THE KING OF AMERICA, SOPHIES-3 and JAMES VI
The Stuart dynasty is connected by blood with the houses of Windsor, Hanover, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Prussia, Romanov and indeed most of the crowns of Europe on the way. Was it possible that the Hanoverian attempts to stop American Independence almost saw a distant Stuart cousin on a throne as King of the USA?
The tales of dynastic fortunes are at times more bizarre than they are dramatic but the prime written accounts, contemporaneous documents or letters and, “of legend” or “by reputation” lead us to an accepted generalised truth. In social history writing personal diaries and memoires were a daily undertaking in often meticulous detail and raw emotion. Letters were kept in the same way we now store computer files, only dumped as a last resort to prevent prosecution or ruin. Many heads were lost when careless scripts were exposed.
Name combinations give a clue to lineage and families even where spellings differ. The repeated use and combination of names is part of tradition and a necessity to clearly state blood and political ties. Society today would frown if not be even shocked at the close cousin marriages amongst Europe’s aristocracy. Love matches were rare; politics, power, land/business or succession matches demanded obedience and duty. Love was often secondary and a lucky blessing. The loss of title and privilege to spouse and offspring with morganatic marriage (unequal social rank) was a severe punishment for failing to follow “good breeding” etiquette. The price of romantic love could be a curse. But illegitimate offspring often fared well. Many a Duke was created and prospered in recognition of a night of pleasure.
THE PLAYERS: Mary Queen of Scots almost to the King of the USA.
1. James VI of Scotland (1st of England), son of Mary Queen of Scots.
2. Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of James VI, granddaughter of Mary Queen of Scots. She was the Winter Queen but through her, Stuart blood returned to Britain. Born in Dunfermline in 1596 she was educated at Coombe Abbey.
3. Sophie of Hanover, 1630-1714, great granddaughter of Mary Queen of Scots. Electress of the Holy Roman Empire, born a Countess, titled a Duchess, key to the door of succession of the crowns of England and Ireland.
4. Sophie Dorothea of Celle, 1666-1726 legitimised in the nick of time and married a “pig snout” who became King George I of Great Britain, the great great grandson of Mary Queen of Scots.
5 *Sophie Dorothea of Hanover, 1687-1757 matriarch of the German Empire, great great great granddaughter of Mary Queen of Scots. * The RED asterix follows Stuart blood to the Imperial crown of Russia.
6. Prince Henry of Prussia. Great great great great grandson of Mary Queen of Scots. 4 times almost a King. He loyally served 3 Emperors. With a rare astuteness in international affairs he was blessed with a talented military mind. He was one of Europe’s all-time great statesmen.
1. JAMES CHARLES STUART, VI of Scotland and I of England.
1566 – 1625. King of France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith.
Historians were never much for crediting James with either the successes of his reign or with the respect that he deserves. He survived many times of crisis but culturally, politically and spiritually he provided for a legacy that few monarchs have surpassed. Truth be known that he brought an age of peace and prosperity and left a family legacy that gathered up most of the royal houses of Europe.
2. ELIZABETH STUART. 1596-1662
She was named in honour of England’s Elizabeth. She was a serious scholar with several languages mastered by the time she was 12. She only just avoided the Fawkes plan to use her as a “puppet queen” in England. Her marriage (a rare love match) to the King of Bohemia might have been well made but circumstances saw his reign and her title as Queen barely a season as “the winter queen”. The marriage produced 13 children, perhaps the most remembered in schoolboy textbooks is Prince Rupert of the Rhine, cavalry cavalier. He was a most remarkable man on land and on sea, in the old world and the new. He was of very high royal birth from both sides of his family and despite cutting his loyalties very finely he was a survivor by rank, courage, reputation and cunning.
3. SOPHIE DOROTHEA OF HANOVER 1630-1714
Born Countess Sophie and also known as Duchess Sophie.
The Sophie Succession.
