In 1596, Elizabeth Stuart, the eldest daughter of King James VI Scotland and Anne of Denmark, was born. In 1603 the old Queen Elizabeth I of England passed away without leaving an heir. The throne passed to James who was crowned James I of England. As the daughter of the King of England, Elizabeth Stuart was in the public eye from a young age, and as a granddaughter of Mary Queen of Scots and god-daughter of Elizabeth I, she was well-loved in many circles. Despite Europe being forever at war, James I aimed to be a peaceful king and the self-styled Rex Pacificus planned to use dynastic marriages to keep peace with other nations, rather than waging war. From a string of suitors, in 1613 Elizabeth was married to Frederick V Elector Palatine.
James had chosen an ideal match for his daughter, and it was love at first sight upon their meeting. The wedding of Elizabeth and Frederick took place on Valentine’s Day and was one of the biggest of the Seventeenth Century; the celebrations went on for months on end and carried on throughout the newlywed’s journey to Frederick’s ancestral lands. Elizabeth and Frederick lived in wedded bliss for many years in the beautiful Palatinate town of Heidelberg, in modern-day Germany. A number of children were born there in quick succession; Frederick Henry, Charles Louis and Elisabeth were all born within six years. Despite a revolt and three members of the reigning Emperor’s retinue being thrown from the window of Prague castle, in 1619 Ferdinand ascended the throne of Bohemia and also took the title of Holy Roman Emperor. Within a matter of months, the Bohemians had overthrown Ferdinand and elected Frederick V, Elizabeth’s husband, as their king.
After just a few months of being Queen, Elizabeth’s happiness began to unravel, as Ferdinand aimed to regain his crown. He lost and Elizabeth’s life as queen was now over. The saviour of the winter family was the United Provinces. Connected by blood to Frederick and enemies to the Habsburgs, the Princes of Orange provided a home at The Hague for the family as well as financial support. Elizabeth’s time as an exile was filled by her constant letter writing; to members of English Parliament, ambassadors, her brother Charles I and many others. (Read more here)
Elizabeth of Bohemia: A Novel about Elizabeth Stuart, the Winter Queen by David Elias begins in Elizabeth’s youth and takes us through the tragedies of her life, beginning with the death of Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales to whom she was especially close. We see her early married life and her and husband’s short reign as King and Queen of Bohemia through her own eyes. Although it is an interesting perspective, the story felt very drawn out for me and I often found myself skipping ahead, hoping that it would become more lively. Overall, I am not sure this book was to my taste but to read from Elizabeth’s perspective was certainly a nice change.