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Duchess Augusta of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel

Augusta of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
Princess of Württemberg

Spouse Prince Frederick of Württemberg
William I of Württemberg
Catherine, Queen of Westphalia
Princess Sophia Dorothea
Prince Paul
Full name
Augusta Caroline Friederika Luise
House House of Brunswick-Bevern
House of Württemberg
Father Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick
Mother Augusta of Great Britain
Born (1764-12-03)3 December 1764
Died 27 September 1788(1788-09-27) (aged 23)
Koluvere castle, Lohde

Augusta of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (Augusta Caroline Friederika Luise; 3 December 1764 – 27 September 1788)[1] was the first wife of Frederick of Württemberg and the mother of William I of Württemberg.

Early life

Princess Augusta was born in Brunswick, the eldest child of Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick, and Princess Augusta of Great Britain, the elder sister of George III of the United Kingdom. Her younger sister Princess Caroline married George IV of the United Kingdom. She was named in honour of her mother. In the family, she was generally called "Zelmira".


On 15 October 1780, at the age of 15, she was married in Brunswick to Prince Frederick of Württemberg, eldest son of Frederick Eugene, youngest brother of the reigning Charles Eugene, Duke of Württemberg, and thus heir presumptive to the duchy, neither of his uncles having any sons. The princess was thus known simply as the Princess of Württemberg and would have four children with her husband.

Frederick's sister Sophie was married to Tsesarevich Paul, future Emperor of Russia. In 1782, Frederick followed Sophie to Russia, where Empress Catherine II appointed him governor of eastern Finland. The marriage was not a happy one. Frederick may have been bisexual, and had a coterie of young noblemen. He was also reportedly violent towards his wife. As he was at 2.11 m (6 ft 11 in) tall and weighed about 200 kg (440 lb), this would have been terrifying.

During a visit to Saint Petersburg in December 1786, Augusta fled to the apartments of Empress Catherine to ask for protection. Catherine offered Augusta asylum and ordered Frederick to leave Russia. When Sophie protested at the treatment of her brother, Catherine replied curtly, "It is not I who cover the Prince of Württemberg with opprobrium: on the contrary, it is I who try to bury abominations and it is my duty to suppress any further ones."

Augusta's father was less sympathetic, and refused his daughter's plea for divorce. In response, Catherine offered Augusta the use of one of her Imperial estates: Lohde castle,[2] in Lohde (now Koluvere) in Kullamaa Parish to the south-west of Tallinn, Estonia.[3] She was put in the custody of former huntmaster Wilhelm von Pohlmann (9 April 1727 – 22 January 1796), who took advantage of his office and began a sexual relationship with her; it is unknown whether she was willing or was forced. She soon became pregnant by him.[4]

On 27 September 1788, aged 23, Augusta went into premature labour with a stillborn child, followed by hemorrhaging. Pohlmann refused to send for a doctor or any other medical help — fearful of both his relationship to her and the illegitimate birth being found out — and Augusta died of blood loss. She was hurriedly buried in an unmarked grave in the church at Koluvere, and her death was announced to Catherine and her parents in a brief missive with the cause given as the breaking of a blood vessel. Sightings of her were reported for several years, but none proved to be true. The facts of her death only came to light many years later, when her elder son had the matter investigated and her body was exhumed.[5] The castle and lands of Koluvere were afterwards granted to Count Frederik Vilhelm Buxhoevden.


  1. William I of Württemberg (1781–1864), who succeeded his father as King of Württemberg.
  2. Princess Catherine (1783–1835), who married Jérôme Bonaparte.
  3. Princess Sophia Dorothea (1783–1784) died young.
  4. Prince Paul (1785–1852).


Titles and styles

  • 3 December 1764 – 15 October 1780: Her Serene Highness Princess Augusta of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
  • 15 October 1780 – 27 September 1788: Her Serene Highness The Princess [Augusta] of Württemberg

See also

  • Image of the grave stone in the Church of Kullamaa (Goldenbeck), Lääne County, Estonia (in Estonian)


  • Elisabeth E. Kwan und Anna E. Röhring, Frauen vom Hof der Welfen, 2. Auflage, München, 2008

External links

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