Duchess Charlotte Georgine of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

The Duchess of Saxe-Hildburghausen, 1800
Duchess consort of Saxe-Hildburghausen
Tenure 3 September 1785 – 14 May 1818
Born (1769-11-17)17 November 1769
Hanover, Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg, German Confederation
Died 14 May 1818(1818-05-14) (aged 48)
Hildburghausen, Duchy of Saxe-Hildburghausen, German Empire
Spouse Frederick, Duke of Saxe-Hildburghausen
Issue Joseph
Charlotte, Princess of Württemberg
Joseph, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg
Therese, Queen of Bavaria
Louise, Duchess of Nassau
Franz Frederick
Georg, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg
Frederick Wilhelm
Prince Eduard
Full name
German: Charlotte Georgine Luise Friederike
House House of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Father Charles II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg
Mother Princess Friederike of Hesse-Darmstadt
Religion Lutheran

Duchess Charlotte Georgine Luise Friederike of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (17 November 1769 14 May 1818)[1][2] was a member of the House of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and a Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz by birth and a Duchess of Saxe-Hildburghausen through her marriage to Frederick, Duke of Saxe-Hildburghausen (later Duke of Saxe-Altenburg).


Charlotte Georgine was born in Hanover, Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg. She was the eldest child and daughter[1][2] of Charles II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg and his first wife Princess Friederike of Hesse-Darmstadt.[1][2]

Charlotte and her sisters, Queen Louise of Prussia, Queen Frederica of Hannover and Princess Therese of Thurn und Taxis, were considered the most beautiful women of their time. Jean Paul Friedrich Richter dedicated his novel "Titan" to the four beautiful and noble sisters on the throne.[3]


Childhood and Youth

Charlotte grew up in Hanover, where her father served as governor, on behalf of his brother-in-law, King George III of the United Kingdom, who lived in London. When Charlotte was twelve years old, her mother died and she was brought up by her mother's sister, Charlotte, who married her father in 1784, and also by Magdalena of Wolzogen. Her sisters were brought by her grandmother, Maria Louise Albertine of Leiningen-Falkenburg-Dagsburg in Darmstadt. Charlotte had then already moved to Hildburghausen.

Duchess of Saxony-Hildburghausen

Duchess Charlotte of Saxe-Hildburghausen (1769-1818), pastel by Johann Philipp Bach, ca.1790

On 3 September 1785, at the age of fifteen, Charlotte married Duke Frederick, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg, who stood until 1787 under regency of his great-great uncle Joseph Frederick. The marriage was not a happy one; Charlotte was mentally superior to Frederick, who began to ignore her. They also had financial problems; Saxe-Hildburghausen had been financially ruined by the disastrous policies of Frederick's predecessors and in 1806 it had been put into Imperial receivership. The receivers allowed the Duke and Duchess only a reduced Civil List.

Charlotte's father and two brothers often stayed with Charlotte in Hildburghausen. In 1787, her father moved to Hildburghausen permanently, and became president of the credit committee. In 1792, Charlotte's grandmother and her sisters fled before the advancing French army from Darmstadt to Hildburghausen. Her grandmother noticed of Charlotte's husband .... of all his duties, he only fulfills his marital duties with zeal. Charlotte, who never loved this man, is always pregnant.[4] The family spent several carefree weeks at Hildburghausen.[5] In 1793, Charlotte's grandmother returned from exile and travelled with Charlotte's sisters to Frankfurt am Main, where Louise met her future husband, Frederick William.

Charlotte had a very intimate and loving relationship with her sister Friederike and relatives in Strelitz. In 1803 and 1805, the Prussian royal couple visited Hildburghausen. For this occasion, the receivers allowed the ducal couple to renew some of their furniture.[6] On 9 October 1806, Charlotte and her sister Therese were visiting their sister Louise at the headquarters in Erfurt of king Frederick William III of Prussia, when he declared war on Napoléon Bonaparte. Louise had helped draft the declaration of war.

Duchess Charlotte of Saxe-Hildburghausen, painting by Heinrich Vogel, c. 1815

Christian Truchseß von Wetzhausen zu Bettenburg was a friend of the ducal couple and godfather of Charlotte's son Edward. After Charlotte and her daughter Therese, who was Crown Pricess of Bavaria at the time, visited his Bettenburg Castle in Franconia, Christian wrote to Fouqué: Our Crown Pricess of Bavaria and the Hereditary Princess of Weilburg were visiting their mother, the Duchess of Hildburghausen; and since I have known these lovely daughters since childhood, and they had always been kindly disposed towards me, they felt the urge to visit the old Truchseß on his castle and they and their brother George and the Hereditary Prince of Weilburg, the brave man of Waterloo and really only a small suite came to me on a Sunday afternoon.[7] Many spectators had come to see the Bavarian Crown Princess. When receiving his guests, Truchseß tried to lead the lower-ranking Charlotte first into his castle, but she refused, referring to her daughter. Truchseß replied: Your Highness will forgive me, but as long as this castle has stood here, mothers have always enjoyed precedence before their daughters. Therese then grabbed the baron's other arm, and the three of them walked through the gate together.[8]

The Duchess gave about half of her annual income to the poor, pensioners, and education and apprenticeships for the lower classes. After her sister's death in 1815, she erected the Louise Memorial in the Hildburghausen City Park.

Court of the Muse

Charlotte was interested in literature and avidly promoted the arts at court. She relaxed the rules and etiquette and brought musicians, painters, and poets to the court, among them the writer Jean Paul Friedrich Richter, who arrived in May 1799. On 25 May 1799, he wrote to his friend Otto: I've been here a week now, and I'm quite weak. For starters, imagine the heavenly Duchess, with beautiful child-like eyes, her face full of love and attraction and youth, a glottis like a nightingale and a mother's heart [...] they love and read me [...]. They ask me in the afternoon and in the evening [...]. Yesterday, I improvised for the court on the grand piano. Besides, there's a decent parish of brothers and sisters here, and I can be Zinzendorf.[9] On 27 October 1799, he again wrote to Otto: I knew ahead of time that the court would stay at their Jagdschloss at Seidingstadt; I went there today. The Duchess was already there when I arrived and saw me within minutes of my arrival. Apart from a lover, I know of nothing more beautiful than her sweet shape.[10]

Charlotte gave the commoner Jean Paul Friedrich Richter the title of a Legation Council and the writer was engaged to one of her ladies in waiting.[11] However, the engagement to Caroline Feuchter von Feuchtersleben was later dissolved.

Under Charlotte, the Court developed to a "little Weimar". The current slogan of the town of Hildburghausen, "Little Classic", refers back to this period. Beside Jean Paul, other contemporaries have also testified to Charlotte's extraordinary singing talent. She was given the nickname "Singlotte" and the reputation of being one of the greatest singers of her day.[12] She was taught singing in Hanover by an Italian named Giuliani and sang in concerts at court and church services. During Holy Week, she regularly sang "Death of Jesus" by Carl Heinrich Graun at Christ Church of Hildburghausen, in which the entire population was allowed into the church.[4]


Charlotte candelabra in the cemetery of Hildburghausen

Charlotte died in Hildburghausen, Duchy of Saxe-Hildburghausen, on 14 May 1818 after a long illness. Her daughter Therese reported to her sister Louisa, "Eight or ten days ago, during an anxious night, in which the end seemed near, she said us all a farewell and blessed all you far away loved ones - that's the best a good loving mother can give to her children [...] That night, when she bade us farewell in the most touching manner, I knelt down beside her bed of pain and asked for her blessing. When her hand rested on my head, I spoke for us all, dear mother - and she answered [...]. We all have received a (ring) from her dear hands. Looking at it, my intent to always live a life worthy of my mother, grew ever more steadfast in my heart.[13]

Charlotte decreed that she was to be buried in the newly planned cemetery at Backsteinfeld in Hildburghausen. She was provisionally buried in the church of the castle, and reburied at Backsteinfeld in 1819. Her tomb was designed by Heim, the court carpenter, and was completed in 1824. The green bronzed candelabra stands on four black balls with blazing flames in lead in a shell at the top. The inscription was written by Friedrich Carl Ludwig Sickler. The vault has a height of 4 meters and a diameter of about 12 meters. When the church of the castle was converted into a courtroom, the bodies of all the royals were moved from the royal crypt to Charlotte's tomb.

