Weird History
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She Was Only Queen For 3 Months, And Her Tragic Fall Plunged Europe Into War For 30 Straight Years

Updated August 14, 2020 117.3k views13 items

She was the goddaughter of Queen Elizabeth I and grandmother to King George I, and every British monarch since 1714 has been her direct descendent. Elizabeth Stuart, the Winter Queen, may have only held her royal title for a short time, but she was extremely powerful in European politics. 

In 1619, Elizabeth was crowned Queen of Bohemia (the modern-day Czech Republic), a throne she went on to lose in 1620. She devoted the rest of her life to regaining her lands, even throwing a basket of diamonds on the floor because she'd rather have soldiers. The Thirty Years' War consumed most of Elizabeth's adult life, and she fought as hard as the other famous warrior queens in history for her title.

Even though the Winter Queen only ruled for a short time, she rivals her descendant Queen Victoria as a powerful ruler. Both had a bevvy of children – nine for Victoria, 13 for Elizabeth – and both had extravagant weddings and spent decades in mourning after their husbands died. The Winter Queen also loved exotic animals – could that be why her direct descendent Queen Elizabeth II owns England's swans and dolphins?

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  • Photo: Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    She And Frederick V Threw The Celebrity Wedding Of The Century

    It was the wedding of the century, "a wonder of ceremonial and magnificence even for that extravagant age." In 1613, Elizabeth married Frederick V of the Palatinate. He was one of the seven electors who chose the Holy Roman Emperor and the head of the Protestant Union. Plus, the two loved each other deeply. Their wedding took place on Valentine's Day.

    Elizabeth wore silver cloth lined with taffeta and a crown "of immense value." She had 16 bridesmaids, all dressed in white satin, to carry her train. Her hair hung loose, tied with multiple rolls of "gold spangles, pearls, rich stones and diamonds." As if that weren't extravagant enough, "many diamonds of inestimable value were embroidered upon her sleeves which even dazzled and amazed the eyes of all the beholders."

  • Photo: Nicholas Hilliard / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    En Route To Her New Home, She Gave Away The Crown Jewels – And An Ambassador Had To Track Them Back Down

    After she married Frederick, Elizabeth Stuart undertook the long journey to Heidelberg, Germany. Over the course of 58 days, she gave away a number of jewels as gifts to the people she met. There was just one problem with her generosity: those were the Crown Jewels, and Elizabeth wasn't supposed to give them away. King James had to send an ambassador to retrace Elizabeth's steps and retrieve the expensive presents.

    Once Frederick and Elizabeth reached Heidelberg, the two lived together happily. They had three children in the first six years of their marriage, and Elizabeth maintained her love of exotic pets by founding a menagerie within her impressive gardens which were called the "eighth wonder of the world." But their blissful life changed when the Kingdom of Bohemia revolted and asked Frederick to be their king.

  • Photo: Balthasar Moncornet / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Elizabeth And Frederick Were Crowned King And Queen Of Bohemia In 1619, And Religious Tensions Flared

    Elizabeth and Frederick were blissfully happy, but trouble was simmering all around them. The main cause was religion, the aftermath of the Reformation that continued to shake Europe. In 1618, the Protestants of Bohemia revolted against the Catholic heir to their throne, Ferdinand. When he tried to claim his title, two of his ministers were thrown from the window of the Prague castle, and Ferdinand was chased away. The Bohemians asked Frederick V, Elizabeth's husband, to become the King of Bohemia. 

    He accepted, and in November of 1619, Frederick and Elizabeth were crowned the new King and Queen of Bohemia. But Ferdinand was not willing to give up his claim to Bohemia. And so the newly crowned rulers had to fight for their throne.

  • Photo: Peter Snayers / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Elizabeth Lost Her Crown At The Bloody Battle of White Mountain

    The Catholic army of Ferdinand marched on Prague in the fall of 1520, as Frederick and Elizabeth were celebrating their one-year-anniversary of ruling Bohemia. A massive army of 27,000 men closed in on Prague, and Frederick was only able to rally 15,000 men to defend his crown. 

    The Bohemian army was no match for Ferdinand's forces. The Battle of White Mountain lasted only an hour and left Frederick's army in tatters. Frederick and Elizabeth were forced to flee from Prague, while Elizabeth was eight months pregnant. And Ferdinand's vengeance didn't end there. He also took the Palatinate, leaving Frederick and Elizabeth without any territory to their names.