Elisabeth Christine was born on 28 August 1691 as the daughter of Louis Rudolph, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Christine Louise of Oettingen-Oettingen. She became engaged to the future Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor at the age of 13. She was to convert from Lutheran Protestantism to Roman Catholicism, which she did not like but she gave in anyway. Shortly before the wedding, she was forced to undergo a medical examination to prove her fertility. They married on 1 August 1708 and the pressure to have a son must have been felt immediately. There was a severe lack of male heirs in the family. Charles himself had succeeded only because his brother only had daughters.
She found the situation very stressful. Three years into her marriage, she was prescribed large doses of liquor to make her more fertile, but it only gave her face a permanent blush. She was also prescribed a rich diet, which only made her so fat she was unable to walk and had difficulty breathing.
Her first child was a son named Leopold born on 13 April 1716, but he only lived for eight months. At that point, they had been married for eight years. He was followed by three daughters, of which the youngest died at the age of six. During one of her pregnancies, Charles had her bed chamber decorated with erotic images of men to stimulate her fantasy and make the expected baby male.
Unfortunately, it was not to be, and Charles spent the rest of his life trying to secure the succession of his eldest daughter Maria Theresa, which succeeded partially. Elisabeth Christine’s health was devastated by the effects of the treatments. Charles did care enough for her to inquire after her health.
She died on 21 December 1750, and she is buried in the Imperial Crypt in Vienna.
Poor woman! In a way, it’s kind of how it is now. They are actually more females in the royal houses like Sweden, Spain and Belgium. I know there are a few other houses with more girls but you get the gist.
Its too bad women were practically useless unless they could conceive of a male heir. However this male dominated ethos began to change with the passage of the Pragmatic Sanction which insured that the Austrian throne could be inherited by Charles Vl’s daughter Maria Theresa .
Women were practically useless unless they could conceive of a male heir. However this male dominated ethos began to change with the passage of the Pragmatic Sanction which insured that the Austrian throne could be inherited by Charles V1 ‘s daughter Maria Theresa.