The Correspondence of Mary Stuart, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange

Primary Contributors:

Ineke Huysman, Huygens ING

Mary, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange, by Gerard van Honthorst. 1648. (Koninklijke Verzamelingen, Den Haag, inv. no. SC/0041)

Mary Stuart, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange (1631–1660)

In 1641, at the age of nine, Mary — the eldest daughter of the Stuart king Charles I — married Willem II van Oranje-Nassau (1626–1650). Following the death of his father, Frederik Hendrik, in 1647, Willem succeeded as stadholder and Mary received the title of Princess of Orange. Mary had a poor relationship with her mother-in-law, Amalia von Solms-Braunfels, in particular after the death of Willem. At this point the two women fought over the custody of Mary’s newborn son Willem III, the future stadtholder-king, as well as over the regency of the Princedom of Orange [Oranje]. When Charles Stuart regained the British throne in 1660, Mary followed her brother to London where he was crowned Charles II. She died there of smallpox shortly thereafter.

While much of Mary’s correspondence remains to be collated, most of the letters currently in this catalogue are copies of her outgoing letters, collected and written in the hand of her secretary Nicolaas Oudart.

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 the original letters are conserved (Archief Mary Stuart, 15a). In the near future, further letters both from and to Mary Stuart, will be added to the catalogue.

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 the metadata for 353 letters, 273 of which are conserved in the Royal Collections at The Hague. The letters are written in German, French, and Dutch, and they date from 1641 to 1660. Mary’s outgoing letters are kept in a letter book which is held at the Dutch Royal Collections [KV, Maria Stuart A15a, XI B3] and ten holographs in her hand [KV, Frederik Hendrik A14, XI A35] have been calendared. Metadata for seventy-three letters conserved in the Bodleian Library in Oxford (MS Rawl. Letters 115) have been included, and in the near future further correspondence from this library will be added. Where links are provided (marked as manuscript image) to digitized copies of the scanned manuscripts, the entire letter book will open and the user is able to browse to the relevant folio number to locate the particular letter.

Detail of a letter from Mary, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange, to Frederik Hendrik van Oranje-Nassau, 29 September 1646. (Royal Collections, Archief Frederik Hendrik A14-XIA-043; reproduced with kind permission from the Royal Collections The Netherlands)

Further resources

Selected bibliography

T. Birch, ed., A collection of the State Papers of John Thurloe (London, 1742).

M. E. Everett Green, Lives of the princesses of England (London, 1855), vol. 6, pp. 100–334.

P. Geyl, Oranje en Stuart, 1641–1672 (Zeist, 1963).

Theod. Jorissen, ‘Amalia van Solms en Maria Stuart’, in Theod. Jorissen, ed., Historische Bladen (Haarlem, 1889), vol. 1, pp. 43–79.

S. Groenveld, Verlopend getij: de Nederlandse Republiek en de Engelse burgeroorlog 1640–1646 (Dieren, 1984).

Marika Keblusek, ‘A divertissiment of little plays. Theater aan de Haagse hoven van Elizabeth van Bohemen en Mary Stuart’, in Jan de Jongste, Juliette Roding, and Boukje Thijs, eds, Vermaak van de elite in de vroegmoderne tijd (Hilversum 1999), pp. 190–202.

Thomas Manley, A short view of the lives of those illustrious princes, Henry, duke of Gloucester, and Mary (London, 1661).

Alison Plowden, The Stuart princesses (Stroud, 1996).

J. Visser, ed., Gloria Parendi. Dagboeken van Willem Frederik, stadhouder van Friesland, Groningen en Drenthe, 1643–1649, 1651–1654 (The Hague, 1995).


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).


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