Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

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Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Grassi, Josef Mathias - Luise von Mecklenburg-Strelitz.jpg
Portrait by Josef Grassi
Queen consort of Prussia
Electress consort of Brandenburg
Tenure16 November 1797 – 19 July 1810
Born(1776-03-10)10 March 1776
Hanover, Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg, Holy Roman Empire
Died19 July 1810(1810-07-19) (aged 34)
Schloss Hohenzieritz, Kingdom of Prussia
Mausoleum at Charlottenburg Palace
Spouse Frederick William III of Prussia
Issue Frederick William IV, King of Prussia
William I, German Emperor
Charlotte, Empress of Russia
Princess Frederica
Prince Charles
Alexandrine, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Prince Ferdinand
Princess Louise
Prince Albert
Full name
Luise Auguste Wilhelmine Amalie
House Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Father Charles II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Mother Princess Friederike of Hesse-Darmstadt
Religion Lutheran
Signature Luise Unterschrift.jpg

Duchess Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (Luise Auguste Wilhelmine Amalie; 10 March 1776 – 19 July 1810) was Queen of Prussia as the wife of King Frederick William III. The couple's happy, though short-lived, marriage produced nine children, including the future monarchs Frederick William IV of Prussia and German Emperor Wilhelm I.

Frederick William III of Prussia King of Prussia

Frederick William III was king of Prussia from 1797 to 1840. He ruled Prussia during the difficult times of the Napoleonic Wars and the end of the Holy Roman Empire. Steering a careful course between France and her enemies, after a major military defeat in 1806, he eventually and reluctantly joined the coalition against Napoleon in the Befreiungskriege. Following Napoleon's defeat he was King of Prussia during the Congress of Vienna, which assembled to settle the political questions arising from the new, post-Napoleonic order in Europe. He was determined to unify the Protestant churches, to homogenize their liturgy, their organization and even their architecture. The long-term goal was to have fully centralized royal control of all the Protestant churches in the Prussian Union of Churches.

Frederick William IV of Prussia King of Prussia

Frederick William IV, the eldest son and successor of Frederick William III of Prussia, reigned as King of Prussia from 1840 to 1861. Also referred to as the "romanticist on the throne", he is best remembered for the many buildings he had constructed in Berlin and Potsdam, as well as for the completion of the Gothic Cologne Cathedral. In politics, he was a conservative, and in 1849 rejected the title of Emperor of the Germans offered by the Frankfurt Parliament as not the Parliament's to give. In 1857, he suffered a stroke and was left incapacitated until his death. His brother Wilhelm served as regent for the rest of his reign and then succeeded him as King.

William I, German Emperor 19th-century German Emperor and King of Prussia

William I, or in German Wilhelm I, of the House of Hohenzollern, was King of Prussia from 2 January 1861 and the first German Emperor from 18 January 1871 to his death, the first Head of State of a united Germany. Under the leadership of William and his Minister President Otto von Bismarck, Prussia achieved the unification of Germany and the establishment of the German Empire. Despite his long support of Bismarck as Minister President, William held strong reservations about some of Bismarck's more reactionary policies, including his anti-Catholicism and tough handling of subordinates. In contrast to the domineering Bismarck, William was described as polite, gentlemanly and, while staunchly conservative, he was more open to certain classical liberal ideas than his grandson Wilhelm II.


Her legacy became cemented after her extraordinary 1807 meeting with French Emperor Napoleon I at Tilsit  – she met with the emperor to plead unsuccessfully for favorable terms after Prussia's disastrous losses in the Napoleonic Wars. She was already well loved by her subjects, but her meeting with Napoleon led Louise to become revered as "the soul of national virtue". Her early death at the age of thirty-four "preserved her youth in the memory of posterity", and caused Napoleon to reportedly remark that the king "has lost his best minister". The Order of Louise was founded by her grieving husband four years later as a female counterpart to the Iron Cross. In the 1920s conservative German women founded the Queen Louise League, and Louise herself would be used in Nazi propaganda as an example of the ideal German woman.

Napoleonic Wars Series of early 19th century European wars

The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major conflicts pitting the French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of European powers formed into various coalitions, financed and usually led by the United Kingdom. The wars stemmed from the unresolved disputes associated with the French Revolution and its resultant conflict. The wars are often categorised into five conflicts, each termed after the coalition that fought Napoleon: the Third Coalition (1805), the Fourth (1806–07), the Fifth (1809), the Sixth (1813), and the Seventh (1815).

