Historical Figures

Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, opponent of Napoleon

Louise Augusta Wilhelmine Amélie of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1776 – 1810) was a sovereign of the former Kingdom of Prussia, known in particular for her opposition to Napoleon.

The princess and the prince

Born March 10, 1776, Louise was the daughter of Frédérique Caroline Louise, Princess of Hesse-Darmstadt, and Charles II of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Crown Prince of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, and the sixth of nine children. Her mother died when she was only six years old and, in 1784, her father remarried her sister-in-law, Charlotte, who herself died a year later leaving a son.

At the age of ten, Louise and her younger sister, Frédérique, were sent to Darmstadt, to their grandmother Marie-Louise, nicknamed "Princess Georges", who had the little girls brought up by a governess. Louise learns French, the harpsichord, the harp, and receives a Protestant religious education.

In 1793, Marie-Louise took her two granddaughters to pay their respects to King Frederick William II and met her son there, Frederic William of Prussia. Louise immediately pleased the young prince and, on December 24, 1793, Frédéric-Guillaume and Louise married. The same day, Frédérique marries Louis-Charles, the prince's younger brother. Renowned for her grace and generosity, Louise became very popular as soon as she arrived in Berlin, even before the wedding. The marriage is happy and the couple will have ten children, three of whom will not reach adulthood.

The war against Napoleon

On November 16, 1797, King Frederick William II died and his son succeeded him on the throne; Louise then becomes Queen of Prussia. She and her husband then begin a tour of the kingdom to meet their subjects and the Queen's popularity grows even further. Her presence alongside the king during this trip shows the important role she plays with him. Louise got involved in politics, made friends with ministers and advised her husband.

In 1805, England, Russia and Austria started the war against France and, in October, French troops entered Prussian territory. With other advisers to the king, Louise advises her husband to embark on the war against Napoleon. In 1806, the armies of Prussia were mobilized and Louise and Frédéric-Guillaume went to the front. At the Battle of Jena, they must flee before the French troops. The queen then contracts typhus, but still has to face the rigors of winter to take refuge in the east of the country.

Meeting with Napoleon

In 1807, Napoleon met the Prussian sovereigns and made them an offer of peace to Prussia, promising to leave half of the territory intact. Frédéric-Guillaume asks his pregnant wife to try to convince him to offer an arrangement more favorable to the kingdom. Although she despises Napoleon, Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz meets him in private and tries to use his charms to save "her Prussia", but fails. The Emperor, who called her "the only real man in Prussia", had a great respect for her but did not allow himself to be persuaded.

For the next few years, Louise devoted herself to preparing her eldest son for power. Suffering from a lung infection, she died on July 19, 1810, while visiting her father at Hohenzieritz Castle, at the age of 33.