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Anne Sophie of Denmark

Anna Sophie
Electress of Saxony

Tenure 22 August 1680 – 12 September 1691
Spouse John George III, Elector of Saxony
John George IV
Frederick Augustus I
House House of Wettin
House of Oldenburg
Father Frederick III of Denmark
Mother Sophie Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Born (1647-09-01)1 September 1647
Died 1 July 1717(1717-07-01) (aged 69)
Burial Freiberg Cathedral
Religion Lutheranism

Princess Anna Sophie of Denmark (1 September 1647 – 1 July 1717) was the eldest daughter of King Frederick III of Denmark and Sophie Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg, and Electress of Saxony from 1680 to 1691 as the wife of John George III.

Early life and marriage

Anna Sophie was born in Flensburg, the second child and first daughter of Frederick of Denmark and his wife, Sophie Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg. She had an elder brother, Christian. Her paternal grandfather, King Christian IV, died when she was six months old, and after many months of deliberation, the Rigsraadet royal council and Estates elected her father king. He was crowned Frederick III on 23 November 1648. Her parents had six more children, two of whom died in infancy. Her surviving siblings were Frederica Amalia, Wilhelmina Ernestine, George, and Ulrika Eleonora.

Anna Sophie received a fine education. Besides her native Danish, she knew German, Latin, French, Spanish and Italian. She is described physically as having thick dark eyebrows and long curving nose.

In 1663, a celebration was held in Copenhagen honouring the fifteen-year-old princess's engagement to John George III, Elector of Saxony. Anna Sophie and John George were married three years later, on 9 October 1666. The Polish king John III Sobieski later said of her husband, "[He] is an honest man with a straight heart."

They had two children:

  • John George IV (Dresden, 18 October 1668 – Dresden, 28 May 1694), succeeded his father as elector;
  • Frederick Augustus I (Dresden, 22 May 1670 – Warsaw, 1 February 1733), succeeded his brother as elector and later became king of Poland.

Her husband also had an illegitimate son by his official mistress, a Venetian opera singer named Margarita Salicola, and may have had a daughter, Magdalena Sibylla of Neidschutz, with Ursula Margarethe of Haugwitz.

Both her sons were initially brought up by Danish ladies-in-waiting sent to Dresden by her mother.

Anna Sophie's father died on 9 February 1670 and was succeeded by her elder brother, Christian V, with whom she held a very active correspondence and discussed political matters. She visited Denmark that year and expressed her sympathy for the imprisoned Leonora Christina Ulfeldt, her first cousin.

Her widowed sister Wilhelmina Ernestine, Dowager Electress Palatine, came to live with her in Saxony in 1685.

Dowager Electress

Her husband died in 1692 in Tübingen of an epidemic illness, probably cholera or the plague, and was buried in the Cathedral of Freiberg. The next year, Anna Sophie attempted to end the love affair between her elder son, then Elector Johann Georg IV, and his mistress, Magdalene Sibylle "Billa" of Neidschutz, with whom he had been living openly since his father's death. Her late husband had tried to break up the couple, perhaps motivated by fears that a close blood relationship existed between the lovers—for Billa may have been his own daughter by Ursula Margarethe of Haugwitz, and therefore John George IV's half-sister. John George IV was either ignorant of the possibility that he and Billa were committing incest, or he disregarded the claim as a malicious rumor.

Anna Sophie forced her son into marrying Eleonore Erdmuthe of Saxe-Eisenach, a German noblewoman, but the marriage proved a disastrous failure. John George IV not only abandoned his bride, leaving her at the Hofe (the official residence of the Elector) to be with his mistress at another palace, but eventually tried to murder her so he could marry Billa.

Anna Sophie's daughter-in-law failed to produce an heir, suffering two miscarriages, in August 1692 and February 1693. In June 1693, her son's mistress gave birth to a daughter, Wilhelmina Maria Frederica. Less than a year later Billa contracted smallpox and died on 4 April 1694, in the arms of the Elector. Johann Georg himself died 23 days later of the same disease, and was buried in the Freiberg Cathedral. Having died without legitimate issue, he was succeeded by his brother, who took over the guardianship of the orphaned Frederica. She was raised at the royal court and acknowledged as Frederick August's niece.

Anna Sophie brought up her grandson Friedrich August, born on 17 October 1696, the only child of her second son and his estranged, self-exiled wife, Christiane Eberhardine of Brandenburg-Bayreuth. The boy would one day succeed his father as Augustus III of Poland. Anna Sophie and her daughter-in-law got on well, both women agreeing especially on matters of religion, and Eberhardine visited her son often.

In her later years, Anna Sophie lived with her sister Wilhelmina Ernestine at Castle Lichtenburg. She died in Prettin.



This article incorporates information from the equivalent article on the Deutsch World Heritage Encyclopedia.
  • (in Danish)
Preceded by
Magdalene Sybille of Brandenburg-Bayreuth
Electress of Saxony
Succeeded by
Eleonore Erdmuthe of Saxe-Eisenach
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