Sophie of Hanover, daughter of Elizabeth Stuart and Frederick V, Elector Palatine, (The Winter King) house of Wittensbach.
She was the Great Granddaughter of Mary Queen of Scots. Mother of King George I
Sophie of Hanover (properly Electress of Brunswick-Lüneburg; born Sophia, Countess Palatine of Simmern; 14 October 1630 – 8 June 1714).
Through the Act of Settlement 1701, an Act of the Westminster Parliament which changed the normal laws of inheritance to the English and Irish thrones, Sophia was declared the heiress presumptive to her first cousin once removed, Queen Anne of England and Ireland (later Queen of Great Britain and Ireland).
She would have acceded to Anne's crown but died a few weeks before Anne. Sophie’s son George Louis, Elector of Hanover and Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, became heir presumptive and became King George I.
Sophie’s mother had suggested she marry the exiled Charles II, but Sophia was not interested in marrying her first cousin. On 30 September 1658, Sophia married Ernst August, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, who in 1692 became the first Elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg. Electors were princes entitled to elect the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, a position of status and influence rather than wealth and power.
The English crown, in the default of legitimate issue from Mary II, William III and Anne, was settled upon "the most excellent princess Sophia, Electress and duchess-dowager of Hanover" and "the heirs of her body, being Protestant", the key excerpt from the Settlement naming Sophia as heiress presumptive reads:
"Therefore for a further Provision of the Succession of the Crown in the Protestant Line We Your Majesties most dutifull and Loyall Subjects the Lords Spirituall and Temporall and Commons in this present Parliament assembled do beseech Your Majesty that it may be enacted and declared and be it enacted and declared by the Kings most Excellent Majesty by and with the Advice and Consent of the Lords Spirituall and Temporall and Comons in this present Parliament assembled and by the Authority of the same That the most Excellent Princess Sophia Electress and Duchess Dowager of Hannover Daughter of the most Excellent Princess Elizabeth late Queen of Bohemia Daughter of our late Sovereign Lord King James the First of happy Memory be and is hereby declared to be the next in Succession in the Protestant Line to the Imperial Crown and Dignity of the forsaid Realms of England France and Ireland with the Dominions and Territories thereunto belonging after His Majesty and the Princess Anne of Denmark and in Default of Issue of the said Princess Anne and of His Majesty respectively”.
Sophia was the closest Protestant relative to William III (king of England and Scotland by marriage and by being the son of Princess Mary, daughter of Charles I), after his childless sister-in-law, Princess Anne, the heiress presumptive. In 1701, the Act of Settlement made her Anne's heiress presumptive for the purpose of cutting off any claim by the Catholic James Francis Edward Stuart, who would otherwise have become James III. The act restricts the British throne to the "Protestant heirs" of Sophia of Hanover who have never been or married to a Roman Catholic.
The Line of Succession to the British throne are either a descendant of George II of Great Britain, or of his sister Sophia Dorothea of Hanover. The descendants of Sophia Dorothea are also the Prussian line of kings. The daughters of George II, and his sister Sophia Dorothea, married into royalty in Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden and by the 1770's further descendants began to marry into the Russian royal family spreading the line eventually into most of the countries in Europe.
Currently, there are more than 5,000 legitimate descendants of Sophia, but not all are in the line of succession. The Sophia Naturalization Act 1705 granted the right of British nationality to Sophia's non-Catholic descendants. It was amended in 2015 giving Protestant descendants of those excluded for being Roman Catholics eligibility. No official, complete version of the line of succession is currently maintained. The exact number, in remoter collateral lines, of the people who would be eligible is uncertain. In 2001, American genealogist William Addams compiled a list of 4,973 living descendants of the Electress Sophia in order of succession, but did so disregarding Roman Catholic status. When updated in January 2011, the number was 5,753.
4. SOPHIA DOROTHEA OF CELLE 1666 - 1726
At age 16 she was married to the future King George I of Great Britain and Ireland.
