14 February 2015

Today's Princess: Charlotte Helene von Schindel

A man of many wives: Frederick IV of Denmark
Via Wikimedia Commons
While England's King Henry VIII may have set the record for total number of wives, Denmark's King Frederick IV tried to set the record for most wives at once. When he met today's lady, Charlotte Helene von Schindel, he already had two wives: his Queen Louise of Mecklenburg-Gustrow and a morganatic wife, Elizabeth Helene von Vieregg, whom he married to protect her reputation notwithstanding laws against bigamy. Citing the multi-wived patriarchs of the Bible, Frederick had no qualms about the situation.

He was still fathering children by his Queen when he got Elizabeth pregnant. As a lady-in-waiting to Elizabeth, Charlotte watched her pregnancy grow and, perhaps was already fending off (or yielding to) advances from the King. Certainly, after Elizabeth died in childbirth, the King was ready to make Charlotte his new Number Two Wife. This time, however, the church leaders decided polygamy wasn't legitimate.

Charlotte, now the Countess of Frederiksholm, settled in as the King's mistress but she was soon replaced by a slightly younger, prettier girl, Anne Sophie Reventlow, whose attractions were strong enough to cause the King to again become a polygamist once again. Charlotte was retired to they countryside at the grand old age of 21.

Fearful of the King's possible reaction, she embarked upon an affair with Ernst G. Bulow. When they were unable to conceal the child they had together, Frederick discovered their tryst. He made them leave Denmark but not before allowing them to marry. After Bulow's death, Charlotte moved around a bit before finally returning to Denmark, where she died at the age of 60.

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