Louise of Stolberg-Gedern (1752–1824)

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Louise of Stolberg-Gedern (1752–1824)

Countess of Albany, princess of Stolberg-Gedern, and wife of Bonnie Prince Charlie. Name variations: Louise Marie; Louise Maximilienne of Stolbergg-Gedern; Louisa of Stolberg. Born Louise Maximiliana Caroline Emmanuele on September 20, 1752, at Mons, Hainault, Flanders (Belgium); died on January 29, 1824, in Florence, Italy; daughter of Gustavus Adolphus, prince of Stolberg-Gedern, and Elizabeth Philippine Claudine (daughter of Maximilian Emanuel, prince of Hornes); married Charles Edward Stuart (d. 1788), also known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Young Pretender, or Charles III, on April 17, 1772; possibly married Vittorio (d. 1803), count Alfieri (a poet), in 1789; possibly married Francis Xavier Fabre.

Wife of the last of the Stuarts and celebrated for her association with the Italian poet Alfieri, Louise of Stolberg-Gedern, countess of Albany, was the daughter of Prince Gustavus Adolphus of Stolberg-Gedern. In 1772, she married Charles Edward Stuart, known as the count of Albany and Bonnie Prince Charlie, who was her senior by 33 years. Charles was a grandson of James II, king of England, and pretender to the British crown. The marriage was said to have been arranged with the hope of menacing the English sovereign with a legitimate heir to the rival Stuart dynasty. It proved most unhappy.

The countess was young, refined and intellectual; the count was old, coarse, and intemperate. They lived at Florence, where she became acquainted with the poet Alfieri, and it was under her guidance that he began to write his tragedies. About a year after her husband's death in 1788, Louise is said to have been secretly married to Alfieri, but they never appeared in public as husband and wife, though he was constantly in her society in Paris, London, and Florence, where she was received with distinction in the highest circles. After the death of Alfieri in 1803, the countess resided chiefly at Florence; her name was also linked with the French artist Fabre.

In his autobiography, Alfieri claimed that without her inspiring influence he would have achieved nothing. Louise of Stolberg-Gedern was buried in the church of Santa Croce at Florence, in the same tomb with Alfieri, which is adorned with a monument by Canova.