Caroline of Ansbach (1683–1737)
Caroline of Ansbach (1683–1737)
Queen of England. Name variations: Wilhelmina Carolina, Caroline the Good, Caroline of Brandenburg-Ansbach or Anspach. Born Wilhelmina Charlotte Caroline in Ansbach, Germany, on March 1, 1683; died at St. James' Palace, London, England, on November 20, 1737; daughter of John Frederick, margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach (d. 1686) and Eleanor of Saxe-Eisenach (1662–1696); married George II (1683–1760), king of Great Britain and Ireland (r. 1727–1760), on August 22, 1705; children: Frederick, prince of Wales (1701–1751, father of George III and husband of Augusta of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha ); Anne (1709–1759); Amelia Sophia (1711–1786), Caroline Elizabeth (1713–1757); George (died as an infant); William Augustus (1721–1765), duke of Cumberland (called the Butcher of Culloden); Mary of Hesse-Cassel (1723–1772); Louise of England (1724–1751).
Born in the tiny state of Ansbach in the Bavarian Highlands on March 1, 1683, the Princess Caroline grew up mainly at Dresden and Berlin, where she enjoyed the close friendship of Sophie Charlotte of Hanover (1668–1705), wife of Frederick I of Prussia. After turning down a proposal from the king of Spain, in August 1705 Caroline married the Hanoverian prince, George Augustus, whose father would become King George I of England in 1714. Son and father were continually at odds. Though the early years of her married life were spent in Hanover, Caroline took a strong interest in the approaching accession of the Hanoverian dynasty to the British throne. She was on very friendly terms with the old electress Sophia (1630–1714), and she corresponded with Baron Gottfried von Leibnitz, whose acquaintance she had made in Berlin.
In October 1714, Caroline followed her husband and father-in-law to London. As princess of Wales, she was accessible and accepted; she took the first place at court, filling a difficult position with tact and success. "Caroline's enthusiasm and willingness to go halfway to meet everyone made her and George extremely popular," wrote historian Barbara Softly , "and the sight of the little princesses, Caroline's daughters, bouncing excitedly up and down in their carriage, brought roars of approval from the crowds."
When the squabbles between the prince of Wales and his unpopular father escalated to serious proportions, Caroline sided with her husband, and the conflict reached a climax in 1717. Driven from court, ostracized by the king, deprived even of the custody of their children, the prince and princess took up their residence in London at Leicester House and in the country at Richmond. They surrounded themselves with a distinguished circle. Caroline had a taste for art and literature, once rescuing some Holbein drawings from a dusty cupboard, and their London home was the meeting place of noted celebrities of the day: Lord Chesterfield, poet Alexander Pope, playwright John Gay, Lord Hervey and his much-admired wife, Mary Hervey .
Princess of Orange. Name variations: Anne Guelph; Anne of England, princess royal. Born on October 22 (some sources cite November 2), 1709, in Hanover, Lower Saxony, Germany; died on January 12, 1759, in The Hague, Netherlands; daughter of George II (1683–1760), king of Great Britain and Ireland (r. 1727–1760), and Caroline of Ansbach (1683–1737) ; married William IV, prince of Orange (r. 1748–1751), on March 25, 1734; children: son (1735–1735); daughter (1736–1736); daughter (1739–1739); Caroline of Orange (1743–1787); Anne Marie (1746–1746); William V (1748–1806), prince of Orange (r. 1751–1795, deposed).
Amelia Sophia (1711–1786)
English princess. Name variations: Amelia Guelph. Born Amelia Sophia Eleanor on June 10, 1711, in Herrenhausen, Germany; died on October 31, 1786, in London, England; buried in Westminster Abbey, London; daughter of George II (1683–1760), king of Great Britain and Ireland (r. 1727–1760) and Caroline of Ansbach (1683–1737).
Caroline Elizabeth (1713–1757)
Princess royal. Name variations: Caroline Guelph. Born Caroline Elizabeth in Hanover, Lower Saxony, Germany, on June 10, 1713; died at St. James' Palace, London, England, on December 28, 1757; buried at Westminster Abbey, London; daughter of George II (1683–1760), king of Great Britain and Ireland (r. 1727–1760) and Caroline of Ansbach (1683–1737).
A formal reconciliation with George I took place in 1720. On his death in October 1727, George II and his queen were crowned. During the rest of her life, Queen Caroline's influence in English politics was chiefly exercised in support of her friend Sir Robert Walpole, a minister whom she kept in power and in control of church patronage. Caroline was exceedingly tolerant, and the bishops appointed by her were distinguished more for their learning than for
their doctrines. During the king's absences from England, she was regent of the kingdom on four occasions. Went an ill-metered rhyme of the day: "You may strut, dapper George, but 'twill all be in vain,/ We know 'tis Queen Caroline, not you, that reign."
On the whole, Caroline's relations with her husband, with whom she had eight children, were satisfactory. A clever and patient woman, she was complaisant towards the king, flattering his vanity and acknowledging his mistresses, including Henrietta Howard , countess of Suffolk, and Caroline retained her influence over him to the end. At 54, on November 20, 1737, she died of an internal complaint that she had hidden for years. Her grieving husband ordered that upon his death the sides of their coffins were to be removed so that they might spend eternity together.
Caroline of Ansbach appears in Sir Walter Scott's Heart of Midlothian. She is also detailed in Lord Hervey's Memoirs of the Reign of George II (ed. by J.W. Croker, 1884) and W.H. Wilkins' Caroline the Illustrious (1904).
Lofts, Norah. Queens of England. NY: Doubleday, 1977.
Softly, Barbara. The Queens of England. NY: Bell, 1979.