Order of Louise

The Order of Louise was founded on 3 August 1814 by Frederick William III of Prussia to honor his late wife, the much beloved Queen Louise. This order was chivalric in nature, but was intended strictly for women whose service to Prussia was worthy of such high national recognition. Its dame companion members were limited to 100 in number, and were intended to be drawn from all classes.

Iron Cross military decoration in the Kingdom of Prussia, and later in the German Empire (1870–1918) and Nazi Germany

The Iron Cross is a former military decoration in the Kingdom of Prussia, and later in the German Empire (1871–1918) and Nazi Germany (1933–1945). It was established by King Frederick William III of Prussia in March 1813 backdated to the birthday of his late wife Queen Louise on 10 March 1813 during the Napoleonic Wars. Louise was the first person to receive this decoration (posthumously). The recommissioned Iron Cross was also awarded during the Franco-Prussian War, World War I, and World War II . The Iron Cross was normally a military decoration only, though there were instances of it being awarded to civilians for performing military functions. Two examples of this were civilian test pilots Hanna Reitsch who was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class and 1st Class and Melitta Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg, who was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class, for their actions as pilots during World War II.

Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1776–1793)

Duchess Luise Auguste Wilhelmine Amalie of Mecklenburg-Strelitz ("Louise" in English) was born on 10 March 1776 in a one-storey villa, [nb 1] just outside the capital in Hanover. [1] [2] She was the fourth daughter and sixth child of Duke Charles of Mecklenburg and his wife Princess Friederike of Hesse-Darmstadt. Her father Charles was a brother of Queen Charlotte and her mother Frederike was a granddaughter of Louis VIII, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt. Her maternal grandmother, Landgravine Marie Louise of Hesse-Darmstadt, and her paternal first-cousin Princess Augusta Sophia of the United Kingdom served as sponsors at her baptism; her second given name came from Princess Augusta Sophia. [3]

English language West Germanic language

English is a West Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England and eventually became a global lingua franca. It is named after the Angles, one of the Germanic tribes that migrated to the area of Great Britain that later took their name, as England. Both names derive from Anglia, a peninsula in the Baltic Sea. The language is closely related to Frisian and Low Saxon, and its vocabulary has been significantly influenced by other Germanic languages, particularly Norse, and to a greater extent by Latin and French.

Hanover Place in Lower Saxony, Germany

Hanover or Hannover is the capital and largest city of the German state of Lower Saxony. Its 535,061 (2017) inhabitants make it the thirteenth-largest city of Germany, as well as the third-largest city of Northern Germany after Hamburg and Bremen. The city lies at the confluence of the River Leine and its tributary Ihme, in the south of the North German Plain, and is the largest city of the Hannover–Braunschweig–Göttingen–Wolfsburg Metropolitan Region. It is the fifth-largest city in the Low German dialect area after Hamburg, Dortmund, Essen, and Bremen.

Princess Friederike of Hesse-Darmstadt German noble

Princess Friederike Caroline Luise of Hesse-Darmstadt was a member of the House of Hesse and by marriage a Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

At the time of her birth, Louise's father was not yet the ruler of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (he would not succeed his brother as Duke until 1794), and consequently she was not born in a court, but rather in a less formal home. [3] Charles was field marshal of the household brigade in Hanover, and soon after Louise's birth he was made Governor-General of that territory by his brother-in-law George III, king of the United Kingdom and Hanover (husband of his sister, Queen Charlotte). [2] [4] The family subsequently moved to Leineschloss, the residence of Hanoverian kings, though during the summer they usually lived at Herrenhausen. [4]

Duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

The Duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was a duchy in northern Germany, consisting of the eastern fifth of the historic Mecklenburg region, roughly corresponding with the present-day Mecklenburg-Strelitz district, and the western exclave of the former bishopric of Ratzeburg in modern Schleswig-Holstein. At the time of its establishment, the duchy bordered on the territory of Swedish Pomerania in the north and of Brandenburg in the south.

