Marie of Württemberg – Prince Albert’s stepmother (Part one)




marie wurttemberg
(public domain)

Marie of Württemberg was born on 17 September 1799 in Coburg as the daughter of Duke Alexander of Württemberg and Antoinette of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. She was the eldest of five children, though two of her brothers would die in infancy. Two brothers named Alexander and Ernest would live to adulthood. Her mother was the sister of the Duchess of Kent, King Leopold I of the Belgians and Ernst I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Her father’s sister was Sophie Dorothea, wife of Tsar Paul I of Russia.

Marie spent most of her childhood at Schloss Fantaisie in Bayreuth, which her father had inherited from his mother in 1798. She also spent some time in Russia as her father was a Lieutenant General in the Imperial Russian Army. Not much is known of her early youth. In 1819, Marie joined her parents and brothers for a long trip. They went mostly around Germany, Austria and Russia to visit relatives. In early April 1820, they also attended the wedding of King William I of Württemberg and his first cousin Pauline of Württemberg. Marie especially enjoyed her visit to Vienna, describing it as “unabashed happiness.”1 She also loved music, feeling right at home with the Wiener Walz. Francis I, Emperor of Austria, had been married to Marie’s aunt Elisabeth but she had tragically died in childbirth in 1790, but the Württembergs were still considered family in Austria. Marie wrote of all her experiences to her best friend Charlotte of Prussia, wife of the future Nicholas I of Russia. She also remained in touch with her cousin Pauline after her wedding.

In Coburg in July 1819, Marie even met the woman she would one day replace as Duchess, Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg. Louise was by then heavily pregnant with Prince Albert. Marie noted Louise’s charm and naturalness. In August 1819, Charlotte gave birth to a daughter named Maria. Marie wrote to her, “I cannot tell you how happy I was when I found out that heaven had given you a little princess. […] May God give health to the beautiful mother and her dear newborn child; this wish is sincere, believe it, dear Charlotte.”2

Marie lost her mother on 14 March 1824 and she had been just 44 years old. She was ill for only a short period of time, and Marie described the painful illness to her uncle Ferdinand in Vienna. She wrote, “At around 5 o’clock I went into her room for the last time, kissed her cold hand. […] Around 10 o’clock, dear uncle, the angelic mother was no more. She died like an angel; her death was so gentle and edifying. I cannot write any more today.”3 Her mother had died in St Petersburg, and for now Marie remained there. Meanwhile, in Coburg, her uncle Ernst’s marriage to Louise had fallen apart, and they were divorced in 1826. Louise would die of uterine cancer on 30 August 1831.

Her uncle Ernst had already officially asked Marie’s father for his permission to marry her on 2 May 1830. He happily wrote to her that he hoped his boys would find a “real, true mother”4 in her. Unfortunately, Marie also fell ill during this time, and she was not able to write to her betrothed again until October. “You must be mad at me again, but this time I am completely innocent. My weakness hardly allows me to write these lines. You are the first one to whom I write after my long-drawn-out illness. Very seriously ill from a violent biliary fever, I was sick for over a month.”5

The 33-year-old Marie married her 48-year-old uncle on 23 December 1832 in Coburg and Marie became the stepmother of his young sons, the future Ernst II and Prince Albert. The boys longed for a mother, and the younger Ernst wrote to her in April 1833, “Dear Mama, I was very happy when I heard you had arrived in Gotha quite happy and well.[…] We live in the constant sweet hope of having you close to us again.”6

Just seven months after the wedding, Marie suddenly lost her father. Marie had been summoned to Gotha, and young Ernst wrote to her there, “Hope alone remains with us; it doesn’t leave us, and we are in pain over your father’s illness.[..] Hurry back to us soon.”7 Three days after young Ernst’s letter, Marie’s father died at the age of 62. The court went into mourning for three months. As the boys grew up, they regularly wrote to Marie.

Read part two here.

  1. Herzogin Marie von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, geborene Herzogin von Württemberg 1799 – 1860 by Gertraude Bachmann p.22
  2. Herzogin Marie von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, geborene Herzogin von Württemberg 1799 – 1860 by Gertraude Bachmann p.25
  3. Herzogin Marie von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, geborene Herzogin von Württemberg 1799 – 1860 by Gertraude Bachmann p.58
  4. Herzogin Marie von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, geborene Herzogin von Württemberg 1799 – 1860 by Gertraude Bachmann p.91
  5. Herzogin Marie von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, geborene Herzogin von Württemberg 1799 – 1860 by Gertraude Bachmann p.92
  6. Herzogin Marie von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, geborene Herzogin von Württemberg 1799 – 1860 by Gertraude Bachmann p.167
  7. Herzogin Marie von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, geborene Herzogin von Württemberg 1799 – 1860 by Gertraude Bachmann p.169






About Moniek 1803 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.