Maria, who had accompanied her to Swedish Pomerania, and was escorted by baron Taube by sea to Karlskrona in Sweden, where she was welcomed by the king. The entourage continued to Drottningholm Palace, where she was introduced to the members of the royal house and court. Finally, she made her official entrance in the capital, and the second wedding ceremony was conducted in the royal chapel on 31 October 1797.
Queen Frederica was admired for her beauty but made a bad impression because of her shyness, which caused her to isolate herself and refrain from fulfilling her ceremonial duties, and she disliked society life and representation. Her chief lady in waiting, countess Hedda Piper, reportedly attributed to her isolation by claiming that etiquette banned the queen from engaging in conversation unless introduced by her chief lady in waiting: this was in fact incorrect, but it made the queen dependent on Piper. Frederica found it difficult to adapt to court etiquette and protocol and isolated herself with her courtiers. With the exception of her chief lady in waiting, countess Piper, the king had appointed girls in about the same age as herself to be her courtiers, such as Aurora Wilhelmina Koskull, Fredrika von Kaulbars and Emilie De Geer, with whom she reportedly played children's games.
She was treated with kindness by her mother-in-law, Sophia Magdalena of Denmark, who remembered how ill she herself had been treated by her own mother-in-law.
The relationship between Frederica and Gustav IV Adolf was initially not good. Both being inexperienced, they reportedly had difficulty in connecting sexually, which frustrated the king and caused him to behave with impatient displeasure and suspicion toward her, which worsened the problems because of the shyness of the introvert Frederica. This attracted attention when the king had the queen's favorite maid of honor, Anna Charlotta von Friesendorff, exiled from court for impertinence, which also worsened the conflict. The problems was however solved through the mediation of duchess Charlotte, and for the rest of her marriage, she was almost constantly pregnant. This did not benefit the marriage from her point of view, as they were not sexually compatible: the king, who had a strong sexual nature but disliked extramarital sex, was sometime delayed for hours after "having entered the queen's bed chamber" in the morning, so much that the members of the royal council saw themselves obliged to interrupt and ask the king to "spare the queen's health", while Frederica complained in letters to her mother how it tired and exhausted her without giving fulfillment. Frederica was shocked and intrigued by the sexually liberal Swedish court, and wrote to her mother that she was likely the only woman there who did not have at least three or four lovers, and that the royal duchess Charlotte were said to have both male and female lovers.
The relationship between the king and the queen improved after the birth of their first child in 1799, after which they lived an intimate and harmonious family life, in which they came close through their mutual interest in their children. The king was reportedly protective toward her and guarded her sexual innocence. In 1800, he had all her young maids of honor relieved from their positions because of their frivolous behavior and replaced by older married ladies-in-waiting, such as Hedvig Amalia Charlotta Klinckowström and Charlotta Aurora De Geer, and six years later, when a frivolous play was performed by a French theater company at the Royal Swedish Opera in the presence of the queen, the king had the French theater company exiled and the Opera closed down.
Queen Frederica was crowned with her spouse in Norrköping 3 April 1800. The royal couple did not participate much in representation and preferred an intimate family life in the small Haga Palace, where they isolated themselves from court life with but a small entourage. Frederica amused the king by her skillful clavichord playing, was reportedly joyful in the company of her small circle of friends, especially in the absence of the monarch, and devoted herself to the upbringing of her children. She kept in close correspondence with her family, and in 1801 welcomed her parents, who visited Sweden after having been in Russia to see her sister. During this visit she was reportedly reproached by her mother for her stiff and distant behavior in public and not being able to make herself popular. The visit ended unhappy as her father died due to an accident during the visit. In 1802, she accompanied her spouse to the province of Finland, during which a meeting was arranged between her (without the king) and her sisters, the Russian empress Elizabeth and Amalie, in Abborrfors on the border. Gustav IV Adolf promised to visit her family in Baden, and in the summer of 1803, they traveled to Karlsruhe. They did not return until February 1805, which created dislike in Sweden, and Frederica was somewhat blamed for the long absence of the monarch.
