Sophie of Mecklenburg-Güstrow

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Sophie of Mecklenburg-Güstrow

Birthdate: (74)
Birthplace: Wismar, Germany
Death: October 14, 1631 (74)
Nykoping, Sweden
Managed by: Private User
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About 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 and cousin, Frederick II of Denmark, at fourteen, he twenty-three years older. King Frederick married her after being barred from marrying Anne of Hardenberg, the daughter of the Lord Chancellor. Despite the age difference between Sophie and Frederick, 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 showed interest in science and visited the astronomy of Tycho Brahe. She was also interested in the old songs from folklore.

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), married Lady Catherine 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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Sophie of Mecklenburg-Güstrow's Timeline

September 4, 1557
Wismar, Germany
October 14, 1631
Age 74
Nykoping, Sweden