Countess Henriette Catherine of Nassau

Henriette Catherine of Nassau
Princess consort of Anhalt-Dessau
Born (1637-02-10)10 February 1637
The Hague
Died 3 November 1708(1708-11-03) (aged 71)
Spouse John George II, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau
Issue Frederick Casimir, Hereditary Prince of Anhalt-Dessau
Elisabeth Albertine, Countess of Barby
Henriette Amalie, Princess of Nassau-Dietz
Marie Eleonore, Duchess of Olyka
Leopold I, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau
Johanna Charlotte, Margravine of Brandenburg-Schwedt
House House of Orange-Nassau
Father Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange
Mother Amalia of Solms-Braunfels

Henriette Catherine of Nassau (10 February 1637 – 3 November 1708) was a daughter of Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange and his wife Amalia of Solms-Braunfels. Henriette was a member of the House of Orange-Nassau (Netherlands).


Frederick Henry, Amalia and their youngest three daughters, Henriette is first on the right

Henriette was born in The Hague and was the seventh of nine children born to her parents. Some of her siblings died in childhood. Henriette and four other siblings lived to adulthood, her surviving siblings were: William II, Prince of Orange, Luise Henriette of Nassau, Albertine Agnes of Nassau and Maria of Nassau.

Henriette and her sisters

Henriette's paternal grandparents were William the Silent and his fourth wife Louise de Coligny. Henriette's grandfather, William was murdered on the orders of Philip II of Spain who believed that William had betrayed the Spanish king and the Roman Catholic religion.

Henriette's maternal grandparents were Johan Albrecht I of Solms-Braunfels and his wife Agnes of Sayn-Wittgenstein.


Marriage and issue

The Thirty Years War had left Germany in ruins but the Netherlands under the reign of Henriette's father, Frederick Henry, had made great progress since the assassination of William the Silent. Her father wanted to make peace with Germany and so married some of his daughters off to German nobles. Her mother, continuing this policy had Henriette married to John George II, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau in Groningen on 9 September 1659. Henriette's consent cannot have been taken for granted: she was a woman of spirit and independence, who had already refused to marry a cousin whom she disliked,[1] and for a time considered marrying her brother-in-law Charles II of England. Judging by his letters Charles may have been genuinely in love, but later said that he believed Henriette and John had married for love.[2] The couple were married for thirty-four years and had ten children:

  1. Amalie Ludovika (b. Berlin, 7 September 1660 - d. Dessau, 12 November 1660).
  2. Henriette Amalie (b. Cölln an der Spree, 4 January 1662 - d. Cölln an der Spree, 28 January 1662).
  3. Frederick Casimir, Hereditary Prince of Anhalt-Dessau (b. Cölln an der Spree, 8 November 1663 - d. Cölln an der Spree, 27 May 1665).
  4. Elisabeth Albertine (b. Cölln an der Spree, 1 May 1665 - d. Dessau, 5 October 1706), Abbess of Herford (1680–1686); married on 30 March 1686 to Henry of Saxe-Weissenfels, Count of Barby.
  5. Henriette Amalie (b. Kleve, 26 August 1666 - d. Oranienstein an der Lahn, 18 April 1726), married on 26 November 1683 to Henry Casimir II, Prince of Nassau-Dietz.
  6. Louise Sophie (b. Dessau, 15 September 1667 - d. Dessau, 18 April 1678).
  7. Marie Eleonore (b. Dessau, 14 March 1671 - d. Dessau, 18 May 1756), married on 3 September 1687 to Prince Jerzy Radziwiłł, Duke of Olyka.
  8. Henriette Agnes (b. Dessau, 9 September 1674 - d. Dessau, 18 January 1729).
  9. Leopold I, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau (b. Dessau, 3 July 1676 - d. Dessau, 9 April 1747).
  10. Johanna Charlotte (Dessau, 6 April 1682 - d. Herford, 31 March 1750), Abbess of Herford (1729–1750); married on 25 January 1699 to Philip William, Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt.

Henriette and John George were a great influence over the German court at agriculture, construction of ports, levees, architecture and painting. In 1660, John George gave his wife the town of Nischwitz where she built houses, a cemetery, made glass and brought it to fruition.[3]

John George died in Berlin 1693. Their son, Leopold was still only a minor so Henriette resumed regency for his son until he came of age.

Henriette died in 1708.

It is speculated that Princess Catharina-Amalia of the Netherlands (granddaughter of Beatrix of the Netherlands) received the name Catharina after Henriette Catherine.


Henriette Catherine's ancestors in three generations
Henriette Catherine of Nassau Father:
Frederik Hendrik of Orange
Paternal Grandfather:
William the Silent
Paternal Great-grandfather:
William I, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Juliana of Stolberg
Paternal Grandmother:
Louise de Coligny
Paternal Great-grandfather:
Gaspard de Coligny
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Charlotte de Laval
Amalia of Solms-Braunfels
Maternal Grandfather:
John Albert I, Count of Solms-Braunfels
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Conrad, Count of Solms-Braunfels
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Elisabeth of Nassau-Dillenburg
Maternal Grandmother:
Agnes of Sayn-Wittgenstein
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Louis I, Count of Sayn-Wittgenstein
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Elisabeth of Solms-Laubach


  1. Fraser, Antonia King Charles II Reprinted Methuen Ltd. 1993 pp. 155-6
  2. Fraser p. 161
  3. Henriette Catharina of Orange-Nassau
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