She was not allowed to accompany the king when he left for Germany to participate in the War of the Fourth Coalition in November 1805, nor was she appointed to serve in the regency during his absence. During his absence, however, she came to be regarded as a symbol of moral support, and duchess Charlotte describes the dramatic scene when the queen returned to the royal palace in Stockholm after having said goodbye to the king: "The members of government and the court of their majesties met her in the palace hall. Crying of bitterness she walked upstairs directly to the apartments of the children, were the members of the royal house was gathered. Close to faint, she could hardly breath and fell down upon a couch. There she lay with the handkerchief to her eyes, exposed to the deepest pain, surrounded by the children, who rushed to her, and the rest of us who, very concerned, tried to show her sympathy. She truly gave the impression of already being a widow, especially since she was dressed in black. I can not describe the touching scene! Ad her youth and beauty, a beauty highlighted by the sorrow, and nothing was lacking to arouse the most fervent compassion for the poor queen." During the rest of the king's absence, she attracted public sympathy for isolating herself completely as a display of sorrow and longing after the king.
In the winter of 1806-07, she joined the king in Malmö, were she hosted her sister Princess Marie of Baden, who was a refugee after having fled Napoleon's conquest of the Duchy of Brunswick.
Frederica had no direct influence on the affairs of state, and does not seem to have been interested in them except when they affected her small circle of family and friends. She was, however, indirectly involved in politics through her family and especially through her mother, who reportedly affected her spouse against emperor Napoleon.
In 1807, during the War of the Fourth Coalition, Frederica intervened politically. Her sister, the Russian Empress, sent her a letter through their mother, that she should use her influence to advise the king to make peace with France, and that anything else would be a mistake. She did make an attempt to accomplish this, but the king viewed it as an attempt to influence him in favor of Napoleon, and her interference in the matter caused a conflict between the king and queen. In one political issue, Frederica took an interest during her marriage an successfully enforced, though her reason was not political. Already during the first years of heir marriage, the king often spoke of his wish to abdicate in favor of a simple family as a private person life abroad. To this, Frederica always objected and did not hesitate to enforce her opinion even when it led to arguments, but her foremost reason to this was reportedly that if her spouse abdicated, it would result in them having to leave their son, who would be succeed his father, behind them.
On 12 March 1809, king Gustav IV Adolf left her and the children at Haga Palace to deal with the rebellion of Georg Adlersparre. The day after he was captured at the royal palace in Stockholm in the Coup of 1809, imprisoned at Gripsholm Castle and deposed 10 May in favor of his uncle, who succeeded him as Charles XIII of Sweden on 6 June. According to the terms deposition made in 10 May 1809, she was allowed to keep the title of queen even after the deposition of her spouse.
Frederica and her children were kept under guard at Haga Palace. The royal couple was initially kept separated because the coup leaders suspected her of planning a coup. During her house arrest, her dignified behavior reportedly earned her more sympathy than she had been given her entire tenure as queen. Her successor, queen Charlotte, who felt sympathy for her and often visited her, belonged to the Gustavians and wished to preserve the right to the throne for Frederica's son, Gustav. Frederica told her that she was willing to separate from her son for the sake of succession, and requested to be reunited with her spouse. Her second request was granted her after intervention from queen Charlotte, and Frederica and her children joined Gustav Adolf at Gripsholm Castle after the coronation of the new monarch on 6 June. The relationship between the former king and queen was reportedly well during their house arrest at Gripsholm.
During her house arrest at Gripsholm Castle, the question of her son crown prince Gustav's right to the throne was not yet settled and a matter of debate.
There was a plan by a Gustavian military fraction led by general Eberhard von Vegesack to free Frederica and her children from the arrest, have her son declared monarch and Frederica as regent of Sweden during his minority. These plans were in fact presented to her, but she declined: "The Queen displayed a nobility in her feelings, which makes her worthy of a crown of honor and placed her above the pitiful earthly royalty. She did not listen to the secret proposals, made to her by a party, who wished to preserve the succession of the crown prince and wished, that she would remain in Sweden to become the regent during the minority of her son... she explained with firmness, that her duty as a wife and mother told her to share the exile with her husband and children." The removal of her son from the succession order, however, she nevertheless regarded as a legally wrongful.
