Charles Edzard, Prince of East Frisia

Charles Edzard, Prince of East Frisia

Charles Edzard, Prince of East Frisia
Spouse(s) Sophie Wilhelmine of Brandenburg-Kulmbach-Bayreuth
Noble family Cirksena
Father George Albert, Prince of East Frisia
Mother Countess Christine Louise of Nassau-Idstein
Born (1716-06-18)18 June 1716
Died 25 May 1744(1744-05-25) (aged 27)

Charles Edzard (18 June 1716, in Aurich 25 May 1744, in Aurich) was the last prince of East Frisia. He ruled from 12 June 1734 until his death. He was the fourth child of the reigning prince George Albert and Princess Christine Louise, née Princess of Nassau-Idstein and was born at the castle in Aurich.


Charles Edzard received a harsh, authoritarian education from his father George Albert, in an atmosphere of bigotry and ascetic piety, which did not leave the child any freedom or opportunities for self-development. The fact that all of his siblings died during their first year of life, had caused the father to panic and fear of the extinction of the male line of the Cirksena. He was meticulously planning the daily schedule. Every week, every day, every hour has been prescribed by a precise timetable to be followed to the prince. Even the recovery phase, the hours to ride and to walk were scheduled exactly.

Charles Edzard was taught Roman law, medieval history and French. He never received a military training, even though he was appointed colonel and chief of the small princely militia by his father at the age of 10. Due to his father's early death, no time remained for studying. His travels were limited on the court in Aurich, the hunting lodge in Sandhorst and the princely Berum Castle. He never even visited Emden, the largest city of his territory, though he once looked at it from a distance.


The Charles Edzards's father had been ill for a long period. He had a stroke before Charles Edzards's 18th birthday. A wedding was hastily arranged for the man who was never allowed to decide anything in his life. This time it was probably his step-mother who decided for him. She selected Princess Sophie Wilhelmine of Brandenburg-Kulmbach-Bayreuth (1714–1749), the daughter of her oldest sister with George Frederick Charles, Margrave of Brandenburg-Bayreuth, and arranged the betrothal between Charles Edzards and his cousin Sophie Wilhelmine, who was just sixteen years old. They married on 25 May 1734 at Berum castle.

Three weeks later, on 12 June 1734, the father died, and Charles Edzard was ruler of East Frisia, without being really prepared for this task. After years of conflicts of recent years between the Princely House and the Estates, the Prince had hardly any prestige left. The city of Emden and other rebellious Estates refused to pay him homage. Whether Charles Edzard contributed at all to the administration of his country, is at least doubtful. It is likely that "his" decisions were in fact made by other people.

Charles Edzard died unexpectedly on 25 May 1744, just 28 years old and four days after his wife, Princess Sophia Wilhelmina, suffered a miscarriage in her second pregnancy (their only living child was a daughter - Elisabeth Sophie Magdalena, born 5 December 1740, died 14 June 1742). He was the last sovereign Prince of East Frisia. The circumstances of his death, whether natural or not, can no longer be ascertained. Without doubt, Charles Edzard was one of the unhappiest people in the East Frisian history.

East Frisia now fell to Prussia. Following the Emden Convention already concluded on March 14, 1744 between the city of Emden and Frederick II of Prussia, the latter was allowed to march without resistance into East Frisia.


References and sources

Charles Edzard, Prince of East Frisia
Born: 18 June 1716 Died: 25 May 1744
Preceded by
George Albert
Prince of East Frisia
Succeeded by
Frederick the Great
as King in Prussia
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