Sophie or Sophia Hedwig of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (1 December 1561 at Hessen Castle – 30 January 1631 in Loitz) was a princess of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel by birth and by marriage a Duchess of Pomerania-Wolgast.
Sophia Hedwig of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
|Born||1 December 1561|
|Died||30 January 1631 (aged 69)|
|Buried||St. Peter's Church in Wolgast|
|Noble family||House of Guelph|
|Spouse(s)||Ernst Ludwig, Duke of Pomerania|
|Father||Julius, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel|
|Mother||Hedwig of Brandenburg|
Sophia Hedwig was the eldest child of the Duke Julius of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (1528-1589) from his marriage to Hedwig (1540-1602), the daughter of Elector Joachim II of Brandenburg. Her parents provided her with a comprehensive and thorough education and started marriage negotiations when she was young.
She married as a 16-year-old on 20 October 1577 in Wolgast to Duke Ernst Ludwig of Pommern-Wolgast (1545-1592). Her father sent Lutheran theologicians to the court at Wolgast, who tried to move the court to accept the Formula of Concord as the authoritative formulation of the Lutheran creed. The court did not accept this formula. Ernst Ludwig ordered structural changes to Wolgast Castle, replacing the medieval northeast wing by a new residential wing. Like her mother, Sophia Hedwig was described as high spirited. She took care of the poor and the needy and was not deterred by a plague epidemic.
Ernst Ludwig died in 1592, after 15 years of marriage. In addition to her jointure, the castle and district of Loitz, he left her Ludwigsburg estate near Greifswald, which he had already given to her in 1586, and the Jamitsow estate at the Peenestrom. She soon swapped the latter for the Zerpenzyn estate, opposite the city of Loitz. She change the name Zerpenzyn to Sophienhof ("Sophie's Court") in 1594. Her children moved with her to her widow seat at Loitz. She wrote a hymn to commemorate her husband's death. It was published by Ambrosius Lobwasser. Between 1597 and 1601, she accompanied her son, who was introduced into the business of government by his guardian and regent Duke Bogislaw XIII.
During her husband's lifetime, Sophia Hedwig had rebuilt the castle at Loitz as a renaissance château. After his death, she embellished it further. She also remodeled and extended the St. Mary's Church in Loitz. The château has since been demolished and no trace of it remains. Some of her contributions to the church, however, are still there, among them the ducal seats, a double portrait of herself and her husband, and numerous coats of arms of their ancestors.
Her husband also gave her an estate in Dersin near Loissin, where she built a castle named Schloss Ludwigsburg, after her husband. Loitz and Ludwigsburg remained her dowager residences until her death.
When the inventory of her court was taken in 1593, an Amtshauptmann was present, as were a treasurer, a comptroller, a Hofmeister, a governess, a lady-in-waiting and several chamber staff, kitchen staff, cellar staff and stable hands.
Sophia Hedwig was described as interested in economic processes, but also as wasteful and overbearing. She is considered one of the more influential duchesses in Pomerania. Her son survived her by nearly six years; he died in the turmoil of the Thirty Years' War. The war delayed her funeral by almost two years. She was buried in the ducal crypt in the St. Peter's Church in Wolgast. Her tomb was restored a few years ago, as were the tombs of her son, her husband and her in-laws.
From her marriage, Sophia Hedwig had three children:
- Hedwig Maria (1579–1606)
- Elisabeth Magdalena (1580–1649)
- married in 1600 Friedrich Kettler, Duke of Courland and Zemgale (1569–1642)
- Philip Julius (1584–1625), Duke of Pomerania-Wolgast
- married in 1604 to Princess Agnes of Brandenburg (1584–1629)
- Dirk Schleinert: Herzogin Sophia Hedwig von Pommern-Wolgast - ein Lebensbild, in: Dirk Schleinert and Ralf-Gunnar Werlich: Loitz - Stadt an der Peene. Beiträge zur Geschichte und zu ihren Bau- Kunstdenkmalen (Beiträge zur pommerschen Landes-, Kirchen- und Kunstgeschichte, Bd. 10), Schwerin, 2008, p. 101-114.
- Dirk Schleinert: Das Amt Loitz von 1592 bis 1631. Zu den wirtschaftlichen und finanziellen Grundlagen eines fürstlichen Witwensitzes in: Martina Schattkowsky (ed.): Witwenschaft in der frühen Neuzeit. Fürstliche und adlige Witwen zwischen Fremd- und Selbstbestimmung, Leipziger Universitätsverlag, 2003, p. 378-402.
- Dirk Schleinert: Die Hochzeit des Herzogs Ernst Ludwig von Pommern mit Sophia Hedwig von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel im Jahre 1577, in: Pommern. Zeitschrift für Kultur und Geschichte, vol. 37, 1999, issue 4, p. 7-15.
- Albrecht Classen: Mein Seel fang an zu singen, Peeters Publishers, 2002, p. 363 ff.
- She herself always spelled her name as "Sophia Hedwig"
- Heinrich Heppe: Geschichte der lutherischen Concordienformel und Concordie, Elwert, 1858, p. 311
- Roderich Schmidt: Das historische Pommern, Böhlau Verlag, Cologne and Weimar, 2009, p. 174
- Wilhelm Havemann: Geschichte der Lande Braunschweig und Lüneburg, 1855, p. 418 Online
- Dirk Schleinert: Das Amt Loitz von 1592 bis 1631. Zu den wirtschaftlichen und finanziellen Grundlagen eines fürstlichen Witwensitzes, in: Martina Schattkowsky (ed.): Witwenschaft in der frühen Neuzeit. Fürstliche und adlige Witwen zwischen Fremd- und Selbstbestimmung, Leipziger Universitätsverlag, 2003, p. 378-402
- Linda Maria Koldau: Frauen-Musik-Kultur, Böhlau Verlag, Cologne and Weimar, 2005, p. 393
- Dirk Schleinert, Zur Geschichte des Loitzer Schlosses, in: Dirk Schleinert and Ralf-Gunnar Werlich: Loitz - Stadt an der Peene. Beiträge zur Geschichte und zu ihren Bau- Kunstdenkmalen, in the series Beiträge zur pommerschen Landes-, Kirchen- und Kunstgeschichte, vol. 10, Schwerin, 2008, p. 33-46
- Ralf-Gunnar Werlich: Die heraldische Ahnengalerie der Herzogin Sophia Hedwig von Pommern-Wolgast in der Loitzer Pfarrkirche St. Marien, in: Dirk Schleinert and Ralf-Gunnar Werlich: Loitz - Stadt an der Peene. Beiträge zur Geschichte und zu ihren Bau- Kunstdenkmalen, in the series Beiträge zur pommerschen Landes-, Kirchen- und Kunstgeschichte, vol. 10, Schwerin, 2008, p. 127-166
- Ute Essegern: Fürstinnen am kursächsischen Hof, Leipziger Universitätsverlag, 2007, p. 45
- Julius H. Biesner: Geschichte von Pommern und Rügen, Koch, 1839, p. 397