Hedvig Sophia of Sweden

Hedvig Sophia of Sweden
Princess Hedvig Sofia by David von Krafft
Duchess of Holstein-Gottorp
Tenure 12 May 1698 - 19 July 1702
Spouse Frederick IV, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp
Charles Frederick, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp
Full name
Hedvig Sofia Augusta
House Palatinate-Zweibrücken
Father Charles XI of Sweden
Mother Ulrike Eleonora of Denmark
Born 26 June 1681
Three Crowns Castle, Stockholm, Sweden
Died 22 December 1708(1708-12-22) (aged 27)
Stockholm, Sweden
Burial Riddarholmen Church, Sweden

Painting of Princess Hedvig Sofia of Sweden and her brother, the future Karl XII of Sweden.

Princess Hedvig Sophia Augusta of Sweden (26 June 1681 – 22 December 1708) was a Swedish princess and a Duchess Consort of Holstein-Gottorp, the eldest child of King Charles XI of Sweden, and his spouse Queen Ulrica Eleanor. She was heir presumptive to the Swedish throne until her death and the Regent of the duchy of Holstein-Gottorp for her minor son from 1702 to 1708. Some sources refer to her as Sofia.

Princess of Sweden

After the death of her mother, she and her siblings were placed under the custody of her grandmother; due to her grandmothers influence, she was given anti-Danish views.

Duchess consort

On 12 May 1698 at Karlberg she married her cousin, Frederick IV, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp. Her marriage was arranged as a part of the traditional Swedish policy of alliance with Holstein-Gottorp against Denmark; her brother had earlier been expected to marry Frederick's sister, but he refused. The marriage took place against her consent and was not happy. Hedvig Sofia was an eager participant in the frequent partying that dominated her brother's court for a few years before the Great Northern War in 1700, and she spent most of her life at the Swedish court. She visited Holstein-Gottorp in 1699 and remained there for about a year, but in 1700 she returned to Sweden, where she was second in line to the Swedish throne and presumptive heir. She resided mainly at Karlberg.


In 1702, Hedvig Sofia became a widow and formal Regent for her minor son, the Duke of Holstein-Gottorp. However, she spent most of her time in Sweden and rarely visited the home of her spouse: she left the daily affairs of the duchy to Christian August of Holstein-Gottorp, the uncle of her late spouse, but matters of major importance were always to be confirmed by her. In Sweden, she worked to have her son accepted as an heir to the Swedish throne, and the "Holstein party", as it was called, was also the most successful contestant under her leadership until her death in 1708. As a widow, she was the object of plans to arrange a new political marriage. Among the candidates were the Crown Prince of Hanover, that is the future King George II of Great Britain, but she refused a new arranged marriage; she was then involved with the young noble Olof Gyllenborg. That relationship was open public knowledge at court and seems to have been accepted, though much disliked by her grandmother, Hedwig Eleonora of Holstein-Gottorp.

During her time as princess at the Swedish court, Hedvig Sophia was described as a beautiful woman with an interest in fashion, and the relationship between her and her brother, King Carl, was very deep. In July of 1709, her brother, who recently had become a refugee of his military catastrophe at Poltava and was far away in Bendery (today in Moldavia) finally received the news of Hedvig Sophia's death in Stockholm the previous December. Carl at first refused to believe it, and this was the only time he was ever known to have wept. It was "an event which I had trusted never to be so unhappy to survive" and he suffered from "that grief which can never altogether leave me until those who have been parted shall meet again". Hedvig Sophia's proper funeral and interment in Riddarholm Church did not take place until 1718, after the death of Carl.

She is perhaps most well-known for the extensive correspondence between her and her brother King Carl XII, who lived most of his life in war campaigns abroad. When he died in 1718 and left no male heirs to the throne, the late Hedvig Sophia's only child, Duke Karl Friedrich was in line to succeed him, but the late king's younger sister Ulrica Eleanor quickly moved herself onto the throne instead.

Hedvig Sophia was the paternal grandmother of Emperor Peter III of Russia.


Name Birth Death Notes
Charles Frederick, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp 30 April 1700 18 June 1739 married Grand Duchess Anna Petrovna of Russia and had issue.

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles


Hedvig Sophia of Sweden
Born: 26 June 1681 Died: 22 December 1708
Swedish royalty
Preceded by
Charles XII of Sweden
Heir to the throne
as Heiress presumptive

5 April 1697 - 22 December 1708
Succeeded by
Ulrika Eleonora of Sweden
as Queen regnant
Danish royalty
Preceded by
Princess Frederica Amalia of Denmark
Duchess of Holstein-Gottorp
12 May 1698 - 19 July 1702
Succeeded by
Grand Duchess Anna Petrovna of Russia

Most of Wikipedia's text and many of its images are licensed under the
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC BY-SA)

Return to Main Index