The family left Sweden on 6 December 1809, via three separate carriages. Gustav Adolf and Frederica traveled in one carriage, escorted by general Skjöldebrand; their son Gustav traveled in the second with colonel baron Posse; and their daughters and their governess von Panhuys traveled in the last carriage escorted by colonel von Otter. Frederica was offered to be escorted with all honors due to a member of the house of Baden if she traveled alone, but declined and brought no courtier with her, only her German chamber maid Elisabeth Freidlein. The family left for Germany by ship from Karlskrona on 6 December.
After having been denied to travel to Great Britain, the former king and queen settled in the duchy of Baden, were they arrived 10 February 1810. After having become private persons, the incompatibility between Frederica and Gustav Adolf immediately became known in their different view in how to live their life. Gustav Adolf wished to live a simple family life in a congregation of the Moravian church in Christiansfeld in Slesvig or Switzerland, while Frederica wished to settle in the palace Meersburg at Bodensee, which was granted her by her family. Their sexual differences was also brought to the surface, as Frederica refused sexual intercourse because she did not wish to give birth to exiled royalty. These differences caused Gustav Adolf to leave alone for Basel in Switzerland in April 1810, from which he expressed complaints about their sexual incompatibility and demanded a divorce.
The couple made two attempts to reconcile in person: once in Switzerland in July, and a second time in Altenburg in Thüringen in September. The attempts of reconciliation was unsuccessful and in 1811, Gustav Adolf issued divorce negotiations with her mother, stating that he wished to be able to marry again. Frederica was not willing to divorce, and her mother suggested that Gustav Adolf entered some kind of secret morganatic marriage on the side to avoid the scandal of divorce. Gustav Adolf did agree to this suggestion, but as they could not figure out how such a thing should be arranged, a proper divorce was finally issued in February 1812. In the divorce settlement, Gustav Adolf renounced all his assets in both Sweden and abroad, as well as his future assets in the form of his inheritance rights after his mother, to his children; he also renounced the custody and guardianship of his children. Two years later, Fredrica placed her children under the guardianship of her brother-in-law, the Russian Tsar Alexander. Frederica kept in contact through correspondence with queen Charlotte of Sweden, whom she entrusted her economic interests in Sweden, as well as with her former mother-in-law, and while she did not contact Gustav Adolf directly, she kept informed about his life and often contributed financially to his economy without his knowledge.
Frederica settled in the castle Bruchsal in Baden, but also acquired several other residences in Baden as well as a country villa, Villamont, outside Lausanne in Switzerland. In practice, she spent most of her time in the court of Karlsruhe from 1814 onward, and also traveled a lot around Germany, Switzerland and Italy, using the name Countess Itterburg after a ruin in Hesse, which she had acquired.
In accordance with the abdication terms, she kept her title of queen and had her own court, headed by the Swedish baron O. M. Munck af Fulkila, and kept in close contact with her many relatives and family in Germany. According to her ladies-in-waiting, she turned down proposals from her former brother-in-law Frederick William of Braunschweig-Oels, and Frederick William III of Prussia. She was rumored to have secretly married her son's tutor, the French-Swiss J.N.G. de Polier-Vernland, possibly in 1823.
In 1819, her daughter Sophia married the heir to the throne of Baden, her fathers half brother, the future Grand Duke Leopold I of Baden.
Her last years were plagued by weakened health. She died in Lausanne of a heart disease. She was buried in Schloss and Stiftskirche in Pforzheim, Germany.
The communities of Fredrika (1799), Dorotea (1799) and Vilhelmina (1804) located in Swedish Lapland were named in her honor. The square Drottningtorget (Queen's square) in Malmö is also named after her.
- Crown Prince Gustaf, after 1809 known as Gustaf Gustafsson of Vasa (9 November 1799 – 4/5 August 1877); married Princess Louise Amelie of Baden.
- Princess Sofia Wilhelmina of Sweden (21 May 1801 – 6 July 1865); married Grand Duke Leopold I of Baden.
- Prince Carl Gustaf, Grand Duke of Finland (Drottningholm, 2 December 1802 – Haga Palace, 10 September 1805).
- Princess Amalia of Sweden (Stockholm, 22 February 1805 – Vienna, 31 August 1853); unmarried.
- Princess Cecilia of Sweden (22 June 1807 – 27 January 1844); married Augustus, Grand Duke of Oldenburg.
Arms and monogram
|Ancestors of Frederica of Baden|