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Sophie Charlotte, Queen of Prussia (1705)
Sophie Charlotte (1668-1705), the daughter of Duke Ernst August of Braunschweig-Lüneburg (r. 1679-98), was the second wife of Elector Frederick III of Brandenburg (who eventually ruled as King Frederick I of Prussia). Unlike his father, Frederick William (“the Great Elector”), Frederick spent lavishly on Baroque pomp and display. Sophie Charlotte, “the philosophical queen,” was responsible to a considerable extent for soft-pedaling the Calvinist discipline of her husband’s father. Under her influence, the Brandenburg court was transformed into a free-spending and luxury-loving venue. Yet her expenditures, like her husband’s, gave a welcome boost to the arts and sciences. Together with the philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716), she co-founded the Berlin Society of Sciences (1700), the precursor to the Prussian Academy of Sciences. Sophie Charlotte also commissioned the palace named after her, Berlin’s Charlottenburg. Painting by Friedrich Wilhelm Weidemann (1668-1750), 1705.