Ruler's Consort in Early Modern Germany : Aemilia Juliana of Schwarzburg-rudolstadt
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.