08 April 2015

Today's Princess: Margaret of Saxony, Duchess of Brunswick-Luneburg

via Wikimedia Commons
The youngest daughter of Elector Ernest of Saxony and Elizabeth of Bavaria, Margaret of Saxony (1469-1528) was part of a Catholic family divided by the Reformation. Two of her five brothers were Catholic priests, one was even the Archbishop of Magdeburg while oldest brother Elector Frederick III was one of the earliest and most ardent defenders of Martin Luther. With only two daughters in the family, they were both saved for political marriages. Older sister Christina became the Queen of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, while Margaret was engaged to the young Duke Henry I of Brunswick-Luneburg from an early age.

With her fiance living in her family's Saxon court from the time he was 12 and she was 11, Margaret was certainly familiar with him by the time they finally married at the ripe, old ages of 19 and 18. In the meantime, Margaret had suffered a string of losses. Her mother passed away after a long illness when Margaret was 15. Sister Christina left for the north when Margaret was 16. Her father died after falling from a horse when she was 17.

With their marriage, Margaret and Henry took up residence at Celle Castle, which centuries later became the home of the infamous Queen Caroline Matilda of Denmark, when she was banished for her extramarital escapades.

Henry lacked the military and political acumen to maintain control of his own territory. After winning the Battle of Soltau in 1519, politics robbed him of his victory and his authority was given to his and Margaret's two eldest sons, who were both supporters of the Reformation. Henry enlisted the help of the anti-Reformation force to attempt a return in 1527, but was unsuccessful. Margaret died shortly after.

Together, they had seven children--all of their sons were Protestant Reformers while two daughters, including a nun named Apollonia, were stalwart Catholics.

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