Queen Louise of Prussia
Princess Louise was born on March 10, 1776 in Hanover, Germany, the daughter of Prince Charles of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Early in 1792, when Louise was 16, her uncle, hoping to strengthen the ties between his family and the Prussian royal family, carefully plotted a meeting between Louise and Crown Prince Frederick William III. The plan worked, and they married. The Prince became King when his father died in 1797, and the beautiful and family-oriented Louise saw it as her duty to support her husband in all his endeavors. Meanwhile, the nation was charmed by the young Queen's grace, beauty, and wit. Historians have commented that Queen Louise was Prussian nationalism personified.
In 1804, with Napoleon's increasing violations of Prussian treaty rights, Louise (formerly ignorant of foreign policy) began to argue with King Frederick over his long-standing position of neutrality, pleading with him to break off all relations with the French Emperor. She took the initiative of contacting the Tsar of Russia and Emperor of Austria, both of whom, along with Frederick, signed the Potsdam Treaty on November 3, 1805--a treaty which allied these three nations against Napoleon. Napoleon termed Louise "My beautiful enemy" for her role in forming this alliance.
Napoleon eventually gained the upper hand over his enemies in battle. In 1807, both Louise and the King were forced to meet with Napoleon in person at Tilsit in Russia to sign a peace treaty. The stipulations of the treaty for Prussia were humiliating, and Louise felt discouraged. However, recognizing that her country depended upon her for moral strength, Louise regained her sense of optimism. She spoke of preparing her eldest son for the throne, even as Napoleon gutted her country.
Louise died on July 17th, 1810 from an unidentified illness. Sadly, she did not live to see either Napoleon's defeat in 1815, or the reestablishment of the Germanic Empire under Prussia just a few years later.
Anderson, Eugene. Nationalism and the Cultural Crisis in Prussia,
1806-1815. 2nd edition. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc.,
This book discusses the nationalistic contributions of Prussian monarchs, philosophers, writers, and other public figures in the years 1806-1815. An entire chapter deals with King Frederick William III, and several passages mention Queen Louise's role in encouraging the King to drive Napoleon from Prussia. This source is not recommended for studying Queen Louise, but it is an excellent source for researching the political controversies of her time.
Atkinson, C. T. A History of Germany, 1715-1815. 2nd edition. New
York, NY: Barnes & Noble, 1969.
This book gives the reader an extremely detailed account of Germany (including Prussia) during this period. Queen Louise is mentioned briefly, in regard to her distrust of France and criticism of Napoleon. Atkinson, who was a history lecturer at Oxford University in England at the time this work was originally published in 1908, intended A History for a scholarly audience; the text is lengthy and difficult to read.
Blanning, Tim. "Napoleon and German Identity." History Today
48 (1998): 37-43.
This article describes the growth of German (and Prussian) nationalism during Napoleon's reign as the French Emperor. Queen Louise is never directly mentioned, but Blanning attributes the explosion of national loyalty to the increasing defiance of German leaders. Although the writing is dry and aimed at a scholarly audience, this article presents a revealing glimpse into the political and social factors at work in Germany and Prussia during the period of Napoleon's reign.
Dixon, Ursula. "The Idol of a Nation." Ursula's History Web.
15 January 1998. <http://members.tripod.com/~Nevermore/urshist2.htm>
(20 November 2000) .
This is a superior site, in regard to quality information on Queen Louise. A table of contents guides the reader through fourteen short, comprehensive chapters that cover Louise's life chronologically. Each chapter focuses on the most important events at each point in her life as Queen, and includes colorful quotes from several major actors in her story. Although the author, Ursula Dixon, has no background in history, she supports the information contained in this site with a list of sources. This site is highly recommended for anyone researching Queen Louise, as the facts are presented plainly and concisely.
Elliot, Rich. "Beautiful Enemy Koenigen Louise von Preussen" RS
Prussia. (n.d.) <http://members.aol.com/rsprussia/page2.html>
(7 September 2004).
In this site, Rich Elliot summarizes the book, Beautiful Enemy: A Biography of Queen Louise of Prussia by Constance Wright. The text emphasizes that Louise had psychological rather than political power (i.e., power through her beauty and charm). Using her well-honed powers of persuasion, Louise inspired King Frederick, the Prussian public, and several major European leaders to resist Napoleon. The creator of this site presents a Queen Louise who was the hero of her country, although indirectly.
Kelly, Kevin J. "Portraits of Louise Augusta, Queen Prussia by
Elizabeth Louise Vigee Le Brun," Bat Guano Webworks. (n.d.) <http://www.batguano.com/Xqueenofprussia.html>
(7 September 2004).
Reproductions of several contemporary portraits, with commentary.
Koch, H. W. A History of Prussia. New York, NY: Dorset Press,
This book presents a concise history of Prussia from the 12th through the 20th centuries. There are several short passages on Queen Louise, which emphasize that her political power emerged primarily through her relationship to the King. This book is the most useful in establishing the historical precedent for Louise's popularity and influence with her people.
Moffat, Mary. Queen Louise of Prussia. New York, NY: E. P. Dutton and
This book offers an in-depth glimpse into the life of Queen Louise. From her early childhood to her domestic life as Queen, to each respective campaign on behalf of her country, this work presents a thorough and detailed account of her character and accomplishments. With its extensive historical details, this book is highly recommended for anyone researching not only Queen Louise herself, but this period in Prussian history in general.
Mueller, Hans Dieter. "Links zu anderen Websiten," Louise
von Pruessen und ihre Zeit <http://www.koenigin-luise.com/Links/links.html>
(7 September 2004).
Although most of the website is in German, this page includes links to sites in English.
See also <http://www.fortunecity.com/victorian/riley/787/Napoleon/Prussia/king/Queen.html>, a lengthy biography, but unable to find attribution.
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Originally written by Dawn Drumin, November 2000
Last Revision: 2005 January 5
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