Sunday, February 3, 2019

Carolina of Orange Nassau by Moniek Bloks

Sometimes the best things come in little packages -- or in the case of Princess Carolina of Orange-Nassau -- the best things are under 100 pages.

Carolina of Orange-Nassau (Chronos Books) is Dutch historian Moniek Bloks' first book.  She does not disappoint.

Princess Carolina (1743-1787) was the eldest surviving child of Willem IV, Prince of Orange and Anne, Princess Royal, who was the eldest daughter of King George II

Pregnancy was difficult for Princess Anne, as she had several unsuccessful pregnancies before giving birth to Carolina, named for her maternal grandmother, Queen Caroline.  The succession laws for the seven united stadtholders in the Netherlands, headed by Carolina's father, was made hereditary for the house of Orange.  Female succession was also approved, thus Carolina remained in line for the succession, even after Anne gave birth to a son, Willem, in 1748.

Carolina's descendants remain in line to the Dutch throne until 1922 when the Netherlands government promulgated a new constitution.

A marriage was arranged with Prince Carl Christian of Nassau-Weilburg, a German prince.  The early years of the marriage were spent in the Netherlands as Carolina's position as in the succession remained important when her brother was a minor and unmarried.

Bloks offers her readers diligent research with access in the Dutch royal archives (with the permission of King Willem-Alexander), where Carolina's papers are located.  Unfortunately,  the collection of Carolina's letters is not complete, as Bloks acknowledged.

Carolina was very much a bluestocking, well-educated and well-read,  She was also a connoisseur of music. She met Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart when he was nine years old. The Princess of Weilburg had heard about the child prodigy and wanted to meet him.  When her younger brother, Willem, attained his majority at age 18, Carolina asked Mozart to compose music in honor of the occasion.

In 1778,  Mozart came to the Weilburg court, which Carolina considered a "crowning moment" for her husband's principality.

The Princess of Nassau-Weilburg was only 44 years old when she died after a brief illness.

Moniek Bloks packs a lot into a little book, which is an informative study of an exceptional woman who never forgot that she was Dutch.

Carolina of Orange-Nassau is available in a paperback edition.

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