Gregory Brown
513 Agnes Arnold Hall
Department of Philosophy
University of Houston
Houston, TX 77204-3004

Friedrich V.
(Frederick V.)

Elector Palatine (1610-1632)
King of Bohemia, "The Winter King" (1619-1620)

Friedrich V. was born at Amberg in Bavaria on 26 August 1596, the son of the elector Friedrich IV. (1574-1610) by his wife Louisa Juliana, daughter of William the Silent, Prince of Orange.  Upon the death of his father in September 1610, Friedrich became elector.  He was under the guardianship of his kinsman, John II., count palatine of Zweibrücken (d. 1635), until he was declared of age in July 1614.  In February 1613 he married Elizabeth Stuart (1596-1662), daughter of king James I. (1566-1625) and Anne of Denmark (1574-1619).  He was then recognized as the head of the Protestant Union, which had been founded by his father to protect Protestant interests.

 In August 1619, a few months after the death of the emperor Matthias 1557-1619, the estates of Bohemia, being sympathetic to the Protestant cause and dissatisfied with the rule of the Catholic Habsburgs, declared Mathias' successor, Ferdinand II. (1578-1637), later the emperor Ferdinand II., deposed and chose Friedrich as their king, thus precipitating what became the Thirty Years' War.  Reluctant at first to accept the appointment, Friedrich finally acquiesced and was crowned king of Bohemia at Prague on 4 November 1619.  Thereupon the emperor Ferdinand II. took the offensive. Friedrich received no assistance from either England or the Protestant Union, and thus he had few soldiers and little money.  As a result, his forces were easily routed by the imperial army under Johann Tserclaes Tilly (1559-1632) at the battle of the White Mountain on 8 November, just a year and four days after his coronation.  The Habsburgs had predicted that Friedrich would be a "winter king," gone with the melting snow, and when the prediction proved true after Friedrich's defeat at the battle of the White Mountain, he was forever burdened with the epithet "Winter King."  He and Elizabeth withdrew in exile to The Hague, from where they could only watch helplessly as Spanish troops took possession of the Rhenish (Lower) Palatinate.  Friedrich was placed under imperial ban, and in 1623 his Upper Palatinate (adjacent to Bavaria) and his electoral dignity were given to Maximilian I. (1573-1651) of Bavaria as a reward for fighting on the Habsburg-Catholic side in the Thirty Years' War.   Friedrich died at Mainz on 29 November 1632.

Friedrich and Elizabeth had thirteen children.  Among them were Karl Ludwig (1617-1680),1 who regained the Palatinate at the peace of Westphalia in 1648; Elizabeth (1618-1680), abbess, friend and philosophical correspondent of the philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650); and Sophie (1630-1714), later electress of Hanover.


   1Karl Ludwig's daughter, princess Elisabeth Charlotte (1652-1722), married Philippe I. (1640-1701), the duke of Orléans, and became the ancestress of the elder and Roman Catholic branch of the royal family of England.  Her namesake, Sophie Charlotte (1668-1705), later electress of Brandenburg and queen of Prussia, was the daughter of Karl Ludwig's sister, Sophie (1630-1714), later electress of Hanover.


  • The Encyclopædia Britannica, 13th edition.  New York:  The Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 1926.
  • Hatton, Ragnhild Marie.  George I: Elector and King.  Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1978.
  • Parker, Geoffrey.  The Thirty Years' War.  New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1987.