Elizabeth of Bohemia
Elizabeth of Bohemia was the eldest daughter of King James VI and I, King of Scotland, England, Ireland
King of Ireland
A monarchical polity has existed in Ireland during three periods of its history, finally ending in 1801. The designation King of Ireland and Queen of Ireland was used during these periods...

, and Anne of Denmark
Anne of Denmark
Anne of Denmark was queen consort of Scotland, England, and Ireland as the wife of King James VI and I.The second daughter of King Frederick II of Denmark, Anne married James in 1589 at the age of fourteen and bore him three children who survived infancy, including the future Charles I...

. As the wife of Frederick V, Elector Palatine
Frederick V, Elector Palatine
Frederick V was Elector Palatine , and, as Frederick I , King of Bohemia ....

, she was Electress Palatine and briefly Queen of Bohemia. Due to her husband's short reign in Bohemia, Elizabeth is often referred to as the Winter Queen.

With the demise of the Stuart dynasty in 1714, her descendants, the Hanoverian
House of Hanover
The House of Hanover is a deposed German royal dynasty which has ruled the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg , the Kingdom of Hanover, the Kingdom of Great Britain, the Kingdom of Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

 rulers, succeeded to the British throne.

Birth and early life

Elizabeth was born at Falkland Palace
Falkland Palace
Falkland Palace in Falkland, Fife, Scotland, is a former royal palace of the Scottish Kings. Today it is in the care of the National Trust for Scotland, and serves as a tourist attraction.-Early years:...

, Fife
Fife is a council area and former county of Scotland. It is situated between the Firth of Tay and the Firth of Forth, with inland boundaries to Perth and Kinross and Clackmannanshire...

. At the time of her birth, her father had yet to succeed to his later realms, and was King of Scots only. She was named in honour of Queen Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

. During her early life in Scotland, Elizabeth was brought up at Linlithgow Palace
Linlithgow Palace
The ruins of Linlithgow Palace are situated in the town of Linlithgow, West Lothian, Scotland, west of Edinburgh. The palace was one of the principal residences of the monarchs of Scotland in the 15th and 16th centuries. Although maintained after Scotland's monarchs left for England in 1603, the...

. When Elizabeth was six years old, in 1603, Elizabeth I of England died and her father James succeeded to the thrones of England and Ireland. When she came to England, her governess was the Countess of Kildare
Gerald FitzGerald, 14th Earl of Kildare
Gerald FitzGerald, 14th Earl of Kildare was an Irish peer.-Background:Kildare was the son of Edward FitzGerald, younger son of Gerald FitzGerald, 9th Earl of Kildare...

, until she was consigned to the care of Lord Harington
John Harington, 1st Baron Harington of Exton
John Harington was an English courtier and politician.-Life:He was the son of James Harington and was knighted in 1584...

, with whom she spent the years of her happy childhood at Combe Abbey in Warwickshire.

Part of the intent of the Gunpowder Plot
Gunpowder Plot
The Gunpowder Plot of 1605, in earlier centuries often called the Gunpowder Treason Plot or the Jesuit Treason, was a failed assassination attempt against King James I of England and VI of Scotland by a group of provincial English Catholics led by Robert Catesby.The plan was to blow up the House of...

 of 1605 was to kidnap the nine-year-old Elizabeth and put her onto the throne of England (and, presumably, Ireland and Scotland) as a Catholic monarch, after assassinating
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

 her father and the Protestant English aristocracy. However, this never happened as Guy Fawkes
Guy Fawkes
Guy Fawkes , also known as Guido Fawkes, the name he adopted while fighting for the Spanish in the Low Countries, belonged to a group of provincial English Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605.Fawkes was born and educated in York...

 was caught by the King's soldiers before he was able to ignite the powder.

Among Elizabeth's suitors was King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden
Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden
Gustav II Adolf has been widely known in English by his Latinized name Gustavus Adolphus Magnus and variously in historical writings also as Gustavus, or Gustavus the Great, or Gustav Adolph the Great,...

, but she was eventually betrothed to the Elector Palatine in 1612.


On 14 February 1613, she married Frederick V
Frederick V, Elector Palatine
Frederick V was Elector Palatine , and, as Frederick I , King of Bohemia ....

, then Elector
The Prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire were the members of the electoral college of the Holy Roman Empire, having the function of electing the Roman king or, from the middle of the 16th century onwards, directly the Holy Roman Emperor.The heir-apparent to a prince-elector was known as an...

 of the Palatinate in Germany. The event took place in England at the royal chapel at the Palace of Whitehall
Palace of Whitehall
The Palace of Whitehall was the main residence of the English monarchs in London from 1530 until 1698 when all except Inigo Jones's 1622 Banqueting House was destroyed by fire...

 and was celebrated in John Donne
John Donne
John Donne 31 March 1631), English poet, satirist, lawyer, and priest, is now considered the preeminent representative of the metaphysical poets. His works are notable for their strong and sensual style and include sonnets, love poetry, religious poems, Latin translations, epigrams, elegies, songs,...

