Prince-Elector Friedrich V and Elizabeth Stuart with children

An alliance between the Electoral Palatinate and EnglandA marriage of convenience,or of love?

Prince-Elector Friedrich V married Elizabeth Stuart, the daughter of King James I, in 1613. The marriage was construed as a win for the Protestant powers. The marriage, which had been arranged for political reasons, is said to have grown into a marriage of love.

Sculpture of Friedrich V

The groom from the Electoral Palatinate.


Their wedding was orchestrated at great expense, with festive meals, music, masquerades and tournaments. Celebrations were held in London and Heidelberg. This dynastic union was apportioned great importance as it sealed an alliance between the Electoral Palatinate and England. The union was also a clear signal against the Catholic-Habsburg ascendancy in Europe, and was therefore euphorically celebrated by the Protestant public.

The Friedrich Building at twilight

A marriage of love in Heidelberg.


Well into the 19th century, marriages were concluded as a means of securing aristocratic dynasties or forging alliances, to obtain land holdings or provide maintenance funds. Love and sexuality were considered more extramarital matters. Not until the Romantic period did the ideal of joining love, sexuality and marriage take hold. Thus, the idea of choosing one's own partner gradually gained importance. 

Elizabeth Stuart, painting by Michiel van Miereveldt

Elizabeth as the happy wife.


For the time, the marriage of Friedrich V and Elizabeth was fairly unusual. It was originally concluded for political reasons, but grew into a marriage of love. After their wedding, the lively Stuart princess and the melancholic Friedrich V von der Pfalz had a happy marriage. They enjoyed their shared years at Heidelberg Castle in relative comfort. 

Elizabeth Gate at Heidelberg Castle

A birthday present for an English bride.


Friedrich V commissioned architect Salomon de Caus with the construction of the Elizabeth Gate in 1615. According to legend, the Renaissance gate was built in a single night and was a birthday gift for his wife. Friedrich V expanded Heidelberg Castle, adding the English Wing as a castle for Elizabeth. A new castle garden, the Hortus Palatinus, was also added, likewise designed by Salomon de Caus. The architect had been living at the English court and came to Heidelberg as part of the bride's retinue.