W. H. (William Henry) Wilkins.

Caroline, the illustrious queen-consort of George II, and sometime queen-regent; a study of her life and time (Volume 1) online

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Kmu^ Ji^iu. -.'I, A

Caroline the Illustrious

Queen-Consort of George II. and
sometime Queen-Regent

A Study of her Life and Ti^ne

V y\

W: H." W ILK INS, M.A., F.S.A.











Labeautiesi le part age des uns, ^intelligence celui des autres ; la reunion
de ces dons ne se rencontre que chez certains mortels favorisis des dieux.

Leibniz to Queen Caroline.


It is characteristic of the way in which historians
have neglected the House of Hanover that no life
with any claim to completeness has yet been
written of Caroline of Ansbach, Queen-Consort of
George the Second, and four times Queen- Regent.
Yet she was by far the greatest of our Queens-
Consort, and wielded more authority over political
affairs than any of our Queens- Regnant with the
exception of Elizabeth, and, in quite another sense,
Victoria. The ten years of George the Second's
reign until her death would be more properly called
"The Reign of Queen Caroline," since for that
period Caroline governed England with Walpole.
And during those years the great principles of
civil and religious liberty, which were then bound
up with the maintenance of the Hanoverian dynasty,
were firmly established in England.

Therefore no apology is needed for attempting
to portray the life of this remarkable princess, and
endeavouring to give some idea of the influence


which she exercised in her day and upon her genera-
tion. The latter part of Caroline's life is covered
to some extent by Lord Hervey's Memoirs, and we
get glimpses of her also in Horace Walpole's works
and in contemporary letters. But Lord Hervey's
Memoirs do not begin until Caroline became Queen,
and though he enjoyed exceptional facilities of
observation, he wrote with an obvious bias, and
often imputed to the Queen motives and sentiments
which were his rather than hers, and used her as
the mouthpiece of his own prejudices and personal

Of Queen Caroline's life before she came to
England nothing, or comparatively nothing, has
hitherto been known, ^ and very little has been
written of the difficult part which she played as
Princess of Wales throucrhout the reion of Georore

& o o

the First. On Caroline's early years this book
may claim to throw fresh light. By kind per-
mission of the Prussian authorities I am able to
publish sundry documents from the Hanoverian
Archives which have never before been given to the
world, more especially those which pertain to the
betrothal and marriage of the princess. The
hitherto unpublished despatches of Poley, Howe
and D'Alais, English envoys at Hanover, 1705-14,

1 Dr. A. W. Ward's sketch of Caroline of Ansbach in the Dictionary
0/ National Biography contains some facts concerning this period of her
life, but they are necessarily brief.


give fresh information concerning the Hanoverian
Court at that period, and the despatches of Bromley,
Harley and Clarendon, written during the eventful
year 17 14, show the strained relations which existed
between Queen Anne and her Hanoverian cousins
on the eve of the Elector of Hanover's accession to
the English throne.

In order to make this book as complete as pos-
sible I have visited Ansbach, where Caroline was
born, Berlin, the scene of her girlhood, and Hanover,
where she spent her early married years. I have
searched the Archives in all these places, and have
further examined the records In the State Paper
Office, London, and the Manuscript Department of
the British Museum. A list of these, and of other
authorities quoted herein, published and unpublished,
will be found at the end of this book.

In The Love of an Uncrowned Queen (Sophie
Dorothea of Celle, Consort of George the First) I
gave a description of the Courts of Hanover and
Celle until the death of the first Elector of Hanover,
Ernest Auorustus. This book continues those studies
of the Court of Hanover at a later period. It brings
the Electoral family over to England and sketches the
Courts of George the First and George the Second
until the death of Queen Caroline. The influence
which Caroline wielded throughout that troublous
time, and the part she played in maintaining the
Hanoverian dynasty upon the throne of England,


have never been fully recognised. George the First
and George the Second were not popular princes ;
it would be idle to pretend that they were. But
Caroline's gracious and dignified personality, her
lofty ideals and pure life did much to counteract the
unpopularity of her husband and father-in-law, and
redeem the early Georgian era from utter gross-
ness. She was rightly called by her contemporaries
" The Illustrious ". If this book helps to do tardy
justice to the memory of a great Queen and good
woman it will not have been written in vain.



