Elizabeth of Bohemia

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Elizabeth of Bohemia (1596–1662). The lives of Elizabeth and her husband are part of the fabric of European history. The eldest daughter of James VI and I and sister of Charles I, she married in 1613 Frederick of the Palatinate. Five years later, the Bohemians elected Frederick as king in defiance of the Habsburgs. In the wars that followed, they were driven out of their new kingdom and the Palatinate overrun. She spent only October 1619–November 1620 at Prague and hence was known as the ‘Winter Queen’. Elizabeth's husband died in 1632 and her son Charles Lewis was not restored to part of the Palatinate until the peace of Westphalia in 1648. By then her native land was in turmoil and she was forced to continue abroad: her small court was said to be overrun by rats, mice, and creditors. After the Restoration, she visited her nephew Charles II in England in 1661 but died shortly afterwards. She was the mother of Prince Rupert and through her daughter Sophia the Hanoverians came to the throne of Britain in 1714. Pepys, who saw her in 1660, thought her a ‘plain lady’, but in Sir Henry Wotton's poem ‘Ye meaner beauties of the night’, written about 1619, she was portrayed as a vision of loveliness.

J. A. Cannon

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Elizabeth (Bohemia)

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