Generalfeldmarschall was a rank in the armies of several German states and the Holy Roman Empire (Reichsgeneralfeldmarschall); in the Habsburg Monarchy, the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary, the rank Feldmarschall was used. The rank was the equivalent to Großadmiral in the Kaiserliche Marine and Kriegsmarine, a five-star rank, comparable to OF-10 in today's NATO naval forces.

Household Division

Household Division is a term used principally in the Commonwealth of Nations to describe a country’s most elite or historically senior military units, or those military units that provide ceremonial or protective functions associated directly with the head of state.

Famous Schadow statue of Louise (left), with her sister, Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. The statue was initially deemed too erotic, and was consequently closed to public viewing. Schadow-Prinzessinnen.jpg
Famous Schadow statue of Louise (left), with her sister, Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. The statue was initially deemed too erotic, and was consequently closed to public viewing.

Louise was particularly close to her sister Frederica, who was two years younger, as well as with their only brother George. Louise and her siblings were under the care of their governess Fräulein von Wolzogen, a friend of their mother's. [6] When Louise was only six years old, her mother died in childbirth, leaving a permanent mark on the young duchess; she would often give away pocket change to other children who experienced similar losses, stating "she is like me, she has no mother". [6] After Duchess Friederike's death, the family left Leineschloss for Herrenhausen, sometimes called a "miniature Versailles". [6] Duke Charles remarried two years later to his first wife's younger sister Charlotte, producing a son, Charles. Louise and her new stepmother became close until Charlotte's early death the year after their marriage. [7] The twice widowed and grieving duke went to Darmstadt, where he gave the children into the care of his mother-in-law and Louise's godmother, the widowed Landgravine Marie Louise. [7]

Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz German princess

Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was a German princess who became, by marriage, princess of Prussia, princess of Solms-Braunfels, Duchess of Cumberland in Britain and Queen of Hanover as the consort of Ernest Augustus, King of Hanover.

George, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz German Grand Duke

George ruled the state of Mecklenburg-Strelitz as Grand Duke of Mecklenburg from 1816 until his death.

Palace of Versailles French palace on the outskirts of Paris

The Palace of Versailles was the principal royal residence of France from 1682, under Louis XIV, until the start of the French Revolution in 1789, under Louis XVI. It is located in the department of Yvelines, in the region of Île-de-France, about 20 kilometres southwest of the centre of Paris.


Their grandmother preferred to raise them simply, and they made their own clothes. [8] A new governess from Switzerland, Madame Gelieux, was appointed, giving the children lessons in French; as was common for royal and aristocratic children of the time, Louise became fluent and literate in the language, while neglecting her own native German. [9] She received religious instruction from a clergyman of the Lutheran Church. [10] Complementary to her lessons was an emphasis on charitable acts, and Louise would often accompany her governess when visiting the houses of the poor and needy. [9] Louise was encouraged to give out as much as was in her means, although she often got into trouble with her grandmother for donating too much for charity. [11] From the age of ten until her marriage at 17, Louise spent most of her time in the presence of her grandmother and governess, both well-educated and refined. [12] When only nine years old, Louise was present when the poet Friedrich Schiller read from the first act of "Don Carlos" for the entertainment of the assembled court, thus sparking her love for German as a literary language, especially works of Schiller. [13] Louise loved history and poetry, and not only enjoyed reading Schiller, but also came to like the works of Goethe, Paul, Herder and Shakespeare, as well as ancient Greek tragedies. [14]

Switzerland federal republic in Central Europe

Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a sovereign state situated in the confluence of western, central, and southern Europe. It is a federal republic composed of 26 cantons, with federal authorities seated in Bern. Switzerland is a landlocked country bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. It is geographically divided between the Alps, the Swiss Plateau and the Jura, spanning a total area of 41,285 km2 (15,940 sq mi). While the Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, the Swiss population of approximately 8.5 million is concentrated mostly on the plateau, where the largest cities are located, among them the two global cities and economic centres of Zürich and Geneva.

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

In 1793, Marie Louise took the two youngest duchesses with her to Frankfurt, where she paid her respects to her nephew King Frederick William II. [15] Louise had grown up into a beautiful young woman, possessing "an exquisite complexion" and "large blue eyes," and was naturally graceful. [16] Louise's uncle, the Duke of Mecklenburg, hoped to strengthen ties between his house and Prussia. [17] Consequently, on one evening carefully planned by the Duke, seventeen-year-old Louise met the king's son and heir, Crown Prince Frederick William. [2] [17] The crown prince was twenty-three, serious-minded, and religious. [18] She made such a charming impression on Frederick William that he immediately made his choice, desiring to marry her. [19] Frederica caught the eye of his younger brother Prince Louis Charles, and the two families began planning a double betrothal, celebrating a month later, on 24 April 1793 in Darmstadt. Frederick and Louise were subsequently married on 24 December that same year, with Louis and Frederica marrying two days later.

