Elisabeth Christine, Queen of Prussia (c. 1740)
Elisabeth Christine (1715-97), the daughter of Duke Ferdinand Albrecht II of Brunswick-Bevern (r. 1735) and the niece of Emperor Charles VI (r. 1711-40), married Frederick II (“the Great”) (r. 1740-86) in 1733. The marriage had been arranged for Prussian diplomatic advantage and occurred against Frederick’s will. This being the case, he viewed it as a political duty and as the price for freedom from his overbearing father. Unloved by her husband, whom she saw only at official functions, Elisabeth Christine lived separately at Schönhausen Castle, north of Berlin. Only once did she visit Frederick’s Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam – in secret, while he was away campaigning in the Seven Years War (1756-63). Pushed to the margins of Prussian court life, Elisabeth Christine dedicated her time to reading, painting, playing cards and contributing to charitable causes. Her marriage remained childless. Oil on canvas by Antoine Pesne (1683-1757), c. 1740.