BOOK I. Electoral Princess of Hanover.


Ansbach and its Margraves 3

The Court of Berlin 14

The Wooing of the Princess 36

The Court of Hanover 59

The Heiress of Great Britain 88

The Last Year at Hanover 105

BOOK II. Princess of Wales,

The Coming of the King 137

The Court of the First George 159




The Reaction i86

The White Rose 210

After the Rising 234

The Guardian of the Realm 255

The Royal Quarrel 271

Leicester House and Richmond Lodge 287

The Reconciliation 316

The South Sea Bubble 341





Caroline, Princess ok Wales. From the painting by Sir Godfrey

Kneller .......... Frontispiece

The Castle of Ansbach ...... to face page 8


Sophia Charlotte, Queen of Prussia. From tlie

original portrait by Wiedman ..... ,, 34

Queen Caroline's Room in the Castle of Ansbach ,, 54

George II. and Queen Caroline at the Time of

THEIR Marriage ....... ,, 70

The Electress Sophia of Hanover .... ,, 88

Leibniz ,, 102

Herrenhausen „ 124

The Ceremony of the Champion of England Giving

THE Challenge at the Coronation ... „ 152

King George I. From the painting by Sir Godfrey

Kneller in the National Portrait Gallery . . . 174

Lady Mary Wortlev Montagu (in Eastern dress) . ,, 200

Prince James Francis Edward Stuart (The Chevalier
DE St. George). From the picture in the National
Portrait Gallery ........ ,, 218

Lord Nithisdale's Escape from the Tower. From

an old print ........ „ 242

Pavilions Belonging to the Bowling Green,

Hampton Court, temp. George I. . . . „ 258



Leibnizhaus. Hanover (where Leibniz died) . . . to face page 270

Caroline, Princess of Wales, and Her Infant Son,

Prince George William. From an old print . ,, 284

Leicester House, Leicester Square, temp. George I. „ 302

Mary, Countess Cowper. From the original portrait

by Sir Godfrey Kneller „ 324

The South Sea Bubble. From an old cartoon . . „ 346

Henry St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke ... ,, 358





1 683- 1 696.

WiLHELMiNA CAROLINE, Princess of Brandenburg-
Ansbach, known to history as "Caroline of Ansbach,"
Queen-Consort of King George the Second of Great
Britain and Ireland, and sometime Queen-Regent,
was born in the palace of Ansbach, a little town in
South Germany, on March ist, 1683. It was a year
memorable in the annals of English history as the
one in which Lord Russell and Algernon Sidney
were brought to the block, who by their blood
strengthened the long struggle against the Stuarts
which culminated in the accession of the House of
Hanover. The same year, seven months later, on
October 30th, the ill-fated Sophie Dorothea of Celle,
consort of George the First, gave birth to a son at
Hanover, George Augustus, who twenty-two years
later was destined to take Caroline of Ansbach to
wife, and in fulness of time to ascend the throne of

The Margraves of Brandenburg-Ansbach were
far from wealthy, but the palace wherein the little
princess first opened her eyes to the light was one


of the finest in Germany, quite out of proportion to
the fortunes of the petty principality. It was a vast
building, four storeys high, built in the form of a
square, with a cloistered courtyard, and an ornate
facade to the west. Yet large as it was, it did not
suit the splendour-loving Margraves of later genera-
tions, and the palace as it stands to-day, with its
twenty-two state apartments, each more magnificent
than the other, is a veritable treasure-house of
baroque and rococo art. Some of the interior de-
coration is very florid and in doubtful taste ; the
ceiling of the great hall, for instance, depicts the
apotheosis of the Margrave Karl the Wild ; the
four corners respectively represent the feast of the
Bacchante, music, painting and architecture, and in
the centre is a colossal figure of the Margrave, in
classical attire, clasping Venus in his arms. The
dining-hall is also gorgeous, with imitation marbles,
crystal chandeliers, and a gilded gallery, wherefrom
the minstrels were wont to discourse sweet music
to the diners. The porcelain saloon, the walls lined
with exquisite porcelain, is a gem of its kind, and
the picture gallery contains many portraits of the
Hohenzollerns. But the most interesting room is
that known as " Queen Caroline's apartment," in
which the future Queen of England was born; it was
occupied by her during her visits to Ansbach until her
marriage. This room is left much as it was in Caro-
line's day, and a canopy of faded green silk still marks
the place where the bed stood in which she was born.
The town of Ansbach has changed but little