Crown Princess of Prussia (1793–1797)

Louise and Frederick William, 1794 - a year after their marriage Friedrich Wilhelm III mit Konigin Luise im Park von Schloss Charlottenburg.jpg
Louise and Frederick William, 1794 – a year after their marriage

In the events leading up to her marriage, Louise's arrival in Berlin, the Prussian capital, caused quite a sensation, and she was greeted with a grand reception by the city's joyful citizens. [5] [20] When she broke protocol and stooped to pick up and kiss a child, Prussian writer Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué remarked that "The arrival of the angelic Princess spreads over these days a noble splendor. All hearts go out to meet her, and her grace and goodness leaves no one unblessed." [5] [20] Another wrote "The more perfectly one becomes acquainted with the Princess the more one is captivated by the inner nobility, and the angelic goodness of her heart." [21]

Louise's father-in-law King Frederick William II gave the couple Charlottenburg Palace, but the crown prince and his new wife preferred to live at Paretz Palace, just outside Potsdam, where Louise kept herself busy with household affairs. [8] [22] Paretz was far from the bustle of court, as the couple were most content in the "rural retirement" of a country life. [23] The marriage was happy, and Louise was well-beloved by the king, who called her "the princess of princesses" and gave her a palace in Oranienburg. [24] The crown princess saw it as her duty to support her husband in all his pursuits, and the couple enjoyed singing together and reading from Shakespeare and Goethe. [8] [17] Louise soon became pregnant, disappointingly giving birth to a stillborn girl on 1 October 1794 at the age of eighteen. Nine healthy children would follow in quick succession, though two died in childhood: Crown Prince Frederick William (1795), Prince William (1797), Princess Charlotte (1798), Princess Frederica (1799), Prince Charles (1801), Princess Alexandrine (1803), Prince Ferdinand (1804), Princess Louise (1808), and Prince Albert (1809). The couple also used the Crown Prince's Palace in the capital.

Louise's charitable giving continued throughout her life, and on one occasion, while attending a harvest festival, she purchased presents and distributed them to local children. On her first birthday after her marriage in Berlin, when King Frederick William II asked his daughter-in-law what she desired for a present, Louise replied she wanted a handful of money to let the city's people share her joy; he smilingly gave her a large quantity for the task. [25]

Queen consort of Prussia (1797–1810)

A painting by German artist Henriette-Felicite Tassaert of Louise in 1797, the year she became queen Tassaert-Luise.jpg
A painting by German artist Henriette-Félicité Tassaert of Louise in 1797, the year she became queen

On 16 November 1797, her husband succeeded to the throne of Prussia as King Frederick William III after the death of his father. Louise wrote to her grandmother, "I am now queen, and what rejoices me most is the hope that now I need no longer count my benefactions so carefully." [26] The couple had to abandon their solitude at Paretz and begin living under the restraints of a royal court. [8] They began a tour of the country's eastern provinces for two purposes: the king wanted to acquaint himself with their new subjects, and despite the unusualness of a consort accompanying the king further than the capital, Frederick William wanted to introduce the queen as well to their people. [27] Louise was received everywhere with festivities. For the first time in Prussian history, the queen emerged as a celebrated public personality in her own right, as she occupied a much more prominent role than her predecessors. [5] Louise's presence on her husband's eastern journey was a break from the traditional role of the consort – importantly however the queen's power and enduring legacy did not stem from holding a separate court and policy than her husband's, but rather the opposite: she subordinated her formidable intelligence and skill for her husband's sole advantage. [28] She also became a fashion icon, for instance starting a trend by wearing a neckerchief to keep from getting ill. [29]

An Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun painting of Queen Louise, c. 1801 Louise, Queen of Prussia by Vigee-Lebrun (1801, Schloss Charlottenburg).jpg
An Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun painting of Queen Louise, c. 1801

