Charlotte

Today’s morning name. Charlotte NC, on my mind presumably because it’s being (controversially) considered as the host city for the 2020 Republican National Convention. Then Charlottesville VA (home of the University of Virginia and site of a white supremacist rally that turned deadly back in January) and Charlottetown (capital of PEI). And, finally the Queen Charlotte Islands in BC. The similarity in names — which led me also to the Charles River in Boston and Cambridge (with MIT, Harvard, and Boston University on its banks), the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston, and picturesque Charleston SC (location of a 2015 race-based mass shooting) — turns out not be be accidental; it’s all about Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, wife of George III. She will take us eventually to Handel, J.C. Bach, and Mozart, not to mention Rutgers University.

(The Charles River and the Charlestown neighborhood are named for Charles I, and Charleston SC for Charles II.)

Then, from NOAD:


(#1) Raspberry charlotte cake, one of innumerable variants on the charlotte idea

noun charlotte: a dessert made of stewed fruit or mousse with a casing or covering of bread, sponge cake, ladyfingers, or breadcrumbs. ORIGIN French, from the female given name Charlotte.

Ah, but which Charlotte? Quite possibly Our Charlotte, the Mecklenbürgerin. Or maybe not.

Wikipedia on this Charlotte:


(#2) Queen Charlotte with her Two Eldest Sons, Johan Zoffany, 1765

Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (Sophia Charlotte; 19 May 1744 – 17 November 1818) was a British queen consort and wife of King George III. She served as Queen of Great Britain and Queen of Ireland from her wedding in 1761 until the union of the two kingdoms in 1801, after which she was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until her death in 1818. She was also the Electress of Hanover in the Holy Roman Empire until the promotion of her husband to King of Hanover on 12 October 1814, after which she was also queen consort of Hanover.

Charlotte was a patroness of the arts and an amateur botanist who helped expand Kew Gardens. She was distressed by her husband’s bouts of physical and mental illness, which became permanent in later life and resulted in their eldest son’s appointment as Prince Regent in 1811. George III and Charlotte had 15 children in total, 13 of whom survived to adulthood. She was the mother of two future British monarchs, George IV and William IV. Her other children included Ernest Augustus, King of Hanover, and Charlotte, