Sophia Dorothea of Prussia in 5 Minutes

Sophia Dorothea of Prussia in 5 Minutes

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Before I move onto the next monarch in the British succession, I’m going to cover his sister, Sophia Dorothea of Prussia. She was the younger child of George I of Great Britain and Sophia Dorothea of Celle. Like her mother, she didn’t have a happy marriage, but that didn’t stop her from having numerous children, meaning plenty of heirs for the Prussian throne.

There isn’t much written about this queen, but I’ll do my best to give you five minutes worth of history.

The Early Life of Sophia Dorothea of Prussia

Very little is recorded of Sophia Dorothea before her marriage to Crown Prince Frederick William of Prussia. She was the younger child and only daughter of George and her mother, born on March 16, 1687. Despite likely growing up with her brother, she wasn’t liked by him. It seems her personality wasn’t one men could get along with judging by the people who didn’t like her.

Sophia Dorothea met her future husband when they were children, while Sophia of Hanover, her grandmother on her father’s side, looked after her. The two instantly disliked each other, their views and interests differing greatly. Sophia Dorothea was a big fan of entertainment, which Frederick William definitely didn’t like.

That didn’t stop the marriage from going ahead. It was the best option for George, and the two married on November 28, 1706. Within a year, Frederick William contemplated a divorce, accusing her of not wanting to be married to him. I do have to wonder just how many women during this time period and before did want to marry their husbands. There are all sort of tales of women marrying because they were forced to; they had nothing without a father and then a husband.

From Princess to Queen

Being the wife of Frederick William did mean that Sophia Dorothea became the Crown Princess of Prussia. Just seven years after their marriage, she then became queen. Her marriage continued to be an unhappy one, and there are reports of beatings from her husband. Their children together received similar treatment. Some historians now believe that her husband suffered from porphyria, which includes the symptom of mental disturbances.

Sophia Dorothea wanted to make sure her children had good marriages, especially her daughters. Frederick William didn’t like her choices, and even accused her of turning his children against him. She quickly found herself banned from seeing her own children, during a time that she was banned from seeing her mother.

Unlike Sophia Dorothea, who didn’t see her mother, her children did meet with her in secret. There was at least one occasion where some of the children had to hide in furniture when Sophia Dorothea received an unexpected visit from her husband. While her husband tried to damage the relationships between mother and children, her son Frederick had a very good relationship with her and was deeply attached to her. They would regularly talk about his father’s plans and how to escape him.

Possibly the daughter of George I of Great Britain

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Sophia Dorothea’s Lack of Influence

Despite being proud and ambitious, the Queen of Prussia had very little influence. Her husband believed that women were only good for breeding, and only men could have opinions and dominance.

His treatment of her was so bad that any favorable treatment was a surprise to others. In 1726, after Sophia’s mother died, she inherited a large sum of money. The Imperial Ambassador noted that Frederick William’s treatment of his wife drastically changed all of a sudden, just so he could get her money. He soon went back to treating her awfully when George II refused to release the money to his sister.

Sophia Dorothea of Prussia has 14 children with Frederick William, not all of them surviving infancy, though. Despite her many pregnancies, she kept her body relatively firm. However, she had been scarred from smallpox when she was younger.

I do feel for this woman. She definitely didn’t have it easy and the more I learn about her, the more I want to find out. I’d love to do more research into how she managed to stay so seemingly calm and firm despite her husband’s treatment.

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