Elizabeth of Bohemia

YOU meaner beauties of the night,
Which poorly satisfy our eyes
More by your number than your light,
You common people of the skies,—
What are you, when the Moon shall rise?

Ye violets that first appear,
By your pure purple mantles known
Like the proud virgins of the year,
As if the spring were all your own,—
What are you, when the Rose is blown?

Ye curious chanters of the wood
That warble forth dame Nature's lays,
Thinking your passions understood
By your weak accents,—what's your praise
When Philomel her voice doth raise?

So when my Mistress shall be seen
In sweetness of her looks and mind,
By virtue first, then choice, a Queen,
Tell me, if she were not design'd
Th' eclipse and glory of her kind?

by Sir Henry Wotton

Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia, was the daughter of James I and Anne of Denmark. She was born August 19, 1596, at Falkland Castle, Fifeshire, Scotland. On February 14, 1613, she married Frederick V, Elector of Palatine, against her mother's wishes.

In August 1619, a few months after the death of Matthias, Holy Roman Emperor, the people of Bohemia deposed Matthias' successor, Ferdinand II, and chose Frederick as their king. This act precipitated the Thirty Years' War. Though Frederick was reluctant, at first, to take the crown, he finally did so on November 4, 1619, in Prague. Elizabeth was crowned Queen three days later on November 7, 1619.

Fredinand II and the Hapsburgs immediately declared war on Frederick and Bohemia. Despite repeated requests by both Elizabeth and Frederick, James I sent them no help. The German Protestant Union, which Frederick headed and his father had founded, also provided no help. Because Frederick had few troops and very little money, he eventually lost his kingdom to the Emperor on November 8, 1620, at the battle of White Mountain. The Emperor had predicted that Frederick would be a "winter king" and gone with the melting snow. The title stuck to both he and Elizabeth.

Having lost both the Palatinate and the Bohemian kingdom, the couple escaped with most of their children, and little else, to The Hague. They were to spend the rest of their lives there, living in poverty, trying to regain all they had lost. It was from their exile they suffered the humiliation of watching the Spanish take, first, the Lower Palatinate, then the upper, and see the Palatinate given to Maximilian I of Bavaria to rule.

After Frederick's death in 1632, Elizabeth continued to live in extreme poverty at the Hague. Her brother, Charles I, who had his own problems, wasn't of much help to her and Parliament was always slow to send her the pension she was owed. She had to trod a very dangerous path when her brother was executed; she needed the money from Parliament to support her family, but she was angered and outraged that they had killed her brother. She did what she could to help support her brother's family, but it was mostly in the way of moral support.

Elizabeth didn't leave The Netherlands until 1661, when she returned to England after the restoration of her nephew, Charles II. She died there on February 13, 1662, at Leicester House, in London.

Apparently, Elizabeth and Frederick had been very much in love, and she mourned him until her death, 30 years later. Together they had 13 children, including Charles Louis, who eventually regained the Palatinate in the Peace of Westphalia, Elizabeth of Bohemia, Prince Rupert, Sophia, Electress of Hanover, who was the mother of George I.

Source: The Winter Queen, Elizabeth of Bohemia by Carola Oman.