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SOPHIA, ELECTRESS OF HANOVER

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SOPHIA, ELECTRESS OF HANOVER

AN ABLE SOVEREIGN AND DEVOTED WIFE

1630–1714

(INTRODUCTORY NOTE) Sophia was a Germanic princess, the twelfth daughter of the illfated “Winter King” of Bohemia, and a grand-daughter of King James I of England. She was thus related to most of the rulers of Europe, including the Prince of Orange, the Queen of Denmark, and the mighty King Louis XIV of France. Hence, despite her poverty, she was sought in marriage by kingly suitors. She wedded a younger son of the royal house of Hanover, one of the largest German states of her day; and her husband, after much court intrigue, in which Sophia took an active part, became the ruler or “Elector's of Hanover. Sophia is usually known by her wedded title, as the Electress of Hanover. To our day she perhaps seems an even more important figure than she did to her own; for her son became King George I of England, the founder of the present royal house of Great Britain, and her daughter, Sophia Charlotte, became the first queen of Prussia, the grandmother of Frederick the Great, and all the later Hohenzollern kings.

The memoirs of this highly connected princess have an unusual and remarkable interest, because of her independence of viewpoint. The German women of her time were little more than the chattels of their masculine lords. Marriage, in the upper ranks, was almost wholly a question of political advantage. Sophia, however, proves herself an independent, self-reliant human being, keen of view and clear of thoughts and style. Perhaps the frank tone of the memoirs is due to the fact that they were not intended for publication. Sophia says that she wrote for herself alone, to wile away the tedious hours of a beloved husband's absence. Yet doubtless she showed her finished work to a few associates, for the memoirs have survived to us, not in her own handwriting but in a copy, written by her great friend Leibnitz. Of this justly celebrated scholar and philosopher, Sophia was the patroness, the lifelong protectress. He must have valued her memoirs highly to have undertaken the heavy labor of thus copying them for himself. Their heart-interest lies to-day in the warm love of the woman for her

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