After her husband's accession, Louise developed many ties to senior ministers and became a powerful figure within the government as she began to command universal respect and affection. [2] [30] The queen went out of her way to stay informed about political developments at court, and from the very beginning of his reign the new king consulted Louise on matters of state. [31] Frederick William was hesitant and cautious, and hated war, stating in 1798, "I abhor war and... know of nothing greater on earth than the preservation of peace and tranquility as the only system suited to the happiness of human kind". [32] In keeping with the later foreign policy of his father's, Frederick William favored neutrality during the early years of the conflict with the revolutionary French First Republic, which evolved into the Napoleonic Wars (1803–15); he refused the various pressures to pick a side in the War of the Second Coalition. [32] Louise supported this view, warning that if Prussia were to side with the coalition powers of Austria, Great Britain, and Russia, it would lead to dependence on the latter power for military support. [33] She foresaw that because Prussia was by far the weakest of the great powers, and it would not have been able to ensure it benefited from the results of such an alliance. [33] French aggression caused the king to eventually consider entering the wars, but his indecision prevented him from choosing a side, either France or the coalition powers. He consulted the many differing opinions of Queen Louise and his ministers, and was eventually compelled into an alliance with Napoleon, who was recently victorious from the Battle of Austerlitz (1805). [34]

Queen Louise with her husband and children, c. 1806 Friedrich Wilhelm III. und seine Familie.jpg
Queen Louise with her husband and children, c. 1806

Baron vom Stein, a member of the bureaucracy, having abhorred the country's former neutrality, sought to reform the organization of the government from favor-based cronyism into a responsible ministerial government. [35] He prepared a document for the king detailing in strong language what administrative reforms were needed, such as establishing clearer lines of responsibility among ministers; this work however never reached Frederick William, as Stein passed it first to General Ernst von Rüchel, who in turn passed it onto the queen in the spring of 1806. Though Louise agreed with its contents, she thought it "too violent and passionate" for the king, and consequently helped suppress it. [35] [36]

War with France

Among the king's advisers, members of his family, such as the queen (an open advocate of war) [37] and Prince Louis Ferdinand, led the militaristic faction in favor of war against France; those against neutrality but in favor of reform were led by Baron vom Stein and Karl August von Hardenberg. [38] [39] Knowing the temperament of the king, Hardenberg appealed directly to the queen for desired reform – wisely as it turned out, as Frederick William viewed the demands to remove his trusted advisers in the Kabinett as a "mutiny" similar to the Fronde . [40]

Though Prussia had not fought in a war since 1795, its military leaders confidently expected that they could win against Napoleon's troops. After a small incident concerning an anti-French pamphlet occurred, King Frederick William was finally pressured by his wife and family to break off his uneasy peace and enter the war against the French emperor. [41] Prussian troops began mobilizing, culminating in the October 1806 Battle of Jena-Auerstedt, which was a disaster for Prussia, as the ability of its armed forces to continue the war were effectively wiped out. The king and queen had accompanied their troops into battle at Jena (with Louise apparently dressed "like an Amazon"), but had to flee from French troops. [42]

Napoleon, Alexander I of Russia, Queen Louise, and Frederick William in Tilsit, 1807. Painted by Nicolas Gosse, c. 1900 Nicolas Gosse - Napoleon receives the Queen of Prussia at Tilsit, July 6, 1807.jpg
Napoleon, Alexander I of Russia, Queen Louise, and Frederick William in Tilsit, 1807. Painted by Nicolas Gosse, c. 1900

Napoleon himself occupied Berlin, causing the king, queen and the rest of the royal family to flee, despite Louise's illness, in the dead of winter to Memel in the easternmost part of the kingdom. [2] [43] [44] On the journey there, there was no food or clean water, and the king and queen were forced to share the same sleeping arrangements in "one of the wretched barns they call houses", according to one witness traveling with them. [45]

