Landgravine Marie Louise of Hesse-Kassel

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Marie Louise of Hesse-Kassel
Princess consort of Orange
Lancelet Volders - Portrait of Maria Louise, princess of Hessen-Kassel.JPG
Portrait by Lancelot Volders, c. 1710
Born(1688-02-07)7 February 1688
Died9 April 1765(1765-04-09) (aged 77)
Leeuwarden, The Netherlands
Spouse John William Friso, Prince of Orange
Issue Amalia, Hereditary Princess of Baden-Durlach
William IV, Prince of Orange
Full name
German: Marie Luise
Dutch: Maria Louise
House Hesse-Kassel
Father Charles I, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel
MotherPrincess Maria Amalia of Courland

Marie Louise of Hesse-Kassel (7 February 1688 – 9 April 1765) was a Dutch regent, Princess of Orange by marriage to John William Friso, Prince of Orange, and regent of the Netherlands during the minority of her son and her grandson. She was a daughter of Charles I, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel, and Maria Amalia of Courland. She and her husband are the most recent common ancestors of all currently reigning monarchs in Europe.

John William Friso, Prince of Orange Stadtholder of Friesland and Groningen

John William Friso became the (titular) Prince of Orange in 1702. He was the Stadtholder of Friesland and Groningen in the Dutch Republic until his death by accidentally drowning in the Hollands Diep in 1711. Friso and his wife, Marie Louise, are the most recent common ancestors of all European monarchs occupying the throne today.

Charles I, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel

Charles of Hesse-Kassel, of the House of Hesse, was the Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel from 1670 to 1730.

Maria Amalia of Courland Princess of Courland by birth, and by marriage Landgravine of Hesse-Kassel

Maria Anna Amalia of Courland was a princess of Courland from the Ketteler family and also Landgravine of Hesse-Kassel through her marriage on 21 May 1673 to her first cousin Charles I, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel. She was the child of Jacob Kettler and Margravine Louise Charlotte of Brandenburg, eldest daughter of George William, Elector of Brandenburg.


Marie Louise is notable for having served as regent for two periods in Dutch history: during the reigns of her young son, William IV, Prince of Orange from 1711 and 1730, and of her young grandson, William V, Prince of Orange, from 1759 to 1765. She was often fondly referred to as Marijke Meu (Aunt Mary) by her Dutch subjects.

A regent is a person appointed to govern a state because the monarch is a minor, is absent or is incapacitated. The rule of a regent or regents is called a regency. A regent or regency council may be formed ad hoc or in accordance with a constitutional rule. Regent is sometimes a formal title. If the regent is holding his position due to his position in the line of succession, the compound term prince regent is often used; if the regent of a minor is his mother, she is often referred to as queen regent.

William IV, Prince of Orange hereditary stadtholder of the Netherlands

William IV was Prince of Orange from birth and the first hereditary Stadtholder of all the United Provinces of the Netherlands from 1747 till his death in 1751. During his whole life he was furthermore ruler of the Principality of Orange-Nassau within the Holy Roman Empire.

William V, Prince of Orange Prince of Orange, General Stadtholder of the United Provinces

William V was a Prince of Orange and the last Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic. He went into exile to London in 1795. He was furthermore ruler of the Principality of Orange-Nassau until his death in 1806. In that capacity he was succeeded by his son William.


Marie Louise was one of seventeen children born to Charles I, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel, by his wife and cousin, Maria Amalia of Courland. Two of her siblings included King Frederick I of Sweden and William VIII, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel.

Frederick I of Sweden king of Sweden

Frederick I was prince consort of Sweden from 1718 to 1720, and King of Sweden from 1720 until his death and also Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel from 1730. He ascended the throne following the death of his brother-in-law absolutist Charles XII in the Great Northern War, and the abdication of his wife, Charles's sister and successor Ulrika Eleonora, after she had to relinquish most powers to the Riksdag of the Estates and thus chose to abdicate. His powerless reign and lack of legitimate heirs of his own saw his family's elimination from the line of succession after the parliamentary government dominated by pro-revanchist Hat Party politicians ventured into a war with Russia, which ended in defeat and the Russian tsarina Elizabeth getting Adolph Frederick of Holstein-Gottorp instated following the death of the king.

William VIII, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel

William VIII ruled the German Landgraviate Hesse-Kassel from 1730 until his death, first as regent (1730–1751) and then as landgrave (1751–1760).

Princess of Orange

On 26 April 1709, Marie Louise was married to John William Friso, Prince of Orange. [1] He was the eldest surviving son of Henry Casimir II, Prince of Nassau-Dietz, and Henriëtte Amalia of Anhalt-Dessau; he had inherited his title in 1702 from the childless William III, Prince of Orange, due to his descent from both William the Silent and Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange.

