Today in History - October 25th.1795 - Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg, who became Maria Feodorovna of Russia

October 25th. 1795 marks the birth of Princess Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg.

Source picture: Wikipedia

Princess Sophie Marie Dorothea Auguste Louise was the daughter of 
Friedrich II Eugen, Duke of Württemberg and his wife Friederike Dorothea
of Brandenburg-Schwedt.

Princess Sophie's education was better than average, her home was culture-
oriented and she would love the arts through her life. By the age of 16
she spoke German, French, Italian and Latin.

In 1773 she was among the group of German Princesses who could be
possible brides for the future Tsar Paul I.

At that time she was not yet 14 years old ... 
First Sophie was engaged to Prince Louis of Hesse, the brother of Tsar Paul's
first wife, but he became a widower in 1776. Frederick II of Prussia proposed 
Sophie as the ideal candidate and Prince Louis of Hesse received a monetary
compensation for breaking the engagement.

Frederick II of Prussia arranged a meeting in Berlin between Tsar Paul I and
Princess Sophie.  There they met each other for the first time at a state dinner.

Paul was happy with the young princess.
'I found my intended to be such as I could have dreamed of'
'She is tall, shapely, intelligent, quick-witted and not at all shy.'

Sophie's first impressions were no less enthusiastic:
'I'm more than content.'
'Never could I be happier. The Grand Duke could not be more kind.
I pride myself on the fact that my dear bridegroom loves me a great deal
and this makes me very fortunate.'

Sophie converted to the Russian Orthodox Church, she took the name
Maria Feodorovna and was styled Imperial Highness. The wedding 
festivities started on September 26th. 1776 and it turned out to be a
happy marriage.

They had 10 children.

Maria Feodorovna - Source picture: Wikipedia

Although, Catherine II still was empress of Russia. She ruled the country and
her family with a strong hand. The young couple was forced to live in isolation
and Catherine II raised the children of Paul I and Maria Feodorovna.

In September 1781 Paul I and Maria Feodorovna asked Catherine II for 
permission! to travel abroad to Western Europe.
They chosed the pseudonyms:Count and Countess of Severny.
The journey lasted fourteen months and took them to Poland, Austria, Italy,
France, Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany. 

In 1796 Catherine II died. It allowed Maria Feodorovna to have a prominent
role as Empress Consort. Her influence over Paul I was great. 

Maria Feodorovna had an exeptional taste. A lot of Palaces were decorated
under her personal guidance. She loved all the arts and supported them 
generously. She established one of the first schools for women in Russia, as
well as numerous charitable organizations in the Empire. 

On March 12th. 1801, Paul I was murdered. On the night of her husband's
assassination, Maria Feodorovna wanted to imitate the example of
Catherine II. She tried to proclaim herself Empress. It took Maria's son,
Alexander I, several days to persuade her to relinquish her claim.

Maria Feodorovna only was 42 years old when she became a widow.
The future and education of her daughters kept Maria's attention occupied
during the first years of her widowhood. She was a good and loving mother.

On November 5th. 1828 this caring woman died in Pavlovsk 
at the age of 69.


source picture: Wikipedia

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