After various events took place, [nb 2] Napoleon demanded, from a highly superior position, peace terms in what was to be called the Peace of Tilsit (1807). [47] In the midst of these negotiations, the emperor agreed to keep half of Prussia intact. The men were joined by Queen Louise; Frederick William had sent for his wife, then pregnant with her daughter Princess Louise, to beg for a better settlement for Prussia, with Louise advising her husband, "For God's sake no shameful peace...[Prussia] should at least not go down without honor." [44] [48] As the king felt that her presence might put Napoleon in a "more relaxed mood"; Louise reluctantly agreed to meet the emperor at Tilsit, but only to save "her Prussia". [44] Napoleon had previously attempted to destroy her reputation by questioning Louise's marital fidelity, but the queen met him anyway, attempting to use her beauty and charm to flatter him into more favorable terms. [48] Formerly Louise had regularly referred to him as "the Monster", [37] but nevertheless made a request for a private interview with the emperor, whereon she threw herself at his feet; [49] though he was impressed by her grace and determination, Napoleon refused to make any concessions, writing back to his wife Empress Joséphine that Louise "is really charming and full of coquettishness toward me. But don't be jealous...it would cost me too dearly to play the gallant." [2] [48] [50] Napoleon's attempts to destroy Louise's reputation failed however, and they only made her more beloved in Prussia. [2] Queen Louise's efforts to protect her adopted country from French aggression secured for her the admiration of future generations.

Queen Louise in a riding habit, c. 1810, by Wilhelm Ternite Konigin Luise (Ternite).jpg
Queen Louise in a riding habit, c. 1810, by Wilhelm Ternite

Remaining years

Harsh restrictions were imposed on Prussia, such as a massive indemnity of one hundred and twenty million francs and the quartering of troops. At the time, one hundred and twenty million francs was equivalent to the entire yearly budget of Prussia. As the perceived symbol of Prussia's former grandeur and pride, the French occupation of Prussia had a particularly devastating effect upon Louise, as the queen endured personal insults – Napoleon himself callously called her "the only real man in Prussia". [37] The queen recognized that her adopted country depended on her for moral strength, and as a consequence Louise regained her old sense of optimism, often taking time to prepare their eldest son for his future role as king. [17] In the following few years Louise supported the reforming efforts of government carried out by Stein and Hardenberg, as well as those of Gerhard von Scharnhorst and August Neidhardt von Gneisenau, to reorganize the army. [8] [51] After the disaster at Tilsit, Louise was instrumental in Stein's reappointment (the king had previously dismissed him), telling Frederick William "[Stein] is my last hope. A great heart, an encompassing mind, perhaps he knows remedies that are hidden to us." [52]

By 1808 it was still considered unsafe to return to Berlin, and the royal family consequently spent the summer near Königsberg; Louise believed that the hard trials of her children's early lives would be good for them: "If they had been reared in luxury and prosperity they might think that so it must always be." [8] In the winter of 1808, Tsar Alexander I invited the king and queen to St. Petersburg, where she was treated to sumptuously decorated rooms; "Nothing dazzles me anymore", she exclaimed on her return to Germany. [53] Near the birth of her youngest child Princess Louise in 1809, Louise wrote to her father, "Gladly...the calamities which have befallen us have not forced their way into our wedded and home life, rather have strengthened the same, and made it even more precious to us." [54] Louise was sick for much of that year, but returned with the king to Berlin near the end of it after an absence of three years; the queen arrived in a carriage accompanied by her two daughters Charlotte and Alexandrine and younger son Charles, and was greeted by her father at Charlottenburg Palace – the residence was ransacked however, as Napoleon and his commanders had stripped its rooms of paintings, statues, manuscripts, and antiquities. [8] [55] Returning to a much different Prussia than she left, a preacher observed that "our dear queen is far from joyful, but her seriousness has a quiet serenity... her eyes have lost their former sparkle, and one sees that they have wept much, and still weep". [56]

Louise's sarcophagus in the mausoleum of Charlottenburg Palace Berlin Friedrichswerdersche Kirche Luise 2005.jpg
Louise's sarcophagus in the mausoleum of Charlottenburg Palace

On 19 July 1810, while visiting her father in Strelitz, the Queen died in her husband's arms from an unidentified illness. [2] [17] The queen's subjects attributed the French occupation as the cause of her early death. [37] "Our saint is in heaven", exclaimed Prussian general Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher. [57] Louise's untimely death left her husband alone during a period of great difficulty, as the Napoleonic Wars and need for reform continued. [51] Louise was buried in the garden of Charlottenburg Palace, where a mausoleum, containing a fine recumbent statue by Christian Daniel Rauch, was built over her grave. [2] [57] Frederick William did not remarry until 1824, when he entered into a morganatic marriage with his mistress Auguste von Harrach, explaining "Womanly companionship and sympathy have become necessary to me, therefore I must marry again." [58] After his death on 7 June 1840, Frederick William was buried by her side.


