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This section introduces the Queen Consorts who form the basis of our research for this project. The links below provides basic biographical information for each queen in question; and outlines the specific aspect(s) of her life that form the focus of our research.

Anna Catharina Constantia

Anna Catharina Constantia (1619-1651), Princess of Poland and Sweden, Duchess of Pfalz-Neuburg, was born on August 7, 1619 in Warsaw as the seventh child of the royal couple Sigismund III Waza, king of Poland and his second wife Constantia of Austria, She was the twelfth child of the king.

Anna Catharina Constantia lost her parents early – Queen Constance died in 1631 and Sigismund III in 1632, when the princess was 13 years old. Her step-brother Vladislaus became her legal guardian and acceded to the throne in 1633. The princess accompanied the King on most official journeys and in 1636 she was presented to the world during summer festivities in Vilnius.

Catherine of Braganza

Catherine of Braganza (1638-1705) was the Portuguese wife of Charles II, King of England (1630-1685) from 1662-1685. Catherine was born into the House of Braganza, the most senior noble house in Portugal. Her father, John, 8th Duke of Braganza, was proclaimed King John IV in 1640 after leading a rebellion which ended sixty years of Spanish rule in Portugal. Portugal was not recognised as a state by most European powers (this was due to Spain disputing the legitimacy of its independence), and the marriage of Catherine to a foreign prince was therefore a vehicle of gaining some recognition.

Elizabeth of Austria

Elizabeth of Austria (1526-1545) was the eldest child of the Habsburg king Ferdinand I and Queen Anne of Bohemia and Hungary. Her marriage to the future king of Poland, Sigismund Augustus (1520-1572), son of King Sigismund I and Queen Bona Sforza, was planned almost from her birth.

Catherine of Austria (1533-1572) was the seventh child of Ferdinand I of Habsburg and Anne of Bohemia and Hungary and therefore Elizabeth’s sister. When she was 16 years old, in 1549, she was married to the Prince of Mantua, Francesco III Gonzaga. The marriage lasted only about four months, due to the death of her husband.

Hedwig Eleonora

Hedwig Eleonora (1636-1715) was the sixth of sixteen children born to Friedrich and Marie Elisabeth of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorf. She was one of the six daughters of the couple who lived to adulthood and although her early youth was marked by the Thirty Years’ War, her home court at Gottorf was a vibrant cultural centre which attracted artists, poets and scholars and her father financed expeditions to Moscow and Persia.

Luise Ulrike

Luise Ulrike of Prussia (24 July 1720 – 16 July 1782) was born in Berlin in 1720, the daughter of the king of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm I, and his wife, Sophie Dorothea von Hannover. She was one of the siblings of Friedrich the Great. In 1744, she married Adolf Friedrich of Holstein-Gottorp, recently elected crown prince of Sweden. In 1751, following the king’s death, her husband acceded to the throne and she became queen of Sweden.

Maria Amalia

Maria Amalia, Queen of the Two Sicilies (24 November 1724 – 27 September 1760), was born in Dresden in 1724, the daughter of Friedrich August II, Elector of Saxony. On the death of her grandfather, the charismatic monarch August the Strong, who reigned as August II of Poland from 1697-1733, her father was elected king of Poland and took the name August III. In 1738 Maria Amalia married Carlo VII, the first Bourbon king of the Two Sicilies. He was the son of Philip V of Spain and, in 1759, he succeeded his father as Carlos III, king of Spain.

Marie-Louise Gonzague de Nevers

Marie-Louise Gonzague de Nevers (1611–1667), Queen consort to two Polish kings, Władysław IV Vasa, king of Poland, and after his death, to his step-brother and successor, Jan II Kazimierz Vasa. According to early prognostics, “she was born to reign”; thus, after failed fiançailles with Gaston d’Orléan and a wretched romance with marquis Cinq-Mars, Marie-Louise eagerly accepted the Mazarin’s plan to marry her to the recently widowed Polish king, Władysław IV Vasa. Wedded per procura to the king in Paris in 1645, the thirty-four-year-old bride arrived in Poland.

Zofia Jagiellonka

Zofia Jagiellonka (1522-1575), Princess of Poland, was the second daughter of the Polish King Zygmunt the Old (1467-1548) and the Italian Princess Bona Sforza (1494-1557). Zofia lived in the castle on the Wawel in Cracow with her younger sisters Anna and Katarzyna for more than 30 years, during the heyday of the Polish Renaissance. The daughters received an ample education and, though they did not learn German, they did acquire Italian through the many Italians present at court and benefitted too from the stimulating intellectual atmosphere of both the court and the city.

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