Sophie of Mecklenburg-Güstrow

Sophie of Mecklenburg-Güstrow

Sophie of Mecklenburg-Güstrow (4 September 1557, Wismar – 14 October 1631, Nykoping) was a German noblewoman and Queen of Denmark and Norway. She was the mother of King Christian IV of Denmark.

Early Life

She was the daughter of Duke Ulrich III of Mecklenburg-Güstrow and Princess Elizabeth of Denmark (a daughter of Frederick I and Sophie of Pomerania). Through her father, a grandson of Elizabeth of Oldenburg, she descended from king Hans of Denmark. She inherited from Ulrich a great love of knowledge. Later, she would be known as one of the most learned queens of the time.

Marriage and Children

Sophie married her husband, Frederick II, at fourteen, he twenty-three years older. Despite the age difference, the marriage was harmonious. Queen Sophie was a loving mother, nursing her children personally during their illnesses. Because her husband was well-known for vast meals, heavy drinking, and restless behavior which included unfaithfulness, she sent her three eldest children to live with her parents in Güstrow for their early years.

She also proved a diligent matchmaker. Her daughter, Anne of Denmark, would marry James I of England and become Queen consort in 1589.

On 20 July 1572, in Copenhagen, she married Frederick II of Denmark. They had eight children, seven of which lived to adulthood:
# Elisabeth (25 August 1573 – 19 June 1626), married in 1590 to Duke Henry Julius of Braunschweig.
# Anna (12 December 1574 – 2 March 1619), married on 23 November 1589 to King James I of England
# Christian IV of Denmark and Norway (12 April 1577 – 28 February 1648)
# Ulrik (30 December 1578 – 27 March 1624), Bishop of Schleswig, Duke of Mecklenburg-Güstrow, married Katharina Hahn
# Johan August (1579-1579), died in infancy
# Augusta (8 April 1580 – 5 February 1639), married on 30 August 1596 to Duke Johann Adolf of Holstein-Gottorp
# Hedwig (5 August 1581 – 26 November 1641), married on 12 September 1602 to Christian II, Elector of Saxony
# Johan of Schleswig-Holstein (9 July 1583 – 28 October 1602)

Later Life

Queen Sophie had no political power while her husband was alive. However, after her husband's death in 1588, she acted as regent for the duchies of her son, Christian IV. She was engaged in a power struggle with the Regents of Denmark and The Council of State, which had Christian declared of age in 1593. Sophie only gave up her position the following year, 1594. As such, she came into conflict with the government, which expelled her to the palace of Nykøbing Slot on the island of Falster. She spent her time here in the study of chemistry, astronomy and other sciences.

The Dowager Queen Sophie managed her estates in Lolland-Falster so well that her son had to borrow money from her on several occasions for his warfares. She was also engaged in large-scale trade and money-lending.

Sophie died at age seventy-four, a rich woman.

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