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Elizabeth, Electress Palatine and Queen of Bohemia (born Elizabeth of Scotland; 19 August 1596 – 13 February 1662) was the eldest daughter of James VI and I, King of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and Anne of Denmark. She was thus sister to King Charles I and cousin to King Frederick III of Denmark. With the demise of the Stuart dynasty in 1714, her direct descendants, the Hanoverian rulers, succeeded to the British throne.

Birth and early life

Elizabeth was born at Falkland Palacemarker, Fifemarker. At the time of her birth, her father was still the King of Scots only. She was named in honor of the Queen of England, in an attempt by her father to flatter the old queen, whose kingdom he hoped to inherit. During her early life in Scotland, Elizabeth's governess was the Countess of Kildare. When Elizabeth was six years old, in 1603, Elizabeth I of England died and James succeeded to the thrones of England and Ireland. When she came to England, she was consigned to the care of Lord Harington, with whom she spent the years of her happy childhood at Combe Abbeymarker in Warwickshiremarker.

Part of the intent of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 was to kidnap the nine-year-old Elizabeth and put her onto the throne of England (and, presumably, Scotland) as a Catholic monarch, after assassinating her father and the Protestant English aristocracy.

Among Elizabeth's suitors was King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, but she was eventually betrothed to the Elector Palatine in 1612.


Elizabeth as a widow, 1642
On 14 February 1613, she married Frederick V, then Elector of the Palatinate in Germanymarker, and took up her place in the court at Heidelbergmarker. Frederick was the leader of the association of Protestant princes in the Holy Roman Empire known as the Evangelical Union, and Elizabeth was married to him in an effort to increase James's ties to these princes. In 1619, Frederick was offered and accepted the crown of Bohemia. Elizabeth was crowned Queen of Bohemia on 7 November 1619, three days after her husband was crowned King of Bohemia. Frederick's rule was extremely brief, and thus Elizabeth became known as the "Winter Queen".

Driven into exile, the couple took up residence in The Haguemarker, and Frederick died in 1632. Elizabeth remained in Hollandmarker even after her son, Charles I Louis, regained his father's electorship in 1648. Following the Restoration of the English and Scottish monarchies, she travelled to Londonmarker to visit her nephew, Charles II, and died while there.

Elizabeth's youngest daughter, Sophia of Hanover, had in 1658 married Ernest Augustus, the future Elector of Hanover. The Electress Sophia became the nearest Protestant relative to the English, Scottish and Irish crowns (later British crown). Under the English Act of Settlement, the succession was settled on Sophia and her issue, so that all monarchs of Great Britain from George I are descendants of Elizabeth.


Of Elizabeth's sixteen great-great-grandparents, five were German, four were Scottish, two were English, two were French, two were Danish, and one was Polish, giving her a thoroughly cosmopolitan background which was typical of royals at that time due to constant intermarriage among the European royal families.


  1. Frederick Henry von der Pfalz (1614-1629); drowned
  2. Charles I Louis, Elector Palatine (1617-1680); married Charlotte of Hesse-Kassel, had issue; Marie Luise von Degenfeld, had issue; Elisabeth Hollander von Bernau, had issue
  3. Elisabeth of Bohemia, Princess Palatine (1618-1680)
  4. Rupert, Duke of Cumberland (1619-1682); had two illegitimate children
  5. Maurice (1620-1652)
  6. Louise Marie of the Palatine (18 April 1622 – 11 February 1709)
  7. Ludwig (21 August 1624 – 24 December 1624)
  8. Edward, Count Palatine of Simmern (1625-1663); married Anna Gonzaga, had issue
  9. Henrietta Maria (7 July 1626-18 September 1651); married Prince Sigismund of Siebenbuergen on 16 June 1651
  10. Johann Philip Frederick (26 September 1627 – 15 December 1650); also reported to have been born on 15 September 1629
  11. Charlotte (19 December 1628 – 14 January 1631)
  12. Sophia, Electress of Hanover (14 October 1630 – 8 June 1714); married Ernest Augustus, Elector of Hanover, had issue including King George I of Great Britain
  13. Gustavus Adolphus (14 January 1632-1641)


The Elizabeth River in Southeastern Virginia was named in honor of the princess, as was Cape Elizabethmarker, a peninsula and today a town in the U.S. state of Mainemarker. John Smith explored and mapped New England and gave names to places mainly based on the names used by Native Americans. When Smith presented his map to Charles I, he suggested that the king should feel free to change the "barbarous names" for "English" ones. The king made many such changes, but only four survive today, one of which is Cape Elizabeth.


In W. G. Sebald's novel Vertigo (1990), a woman appears whom the narrator, travelling through Heidelberg by train in 1987, recognizes instantly "without a shadow of a doubt" as Elizabeth when she enters his carriage.

The Winter Queen also plays a seminal role in Neal Stephenson's The Baroque Cycle by giving birth to many children.

See also


  • (alternative ISBN 0297776037)
  • (alternative ISBN 0618382674)
  • , devotes its early chapters to describing her 1613 wedding and the reputation she and her husband had in Europe at the time.


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