A statue of Queen Louise in the park of Charlottenburg, Berlin Statue of Louise of Mecklenboug Strelitz.jpg
A statue of Queen Louise in the park of Charlottenburg, Berlin

Queen Louise was revered by her subjects as the "soul of national virtue", [37] and some historians have written that Louise was "Prussian nationalism personified." [17] According to Christopher Clark, Louise was "a female celebrity who in the mind of the public combined virtue, modesty, and sovereign grace with kindness and sex appeal, and whose early death in 1810 at the age of only thirty-four preserved her youth in the memory of posterity." [5] Her reputation as a loving and loyal supporter of her husband became crucial to her enduring legacy; the cult that eventually surrounded Louise became associated with the "ideal" feminine attributes: prettiness, sweet nature, maternal kindness, and wifely virtue. [52]

The Order of Louise, First Class Luisen-Orden I Kl obv.JPG
The Order of Louise, First Class

On the anniversary of her birth, in 1814, the widowed King Frederick William instituted the Order of Louise (Luisenorden) as a complementary decoration for the Iron Cross. [2] [59] Its purpose was to be given to those women who had made a significant contribution to the war effort against Napoleon, [60] though it was subsequently awarded to future members of the House of Hohenzollern unrelated to the French emperor, such as her granddaughter-in-law, Empress Victoria of Germany, and her great-granddaughter, Queen Sophia of Greece. In 1880 a statue of Queen Louise was erected in the Tiergarten in Berlin. [2]

Louise inspired the establishment of a conservative women's organization known as Königin-Luise-Bund, often shortened to Luisenbund ("Queen Louise League") in which her person achieved an almost cult-like status. The group's main purpose was to promote patriotic feelings among German women, and it emphasized the family and German morality. [61] The Königin-Luise-Bund was active during the time of the Weimar Republic and the first years of the Third Reich. [62] Despite having actively supported the National Socialist movement since its early stages all through their accession to power in 1933, the Queen Louise League was nonetheless disbanded by the Nazis in 1934, as they viewed it as a hostile organization. [63]

Significantly, Louise and Maria Theresa of Austria were the only two historical women used in Nazi propaganda, as the regime felt Louise was the "personification of womanly qualities," which the government was trying to integrate into German schools. [44] While the queen's resistance and defiance of the French kept the "Prussian spirit" alive, her husband was cast as a "pathetically embarrassing" king who would rather have lived in peace than revenge himself on Napoleon. [44]

The character of Queen Louise was the popular subject of countless films released in German cinema. These included Der Film von der Königin Luise (1913), Die elf schillschen Offiziere (1926), and Vivat – Königin Luise im Fichtelgebirge (2005), Luise – Königin der Herzen (2010 documentary). She was played by Mady Christians in the 1927 silent film Queen Louise , by Henny Porten in Louise, Queen of Prussia (1931) and by Ruth Leuwerik in the 1957 film Queen Louise .

She was also briefly portrayed in an extremely reverential manner in the 1945 propaganda film Kolberg . The German warship sunk in Lake Victoria in the film The African Queen is called the Königin Luise (the "Queen Louise").

Louise became the subject of a series of novels by nineteenth century German historical fiction writer Luise Mühlbach, which included Louisa of Prussia and her Times and Napoleon and the Queen of Prussia.


By Frederick William III of Prussia (3 August 1770 – 7 June 1840); married on 24 December 1793.

Daughter1 October 17941 October 1794 Stillborn.
Prince Friedrich Wilhelm, later Friedrich Wilhelm IV15 October 17952 January 1861married Princess Elisabeth Ludovika of Bavaria (1801–1873), no issue
Prince Wilhelm Friedrich Ludwig, later Wilhelm I22 March 17979 March 1888married Princess Augusta of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (1811–1890), had issue
Princess Friederike Luise Charlotte Wilhelmine 13 July 17981 November 1860married Tsar Nicholas I of Russia, had issue including the future Alexander II of Russia
Princess Friederike14 October 179930 March 1800died in childhood
Prince Friedrich Karl Alexander 29 June 180121 January 1883married Princess Marie of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach and had issue.
Princess Friederike Wilhelmine Alexandrine Marie Helene 23 February 180321 April 1892married Paul Friedrich, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and had issue.
Prince Friedrich Jules Ferdinand Leopold13 December 18041 April 1806died of diphtheria in childhood.
Princess Luise Auguste Wilhelmine Amalie 1 February 18086 December 1870married Prince Frederick of the Netherlands, had issue.
Prince Friedrich Heinrich Albrecht 4 October 180914 October 1872married Princess Marianne of the Netherlands and had issue. Married secondly to Rosalie von Rauch, Countess of Hohenau, daughter of Gustav von Rauch, had issue.



