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Life in The Hague turned out to be the first crucial stage of Elisabeth’s intellectual development, for she used this opportunity to shape a major intellectual community of exiles in The Hague.For instance, in 1634, at the age of only sixteen, she arranged a debate between Descartes and a Protestant Scottish minister named John Dury.
Over the course of the next few years, she forged personal and intellectual connections with a wide variety of figures, including Descartes, Leibniz, Constantijn Huygens, and many others.
Elisabeth’s intense intellectual life at The Hague ended in 1646, when she left the court and resettled in Berlin for a short time, before returning to her birthplace in Heidelberg.
After a childhood in Germany, largely in Heidelberg and Berlin, her family went into exile in Holland, living in The Hague in the 1630s.
During this time period, she was mentored by the great philosopher, linguist, and polymath Anna Maria van Schurman (the first woman to attend university in Europe), who advised Elisabeth on a range of subjects and suggested numerous readings for her to consider.
She personally met with, corresponded with, or was known to, the following major figures from the 17 century: Descartes, Leibniz, Malebranche, Henry More, Anne Conway, Francis Mercury van Helmont, William Penn, Constantjn Huygens, and Anna Maria van Schurman.
In many ways, then, to study Elisabeth’s life is to study European intellectual life in the 17 Born in Heidelberg just after Christmas Day in 1618, Elisabeth was the oldest daughter of a family that blended Bohemian and English royalty.
Elisabeth, Princess Palatine of Bohemia, was a remarkable woman living during remarkable times.
She experienced a devastating and protracted war, years of exile, political strife, executions of family members, and a final period as a political authority and protector of religious refugees.
The War upended her family’s life, sending them away from Prussia into exile in Holland, where they would remain for years.
Her family also gave her intriguing connections to many key early modern figures.