since the seventeenth century, far less than the
palace, which successive Margraves have improved
almost out of recognition. Unlike Wurzburg and
Nuremberg, cities comparatively near, Ansbach has
not progressed ; it has rather gone backward, for since
the last Margrave, Alexander, sold his heritage in
1 79 1, there has not been a court at Ansbach/
A sign of its vanished glories may be seen in the
principal hotel of the place, formerly the residence of
the Court Chamberlain, a fine house with frescoed
ceilings, wide oak staircase, and spacious court-yard.
The Hofgarten remains the same, a large park, with
a double avenue of limes and oaks, beneath which
Caroline must often have played when a girl. The
high-pitched roofs and narrow irregular streets of
the town still breathe the spirit of mediaivalism, but
the old-time glory has departed from Ansbach, and
the wave of modern progress has scarcely touched it.
The little town, surrounded with low-lying meadows,
wears an aspect inexpressibly dreary and forsaken,

1 The last of the Margraves of Brandenburg-Ansbach, Christian
Frederick Charles Alexander, was born at Ansbach in 1736. He
was the nephew of Queen Caroline, and married first a princess
of Saxe-Coburg, and secondly the Countess of Craven (>u'e Lady
Elizabeth Berkeley), who called herself the " Margravine of Ansbach
and Princess Berkeley ". Having no heirs he sold his Margravate
to the King of Prussia in 1791, and came to live in England with
his second wife. He bought Brandenburg House, and was very
beneficent and fond of sport, being well known on the turf. He died
at a ripe old age in the reign of George IV. In 1806 Ansbach was
transferred by Napoleon from Prussia to Bavaria, an act which was
confirmed by the Congress of Vienna in 1815, and with Bavaria it
has since remained. Occasionally some members of the Bavarian
royal family visit Ansbach and stay at the palace, but it has long
ceased to be a princely residence.


The honest burghers of Ansbach, who took a
personal interest in the domestic affairs of their
Margraves, feeHng that as they prospered they
would prosper with them, could not, in their most
ambitious moments, have imagined the exalted
destiny which awaited the little princess who was
born in the palace on that March morning. The
princesses of Ansbach had not in the past made
brilliant alliances, and there is no record of any one
of them having married into a royal house. They
were content to wed the margraves, the burgraves,
the landgraves, and the princelets who offered them-
selves, to bear them children, and to die, without
contributing any particular brilliancy to the history
of their house.

The marofravate of Ansbach was one of the
petty German princedoms which had succeeded in
weatheringf the storm and stress of the Middle A^es.
At the time of Caroline's birth, any importance
Ansbach might have possessed to the outer world
arose from its connection with the Brancienburgs
and Hohenzollerns, of which connection the later
Margraves of Ansbach were alternately proud and
jealous. Ansbach can. with reason, claim to be the
cradle of the Hohenzollcrn kingdom. For nearly
five hundred years (from 1331 to 1806) the prince-
dom of Ansbach belonged to the Hohenzollerns,
and a succession of the greatest events of Prussian
history arose from the union of Prussia and Bran-
denburg and the margravate of Ansbach. It is not
certain how, or when, the link began. P>ul out of


the mist of ages emerges the fact, that when the
Burgrave Frederick V. divided his possessions into
the Oberland and Unterland, or Highlands and
Lowlands, Ansbach was raised to the dignity of
capital of the Lowland princedom, and a castle was
built. The Margrave Albert the Great, a son of the
Elector Frederick the First of Brandenburg, set up
his court at Ansbach, decreeing that it should remain
the seat of government for all time. Albert the
Great's court was more splendid and princely than
any in Germany ; he enlarged the already beautiful
castle, he kept much company and held brilliant
tournaments, and he founded the famous order of
the Knights of the Swan. The high altar, ela-
borately carved and painted, of the old Gothic
church of St. Gumbertus in Ansbach remains to
this day a monument of his munificence, and on the
walls of the chancel are the escutcheons of the
Knights of the Swan, and from the roof hang
down the tattered banners of the Margraves.