  1. The same residence where the lover of Sophia of Celle (queen of George I of Great Britain) was murdered and entombed. [1]
  2. Initially after Jena, Napoleon was ready to offer peace terms, but Frederick William ignored the majority of his counselors and decided to continue the war. The Battle of Eylau (February 1807) was a small victory against the French, but again the king refused to enter peace negotiations, incorrectly believing that incoming Russian troops would stop the French. The Battle of Friedland led to separate French negotiations with Russia and Prussia. [46]

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  1. 1 2 Maxwell Moffat, p. 16.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Chisholm (1911a) (ed).
  3. 1 2 Maxwell Moffat, p. 17
  4. 1 2 Hudson (2005a), p. 156.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 Clark, p. 316.
  6. 1 2 3 Maxwell Moffat, p. 19.
  7. 1 2 Kluckhohn, p. 4.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Faithfull, Francis G. "Queen Louise of Prussia (1776–1810)" . Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  9. 1 2 Kluckhohn, p. 5.
  10. Maxwell Moffat, p. 28.
  11. Maxwell Moffat, p. 25.
  12. Maxwell Moffat, p. 24.
  13. Maxwell Moffat, p. 21.
  14. Knowles Bolton, pp. 19–20.
  15. Kluckhohn, p. 7.
  16. Knowles Bolton, p. 15.
  17. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Drumin, Dawn. "Queen Louise of Prussia". King's College . Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  18. Kluckhohn, p. 11.
  19. Kluckhohn, p. 8.
  20. 1 2 Kluckhohn, p. 9.
  21. Kluckhohn, p. 10.
  22. Knowles Bolton, p. 18.
  23. Kluckhohn, p. 10, 12.
  24. Knowles Bolton, p. 19.
  25. Kluckhohn, pp. 12–13.
  26. Quoted in Kluckhohn, p. 13.
  27. Hudson (2005b), p. 1.
  28. Clark, pp. 317–18.
  29. Clark, p. 317.
  30. Clark, pp. 299, 317.
  31. Clark, p. 217.
  32. 1 2 Clark, pp. 298–99.
  33. 1 2 Clark, p. 299.
  34. Clark, pp. 301–02.
  35. 1 2 Clark, p. 303.
  36. Simms, p. 332.
  37. 1 2 3 4 5 Fisher, p. 254.
  38. Herold, p. 177.
  39. Clark, p. 304.
  40. Simms, p. 222, 332.
  41. Herold, p. 179.
  42. Herold, p. 180.
  43. Clark, p. 307.
  44. 1 2 3 4 5 Blackburn, p. 111.
  45. Clark, p. 312.
  46. Clark, pp. 308–09.
  47. Clark, p. 309.
  48. 1 2 3 Herold, p. 187.
  49. Herold, p. 188.
  50. Clark, p. 310.
  51. 1 2 Chisholm (1911b) (ed).
  52. 1 2 Clark, p. 318.
  53. Knowles Bolton, p. 52.
  54. Kluckhohn, p. 64.
  55. Knowles Bolton, p. 53.
  56. Knowles Bolton, p. 54.
  57. 1 2 Knowles Bolton, p. 57.
  58. Knowles Bolton, p. 59.
  59. Knowles Bolton, p. 58.
  60. Clark, p. 376.
  61. Reagin, p. 235.
  62. Reagin, pp. 235–244.
  63. Fischer, p. 186.


Further reading

Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Born: 10 March 1776 Died: 19 July 1810
Royal titles
Preceded by
Frederika Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt
Queen consort of Prussia
16 November 1797 – 19 July 1810
Title next held by
Elisabeth Ludovika of Bavaria