's poetic masterpiece Epithalamion, or Mariage Song on the Lady Elizabeth, and Count Palatine being married on St. Valentines Day. Afterwards she joined the Electoral court in Heidelberg
-Early history:Between 600,000 and 200,000 years ago, "Heidelberg Man" died at nearby Mauer. His jaw bone was discovered in 1907; with scientific dating, his remains were determined to be the earliest evidence of human life in Europe. In the 5th century BC, a Celtic fortress of refuge and place of...

. Frederick was the leader of the association of Protestant princes in the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 known as the Protestant Union
Protestant Union
The Protestant Union or Evangelical Union was a coalition of Protestant German states that was formed in 1608 to defend the rights, lands and person of each member....

, and Elizabeth was married to him in an effort to increase James's ties to these princes. Despite this, the two were considered to be genuinely in love, and remained a romantic couple throughout the course of their marriage. Elizabeth's new husband transformed his seat at Heidelberg Castle
Heidelberg Castle
The Heidelberg Castle is a famous ruin in Germany and landmark of Heidelberg. The castle ruins are among the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps....

, creating an "English wing" for her, a monkey
A monkey is a primate, either an Old World monkey or a New World monkey. There are about 260 known living species of monkey. Many are arboreal, although there are species that live primarily on the ground, such as baboons. Monkeys are generally considered to be intelligent. Unlike apes, monkeys...

-house, a menagerie
A menagerie is/was a form of keeping common and exotic animals in captivity that preceded the modern zoological garden. The term was first used in seventeenth century France in reference to the management of household or domestic stock. Later, it came to be used primarily in reference to...

 and the beginnings of a new garden in the Italian Renaissance
Italian Renaissance garden
The Italian Renaissance garden was a new style of garden which emerged in the late 15th century at villas in Rome and Florence, inspired by classical ideals of order and beauty, and intended for the pleasure of the view of the garden and the landscape beyond, for contemplation, and for the...

 style popular in England at the time. The garden, the Hortus Palatinus
Hortus Palatinus
The Hortus Palatinus, or Garden of the Palatinate, was a Baroque garden in the Italian Renaissance style attached to Heidelberg Castle, Germany. The garden was commissioned by Frederick V, Elector Palatine in 1614 for his new wife, Elizabeth Stuart, and became famous across Europe during the 17th...

, was constructed by Elizabeth's former tutor, Salomon de Caus
Salomon de Caus
Salomon de Caus was a French engineer and once credited with the development of the steam engine.Salomon was the elder brother of Isaac de Caus. Being a Huguenot, he spent his life moving across Europe....

 and was dubbed the "Eighth Wonder of the World" by contemporaries.

In 1619, Frederick was offered and accepted the crown of Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

 from the Estates of the kingdom. Elizabeth was crowned Queen of Bohemia on 7 November 1619, three days after her husband was crowned King of Bohemia. Due to the opposition of Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

 Ferdinand II
Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor
Ferdinand II , a member of the House of Habsburg, was Holy Roman Emperor , King of Bohemia , and King of Hungary . His rule coincided with the Thirty Years' War.- Life :...

, who was the rightful King of Bohemia through birthright, Frederick's rule was brief. Ferdinand's forces routed Frederick at the Battle of White Mountain
Battle of White Mountain
The Battle of White Mountain, 8 November 1620 was an early battle in the Thirty Years' War in which an army of 30,000 Bohemians and mercenaries under Christian of Anhalt were routed by 27,000 men of the combined armies of Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor under Charles Bonaventure de Longueval,...

 on 8 November 1620, and he was forced into exile along with this wife. This is how Elizabeth came to be known as the "Winter Queen" ("zimní královna" in Czech), even though she and her husband held court in Prague and controlled the government of Bohemia for months after the end of the winter of 1619-1620. After the defeat at White Mountain, the couple took up residence in The Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the capital city of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. With a population of 500,000 inhabitants , it is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam...

, where Frederick died in 1632. Elizabeth remained in Holland even after her son, Charles I Louis
Charles I Louis, Elector Palatine
Charles Louis, , Elector Palatine KG was the second son of Frederick V of the Palatinate, the "Winter King" of Bohemia, and his wife, Princess Elizabeth, daughter of King James I of England ....

