Caroline of Ansbach - Marriage

Marriage

An intelligent and attractive woman, Caroline was much sought-after as a bride. Dowager Electress Sophia called her "the most agreeable Princess in Germany". She was considered for the hand of Archduke Charles of Austria, who was a candidate for the throne of Spain and later became Holy Roman Emperor. Charles made official overtures to her in 1703, and the match was encouraged by King Frederick of Prussia. After some consideration, Caroline refused in 1704, as she would not convert from Lutheranism to Catholicism. Early in the following year, Queen Sophia Charlotte died on a visit to her native Hanover. Caroline was devastated, writing to Leibniz, "The calamity has overwhelmed me with grief and sickness, and it is only the hope that I may soon follow her that consoles me."

In June 1705, Queen Sophia Charlotte's nephew, George Augustus, the electoral prince of Hanover, visited the Ansbach court, supposedly "incognito", to inspect Caroline, as his father the Elector did not want his son to enter into a loveless arranged marriage as he himself had. The nephew of three childless uncles, George Augustus was under pressure to marry and father an heir, or risk putting the Hanoverian succession at risk. He had heard reports of Caroline's "incomparable beauty and mental attributes". He immediately took a liking to her "good character" and the British envoy reported that George Augustus "would not think of anybody else after her". For her part, Caroline was not fooled by the prince's disguise, and found her suitor attractive. He was the heir apparent of his father's Electorate of Hanover and third-in-line to the British throne of his distant cousin Queen Anne, after his grandmother Dowager Electress Sophia and his father the Elector.

On 22 August 1705, Caroline arrived in Hanover for her wedding to George Augustus; they were married that evening in the palace chapel at Herrenhausen. By May of the following year, Caroline was pregnant, and her first child Prince Frederick was born on 20 January 1707. A few months after the birth, in July, Caroline fell seriously ill with smallpox followed by pneumonia. Her baby was kept away from her, but George Augustus remained at her side devotedly, and caught and survived the infection himself. Over the next seven years, Caroline had three more children, Anne, Amelia and Caroline, all of whom were born in Hanover.

George Augustus and Caroline had a largely successful marriage, though he continued to keep mistresses, as was customary for the time. Caroline was well aware of his infidelities, as they were well known and he told her about them. His two best-known mistresses were Henrietta Howard, later Countess of Suffolk, and, from 1735, Amalie von Wallmoden, Countess of Yarmouth. Howard was one of Caroline's Women of the Bedchamber and became Mistress of the Robes when her husband inherited a peerage in 1731; she retired in 1734. In contrast with her mother-in-law and husband, Caroline was known for her marital fidelity; she never made any embarrassing scenes nor did she take lovers. She preferred her husband's mistresses to be ladies-in-waiting, as that way she believed she could keep a closer eye on them.

The succession of her husband's family to the British throne was still insecure, as Queen Anne's half-brother James Stuart contested the Hanoverian claim, and Queen Anne and Caroline's grandmother-in-law Dowager Electress Sophia had fallen out. Anne refused permission for any of the Hanoverians to visit Britain in her lifetime. Caroline wrote to Leibniz, "I accept the comparison which you draw, though all too flattering, between me and Queen Elizabeth as a good omen. Like Elizabeth, the Electress's rights are denied her by a jealous sister, and she will never be sure of the English crown until her accession to the throne." In June 1714, Dowager Electress Sophia died in Caroline's arms at the age of 84, and Caroline's father-in-law became heir presumptive to Queen Anne. Just weeks later, Anne died and the Elector of Hanover was proclaimed as her successor, becoming George I of Great Britain.

Read more about this topic:  Caroline Of Ansbach

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