The Truth About The Reign Of The Winter Queen

Everyone wants to be the king or queen of something. Flying in the face of centuries of representative democracy, Kevin James once declared himself the King of Queens. In bowling alleys across the country, men of incomparable resolve and peculiar body shape are, at this very moment, investing more time and effort than most people will ever dream of possessing into their quest to become King of the Lanes. Unfortunately, as the great prophet Lorde once foretold, the vast majority of us will never be royals.

But there's an upside to that. Despite all of the benefits of monarchic living, there's also the constant possibility of disaster lurking behind one's every decision. A single wrong move can put one's entire domain at risk, or inspire the unholy rage of some imbalanced individual looking to sic semper your tender, fleshy tyranus. Grimmest of grim realities, a stupid nickname can lead to people misremembering your whole tenure as royalty.

For proof, one needs look no further than Elizabeth of Bohemia, "The Winter Queen," and her catastrophic reign. All 12 months of it.

The Winter Queen's spring

As relayed by English Monarchs, Elizabeth Stuart had a hell of a life. Her father, James VI of Scotland, underwent a career change around his daughter's seventh birthday and became King James I of England. This turn of events didn't tickle local revolutionaries, and that Gunpowder Plot that comic book nerds keep telling you to remember, remember was underway. One oft-overlooked detail: the conspirators planned to kidnap Elizabeth, by that point 9-years-old, and marry her off to a prominent Catholic, thus ensuring a more pope-happy England. There were a lot of holes in the plan.

Elizabeth managed to dodge the holy bonds of matrimony until the more reasonable age of 16, when she married Frederick V, Count Palatine of the Rhine. On November 4th, 1619, Fred was crowned King of Bohemia, and Elizabeth was along for the royal ride. It would be a short and tumultuous one. While their reign started great, it turned out someone else wanted the crown for himself.

An icy response

It took all of one year for Frederick and Elizabeth to be ousted from their thrones. At the Battle of White Mountain, which takes the prize for "Historical Event With The Most George RR Martin-ish Name," Bohemian forces were defeated by the armies of the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II. The battle put the 30 Years War into full swing, resulting in millions of deaths across three decades.

Elizabeth's brief time as queen landed her the nickname "the Winter Queen," referencing the fact that she only wore the crown for one winter. 400 years later, she's misremembered as having held office for just three months thanks to that moniker, which really mucks up the works if you're trying to research her history.

But let's not end on a dour note. By all accounts, Elizabeth's marriage was a happy one, as evidenced by her 13 children. Her family line even wound up in charge of England eventually, with her grandson landing the title King George I. After a generous scoop of George II, his grandson would go on to be George III, and, long story short, that's how we got America.