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Truly romantic: the world-famous ruins

Heidelberg Palace

Das Elisabethentor von Schloss Heidelberg; Foto: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Günther Bayerl
An alliance between the Electoral Palatinate and England

A marriage of convenience,

or of love?

On February 14, 1613, Prince-Elector Friedrich V married Elizabeth Stuart, the daughter of King James I, in London. 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. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Andrea Rachele

The groom from the Electoral Palatinate.

THE MARRIAGE OF FRIEDRICH V AND ELIZABETH

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. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Günther Bayerl

A marriage of love in Heidelberg.

MARRIAGE AS A POLITICAL INSTRUMENT

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. Image: Wikipedia, public

Elizabeth as the happy wife.

A HAPPY COEXISTENCE

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 Palace in relative comfort. 

Elizabeth Gate at Heidelberg Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Lothar Becker

A birthday present for an English bride.

THE ELIZABETH GATE

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 Palace, adding the English Building as a palace for Elizabeth. A new palace 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.