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 Elizabeth of Mecklenburg

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Elizabeth of Mecklenburg

Original Name Elisabet Gustafsdotter of Sweden
Birth
Death 12 Nov 1597 (aged 48)
Burial Uppsala, Uppsala kommun, Uppsala län, Sweden
Memorial ID 15919525 View Source
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Princess and Duchess. Originally Princess of Sweden of the Vasa Dynasty. Daughter of King Gustav I and Queen Margaret.
After the death of her mother in 1551, placed in the care of Christina Gyllenstierna and then under her aunts Brita and Martha Leijonhufvud. In 1556 she and her sisters were given a dowry of 100,000 daler, their portraits were painted, their personal qualities described in Latin by the court poet Henricus Mollerus, and they were presented on the dynastic marriage market. She has been described as the happiest of King Gustav's children, cheerful and placid, as well as blond and pretty. She had her own court and was responsible for the upbringing of her brothers' illegitimate children. Her half-brother King Eric XIV's mistress and later Queen Catherine of Sweden was one of her maids. When he was dethroned in 1568, Elizabeth, her sister Sophia and their step-mother Dowager Queen Catherine Stenbock of Sweden were taken by boat from Stockholm's Three Crowns Castle to join the rebels headed by her brother Prince John in Upsala, who convinced them they were at risk due to Eric's mental condition.
Elizabeth often mediated conflicts between her siblings, keeping in lifelong contact with them through correspondence which also could be political. She was especially close to her youngest brother Carl.
In a disclosed plot tio kill John III it was noted that the suspected conspirators often had gathered in the apartment of Princess Elizabeth in meetings where her sister Princess Cecilia also frequently had been seen, and the two sisters and their brother Carl were somewhat compromised though never officially accused.
She was betrothed in 1562 to Christopher, Duke of Mecklenburg-Gadebusch. He was captured in warfare and held hostage for several years, so the engagement was broken. There was a conflict at John III's court as to whether she should be married to a Protestant or a Catholic. A marriage with Francis I Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany was negotiated. Assisted by brother Carl and sister Catherine she negotiated in secret for a marriage among the Protestant German princes, such as the dukes of Pomerania or Cleves. A marriage between Elizabeth and King Henry III of France was suggested in 1574, but the French ambassador was impressed by everything except her dowry.
Elizabeth could play the lute and was "by all regarded as one of the most accomplished and most virtuous princesses in Europe, ... no one had heard of any fault, physical nor in the mind".
In 1576, her former betrothed Christopher of Mecklenburg, now recently widowed, proposed a second time and was accepted. She arrived in Wismar in Mecklenburg in July, where she was welcomed by the nobility and representatives of the Hansa from Rostock and Lübeck. However, Elizabeth was not accepted by the pro-Danish family of her consort.
The couple lived in the city of Gadebusch in the part of Mecklenburg which had been divided into a duchy for him, Mecklenburg-Gadebush. They were described as happy, preserved letters showing that their union was happier and more personal than most royal marriages of the time.
Elizabeth actively worked for Swedish interests in Mecklenburg and had a lot of Swedes at her court. In 1589-1590 she arranged her widowed brother Carl's second marriage to Princess Christina of Holstein-Gottorp. In 1592 she was widowed herself, the lands of her consort then incorporated into those of her former in-laws, denying her access to her German dower lands and income.
In 1593, she returned to Sweden with her daughter and demanded to be given her Swedish dowry, which had never been paid. Carl secured Norrköping for her residence and income, where she mainly lived with her court.
Elizabeth died suddenly and unexpectedly in 1597. Her cenotaph is in Schwerin Cathedral in Germany; it had been constructed there for her and her spouse, but in the end she was buried in her father's family grave in Upsala Cathedral.
She and Christopher had only one child, a daughter named Margaret Elizabeth.


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