Mother of King George II
Mother of Sophia Dorothea of Hanover, Queen of King Frederick I of Prussia.
*Her great great great great grandson was Tsar Alexander II Romanov of Russia.
Princess Sophia Dorothea of Brunswick- Lüneburg did not have a good start in life; she was born illegitimately; the daughter of her father’s long-term mistress, Eleonore d’Esmier d’Olbreuse, Countess of Williamsburg (1639–1722) on 15 September 1666. Her father, Prince George William, Duke of Brunswick Lüneburg, eventually did the right thing and married his mistress which had the effect of legitimising his only child.
Sophia Dorothea was ten years old when she became heir to her father’s kingdom, the Principality of Lüneburg in Lower Saxony and this made her a highly attractive marriage prospect.
Sophia-Dorothea was attractive and lively. At the age of sixteen, she married her cousin, George Louis of Hanover, the future king of Great Britain and Ireland, in 1705. When she was told of the match Princess Sophia Dorothea said she would not marry “ the pig snout” Twenty-two-year-old George Louis was not keen on the match either; he already had a mistress and was happy with his life as a soldier. He was reputed to be ugly and boring, “even his mother didn’t like him”. To ease his “misfortune”, George Louis received a handsome dowry. After his father-in-law’s death he inherited a kingdom whilst Princess Sophia-Dorothea was left penniless. She lived in a man’s world.
The unhappy couple set up home in Leine Palace in Hanover where Princess Sophia Dorothea was under the supervision of her odious aunt, the Duchess Sophia, and constantly spied on. But they pair produced two children; George Augustus, born 1683, who later became King George II of Great Britain and a daughter.
George became increasingly distant from his wife spending more time with his dogs and horses and his nights with his mistress, the married daughter of his father’s mistress, a woman called Sophia Charlotte von Keilmannsegg, who was rumoured to be George Louis’ half-sister. As was "normal" for the times and probably thinking that it was fair play, Sophia-Dorothea took herself a lover, a courtier, the dashing extrovert Swedish Count Philip Christoph Von Königsmarck.
With George Louis having wind of what was happening Königsmarck was “removed”.
Princess Sophia-Dorothea never saw “her lover” again. George Louis divorced Princess Sophia and she was confined her home in Lower Saxony. She stayed there for the rest of her life. Her children were taken away from her and she was forced to live alone. She was probably one of the unluckiest royal women in history.
But she did do better than Königsmarck! In August 2016, parts of a human skeleton were found under the floorboards at Leineschloss during a renovation project; the remains are thought to be those of Count, Philip Christoph von Königsmarck, (1665-1694).
History shows that when Princess Sophia Dorothea died in 1726, she had spent 33 years in her prison. Before she died, she wrote a letter to her husband, cursing him for his treatment of her. A furious George forbade any mourning of her in Hanover or London, but he died shortly after. George II never forgave his father for his treatment of his mother.
Both George and his mistress the Countess will forever remain whodunnit suspects for the body under the boards. But some of the evidence may be questionable. The Letters of Love may be seriously infamous and revealing but may also have been massaged. They do make interesting reading.
THE LETTERS OF LOVE
around May to July 1693
between Sophie and Count Konigsmarck
679 pages mostly in French, normal across Europe at that time, were found by William Henry Wilkins in the library of the little university of Lund in Sweden. In the secret State files in Berlin there are an unpublished 60 or so pages. An unknown number of pages are also said to be held in Gmundel in Austria in the archives of the Duke of Cumberland, son of the last king of Hanover George V.
William Henry Wilkins was an academic, a controversial political commentator and novelist in the last 2 decades of the 1800’s. Does this translation, first published in 1900 for a considerable popular audience, translate with a Victorian steer towards melodramatic and theatrical language? Alas my knowledge of late 17th century Germanic-French-Flemish would be an unreliable measure in this matter.
