Open main menu

Princess Eleonore Erdmuthe of Saxe-Eisenach

Princess Eleonore Erdmuthe Louise of Saxe-Eisenach (13 April 1662 – 9 September 1696), was a German princess member of the House of Wettin and through her two marriages was Margravine of Brandenburg-Ansbach (from 1681 to 1686) and Electress of Saxony (from 1692 to 1694).

Princess Eleonore Erdmuthe
Eleonore Erdmuthe Louise von Sachsen-Eisenach.jpg
Margravine consort of Brandenburg-Ansbach
Tenure4 November 1681 – 22 March 1686
PredecessorJohanna Elisabeth of Baden-Durlach
SuccessorChristiane Charlotte of Württemberg-Winnental
Electress consort of Saxony
Tenure17 April 1692 - 27 April 1694
PredecessorAnna Sophie of Denmark
SuccessorChristiane Eberhardine of Brandenburg-Bayreuth
Born(1662-04-13)13 April 1662
Died9 September 1696(1696-09-09) (aged 34)
Schloss Pretzsch, Pretzsch
Full name
Eleonore Erdmuthe Louise
FatherJohn George I, Duke of Saxe-Eisenach
MotherCountess Johanna of Sayn-Wittgenstein


Eleonore Erdmuthe Louise was the eldest child of John George I, Duke of Saxe-Eisenach, and Johannetta of Sayn-Wittgenstein. Of her seven younger siblings, only four survived to adulthood: Frederick August, Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Eisenach, John George II, Duke of Saxe-Eisenach, John William III, Duke of Saxe-Eisenach and Fredericka Elisabeth (by marriage Duchess of Saxe-Weisselfels).

In Eisenach on 4 November 1681, Eleonore married firstly John Frederick, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach as his second wife.

After the death of her husband (22 March 1686), the government of Brandenburg-Ansbach passed to her stepson Christian Albert (eldest surviving son of her husband's first marriage), who being a minor ruled under a regency. Because her relationship with her stepchildren was not good since the beginning, Eleonore and her children moved to Crailsheim, where they lived in poverty; shortly after, she returned alone to her homeland Eisenach,[1][2] while her children were sent to Berlin, where they became companions of Frederick William, Electoral Prince of Brandenburg. In November 1691 Eleonore also arrived in Berlin to actively participate in the negotiations of her second marriage.[3]

Electress of SaxonyEdit

In Leipzig on 17 April 1692, Eleonore married secondly John George IV, Elector of Saxony[4][5] and moved with her children to Dresden, where the Saxon court was established. The wedding was concluded at the insistence of Frederick III, Elector of Brandenburg (who wanted to secure an alliance with Saxony)[a][6] and the Dowager Electress Anna Sophie of Denmark, ostensibly to produce legitimate heirs to the Electorate of Saxony but truly to end the liaison between her son and his mistress, Magdalene Sibylle "Billa" of Neidschutz.

The union proved to be unsuccessful;[2] John George IV lived openly with Billa, and she became the first ever Official Mistress (Favoritin) of an Elector of Saxony; while Eleonore was relegated to the Hofe (the official residence of the Elector).[1] In addition, the Electress suffered two miscarriages during their marriage, in August 1692[4] and February 1693,[7] and a phantom pregnancy in December 1693.[8] In March 1693 began rumors at the Saxon court that Eleonore was not the lawful wife of John George IV, because at the time of their marriage, he was already married with Billa;[9] There was even found a document confirming the conclusion of a marriage contract between the Elector of Saxony and his mistress, but John George IV (probably fearing the anger of the Hohenzollerns) said that he did not consider this contract as a formal marriage, and that it was only made for the purpose of legitimizing his offspring with Billa.[7] Nevertheless, throughout his marriage, John George IV desperately wanted to legitimize the relationship with his mistress and tried to get rid of his wife and her children; fearing for her and her children's lives, Eleonore left the Hofe and settled in Pretzsch.[10] During this time, Eleonore confided in the English diplomat George Stepney, who wrote extensively about her and the Saxon court.

