Sophia Charlotte of Hanover
|Intro||Prussian royal consort|
|A.K.A.||Sophie Charlotte von Preußen|
|Birth||30 October 1668, Bad Iburg, Germany|
|Death||1 February 1705, Hanover, Germany (aged 36 years)|
Sophia Charlotte of Hanover (30 October 1668 – 1 February 1705) was the first Queen consort in Prussia as wife of King Frederick I. She was the only daughter of Elector Ernest Augustus of Hanover and his wife Sophia of the Palatinate. Her eldest brother George Louis succeeded to the British throne in 1714 as King George I.
Sophia Charlotte was born in Iburg Castle in the Prince-Bishopric of Osnabrück, where her father held the title of a Protestant prince-bishop. In 1672 her family moved to the new episcopal residence in Osnabrück and finally in 1679 to Hanover, when Ernest Augustus succeeded his brother Duke John Frederick of Brunswick-Lüneburg in the Principality of Calenberg.
During her childhood, Sophia Charlotte visited the Kingdom of France with her mother in hopes of marrying the "Grand Dauphin" Louis, heir to the French throne. He later married Duchess Maria Anna Victoria of Bavaria instead, but Sophia Charlotte was also proposed as a possible bride for Louis's father, King Louis XIV, after he lost his wife in 1683. Nothing came of this plan either. A marriage to Frederick of Hohenzollern, son of the "Great Elector" Frederick William of Brandenburg and heir of both Electoral Brandenburg and the Duchy of Prussia, was therefore arranged.
Electress and queen
By marrying Frederick on 8 October 1684, she became Electress of Brandenburg in 1688, and after the elevation of Brandenburg-Prussia to a kingdom in 1701, she became the first Queen in Prussia. Her only child to reach maturity became King Frederick William I of Prussia. Her husband was so much in love with her that while he had an official mistress, Catharina Rickert, at his palace — in imitation of Louis XIV — he never made use of her services; however, his feeling was not mutual.
Initially, Sophia Charlotte interfered in political affairs, pushing the downfall of the Prussian prime minister Eberhard von Danckelman in 1697, but soon retired to private life. In 1695, she had received the estates of Lietzow manor west of Berlin from the hands of her husband in exchange of further away Caputh. Here she had a Baroque summer residence erected by the architects Johann Arnold Nering and Martin Grünberg, in order to live independently from her spouse and have her own court. Frederick was only allowed there by invitation, such as on 11 July 1699, when she hosted a birthday party for him. From 1700, she regularly lived there in the summer months. Then called Lietzenburg, it was renamed Charlottenburg Palace after her death.
Sophia Charlotte is mainly remembered for her friendship and correspondence with her mother's good friend and tutor Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, whose avowed disciple she became. In addition to German, she spoke French, Italian and English fluently. Following the example set by her mother, she surrounded herself with philosophers and theologians like Isaac de Beausobre, Daniel Ernst Jablonski or John Toland and inspired the foundation of the Prussian Academy of Sciences. She was interested in music, sang and played the cembalo, had an Italian opera theater constructed, and employed the musicians Attilio Ariosti and Giovanni Bononcini. The composer Arcangelo Corelli did her the honor of dedicating to her his Op. 5 sonatas for solo violin (Rome, 1700). The latter was one of the most significant and influential publications of compositions for violin in the history of Western music. Nonetheless, the nature of her relationship with Corelli remains obscure.
Sophia Charlotte was such a formidable personage that when Tsar Peter the Great first met her and her mother on his Grand Embassy in 1697, he was so overwhelmed and intimidated that he could not speak. Both women put him at ease, and he reciprocated with his natural humour and trunks full of brocade and furs.
While on a visit to her mother in Hanover, Sophia Charlotte died of pneumonia on 21 January 1705, when she was 36 years of age.
Charlottenburg, today a district of Berlin, the Charlottensee lake in Bad Iburg, as well as the Sophie-Charlotte-Gymnasium in Berlin are named after her.
- Frederick August of Brandenburg (6 October 1685 – 31 January 1686) died in infancy.
- Frederick William I of Prussia (14 August 1688 – 31 May 1740) married Sophia Dorothea of Hanover and had issue.