The Count to Sophie…“I am waiting to show you how absence has wasted me. I must know the hour, the day, and where I am to come. I will see to the rest. But tell me, how will you be able to keep me hidden without endangering yourself? The risk I run is not very great, and to see the one who loves me I would willingly be torn in pieces.
Let me kiss the beautiful lips that kissed me so sweetly. Ah ! when we meet we will show the sweet violence of our passion by the tenderest tokens I would give my blood this very moment for one sip of your honey lips”.
I only wish to know the rendezvous, the arms, and the seconds. My weapons will be my eyes and my mouth. . . Choose a day and hour when duty will not hinder me from coming, and you will see how I shall fly to you”.
Sophie to the Count " After pining for three days and suffering tortures of suspense, I have the joy of receiving two letters from you. The desire of my heart is to see you again. I have already told you it is quite easy as far as I am concerned. La Confidente sleeps in a small room near me. You can come in by a back door and stay twenty-four hours if you wish without the least risk to me. Every evening I walk alone with La Confidente under the trees, quite near the house. I will look out for you from ten o'clock until two o'clock. You know the usual signal. You must also know the back door. The door of the palisade is always open. Do not forget to give the [first] signal; it is you who must give it, and I will wait for you under the trees. I look forward with rapture to seeing you; I have longed for it every moment since we parted”,
Konigsmarck came from a high profile Swedish aristocratic family. His siblings were up to all sorts of “high-spirited adventures”, love affairs and murder plots. His exploits seem even now to be outrageous. He was certainly a man of great confidence with an equally great ego.
The Count to Sophie “The life I have been leading since the court returned, I fear, give cause for much jealousy, for I am playing every night with ladies, and without vanity, they are neither ugly nor of mean rank. I crave your pardon, but I cannot live without a little pleasure, and one of them is so much like you that I cannot help being in her society…..(really?). I cannot forget those delectable moments at Brockhausen. What pleasure what transports, what ardour what rapture we tasted together”
Then he goes on to say “… “I will always be your true lover”. (a gracious gentleman?)
And Sophie replies, “You ought to be the proudest man going, for everyone admires you. You are a universal favourite — even old women bear witness to your charms. As for me, I count it the highest glory to possess such a lover”. (besotted or delusional?)
WERE THE MURDER AND THE BONES UNDER THE BOARDS CONNECTED?
A tale of 2 kings, a Queen, a Count, the daughter of a royal mistress, a peeved father-in-law and a body under the floorboards. At best the evidence is circumstantial and even with the strange attitudes of the day it is a greatly emotional and theatrical, tale of its day.
The “love letters” between the Queen and the Count were published but remain of some question, origin and provenance. They have no explicit detail, they were perhaps “fondly” worded, at times lustful, not explicit. For today’s taste and by todays measure they are somewhat melodramatic.
Was the “body under the boards” the hapless Count? The palace has a huge footprint and with a long history of building and renovation they could belong to a servant or A N Other loser-in-love from over a long period. The bones found under the floorboards have never been fully investigated, no DNA or autopsy results have ever been declared but it is reported that it was a “collection” of bones, animal and human, some from more than one person.
The Count was certainly seized on the morning of 2 July 1694 after a meeting with Sophia at the Leisnschloss. The assumption is that he was killed on the instructions of George and his body disposed of most likely into the river to flow down river with so many others seems more realistic. Why waste time digging a hole when the river was just a short distance away? There is certainly no record of him after that.
5. SOPHIE DOROTHEA OF HANOVER 1687-1757
Her brother was King George II of Great Britain.
Sophie Dorothea married her cousin Frederick, a convenience and by proxy. From the start it was never to be a match of any love. Whilst her husband spend his time with mistresses and military endeavours she followed a cultured life full of social occasions, music, dancing and the arts.