Later lifeEdit

John George IV died on 27 April 1694 from smallpox after being infected by the dying Billa.[10][11] The new Elector, Frederick Augustus I allowed the Dowager Electress and her children to remain in Pretzsch, where they lived until Eleonore's death two years later, on 9 September 1696.[10][11][12] She was buried at Freiberg Cathedral.

After her death, Eleonore's children were sent back to Ansbach to the court of their older half-brother George Frederick II,[5] who became in the new Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach after Christian Albert's death in 1692. George Frederick II, as well as his predecessor, was a minor and ruled under a regency, who had little interest in the education of the children. William Frederick stayed in Ansbach and in 1703 after the death of his brother inherited the Margraviate; Caroline went to Berlin at Charlottenburg Palace under the care of Frederick III, Elector of Brandenburg, and his wife, Sophia Charlotte of Hanover, who was a friend of Eleonore.[2][10][13]


She had three children:[14]


  1. ^ The Electorate of Saxony was heavily influenced by Austria. Saxon Field Marshal Hans Adam von Schöning longed for liberation of the Electorate from Austrian influence. To this end, he made sure that John George IV made an offer to Eleonore, who by her first marriage now belonged to the House of Hohenzollern. This option is most suited and Frederick III, as the marriage of Eleonore and John George IV marked the actual transition of the Electorate to the side of the future King of Prussia.


  1. ^ a b Arkell 1939, p. 5.
  2. ^ a b c Beatty 2003, p. 134.
  3. ^ Sharp 2001, p. 21.
  4. ^ a b Sharp 2001, p. 23.
  5. ^ a b Van der Kiste 2013, p. 2.
  6. ^ Van der Kiste 2013, pp. 2–3.
  7. ^ a b Sharp 2001, p. 38.
  8. ^ Sharp 2001, pp. 48–49.
  9. ^ Sharp 2001, p. 37.
  10. ^ a b c d Van der Kiste 2013, p. 3.
  11. ^ a b Arkell 1939, p. 6.
  12. ^ Hichens 2006, p. 19.
  13. ^ Arkell 1939, pp. 6–7.
  14. ^ a b Weir 2011, pp. 277–278.
  15. ^ Van der Kiste 2013, p. 17.
  16. ^ Beatty 2003, pp. 138–166.


  • Arkell, Ruby Lillian Percival. Caroline of Ansbach. Oxford University Press, 1939. 338 p.
  • Beatty, Michael A. The English Royal Family of America, from Jamestown to the American Revolution. McFarland, 2003 pp. 133–138. 261 p. ISBN 0786415584, ISBN 9780786415588.
  • Böttcher, Hans-Joachim. Johann Georg IV. von Sachsen und Magdalena Sibylla von Neitschütz - Eine tödliche Liaison. Dresden 2014. ISBN 978-3-941757-43-1.
  • Hichens, Mark. Wives of the Kings of England: From Hanover to Windsor. Peter Owen, 2006. 182 p. ISBN 0720612713, ISBN 9780720612714.
  • Sharp, Tony. Pleasure and Ambition: The Life, Loves and Wars of Augustus the Strong, 1670-1707. London: I.B. Tauris, 2001. ISBN 0857715712, ISBN 9780857715715
  • Van der Kiste, John. George II and Queen Caroline. Stroud, Gloucestershire: The History Press, 2013. 240 p. ISBN 0750954485, ISBN 9780750954488.
  • Weir, Alison. Britain's Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy. Random House, 2011 pp. 277–278. 400 p. ISBN 1446449114, ISBN 9781446449110.
Princess Eleonore Erdmuthe of Saxe-Eisenach
Born: 13 April 1662 Died: 9 September 1696
German nobility
Title last held by
Johanna Elisabeth of Baden-Durlach
Margravine consort of Brandenburg-Ansbach
4 November 1681 – 22 March 1686
Title next held by
Christiane Charlotte of Württemberg-Winnental
Title last held by
Anna Sophie of Denmark
Electress consort of Saxony
17 April 1692 – 27 April 1694
Succeeded by
Christiane Eberhardine of Brandenburg-Bayreuth