Sunday, 26 March 2017

The Cleopatra of Courland' Lovers

a.k.a. Wilhelmina de Biron, Princess of Sagan; Wilhelmine von Sagan; the Cleopatra of Courland
Wife of1. Prince Louis de Rohan-Guémenée (1768–1836) ar m????, di 1805
2. Prince Vasily Troubetzkoy (1776–1841) mar 1805-1806; 3. Prince Karl Rudolf von der Schulenburg (1788–1856) mar 1819-1828.

Wilhelmine's lifestyle of the rich and famous.
" . . . Wilhelmine preferred residence in the Duchy was Ratiborschitz, which she had transformed into an Empire-style castle with an English garden. Her more familiar domains however were the courtly circles of the Prussian capital Berlin where she had no affection, and Vienna where she kept apartments. . . ." (Women at the Congress of Vienna @ Eurozine)

Physical appearance & personal qualities.
" . . . She had, according to Countess Rozalia Rzewuska, who knew her well, 'noble and regular features, a superb figure, and the bearing of a goddess'; but if she was a goddess, she was a fallen one.  'She sins seven times a day and loves as often as others dine,' Metternich would later write, with some justification. . . ."  (Zamoyski, 2012, p. 79)

"The Duchess of Sagan was a slim and petite thirty-three-year-old with dark-blonde hair and deep brown eyes---a ravishing and restless beauty who also happened to be heiress to one of the largest fortunes in Europe.  She owned castles all over eastern and central Europe, including Sagan, built by the mercenary of the Thirty Years War, Count Wallenstein, and located a hundred miles south of Berlin."  (King, 2009, p. 30)

Her lovers were:
1) Aleksander I of Russia.
Lover in 1813-1814
"When Metternich found out that Czar Alexander had paid a visit to Wilhelmine at night, he was livid and would have challenged the Russian to a duel were he not emperor.  The hot-blooded Alexander, who also suffered from heartache---his target of affection, Princess Bagration, coincidentally Wilhelmine's archenemy, had declared that she adored but did not love him---threatened Austria with war . . . ." (Lust: A Hidden Influence on Foreign Policy @National Interest.)
2) Alfred I von Windischgratz(1810-1815)
" . . . In the midst of tough negotiations during the congress in Vienna, a former lover of Wilhelmine, the Austrian soldier, Alfred I, Prince of Windisch-Graetz, returned to Vienna. They resumed their affair, and Wilhelmine dropped Metternich, an even which 'seems to concern him more than the affairs of the world,' according to his personal secretary, Friedrich von Gentz." (Lust: A Hidden Influence on Foreign Policy)
"By the end of the Congress, Sagan and Bagration would fight over another lover, Sir Charles Stewart, brother and companion of Lord Castlereagh, leader of the British delegates. Bagration had been simultaneously having affairs with Stewart and the Crown Prince of Wurtemberg (sic), a game she thought most amusing. Bagration became so desperately in love with Wurtemberg that she neglected Stewart, losing him to rival Sagan. Ironically, Stewart was the bad boy of the Congress, constantly getting drunk, and even causing carriage accidents. He was almost as handsome as his brother and just as charming. Sagan enjoyed a long and frivolous affair with Stewart and must have delighted in spiting her rival." (La Plant, p. 7)

" . . . Wilhelmine, after a brief affair with Caroline Lamb's brother Frederick, had become involved with Lord Stewart, the hot-tempered half-brother of British foreign secretary Lord Castlereagh, while Alfred von Windischgratz . . . was still pursuing her. . . ."  (The Princesses of Courland @History Hoydens)

" . . . To make matters worse, that old intriguer from the Peninsula, Lord Castlereagh's half-brother Sir Charles Stewart, who had been raised to the peerage as Lord Stewart the year before, had taken up his appointment as British Ambassador in Vienna and was indiscreet enough to have become the lover of Wilhelmine, daughter of the Duke of Courland, who had once been one of Metternich's many mistresses. . . ." (Wellington: A Personal History: 166)
Lover in 1814.

