1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Sophia

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SOPHIA (1630–1714), electress of Hanover, twelfth child of Frederick V., elector palatine of the Rhine, by his wife Elizabeth, a daughter of the English king James I., was born at the Hague on the 14th of October 1630. Residing after 1649 at Heidelberg with her brother, the restored elector palatine, Charles Louis, she was betrothed to George William afterwards duke of Lüneburg-Celle; but in 1658 she married his younger brother, Ernest Augustus, who became elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg, or Hanover, in 1692. Her married life was not a happy one. Her husband was unfaithful; three of her six sons fell in battle; and other family troubles included an abiding hostility between her and Sophia Dorothea, the wife of her eldest son, George Louis. Sophia became a widow in 1698, but before then her name had been mentioned in connexion with the English throne. When considering the Bill of Rights in 1689 the House of Commons refused to place her in the succession, and the matter rested until 1700 when the state of affairs in England was more serious. William III. was ill and childless; William, duke of Gloucester, the only surviving child of the princess Anne, had just died. The strong Protestant feeling in the country, the danger from the Stuarts, and the hostility of France, made it imperative to exclude all Roman Catholics from the throne; and the electress was the nearest heir who was a Protestant. Accordingly by the Act of Settlement of 1701 the English Crown, in default of issue from either William or Anne, was settled upon “the most excellent princess Sophia, electress and duchess-dowager of Hanover” and “the heirs of her body, being Protestant.” Sophia watched affairs in England during the reign of Anne with great interest, although her son, the elector George Louis, objected to any interference in that country, and Anne disliked all mention of her successor. An angry letter from Anne possibly hastened Sophia’s death, which took place at Herrenhausen on the 8th of June 1714; less than two months later her son, George Louis, became king of Great Britain and Ireland as George I. on the death of Anne. Sophia, who corresponded with Leibnitz, was a strong woman both mentally and physically, and possessed wide and cultured tastes.

See Memoiren der Kurfürstin Sophie von Hannover, edited by A. Köcher (Leipzig, 1879; Eng. trans., 1888); Briefwechsel der Herzogin Sophie von Hannover mit ihrem Bruder, &c., edited by E. Bodemann (Leipzig, 1885 and 1888); L. von Ranke, Aus den Briefen der Herzogin von Orleans, Elisabeth Charlotte, an die Kurfürstin Sophie von Hannover (Leipzig, 1870); E. Bodemann, Aus den Briefen der Herzogin, Elisabeth Charlotte von Orleans, an die Kurfürstin Sophie von Hannover (Hanover, 1891); R. Fester, Kurfürstin Sophie von Hannover (Hamburg, 1893); A. W. Ward, The Electress Sophia and the Hanoverian Succession (London, 1909); O. Klopp, Der Fall des Hauses Stuart (Vienna, 1875–1888); Correspondance de Leibnitz avec l’électrice Sophie, edited by O. Klopp (Hanover, 1864–1875); and R. S. Rait, Five Stuart Princesses (London, 1902).