Sophia (1630–1714)

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Sophia (1630–1714)

Electress of Hanover. Name variations: Sophia or Sophie Simmern; Sophie von Hannover; Sophia Wittelsbach. Born in Wassenaer Court, The Hague, Netherlands, on October 13 or 14, 1630; died at Schloss Herrenhausen, Hanover, Germany, on June 8, 1714; interred at the Chapel of Schloss Herrenhausen; 12th child of Frederick V, king of Bohemia, and Elizabeth of Bohemia (1596–1662, the winter queen and daughter of James I, king of England); married Ernst August also known as Ernest Augustus (d. 1698), elector of Hanover and duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, on September 30, 1658; children: George Louis, later George I (1660–1727), king of England (r. 1714–1727); Frederick (1661–1690); Maximilian (1666–1726); Sophie Charlotte of Hanover (1668–1705); Charles (1669–1691); Christian (1671–1703); Ernest (1674–1728), duke of York and Albany.

Sophia was born in Wassenaer Court, The Hague, Netherlands, in 1630, the 12th child of Frederick V, king of Bohemia, and Elizabeth of Bohemia (daughter of James I, king of England). While residing after 1649 at Heidelberg with her brother Charles I, elector Palatine of the Rhine, Sophia was betrothed to George William, afterwards duke of Lüneburg-Celle. However, in 1658, she married his younger brother, Ernst August, who became elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg, or Hanover, in 1692. Sophia's married life was not happy. Her husband was unfaithful, three of her children were stillborn, and three of her six sons died in battle. (Frederick was felled at the battle of Siebenburgen and Charles died in the battle of Pristina, both fighting the Turks; Christian drowned in the Danube while fighting the French.) Other family concerns included a long-lived animosity between Sophia and her daughter-in-law Sophia Dorothea of Brunswick-Celle (1666–1726), wife of her eldest son George Louis (the future George I, king of England).

As a Stuart and a granddaughter of James I, Sophia's name had been referred to in connection with the English throne over the years. However, in 1689, when considering the Bill of Rights, Britain's House of Commons refused to place her in the line of succession. The matter was successfully set aside for the next 11 years, until 1700, when the state of succession in England became more critical. The king, William III, was ill and childless; William, duke of Gloucester, the only surviving child of the princess Anne (1665–1714, future Queen Anne ), had just died. The strong Protestant feeling in the country, the threat from the Stuarts, and the hostility of France, made it crucial that all Roman Catholics be excluded from the throne. Electress Sophia was the nearest heir who was a Protestant. She had also become a widow in 1698.

Accordingly, by the Act of Settlement of 1701, the English crown settled upon "the most excellent princess Sophia, electress and duchess-dowager of Hanover" and "the heirs of her body, being Protestant," in the likelihood that there were no children of William III or Queen Anne. Sophia watched affairs in England during the reign of Anne with great interest, although her son, the elector George Louis, objected to any interference in that country, and Anne disliked all mention of her successor. An angry letter from Anne possibly hastened Sophia's death, which took place at Herrenhausen on June 8, 1714; less than two months later, Anne died, and Sophia's son, George Louis, became king of Great Britain and Ireland as George I.

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Sophia (1630–1714)

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