The succeeding Margraves do not call for any
special notice ; after the fashion of German princes
of that time, they spent most of their days in
hunting, and their nights in carousing. They were
distinguished from their neighbours only by their
more peaceful proclivities. Two names come to us
out of oblivion, George the Pious, who introduced
the Reformation into Franconia, and George
Frederick, who was guardian to the mad Duke
Albert Frederick of Prussia, and who consequently
managed Prussian affairs from Ansbach. With his


death in 1602 the elder branch of the Margraves

Caroline's father, the Margrave John Frederick,
was of the younger branch, and succeeded to the
margravate in 1667. John Frederick was a worthy-
man, who confined his ambitions solely to promoting
the prosperity of his princedom, and concerned him-
self with little outside it. When his first wife died,
he married secondly, and rather late in life, Eleanor
Erdmuthe Louisa, daughter of the Duke of Saxe-


Eisenach, a princess many years his junior, by whom
he had two children, a son, William Frederick, and
a daughter, Caroline, the subject of this book. There
is a picture of Caroline's parents in one of the state
rooms of the castle, which depicts her father as a
full-faced, portly man, with a brown wig, clasping
the hand of a plump, highly-coloured young woman,
with auburn hair, and large blue eyes. It is easy
to see that Caroline derived her good looks from
her mother. Her father died in 1686, and was
succeeded by his son, George Frederick, who was
the offspring of the first marriage.

As the Margrave George Frederick was a lad
of fourteen years of age at the time of his father's
death, the Elector Frederick the Third of Branden-
burg acted as his guardian, and for the next seven
years Ansbach was under the rule of a minor. As
the minor was her stepson, who had never shown any
affection for his stepmother or her children, the posi-
tion of the widowed Margravine Eleanor was not
a pleasant one. She was friendly with the Elector


and Electress of Brandenburg, and looked to them
for support, and on the eve of her stepson's majority
she went to Berlin on a long visit, taking with her
the little Princess Caroline, and leaving behind at
Ansbach her son, William Frederick, who was
heir-presumptive to the margravate. The visit was
eventful, for during it Eleanor became betrothed to
the Elector of Saxony, John George the Fourth.

The betrothal arose directly out of the newly
formed alliance between the Electors of Branden-
burg and Saxony. At the time of his meeting with
the young Margravine Eleanor the Elector of Saxony
was only twenty-five years of age. Nature had
endowed him with considerable talents and great
bodily strength, though a blow on the head had
weakened his mental powers, and his manhood did
not fulfil the promise of his youth. Before he
succeeded to the electorate of Saxony he had con-
ceived a violent passion for Magdalen Sybil von
Roohlitz, the daughter of a colonel of the Saxon
guard, a brunette of surpassing beauty, but so ignor-
ant that her mother had to write her love letters
for her. Magdalen gained complete sway over the
young Elector, and she, in her turn, was the tool of
her ambitious and intriguing mother. The Elector
endowed his favourite with great wealth, gave her
a palace and lands, surrounded her with a little
court, and honoured her as though she were his
consort. The high Saxon officials refused to bow-
down to the mistress, more especially as she was
said to be in the pay of the Emperor of Austria,


whereas the popular policy in Saxony at that time
was to lean towards Brandenburo-.


The Elector of Brandenburg and his consort
the Electress Sophie Charlotte came to Torgau
in 1692 to strengthen the alliance between the
electorates. The two Electors formed a new
order to commemorate the entente^ which was
called the "Order of the Golden Bracelet".
The Saxon Ministers hoped by this friendship
to draw their Elector from the toils of his mis-
tress and of Austria, and they persuaded him
to pay a return visit to the Court of Berlin.
While there the Elector oi Saxony met the young
widow the Margravine Eleanor, and became be-
trothed to her, to the great joy of the Elector and
Electress of Brandenburg. The wedding was
arranged to take place a little later at Leipzig,
and for a time everything went smoothly ; it seemed
that the power of the mistress was broken, and
she would have to retire. But when the Elector
of Brandenburg and the Electress Sophie Charlotte
accompanied the Margravine Eleanor to Leipzig for
the wedding, they found the Elector of Saxony in
quite another frame of mind, and he insulted his
future wife by receiving her in company with his
mistress. The negotiations had to begin all over
again, but after a great deal of unpleasantness and
many delays, the Elector of Saxony married, very
ungraciously and manifestly under protest, the
unfortunate Eleanor.

