The Correspondence of Henriette Amalia von Anhalt-Dessau

Primary Contributors:

Ineke Huysman, Huygens ING

Henriette Amalia von Anhalt-Dessau, by Louis Volders. c. 1695. (Koninklijke Verzamelingen, Den Haag, inv. no. SC/0311)

Henriette Amalia von Anhalt-Dessau (1666–1726)

In 1696, following the death of her husband Hendrik Casimir II (1657–1696), Henriette Amalia von Anhalt-Dessau became regent on behalf of her son Johan Willem Friso (1687–1711), and she held this post until he came of age in 1707. When the Dutch Stadtholder-King Willem III [William III of England, Scotland, and Ireland] died childless in 1702, Henriette Amalia succeeded in securing the succession for her son. As the States-General had been appointed executors for Willem III, Henriette Amalia was forced to lobby zealously to ensure that the official authorities of all seven provinces backed Johan Willem Friso.

When Johan Willem Friso died unexpectedly in 1711, Amalia failed to secure regency on behalf of her grandson, the future Stadtholder Willem IV, as the states of Frisia preferred her daughter-in-law Maria Louise von Hessen-Kassel for this role.

Although Henriette Amalia’s agency was not successful in all respects, her correspondence is significantly more substantial than that of her two female predecessors, Sophia Hedwig von Braunschweig-Wolffenbüttel and Albertine Agnes van Oranje-Nassau, and it bears testament to her extensive diplomatic activities.

Partners and Additional Contributors

The metadata for this catalogue in EMLO was provided by the Huygens ING under the direction of researcher Dr Ineke Huysman. Huygens ING has digitized the documents in cooperation with the Royal Collections The Netherlands in The Hague, where most of the original letters are conserved (Archief Henriette von Anhalt-Dessau, A26a). In the near future further letters from and to Henriette Amalia, which are in the care of Tresoar in Leeuwarden, will be added in collaboration with the Fryske Akademy.

This calendar has been prepared for publication as a part of a collaboration with EMLO and the associated Women’s Early Modern Letters Online [WEMLO] resource. Thanks are due to Professor James Daybell and Dr Kim McLean-Fiander, and to Dr Nadine Akkerman. Cultures of Knowledge would like to thank EMLO Digital Fellows Charlotte Marique and Callum Seddon for their work to help prepare the metadata for upload.


Currently this catalogue contains metadata for 1,352 letters which are conserved at the Royal Collections and the National Archive in The Hague. Of this total, Henriette Amalia was the author of 343 letters, while 1,008 letters are addressed to her. The letters are written in German, French, and Dutch, and they date between the years 1676 and 1726.

Most letter records provide links to digitized copies of the original documents, marked as ‘manuscript image’, and links to the digitized publication of the correspondence of Grandpensionary Anthonie Heinsius. It is intended that further correspondence of Henriette Amalia, conserved primarily at Tresoar in Leeuwarden, will be added to this catalogue in the forthcoming months.

Detail of a letter from Henriette Amalia to van der Dussen, 15 February 1702. (Royal Collections, Archief Henriette Amalia van Anhalt-Dessau, A26a-149; reproduced with kind permission from the Royal Collections The Netherlands)

Further resources

Selected Bibliography

Katharine Bechler, Schloss Oranienbaum. Architektur- und Kunstpolitik der Oranierinnen in der zweiten Hälfte des 17. Jahrhunderts (Halle, 2002), pp. 146–58.

M. Bruggeman and A. P. van Nienes, eds, Archieven van de Friese stadhouders. Inventarissen van de archieven van de Friese stadhouders van Willem Lodewijk tot en met Willem V, 1584–1795 (Hilversum, 2002).

Marijke Bruggeman, Nassau en de macht van Oranje. De strijd van de Friese Nassaus voor de erkenning van hun rechten, 1702–1747 (Hilversum, 2007).

Robert Heck, Die Regenten der ehemaligen Diezischen Lande aus den Haüsern Diez und Nassau-Diez in Wort und Bild (Diez, 1912) pp. 61–6 and 76–87.

N. Japikse, De geschiedenis van het huis van Oranje-Nassau (The Hague, 1948), vol. 2, pp. 19–23.

Peter Karstkarel and Hugo Kingmans, Oranje-Nassau & Friesland (Leeuwarden, 1994), pp. 62–7.

Hélène de Muij-Fleurke and Bernard Woelderink, ‘Die Hochzeit von Heinrich Casimir II und Henriette Amalia im Jahre 1683 in Dessau und ihr festlicher Empfang in Friesland im Jahre 1684’, Oranienbaum. Huis van Oranje (2003), pp. 113–18.

R. L. M. Mulder-Radetzky and B. H. de Vries, Geschiedenis van Oranjewoud. Van vorstelijk lustslot tot voorname buitenplaatsen (Alphen aan den Rijn, 1999), pp. 13–17.

Johanna W. A. Naber, Onze vorstinnen uit het Huis van Oranje-Nassau in het stadhouderlijk tijdperk (Haarlem, 1911), vol. 2, pp. 12–20.

M. D. Ozinga, Daniel Marot. De schepper van den Hollandschen Louis XIV-stijl (Amsterdam, 1938), pp. 21–2 and 103–24.

J. Steur, ‘Amalia, prinses van Anhalt-Dessau, 1666–1726’, in E. van Beusekom, et al., ed., Moeders uit ons vorstenhuis (Amsterdam, 1938), pp. 125–9.


For additional biographical information, see the page at the Huygens ING and the entry in Wikipedia.


Additional resources

Women’s Early Modern Letters Online [WEMLO] project page

WEMLO network and resources hub

The Wives of the Stadtholders: an exhibition (September 2016).


Launch Catalogue

Please see our citation guidelines for instructions on how to cite this catalogue.