Henry Casimir II, Prince of Nassau-Dietz Stadholder of Friesland and Groningen

Henry Casimir II of Nassau-Dietz was Stadtholder of Friesland and Groningen from 1664 till 1696.

William III of England 17th-century Stadtholder, Prince of Orange and King of England, Scotland and Ireland

William III, also widely known as William of Orange, was sovereign Prince of Orange from birth, Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders and Overijssel in the Dutch Republic from the 1670s and King of England, Ireland and Scotland from 1689 until his death. As King of Scotland, he is known as William II. He is sometimes informally known as "King Billy" in Northern Ireland and Scotland, where his victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 is still commemorated by Unionists and Ulster loyalists.

William the Silent founder of the Dutch Republic, stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland and Utrecht, leader of the Dutch Revolt

William I, Prince of Orange, also known as William the Silent or William the Taciturn, or more commonly known as William of Orange, was the main leader of the Dutch Revolt against the Spanish Habsburgs that set off the Eighty Years' War (1568–1648) and resulted in the formal independence of the United Provinces in 1581. He was born in the House of Nassau as Count of Nassau-Dillenburg. He became Prince of Orange in 1544 and is thereby the founder of the branch House of Orange-Nassau and the ancestor of the monarchy of the Netherlands. Within the Netherlands, he is also known as Father of the Fatherland.

The events behind their betrothal began after John William was almost killed by cannon fire and roundshot on two different occasions. His mother, Henriette Amalia, perhaps realizing how vulnerable her son was, quickly began looking for a suitable bride to ensure an heir. In the end, the choice came down to two German princesses. She apparently informed him that he should think of the choice as between two chairs, and that he should choose the most comfortable of the two. [2] John duly traveled to Hesse-Kassel and became engaged to the 20-year-old Marie Louise within a week. He did not even bother meeting the other candidate. The main factor in this decision was probably that Marie Louise's father was a trusted general under the well-respected Duke of Marlborough. [2] In addition, marriage to a daughter of the Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel would also have served to strengthen John William's place among the other ruling houses. [3]

Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel state of the Holy Roman Empire in 1567–1803

The Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel, spelled Hesse-Cassel during its entire existence, was a state in the Holy Roman Empire that was directly subject to the Emperor. The state was created in 1567 when the Landgraviate of Hesse was divided upon the death of Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse. His eldest son William IV inherited the northern half of the Landgraviate and the capital of Kassel. The other sons received the Landgraviate of Hesse-Marburg, the Landgraviate of Hesse-Rheinfels and the Landgraviate of Hesse-Darmstadt.

John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough British soldier and statesman

General John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, 1st Prince of Mindelheim, 1st Count of Nellenburg, Prince of the Holy Roman Empire,, was an English soldier and statesman whose career spanned the reigns of five monarchs. From a gentry family, he served first as a page at the court of the House of Stuart under James, Duke of York, through the 1670s and early 1680s, earning military and political advancement through his courage and diplomatic skill.

Marie Louise was not considered attractive, as her features were heavy and her face was dominated by a large nose. She was however very charming, and greeted those of all ranks with natural friendliness and sincere concern for their well being. [4] They had two children before his untimely death by drowning on 14 July 1711, the youngest of whom was born after his death. [5] William Charles Henry Friso's birth was met with great relief by the Frisians, and he automatically inherited the title Prince of Orange. [6]

Frisians ethnic group

The Frisians are a Germanic ethnic group indigenous to the coastal parts of the Netherlands and northwestern Germany. They inhabit an area known as Frisia and are concentrated in the Dutch provinces of Friesland and Groningen and, in Germany, East Frisia and North Frisia. The Frisian languages are still spoken by more than 500,000 people; West Frisian is officially recognised in the Netherlands, and North Frisian and Saterland Frisian are recognised as regional languages in Germany.