Marriage and issue

Charlotte married Frederick, Duke of Saxe-Hildburghausen (later Duke of Saxe-Altenburg), youngest child of Ernest Frederick III, Duke of Saxe-Hildburghausen and his third wife Princess Ernestine of Saxe-Weimar, on 3 September 1785 in Hildburghausen.[1][2] Charlotte and Frederick had twelve children:[1][2]

  1. Joseph Georg Karl Frederick (b. Hildburghausen, 12 June 1786 - d. Hildburghausen, 30 July 1786).
  2. Princess Katharina Charlotte of Saxe-Hildburghausen (b. Hildburghausen, 17 June 1787 - d. Bamberg, 12 December 1847), married on 28 September 1805 to Prince Paul of Württemberg.
  3. Caroline Auguste (b. and d. Hildburghausen, 29 July 1788).
  4. Joseph Georg Friedrich Ernst Karl, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg (b. Hildburghausen, 27 August 1789 - d. Altenburg, 25 November 1868).
  5. Fredericke Luise Marie Caroline Auguste Christiane (b. Hildburghausen, 18 January 1791 - d. Hildburghausen, 25 March 1791).
  6. Therese Charlotte Luise Friederike Amalie (b. Hildburghausen, 8 July 1792 - d. Munich, 26 October 1854), married on 12 October 1810 to King Ludwig I of Bavaria.
  7. Charlotte Luise Fredericka Amalie Alexandrine (b. Hildburghausen, 28 January 1794 - d. Biebrich, 6 April 1825), married on 24 June 1814 to Wilhelm, Duke of Nassau.
  8. Franz Frederick Karl Ludwig Georg Heinrich (b. Hildburghausen, 13 April 1795 - d. Hildburghausen, 28 May 1800).
  9. Georg, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg (b. Hildburghausen, 24 July 1796 - d. Hummelshain, 3 August 1853).
  10. Frederick Wilhelm Karl Joseph Ludwig Georg (b. Hildburghausen, 4 October 1801 - d. Altenburg, 1 July 1870).
  11. Maximilian Karl Adolf Heinrich (b. Hildburghausen, 19 February 1803 - d. Hildburghausen, 29 March 1803).
  12. Eduard Karl Wilhelm Christian (b. Hildburghausen, 3 July 1804 - d. Munich, 16 May 1852).

Titles and styles




  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Darryl Lundy (18 Nov 2008). "Charlotte Georgine Luise Herzogin von Mecklenburg-Strelitz". thePeerage.com. Retrieved 2009-07-26. External link in |publisher= (help)
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Paul Theroff. "MECKLENBURG". Paul Theroff's Royal Genealogy Site. Retrieved 2009-07-26.
  3. Jean Paul: Collected Works, Paris, 1836 S. 495
  4. 1 2 H. P. Wulff-Woesten: Hildburghäuser Hoheiten - Dem Volk verbunden, Hildburghausen, 1992, p. 24
  5. Karin Feuerstein-Praßer: Die Preußischen Königinnen, Piper, München, 2005, p. 257
  6. Dr. Rudolf Armin Human: Chronik der Stadt Hildburghausen Hildburghausen 1886 S. 238
  7. Karl Kühner: Dichter, Patriarch und Ritter, Frankfurt, 1869 p. 156
  8. Dr. Rudolf Armin Human: Chronik der Stadt Hildburghausen, Hildburghausen, 1886 p. 205 ff.
  9. Dr. Rudolf Armin Human: Chronik der Stadt Hildburghausen, Hildburghausen, 1886, p. 204 ff
  10. Dr. Rudolf Armin Human: Chronik der Stadt Hildburghausen, Hildburghausen, 1886, p. 205
  11. Gunter de Bruyn: The life of Jean Paul Friedrich Richter, Halle-Leipzig, 1975, p. 210
  12. Heinrich Ferdinand Schöppl: Die Herzoge von Sachsen-Altenburg, Bolzano, 1917, reprint Altenburg, 1992, p. 158.
  13. H. P. Wulff-Woesten: Hildburghäuser Hoheiten - Dem Volk verbunden, Hildburghausen, 1992, p. 26
Duchess Charlotte Georgine of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Cadet branch of the House of Mecklenburg
Born: 17 November 1769 Died: 14 May 1818
German royalty
Preceded by
Ernestine of Saxe-Weimar
Duchess consort of Saxe-Hildburghausen
3 September 1785 – 14 May 1818
Succeeded by
Amelia of Württemberg
(as Duchess consort of Saxe-Altenburg)
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