Portrait of Ulrika Eleonora (1688-1741), Queen of Sweden (1718-1720), Queen consort of Sweden (1720-1741), Duchess of Bremen and Verden (1718-1719), Landgravine consort of Hesse-Kassel (1730-1741), 1702
Ulrika Eleonora or Ulrica Eleanor (23 January 1688 – 24 November 1741), also known as Ulrika Eleonora the Younger, was Queen regnant of Sweden from 5 December 1718 until her abdication on 29 February 1720 in favour of her husband Frederick I of Sweden, which made her Queen consort of Sweden until her death. She was the youngest child of King Charles XI and Ulrika Eleonora of Denmark and named after her mother. After the death of her brother King Charles XII in 1718, she claimed the throne. Her deceased older sister, Hedvig Sophia, had left a son, Charles Frederick of Holstein-Gottorp, who had the better claim by primogeniture. Ulrika Eleonora asserted that she was the closest surviving relative of the late king (the idea of proximity of blood) and cited the precedent of Queen Christina. She was recognized as successor by the Riksdag after she had agreed to renounce the powers of absolute monarchy established by her father. She abdicated in 1720 in favor of her husband, Landgrave Frederick I of Hesse-Kassel. After their mother's death in 1693, Ulrika Eleonora and her siblings were placed in the care of their grandmother, Hedwig Eleonora. She was described as friendly, modest and dignified, with good posture and beautiful hands, but she was not regarded as either intelligent or attractive. Her grandmother, Hedwig Eleonora, described her as stubborn, and she was known to demonstrate her dislike of others or of events by simulating illness. She was a talented musician, and when performing with her sister at court concerts, she would play the clavier while her sister sang. Ulrika Eleonora lived most of her life in the shadow of others, outshone by her brother the king, and by her attractive sister. From 1700, she took care of her dominating grandmother, Hedwig Eleonora of Holstein-Gottorp, during her brother's absence in the Great Northern War. Her older sister, Hedvig Sophia, was then the heir presumptive to the throne. After her grandmother's death in 1715, she became the center of the court, and this was one of the happiest periods of her life. In 1715, she married Landgrave Frederick I of Hesse-Kassel. Ulrika Eleonora's situation began to change after the death of her older sister, Hedvig Sophia, in 1708. Ulrika Eleonora became the only adult member of the royal house present in Sweden, aside from her grandmother, Queen Dowager Hedwig Eleonora. Already in late 1712, Charles XII had thoughts of making her regent during his absence. The royal council convinced her to be present at their meetings and give them her support. On 2 November 1713, she appeared at her first session, and a decision was made to assemble the Riksdag to declare her regent in her capacity as the closest heir to the throne. In 1713, the government and her grandmother named her regent during the king's absence and thus she became a pawn of the many powers struggling for influence in a country without a real heir presumptive or heir apparent.
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