First Regency

Marie Louise (left) with her two children, c. 1725 MarijkeMeumetKinderen.jpg
Marie Louise (left) with her two children, c. 1725

Since her husband died while she was pregnant, her son William immediately became Prince of Orange upon his birth six weeks later. [5] Marie Louise served as regent for her son from 1711 until he reached his majority in 1731. This regency was granted despite her inexperience with the affairs of her adopted country. Although she did not have any experience, Marie Louise successfully withstood a series of natural disasters, which included a sequence of bad harvests and severe winters from 1712 to 1716. [7] At the time of her marriage, Marie Louise quickly earned the affection of the Dutch population. She was known as a woman of intelligence and sensitivity, and was often fondly referred to as Marijke Meu. [8] [9] She also dealt with a major problem concerning shipworms – parasites that upon arriving on ships from the Far East, proceeded to devour wooden sections of the vital, protective dykes. These damages threatened to collapse the entire dyke system, which would have destroyed vast amounts of land used for farming in the Dutch province of Friesland. [7] The money needed to prevent such an occurrence from happening was hard to raise however; tax obligations to the Hague from this province were seldom realistically reviewed. In order to end the looming starvation, Marie Louise traveled to the Hague and pleaded in person before the States-General for help. She apparently spoke so eloquently that she returned home with not only a remittance on taxation, but also with a sizable detachment of soldiers to help repair the dykes. [7]

After a 1736 visit, Marie Louise maintained a correspondence, in "abominable French," with religious and social reformer Nicolaus Ludwig Zinzendorf. [10] A deeply religious woman, she provided sanctuary to persecuted Protestants fleeing the Catholic Habsburgs. Despite her son's objections, Marie Louise allowed a group of Moravians to settle in the barony of IJsselstein, of which she was baroness. [10]

Traits and relationship with children

After her husband died, Marie Louise found herself a 23-year-old widow residing in a foreign country. She became inherently pessimistic and agonized over the affairs of her children. This pessimistic trait passed onto her daughter Amalia as well, causing her to be melancholy and withdrawn her whole life. [6] Her son William inherited her heavy Germanic looks, rather than "the finely etched ascetic looks which his father had shared with William III". [11] William was sickly as a child, and was rigidly disciplined and educated by Marie Louise with great care in the city of Leeuwarden. [12]

Marie Louise had a good relationship with her son, so that by the time of his coming of age in 1729, she was invited to take equal part in the celebrations. In his youth, she sent him daily letters reminding him to do such things as brush his teeth and get plenty of sleep; he duly responded to each letter patiently. [13]

Marie Louise was described to be frugal, especially in comparison to the excesses of her mother-in-law Henriette Amalia. Due to this frugality, she was able to give large sums to various charitable causes. On one occasion, a nobleman offered her lavish hospitality; she replied by asking if he did not feel guilty at using money he could have donated to the poor. [7]

Son's marriage

Marie Louise's son William married Anne, Princess Royal, eldest daughter of George II of Great Britain, on 25 March 1734 at St James's Palace in London. Upon return of the wedding party to the Netherlands, William had written his mother, warning her that Anne was allowed precedence over Marie Louise because she was his wife and a king's daughter. This warning was hardly needed, as Marie Louise had eagerly exited Prinsenhof as soon as her son came of age, opting to live in an elegant but unpretentious house in Harlingen. She had long displayed her disinterest in royal technicalities and the royal lifestyle. She welcomed her son and his new wife upon their arrival, but then returned to her quiet house, taking no part in their ceremonious entry. [14]

Second Regency

From 1759 until her death in 1765, Marie Louise also served as regent for her young grandson William V, Prince of Orange, after the previous regent (his mother and Marie Louise's daughter-in-law, Anne) died. Marie Louise was succeeded as regent by Duke Louis Ernest of Brunswick-Lüneburg and her granddaughter Carolina.


Marie Louise died on 9 April 1765 in Leeuwarden, the capital city of the Dutch province of Friesland. [1] She outlived her son William by 14 years.


Princess Anna Charlotte Amalia 17101777married Frederick, Hereditary Prince of Baden-Durlach; had issue, including Charles Frederick, Grand Duke of Baden
William IV, Prince of Orange 17111751married Anne, Princess Royal; had issue, including William V, Prince of Orange


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  1. 1 2 Lundy, Darryl. "Marie Luise von Hessen-Kassel". Retrieved 16 December 2009.
  2. 1 2 Baker-Smith, p. 32.
  3. Rowen, p. 150.
  4. Baker-Smith, p. 33.
  5. 1 2 Rowen, p. 151.
  6. 1 2 Baker-Smith, p. 34.
  7. 1 2 3 4 Baker-Smith, p. 37.
  8. Van Loon, pp. 123–24.
  9. Rowen, pp. 150–151.
  10. 1 2 Van Eijnatten, p. 50.
  11. Baker-Smith, p. 36.
  12. Van Loon, p. 122.
  13. Baker-Smith, pp. 36–37.
  14. Baker-Smith, p. 51.


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Landgravine Marie Louise of Hesse-Kassel
Cadet branch of the House of Hesse
Born: 7 February 1688 Died: 9 April 1765
Royal titles
Title last held by
Mary II of England
Princess consort of Orange
Title next held by
Princess Anne of Great Britain