1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Elizabeth (daughter of James I.)

ELIZABETH (1596–1662), consort of Frederick V., elector palatine and titular king of Bohemia, was the eldest daughter of James I. of Great Britain and of Anne of Denmark, and was born at Falkland Castle in Fifeshire in August 1596. She was entrusted to the care of the earl of Linlithgow, and after the departure of the royal family to England, to the countess of Kildare, subsequently residing with Lord and Lady Harington at Combe Abbey in Warwickshire. In November 1605 the Gunpowder Plot conspirators formed a plan to seize her person and proclaim her queen after the explosion, in consequence of which she was removed by Lord Harington to Coventry. In 1608 she appeared at court, where her beauty soon attracted admiration and became the theme of the poets, her suitors including the dauphin, Maurice, prince of Orange, Gustavus Adolphus, Philip III. of Spain, and Frederick V., the elector palatine. A union with the last-named was finally arranged, in spite of the queen’s opposition, in order to strengthen the alliance with the Protestant powers in Germany, and the marriage took place on the 14th of February 1613 midst great rejoicing and festivities. The prince and princess entered Heidelberg on the 17th of June, and Elizabeth, by means of her English annuity, enjoyed five years of pleasure and of extravagant gaiety to which the small German court was totally unaccustomed. On the 26th of August 1618, Frederick, as a leading Protestant prince, was chosen king by the Bohemians, who deposed the emperor Ferdinand, then archduke of Styria. There is no evidence to show that his acceptance was instigated by the princess or that she had any influence in her husband’s political career. She accompanied Frederick to Prague in October 1619, and was crowned on the 7th of November. Here her unrestrainable high spirits and levity gave great offence to the citizens. On the approach of misfortune, however, she showed great courage and fortitude. She left Prague on the 8th of November 1620, after the fatal battle of the White Hill, for Küstrin, travelling thence to Berlin and Wolfenbüttel, finally with Frederick taking refuge at the Hague with Prince Maurice of Orange. The help sought from James came only in the shape of useless embassies and negotiations; the two Palatinates were soon occupied by the Spaniards and the duke of Bavaria; and the romantic attachment and services of Duke Christian of Brunswick, of the 1st earl of Craven, and of other chivalrous young champions who were inspired by the beauty and grace of the “Queen of Hearts,” as Elizabeth was now called, availed nothing. Her residence was at Rhenen near Arnheim, where she received many English visitors and endeavoured to maintain her spirits and fortitude, with straitened means and in spite of frequent disappointments. The victories of Gustavus Adolphus secured no permanent advantage, and his death at Lützen was followed by that of the elector at Mainz on the 29th of November 1632. Subsequent attempts of the princess to reinstate her son in his dominions were unsuccessful, and it was not till the peace of Westphalia in 1648 that he regained a portion of them, the Rhenish Palatinate. Meanwhile, Elizabeth’s position in Holland grew more and more unsatisfactory. The payment of her English annuity of £12,000 ceased after the outbreak of the troubles with the parliament; the death of Charles I. in 1649 put an end to all hopes from that quarter; and the pension allowed her by the house of Orange ceased in 1650. Her children, in consequence of disputes, abandoned her, and her eldest son Charles Louis refused her a home in his restored electorate. Nor did Charles II. at his restoration show any desire to receive her in England. Parliament voted her £20,000 in 1660 for the payment of her debts, but Elizabeth did not receive the money, and on the 19th of May 1661 she left the Hague for England, in spite of the king’s attempts to hinder her journey, receiving no official welcome on her arrival in London and being lodged at Lord Craven’s house in Drury Lane. Charles, however, subsequently granted her a pension and treated her with kindness. On the 8th of February 1662 she removed to Leicester House in Leicester Fields, and died shortly afterwards on the 13th of the same month, being buried in Westminster Abbey. Her beauty, grace and vivacity exercised a great charm over her contemporaries, the enthusiasm for her, however, being probably not merely personal but one inspired also by her misfortunes and by the fact that these misfortunes were incurred in defence of the Protestant cause; later, as the ancestress of the Protestant Hanoverian dynasty, she obtained a conspicuous place in English history. She had thirteen children—Frederick Henry, drowned at sea in 1629; Charles Louis, elector palatine, whose daughter married Philip, duke of Orleans, and became the ancestress of the elder and Roman Catholic branch of the royal family of England; Elizabeth, abbess and friend of Descartes; Prince Rupert and Prince Maurice, who died unmarried; Louisa, abbess; Edward, who married Anne de Gonzaga, “princesse palatine,” and had children; Henrietta Maria, who married Count Sigismund Ragotzki but died childless; Philip and Charlotte, who died childless; Sophia, who married Ernest Augustus, elector of Hanover, and was mother of George I. of England; and two others who died young.

Bibliography.—See the article in Dict. of Nat. Biography and authorities there collected; Five Stuart Princesses, ed. by R. S. Rait (1902); Briefe der Elizabeth Stuart . . . an . . . den Kurfürsten Carl Ludwig von der Pfalz, by A. Wendland (Bibliothek des literarischen Vereins, 228, Stuttgart, 1902); “Elizabeth Stuart,” by J. O. Opel, in Sybel’s Historische Zeitschrift, xxiii. 289; Thomason Tracts (Brit. Mus.), E., 138 (14), 122 (12), 118 (40), 119 (18). Important material regarding the princess exists in the MSS. of the earl of Craven, at Combe Abbey.