, regained his father's Electorship in 1648. Following the Restoration
English Restoration
The Restoration of the English monarchy began in 1660 when the English, Scottish and Irish monarchies were all restored under Charles II after the Interregnum that followed the Wars of the Three Kingdoms...

 of the English and Scottish monarchies, she travelled to London to visit her nephew, Charles II
Charles II of England
Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...

, and died while there.

Elizabeth's youngest daughter, Sophia of Hanover
Sophia of Hanover
Sophia of the Palatinate was an heiress to the crowns of England and Ireland and later the crown of Great Britain. She was declared heiress presumptive by the Act of Settlement 1701...

, married Ernest Augustus
Ernest Augustus, Elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Ernest Augustus was duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and ruled over the Principality of Calenberg subdivision of the duchy. He was appointed prince-elector, but died before the appointment became effective...

, the future Elector of Hanover, in 1658. Sophia became the nearest Protestant heir to the English and Irish crowns (later British crown). Under the English Act of Settlement
Act of Settlement 1701
The Act of Settlement is an act of the Parliament of England that was passed in 1701 to settle the succession to the English throne on the Electress Sophia of Hanover and her Protestant heirs. The act was later extended to Scotland, as a result of the Treaty of Union , enacted in the Acts of Union...

, the succession was settled on Sophia and her issue, so that all monarchs of Great Britain from George I
George I of Great Britain
George I was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1 August 1714 until his death, and ruler of the Duchy and Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg in the Holy Roman Empire from 1698....

 are descendants of Elizabeth.


Of Elizabeth's fourteen great-great-grandparents, five were German, four were Scottish, two were French, and one each was of Danish, Polish and English parentage. She thus claimed a thoroughly cosmopolitan background typical of royals at that time due to constant intermarriage among the European royal families.


  1. Henry Frederick, Hereditary Prince of the Palatinate (1614–1629); drowned
  2. Charles I Louis, Elector Palatine
    Charles I Louis, Elector Palatine
    Charles Louis, , Elector Palatine KG was the second son of Frederick V of the Palatinate, the "Winter King" of Bohemia, and his wife, Princess Elizabeth, daughter of King James I of England ....

     (1617–1680); married Charlotte of Hesse-Kassel
    Charlotte of Hesse-Kassel
    Charlotte of Hesse-Kassel was the consort of Charles I Louis, Elector Palatine and mother of Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate...

    , had issue; Marie Luise von Degenfeld
    Marie Luise von Degenfeld
    Luise von Degenfeld was the morganatic second wife of Charles I Louis, Elector Palatine. Created Raugräfin von der Pfalz in 1667, she had thirteen children with Charles Louis, all of whom were known as the "Raugraves" of the Palatinate.Born Maria Susanne Luise von Degenfeld in Strasbourg,...

    , had issue; Elisabeth Hollander von Bernau, had issue
  3. Elisabeth of Bohemia, Princess Palatine
    Elisabeth of Bohemia, Princess Palatine
    Elisabeth of the Palatinate , also known as Elisabeth of Bohemia, was the eldest daughter of Frederick V, who was briefly elected King of Bohemia, and Elizabeth Stuart. She ruled the Herford Abbey as Princess-Abbess Elizabeth III...

  4. Rupert, Duke of Cumberland
    Prince Rupert of the Rhine
    Rupert, Count Palatine of the Rhine, Duke of Bavaria, 1st Duke of Cumberland, 1st Earl of Holderness , commonly called Prince Rupert of the Rhine, KG, FRS was a noted soldier, admiral, scientist, sportsman, colonial governor and amateur artist during the 17th century...

     (1619–1682); had two illegitimate children
  5. Maurice
    Prince Maurice von Simmern
    Prince Maurice of the Palatinate KG , Count Palatine of the Rhine, was the fourth son of Frederick V, Elector Palatine and Princess Elizabeth, only daughter of James I, King of England and Scotland and Anne of Denmark....

  6. Louise Marie of the Palatine (18 April 1622 – 11 February 1709)
  7. Louis (21 August 1624 – 24 December 1624)
  8. Edward, Count Palatine of Simmern
    Edward, Count Palatine of Simmern
    Sir Edward, Count Palatine of Simmern KG was the sixth son of Frederick V, Elector Palatine, of the House of Wittelsbach, the "Winter King" of Bohemia, and Elizabeth Stuart....

     (1625–1663); married Anna Gonzaga
    Anna Gonzaga
    Anne Gonzaga was a French noblewoman and political hostess of Italian descent. She was by marriage Countess Palatine of Simmern, called "Princess Palatine", as the wife of Edward of the Palatinate, a grandson of King James I of England and an uncle of King George I of Great Britain. She bore...