Her immediate family relationships were fragile and at times cruel. Frederick was pleasant for a short period after her father died leaving her a fortune but when the money was not forthcoming, he resorted to kind in the belief that women were “only for breeding”.
Both Sophie and her eldest son, Crown Prince Frederick Louis were in fear of the king’s malice. The Prince was imprisoned for a while. After the King’s death Sophie and her 13 children enjoyed a more normal family life.
THE KING OF AMERICA, SOPHIES-3 and JAMES VI
6. PRINCE HENRY OF PRUSSIA 1726–1802. KING OF AMERICA?
Henry was the 13th child of King Frederick William I of Prussia and Princess Sophia Dorothea of Hanover. He loyally served as one of the top generals throughout Frederick's reign. A general at age 14 he was cautious but clever and he was never defeated on the battlefield.
Whilst his relationship with his elder brother “Frederick the Great” was at times stormy, Henry remained loyal and dedicated his King. He was a staunch supporter of the Prussian crown and a major influence on his brother King William Frederick I, his nephew King William Frederick II and also William Frederick III.
Prince Henry was always up to his waist in the midst of battle, always the leader of the charge.
Henry married Princess Wilhelmina of Hesse-Kassel in Charlottenburg, but much preferred a somewhat public life with various male friends. His military exploits stood him in good stead and as a diplomat he was a matchless. In his time, he was widely regarded with great respect throughout European politics. He was de facto commander of the Prussian forces in the East, courageous and determined. Henry did try to win his own principality and twice he made an attempt at acquiring his own Kingdom in Poland but both attempts were dismissed by his brother Frederick. With the support of Queen Anne of Russia, Henry came close to being given a new kingdom in Wallachia but again Frederick frustrated the plan.
In 1786 Nathaniel Gorham and Baron Friedrich Wilhelm Von Streuben, (see footnotes 1 and 2) proposed that Henry should become the President or even the KING of the United States of America. Washington and others were not so enthusiastic, but “officially” the prince never received a formal invite (see footnote 3). Washington himself declined to contest for a third term as President of the United States of America after years of suspicion that he had dreams himself of being a monarch.
Henry was thwarted the highest office but was neither spiteful nor sought revenge Henry remained loyal to the Prussian monarchy serving 3 monarchs and helping to establish Prussia as the dominant force in central Europe. Ultimately there evolved the German Empire, the rest is a sad and shameful end to a great monarchy.
ALWAYS THE PRINCE NEVER TO TO BE THE KING
Nathaniel Gorham was one of the Founding Fathers of the United Sates and was then President of the Continental Congress. A successful trader and businessman he was well connected in politics by finance and by family. His 3rd great grandfather was an original Pilgrim to the Americas and down the line his close family reaches the Whitehouse in Edith Roosevelt, 2nd wife of President Theodore 200 years later.
Baron Friedrich Wilhelm Von Streuben, Prussian general who served in the Continental Army, a former aide de camp to Frederick the Great, a mix of legendary European noble leadership and wild west cowboy. He was a great thinker in military logistics and management. A” controversial” figure of his day in both Prussia and America but he remains a significant figure in American military history and best forgotten in Prussian. His significantly close connections to exuberant Prince Henry in Prussia makes the idea that he suggested Prince Henry for King of the USA more plausible. Baron Von Streuben retired to New York with other officers, most like himself, persona non grata in Prussia. Their village community fared peacefully into old age.
Despite an official denial of the proposal by the 1787 Philadelphia convention the rumours continued and there is some small documentary evidence to back up the anecdotal and public suspicions. There was always a significant correspondence between the Prussian officers and the homeland. A letter written by Henry (dated prior to the 1787 convention) and intended for Streuben does exists in the Prussian archives and which discusses the proposition of Monarchy for the independent American colonies. To protect the nation from foreign influence the 1787 constitution included the clause which ensures that only natural born citizens can run for high office. The most recent use of the clause prevented Arnold Schwartzenegger, the 38th Governor of California, from running for president.