The Rosicrucians

Elizabeth of Bohemia

Regardless of whether the Rosicrucians ever existed, much of the furore clearly followed the activities of one very historical person. Daughter of James I of England and later wife of Frederick V of the Palatinate, Elizabeth was Electress of the Palatinate and, very briefly, Queen of Bohemia.

Mention of Elizabeth in this book is inspired by historical events. As a daughter of the king, she was famously the gunpowder plotters’ target to take over as monarch should the plot have been successful.

Born in Fife in 1596, her birth was believed to be of great consequence, thanks in no small part to the appearance of the variable star Mira, which was visible in the skies that year. In the eyes of the plotters, it’s also likely the then nine-year-old was seen as the most prudent candidate on offer, especially bearing in mind Prince Henry was likely to have been present at parliament at the time of the explosion, while the young Charles – later Charles I – was a fairly weak child.

Descriptions of Elizabeth’s personality in this novel are also inspired by her true-to-life character. A well-read, educated and intelligent individual, Elizabeth succeeded early on in captivating her future husband, and the two enjoyed a prosperous marriage. The wedding itself was noteworthy for its extravagance, the £50,000 cost nearly bankrupting James. Mention of the wedding in my novel, though in some ways controversial, is largely factual. Inigo Jones, Sir Francis Bacon and William Shakespeare were all involved in their stated capacities. The facts concerning the masque in 1610, I also believe to be accurate.

Further to Elizabeth’s role as electress, her husband’s acceptance, and initially triumphant ascension, of the throne of Bohemia, replacing the fervent Catholic Ferdinand II, was, alas, not destined to last. Unwilling to go quietly, Ferdinand subsequently defeated Frederick within a year of his coronation and swiftly retook the crown of Bohemia, thus beginning the Thirty Years’ War. With this, the king and queen of one winter were destined to leave Prague. Unable to return to the Palatinate either, due to the dominance of the Catholic League and the Spanish, the pair were forced into exile.

As indicated in the novel, they spent most of their later lives in The Hague.

Doomed to a certain ignominy in her lifetime, Elizabeth mothered thirteen children with Frederick. Despite never achieving the ‘star child’ status that some prophesied, her descendants ironically did inherit the British throne in the form of the Hanoverians and continue to rule it to this day.