The Elector of Saxony's dislike to his wife, and


his reluctance to live with her, had been so marked
even before marriage, that many wondered why the
Margravine was so foolish as to enter upon a union
which held out so slender a promise of happiness.
But in truth she had not much choice ; she had very
little dower, she was anxious to find a home for
herself and her daughter Caroline, and she was
largely dependent on the Elector of Brandenburg's
goodwill ; she was, in short, the puppet of a political
intrigue. She returned with the Elector of Saxony
to Dresden, where her troubles immediately began.
The mistress had now been promoted to the rank
of a countess. The Electress's interests were with
Brandenburg, and the Countess's with Vienna, and,
apart from their domestic rivalries, their political
differences soon led to friction. The Elector openly
sliofhted and neglected his wife, and things went
from bad to worse at the Saxon Court ; so much
so, that the state of morals and manners threatened
to culminate in open bigamy. The Countess von
Roohlitz, prompted by her mother, declared her
intention of becoming the wife of the Elector
though he was married already, and though she
could not take the title of Electress, and the Elector
supported her in this extraordinary demand. He
gave her a written promise of marriage, and caused
pamphlets to be circulated in defence of polygamy.
It was vain for the Electress to protest ; her life
was in danger, attempts were made to poison her,
and at last she was compelled to withdraw from
the Court of Dresden to the dower-house of Pretsch,


taking her daughter Caroline with her. The mistress
had won all along the line, but in the supreme hour
of her triumph she was struck down by small-pox
and died after a brief illness. The Elector, who
was half-crazed with grief, would not leave her
bedside during the whole of her illness. He, too,
caught the disease, and died eleven days later. He
was succeeded by his brother, Augustus Frederick,
better known as " Augustus the Strong," and Eleanor
became the Electress-dowager of Saxony.

In the autumn of the same year (1694) the
Elector and Electress of Brandenburg paid a visit
to the Electress Eleanor, whose health had broken
down, and assured her of their support and affec-
tion, as indeed they ought to have done, considering
that they were largely the cause of her troubles.
At the same time the Elector and Electress pro-
mised to look after the interests of the little Prin-
cess Caroline, and to treat her as though she were
their own daughter.

The next two years were spent by the young
princess with her mother at Pretsch. It was a
beautiful spot, surrounded by woods and looking
down the fertile valley of the Elbe, and hard by was
the little town of Wittenberg", one of the cradles of
the Reformation. Luther and Melancthon lived at
Wittenberg ; their houses are still shown, and it was
here that Luther publicly burned the Papal bull ; an
oak tree marks the spot. Caroline must often have
visited Wittenberg ; she was about twelve years of
age at this time, and advanced beyond her years,


and it may be that much of the sturdy Protestantism
of her later Hfe was due to her early associations
with the home of Luther and Melanchthon.

In 1696 Caroline was left an orphan by the death
of her mother, and was placed under the care of
her guardians, the Elector and Electress of Bran-
denburg, at Berlin.



1 696- 1 705.

The Court of Berlin, where Caroline was to spend
the most impressionable years of her life, was queened
over at this time by one of the most intellectual and
gifted princesses in Europe. Sophie Charlotte,
Electress of Brandenburg, who in 1701, on her
husband's assumption of the regal dignity, became
first Queen of Prussia, was the daughter of that re-
markable woman, the Electress Sophia of Hanover,
and granddaughter of the gifted and beautiful
Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia, daughter of James
the First of England. These three princesses —
grandmother, mother and daughter — formed a trinity
of wonderful women.

Like her mother and grandmother, Sophie
Charlotte inherited many traits from her Stuart
ancestors ; Mary's wit and passion, James the First's
love of metaphysical and theological disputations,
were reproduced in her, and she possessed to no
small degree the beauty, dignity and personal charm
characteristic of the race, which even the infusion of
sluggish German blood could not mar. Her mother

Online LibraryW. H. (William Henry) WilkinsCaroline, the illustrious queen-consort of George II, and sometime queen-regent; a study of her life and time (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 24)