"As a young girl she was seduced by her mother's lover, the Swedish adventurer Gustav von Armfeldt, and became pregnant.  A hasty marriage was arranged to the Prince de Rohan, who tolerated her continued depravities as she tolerated his. . . ." (Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna: 79) 

" . . . Unfortunately the interest he took in Wilhelmine, then eighteen, was less than fatherly.  They began an affair.  One night the duchess noticed someone had taken a candle and went to see who was abroad at such an hour only to find her daughter in the arms of her lover.  She slapped Wilhelmine.  Her sapphire ring drew blood.  By that time Wilhelmine was pregnant.  Armfelt, being an aristocrat, was not executed like Arnoldi, but Wilhelmine, like Jeanne, was compelled to give up her child, a loss that haunted her through the years and that drove many of her actions at the time of the Congress of Vienna . . . She has hastily married off to a well-born but very penniless Louis de Rohan, but her affair with Armfelt continued, with the three of them traveling together and living off Wilhelmine's extensive dowry.  Eventually Wilhelmine shed both men, first breaking off with Armfelt, then divorcing de Rohan.  She latter married the Russian prince Troubetskoi, but by 1814 she had divorced him as well. . . ." (The Princesses of Courland @History Hoydens)

"Metternich must have met Wilhelmine von Sagan at this time.  She also came from the Baltic lands, Courland, an eastern duchy of Poland that was annexed by Russia in 1795.  At the age of twenty she had been engaged to marry the Hohenzollern Prince Louis Ferdinand, nephew of Frederick the Great; but the wedding was cancelled at the last moment by King Frederick William when he got wind that she was already pregnant by her mother's lover, the Baron Gustav von Armfeld.  This led to a rapidly arranged marriage with Prince Louis de Rohan, years older than her, but a man from a family that claimed an older and nobler ancestry than that of the Bourbon crown of France.  Rohan, at the end of a great life, made few demands on his wife and his wife, at the beginning of no small story herself, fully reciprocated.  But Sagan never forgot that her first proposal had come from genuine royalty; when Louis Ferdinand was killed at Saalfeld in 1806 she went into mourning."  (1815: The Roads to Waterloo: n.p.)
Lover in 1801.
"The relationship between Metternich and the Duchess of Sagan had first started to heat up in the summer of 1813 when he was working on arranging a peace with Napoleon.  The peace at that time failed, but the romance thrived. Metternich saw the duchess as much as he could, and in the midst of the crisis, wrote his first long love letter to her...."  (King, 2009, p. 31)

" . . . (I)f one studies the documents of Metternich prior to or during the Congress, his principal concern seems to have been the love of a woman, Wilhelmine, Duchess of Sagan, a German noble.  Their affair---Metternich was married at the time---lasted from spring of 1813 to the fall of 1814 and resulted in around six hundred letters exchanged between the two. . . 

"The heightened sense of drama with which he was living necessitated, as on other occasions, a recipient of confidences.  Her found her, close at hand, in Wilhelmine of Sagan whom he had known since his days at the Saxon court. Wilhelmine possessed an impressive town palace in Prague and, more conveniently still, a small chateau at Ratiborzitz, on the slopes of the Sudeten mountains only a few miles north of Gitshin.  That summer Wilhelmine became his principal mistress, and her personality continued to captivate him long after the armies had moved away from 'the Duchess of Sagan's paradise' in Bohemia: he maintained a regular correspondence with her throughout the second half of 1813 and for most of the following year, writing late into the night after days of tension and dispute. It is difficult to understand why, once absent from her, he remained bewitched. . .  From his conversations with Gentz it is clear that Metternich had few illusions over Wilhelmine.  Yet, though maddened time and again by the flicker of her fancy, he returned constantly to her flame.  None of his other mistresses ever achieved such mastery of his will. . . ."  (Metternich: Councillor of Europe: n.p.)

"Yet, surprisingly, if one studies the documents of Metternich prior to and during the Congress, his principal concern seems to have been the love of a woman, Wilhelmine, Duchess of Sagan, a German noble.  their affair---Metternich was married at the time---lasted from spring of 1813 to the fall of 1814 and resulted in around six hundred letters exchanged between the two. . . ." (Lust: A Hidden Influence on Foreign Policy @National Interest)

8) Konstantin of Russia.

Wilhelmine von Kurland Gallery.
Wilhelmine von Kurland
Herzogin von  Sagan
Wilhelmine von Kurland, Herzogin von  Sagan
By Influence and Desire @ Google Books.
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