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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.

Elizabeth of Bohemia

  • [Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of James I. of England; born 1596; married the Elector Palatine, Frederick V., 1613; persuaded him to accept the crown of Bohemia; it involved him in a contest with the emperor of Germany, which opened the Thirty Years’ War, and in which Frederick lost both his crown and the hereditary electorate. After his death Elizabeth returned to England, and died, 1662.]
  • I would rather eat a dry crust at a king’s table than feast on luxuries at that of an elector.

  • This was said when urging her husband to accept the crown of Bohemia, which the nobles of that country had offered him. She imagined that the magnificence of Prague would surpass the luxury of the electoral establishment of Heidelberg Castle, splendid now even in its ruin. The royal title itself attracted her. “You would not,” she said to Frederick, “have married a king’s daughter if you had not the courage to become yourself a king.” Her ambition equalled her beauty. “To reign is glorious,” she declared, “were it only for a moment.” Frederick had a clearer view of the situation. “If I accept,” he said, “I shall be accused of ambition; if I decline, of cowardice. Decide as I may, peace is over for me and my country.” Other royal personages, however, have shared Elizabeth’s sentiment. Napoleon said to his brother Louis, who urged his poor health against taking the crown of Holland, “Better to die a king than to live a prince.” Theodora, the infamous wife of the Emperor Justinian, replied to the threats of the factions of Byzantium, “For my part, I adhere to the maxim of antiquity, ‘The throne is a glorious sepulchre.’”
  • The devotion of the princes who supported “the Winter King” and “the Queen of Hearts,” as Frederick and Elizabeth were respectively called, was illustrated by Christian of Brunswick, “the mad Brunswicker,” whose motto was, “Für Gott und für sie” (For God and her), or, as he wrote in a French album, “Tout pour Dieu et ma chère reine” (All for God and my dear queen). Carlyle calls him “a high-flown, fiery young fellow, of terrible fighting gifts. He flamed up considerably, with the queen of Bohemia’s glove stuck in his hat: ‘Bright lady, it shall stick there till I get you your own again, or die!’”—Frederick II., III. 16. The banner of Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar, the successor of Gustavus Adolphus in the latter part of the Thirty Years’ War, is said to have borne a similar motto: “Alles für Ruhm und sie” (All for glory and her).