Sophia Albertina of Sweden, Abbess of Quedlinburg

Sofia Albertina (Stockholm 8 October,1753-Stockholm 17 March, 1829) was a Swedish royal Princess, daughter of king Adolf Frederick of Sweden and Louisa Ulrika of Prussia. She thus was a princess of Sweden and a princess of Holstein-Gottorp. She was also a Protestant Princess-Abbess of Quedlinburg Abbey and a vassal monarch of the German-Roman Empire.

She was given her two names as namesake of her two grandmothers: Sofia Dorothea, Queen in Prussia (daughter of George I of Great Britain) and Albertina Frederica, Princess of Holstein-Gottorp-Eutin.


Sophia Albertina was given the title of Coadjutrix in the German Roman Quedlinburg Abbey in 1767. She was interested in dancing and acting, though she was not considered very talented within these fields, and participated in the amateur theatre at court.

Her adult life took place during the reigns of her brother Gustav III of Sweden and later his son Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden. She and her youngest brother, Prince Frederik Adolph of Sweden, was very close, and also the favourites of their mother, and took her side during the great conflict between Gustav and his mother in 1778-82, years during which Sophia Albertina spent most of her time at her mother's court. Although not described as either beautiful or intelligent, she played an active part in the ceremonial court life of her brother, as one of her younger brothers was not married, and after her mother's death in 1782 she was an eager participant in the vivacious pleasures of the court despite her lack of beauty. In Stockholm, a palace was built as her residence, known today as Arvfurstens Palats.

Early on there were plans for a possible marriage. In 1772, her brother, King Gustav, had the idea of letting his younger sibblings provide an heir to the throne, as his own marriage was childless, and both Sophia Albertina and her brother Charles was considered with this task. Among the candidates considered was her cousin Prince Peter of Holstein-Gottorp, Prince Bishop of Lübeck, and Stanisław August Poniatowski was also mentioned, but nothing came of it. In 1774, Charles was married instead. However, there was a story among the people in Stockholm which indicated that she was not excluded from having a love life; she was said to have given birth to a baby girl sometime in 1785 or 1786, named Sophia after herself and fathered by the count Fredrik Vilhelm von Hessenstein, son of King Frederick I of Sweden and his mistress Hedvig Taube. The gossip also suggested that the father of the child was Gustav Badin, called "Couschi" , the black servant-butler (originally a slave) of her mother, whom Sofia Albertina had "inherited" after her mother's death, but the child was not mixed race, so this was probably not true. The place for the birth was to have been Allmänna Barnbördshuset, a public hospital, where women were allowed to give birth with their faces covered by a mask to preserve their anonymity.

The daughter was fostered away from Sophia, but she arranged for her to be married off as an adult to a wealthy merchant. This story has never been confirmed, so it might not be true, but it is repeated from many unofficial sources in much the same way, and if it was true, it would not be confirmed anyway - either way, it is not impossible. Her brother the king, or at least his queen, was said to be informed about this, and the sexual morals of the court were free and liberal; her brother Gustav III had given permission to the ladies of the court to receive male guests in their bed chambers, which had never been allowed before. Sofia Albertina also paid much attention to Lolotte Forssberg, a woman said to have been her own illegitimate half-sister and whom she employed as her lady-in-waiting. The gossip later suggested that Lolotte was the daughter of Sophia Albertina and Hessenstein, but it was in fact not the same woman, as Lolotte was born in 1766. Sophia Albertina did love Lolotte, married her to a nobleman and even tried to get her acknowledged as her halfsister, and when she died, Lolotte was one of her greatest heirs. Another well-known person of the time, Magdalena Rudenschöld, known for her involvement in the Armfelt conspiracy, was also among her ladies-in-waiting.

The year after the secret birth is said to have taken place, she became the Abbess of Quedlinburg Abbey, a Protestant convent of women in Germany, and as such was the Princess-Abbess and the head of a small German state directly under the Holy Roman Empire 1787-1803 until finally deposed. She had received the titular position of "Coadjutrix" there alredy in 1767. She travelled to Quedlinburg in 1787 and remained there for three years, after which she returned to Sweden, where she spent the rest of her life, though she often visited her realm in Quedlinburg, where she was quite liked. As Princess-Abbess, she was active in the rule of the city of Quedlinburg, and when, on the dissolution of the foundation, she left for Sweden in 1803, she received the income from the abbey for the rest of her life. According to gossip, Quedlinburg was a place where Swedish noblewomen went to give birth to their illegitimate children in secret. She remained unmarried. She was active in the social life ot the royal court until her death, and was given much respect in etiquette during the reigh of Bernadotte. She died in 1829.




  • Herman Lindquist, "Historien om Sverige; Gustavs dagar"("History of Sweden; The days of Gustav III")
  • Olof Jägerskiöld, Lovisa Ulrika
  • Oscar Levertin, Teater och drama under Gustaf III, Albert Bonniers förlag, Stockholm, Fjärde Upplagan (1920).

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