Elizabeth Stuart (19 August 1596 – 13 February 1662) was, as the wife of Frederick V, Elector Palatine, Electress Palatine and briefly Queen of Bohemia. Due to her husband's short reign in Bohemia, Elizabeth is often referred to as the Winter Queen. She was the eldest daughter of King James VI and I, King of Scotland, England and Ireland, and Anne of Denmark.

Elizabeth was born at Falkland Palace, Fife.[1] At the time of her birth, her father had yet to succeed to his later realms and was King of Scots only. She was named in honour of Queen Elizabeth I of England. During her early life in Scotland, Elizabeth was brought up at Linlithgow Palace.[2] When Elizabeth was six years old, in 1603, Elizabeth I of England died, and her father James succeeded to the thrones of England and Ireland. When she came to England, her governess was the Countess of Kildare,[1] until she was consigned to the care of Lord Harington, with whom she spent the years of her happy childhood at Combe Abbey in Warwickshire.[1]

Part of the intent of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 was to kidnap the nine-year-old Elizabeth and put her onto the throne of England (and, presumably, Ireland and Scotland) as a Catholic monarch, after assassinating her father and the Protestant aristocracy.[1] However, this never happened, as Guy Fawkes was caught by the King's soldiers before he was able to ignite the powder.[3]

Among Elizabeth's suitors was King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, but she was eventually betrothed to the Elector Palatine in 1612.[1]

On 14 February 1613, she married Frederick V, then the Elector of the Palatinate in Germany. The event took place in England at the royal chapel at the Palace of Whitehall and was celebrated in John Donne's poetic masterpiece Epithalamion, or Marriage Song on the Lady Elizabeth, and Count Palatine being married on St. Valentines Day. Afterwards, she joined the Electoral court in Heidelberg. Frederick was the leader of the association of Protestant princes in the Holy Roman Empire known as the Protestant Union, and Elizabeth was married to him in an effort to increase James's ties to these princes. Nevertheless, the two were considered to be genuinely in love and remained a romantic couple throughout the course of their marriage.[4] Elizabeth's new husband transformed his seat at Heidelberg Castle, creating an "English wing" for her, a monkey-house, a menagerie and the beginnings of a new garden in the Italian Renaissance style popular in England at the time.[5] The garden, the Hortus Palatinus, was constructed by Elizabeth's former tutor, Salomon de Caus[6] and was dubbed the "Eighth Wonder of the World" by contemporaries.[7]

In 1619, Frederick was offered and accepted the crown of Bohemia from the Estates of the kingdom. Elizabeth was crowned Queen of Bohemia on 7 November 1619, three days after her husband was crowned King of Bohemia.[8] Due to the opposition of Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II, who claimed to be the rightful King of Bohemia through birthright, Frederick's rule was brief. Ferdinand's forces routed Frederick at the Battle of White Mountain on 8 November 1620, so starting the Thirty Years War across much of Northern and Central Europe, and Frederick was forced into exile along with his wife. This is how Elizabeth came to be known as the "Winter Queen" (zimnν krαlovna in Czech), even though she and her husband held court in Prague and controlled the government of Bohemia for months after the end of the winter of 1619-1620.

After the defeat at White Mountain, the couple took up residence in The Hague; Frederick died at Mainz in 1632. Elizabeth remained in Holland even after her son, Charles I Louis, regained the Electorate of the Palatinate in 1648. Following the Restoration of the English and Scottish monarchies, she travelled to London to visit her nephew, Charles II, and died while there.

Elizabeth's youngest daughter, Sophia of Hanover, married Ernest Augustus, the future Elector of Hanover, in 1658. Sophia became the nearest Protestant heir to the English and Irish crowns (later British crown). Under the English Act of Settlement, the succession was settled on Sophia and her issue, so that all monarchs of Great Britain from George I are descendants of Elizabeth.

1.Henry Frederick, Hereditary Prince of the Palatinate (1614–1629); drowned
2.Charles I Louis, Elector Palatine (1617–1680); married Charlotte of Hesse-Kassel, had issue; Marie Luise von Degenfeld, had issue; Elisabeth Hollander von Bernau, had issue
3.Elisabeth of the Palatinate (1618–1680)
4.Rupert, Duke of Cumberland (1619–1682); had two illegitimate children
5.Maurice of the Palatinate (1620–1652)
6.Louise Hollandine of the Palatinate (18 April 1622 – 11 February 1709)
7.Louis (21 August 1624 – 24 December 1624)
8.Edward, Count Palatine of Simmern (1625–1663); married Anna Gonzaga, had issue
9.Henriette Marie of the Palatinate (7 July 1626 – 18 September 1651); married Prince Sigismund of Siebenbuergen on 16 June 1651
10.John Philip Frederick (26 September 1627 – 15 December 1650); also reported to have been born on 15 September 1629
11.Charlotte (19 December 1628 – 14 January 1631)
12.Sophia, Electress of Hanover (14 October 1630 – 8 June 1714); married Ernest Augustus, Elector of Hanover, had issue including King George I of Great Britain
13.Gustavus Adolphus (14 January 1632–1641)

The Elizabeth River in Southeastern Virginia was named in honour of the princess, as was Cape Elizabeth, a peninsula and, today, a town in the U.S. state of Maine. John Smith explored and mapped New England and gave names to places mainly based on the names used by Native Americans. When Smith presented his map to Charles I, he suggested that the king should feel free to change the "barbarous names" for "English" ones. The king made many such changes, but only four survive today, one of which is Cape Elizabeth.[9]

According to legend, William Craven, 1st Earl of Craven, built Ashdown House in Berkshire, England, in honour of Elizabeth, although she died before the house was completed.