    , had issue
  9. Henriette Marie of the Palatinate
    Henriette Marie of the Palatinate
    Henriette Marie, Princess Palatine -Birth & Family:Henriette Marie was the daughter of Frederick V, Elector Palatine and Elizabeth of Bohemia, her paternal grandparents were Frederick IV and of Louise Juliana of Nassau and maternal grandparents were James I of England and Anne of...

     (7 July 1626 – 18 September 1651); married Prince Sigismund of Siebenbuergen on 16 June 1651
  10. John Philip Frederick (26 September 1627 – 15 December 1650); also reported to have been born on 15 September 1629
  11. Charlotte (19 December 1628 – 14 January 1631)
  12. Sophia, Electress of Hanover
    Sophia of Hanover
    Sophia of the Palatinate was an heiress to the crowns of England and Ireland and later the crown of Great Britain. She was declared heiress presumptive by the Act of Settlement 1701...

     (14 October 1630 – 8 June 1714); married Ernest Augustus, Elector of Hanover, had issue including King George I of Great Britain
    George I of Great Britain
    George I was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1 August 1714 until his death, and ruler of the Duchy and Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg in the Holy Roman Empire from 1698....

  13. Gustavus Adolphus (14 January 1632–1641)


The Elizabeth River
Elizabeth River (Virginia)
The Elizabeth River is a tidal estuary forming an arm of Hampton Roads harbor at the southern end of Chesapeake Bay in southeast Virginia in the United States. It is located along the southern side of the mouth of the James River, between the cities of Portsmouth and Norfolk...

 in Southeastern Virginia was named in honour of the princess, as was Cape Elizabeth
Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Cape Elizabeth is a town in Cumberland County, Maine, United States. The town is part of the Portland–South Portland–Biddeford, Maine metropolitan statistical area...

, a peninsula and today a town in the U.S. state of Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

. John Smith
John Smith of Jamestown
Captain John Smith Admiral of New England was an English soldier, explorer, and author. He was knighted for his services to Sigismund Bathory, Prince of Transylvania and friend Mózes Székely...

 explored and mapped New England and gave names to places mainly based on the names used by Native Americans. When Smith presented his map to Charles I, he suggested that the king should feel free to change the "barbarous names" for "English" ones. The king made many such changes, but only four survive today, one of which is Cape Elizabeth.

According to legend, William the first Earl of Craven
Earl of Craven
Earl of Craven, in the County of York, is a title that has been created twice, once in the Peerage of England and once in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. The first creation came in the Peerage of England in 1664 in favour of the soldier William Craven, the eldest son of Sir William Craven, Lord...

 built Ashdown House in Berkshire
Berkshire is a historic county in the South of England. It is also often referred to as the Royal County of Berkshire because of the presence of the royal residence of Windsor Castle in the county; this usage, which dates to the 19th century at least, was recognised by the Queen in 1957, and...

, England, in honour of Elizabeth, although she died before the house was completed.


In W. G. Sebald's novel Vertigo (1990), a woman appears whom the narrator, travelling through Heidelberg by train in 1987, recognises instantly "without a shadow of a doubt" as Elizabeth when she enters his carriage.

The Winter Queen also plays a seminal role in Neal Stephenson
Neal Stephenson
Neal Town Stephenson is an American writer known for his works of speculative fiction.Difficult to categorize, his novels have been variously referred to as science fiction, historical fiction, cyberpunk, and postcyberpunk...

's The Baroque Cycle
The Baroque Cycle
The Baroque Cycle is a series of novels by American writer Neal Stephenson. It was published in three volumes containing 8 books in 2003 and 2004. The story follows the adventures of a sizeable cast of characters living amidst some of the central events of the late 17th and early 18th centuries in...

by giving birth to many children.

A Polish baroque poet Daniel Naborowski
Daniel Naborowski
Daniel Naborowski was a Polish Baroque poet.Daniel Naborowski was born in Cracow. His education took place not only in Cracow, but also at Wittenberg and Basle . In Basle he studied medicine, in Orléans he studied law, and from Galileo in Padua he learned military engineering...

 wrote a short poem praising Elizabeth's eyes. He saw her in 1609, when he visited London on a diplomatic mission.

Scottish writer Nigel Tranter
Nigel Tranter
Nigel Tranter OBE was a Scottish historian and author.-Early life:Nigel Tranter was born in Glasgow and educated at George Heriot's School in Edinburgh. He trained as an accountant and worked in Scottish National Insurance Company, founded by his uncle. In 1933 he married May Jean Campbell Grieve...

 has Elizabeth appear in several chapters of his book The Young Montrose (1972–3, originally two volumes), about the life of the heroic James Graham
James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose
James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose was a Scottish nobleman and soldier, who initially joined the Covenanters in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, but subsequently supported King Charles I as the English Civil War developed...

, Earl of Montrose.

External links

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