1st Edition

A Ruler’s Consort in Early Modern Germany Aemilia Juliana of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt

By Judith P. Aikin Copyright 1991

    The wives of rulers in early modern Europe did far more than provide heirs for their principalities and adornment for their courts. In this study, Judith Aikin examines the exceptionally well-documented actions of one such woman, Aemilia Juliana of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt (1637-1706), in order to expand our understanding of the role of ruler’s consort in the small principalities characteristic of Germany during this period. Aikin explores a wide range of writings by her subject, including informal letters to another woman, hundreds of devotional song texts, manuscript books both devotional and practical, and published pamphlets and books. Also important for this study are the plays, paintings, and musical works that adorned the court under Aemilia Juliana’s patronage; the books, poems, and sermons published in her honor; and the massive memorial volume printed and distributed soon after her death. This material, when coupled with the more scanty record in official documents, reveals the nature and scope of Aemilia Juliana’s role as full partner in the ruling couple. Among the most important findings based on this evidence are those related to Aemilia Juliana’s advocacy for women of all social classes through her authorship and publications, her support for the education of girls, her efforts to ameliorate the fear and suffering of pregnant and birthing women, and her contributions to female support networks. In examining the career of a consort whose various activities are so well documented, this study helps to fill in the blanks in the documentary record of numerous consorts across early modern Europe, and serves as a model for future research on other consorts at other courts.

    1 Introduction

    2 Becoming the Ruler's Consort

    3 Enthroned at the Court of the Muses

    4 Partner in a State Marriage

    5 Advocate for Women

    6 The Ruler's Consort Constructs Her Legacy

    Appendix 1: Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt and its Neighbors ca. 1690

    Appendix 2: Family Ties: An Abbreviated Genealogical Summary

    Appendix 3: Donation Document


    Judith P. Aikin is Professor of German, Emerita, at the University of Iowa, USA. She has published extensively on court theater and the authorship activities of women at court.

    'Judith Aikin reveals the relatively unknown Aemilia Juliana of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, wife of the ruler of a petty Thuringian principality, as an exemplary Landesmutter - a truly evocative German term whose full meaning becomes evident only after reading this cross-disciplinary exploration. It considers topics as diverse as Lutheran theology in the age of early Pietism, inheritance and dowry law in the Old Reich, Baroque court ceremonies, estate management, home economics and folk medicine at the court of a mini-state. But Aikin never loses sight of her major argument: that writing prayers and hymns became the primary forms of self-expression for a privileged woman who was both exceptionally introspective and discreetly self-promoting.' William Monter, Professor Emeritus of History, Northwestern University, USA 'This is an excellent monograph recommended not only for scholars and students working on Aemiliar Juliana of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, but also for those interested in seventeenth-century Protestant Germany and in early modern gender history. It will definitely set an example for any future study on consorts.' Royal Studies Journal 'The appendix includes a very useful map of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt and its neighbours around 1690, commissioned by the author ... The book represents an important source for many contextual studies that opens a door into the lives of composers active in the courtly world in or around seventeenth-century Rudolstadt, such as young J. S. Bach.' Bach Bibliography 'It is rare to get such a complete and rounded picture of the life of an early modern consort, still less one of someone for whom written communication was so important and who has left so much source material. Aikin has done her subject proud. Every page bears witness to her thorough and painstaking research, to her wide contextual reading, and to the clarity of her style. In addition, the book is helpfully illustrated ... In short, this monograph is a worthy monument to