1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Sophia Dorothea

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SOPHIA DOROTHEA (1666-1726), wife of George Louis, elector of Hanover (George I. of England), only child of George William, duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg-Celle, by a Huguenot lady named Eleanore d'Olbreuze (1639-1722), was born on the 15th of September 1666. George William had undertaken to remain unmarried, but his desire to improve the status of his mistress (whom in spite of his promise he married in 1676) and of his daughter greatly alarmed his relatives, as these proceedings threatened to hinder the contemplated union of the Lüneburg territories. However, in 1682, this difficulty was bridged over by the marriage of Sophia Dorothea with her cousin George Louis, son of Duke Ernest Augustus, who became elector of Hanover in 1692. This union was a very unhappy one. The relatives of George Louis, especially his mother, the electress Sophia, hated and despised his wife, and this feeling was soon snared by the prince himself. It was under these circumstances that Sophia Dorothea made the acquaintance of Count Philipp Christoph von Königsmark (q.v.), with whom her name is inseparably associated. Königsmark assisted her in one or two futile attempts to escape from Hanover, and rightly or wrongly was regarded as her lover. In 1694 the count was assassinated, and the princess was divorced and imprisoned at Ahlden, remaining in captivity until her death on the 23rd of November 1726. Sophia Dorothea is sometimes referred to as the “princess of Ahlden.” Her two children were the English king, George II., and Sophia Dorothea, wife of Frederick William I. of Prussia, and mother of Frederick the Great. Sophia's infidelity to her husband is not absolutely proved, as it is probable that the letters which purport to have passed between Königsmark and herself are forgeries.

See Briefwechsel des Grafen Königsmark und der Prinzessin Sophie Dorothea von Celle, edited by W. F. Palmblad (Leipzig, 1847); A. F. H. Schaumann, Sophie Dorothea Prinzessin von Ahlden, and Kurfürstin Sophie von Hannover (Hanover, 1878); C. L. von Pöllnitz, Histoire secrette de la duchesse d'Hanovre (London, 1732); W. H. Wilkins, The Love of an Uncrowned Queen (London, 1900); A. Köcher, “Die Prinzessin von Ahlden,” in the Historische Zeitschrift (Munich, 1882); Vicomte H. de Beaucaire, Une Mésalliance dans la maison de Brunswick (Paris, 1884); and A. D. Greenwood, Lives of the Hanoverian Queens of England (1909), vol. i.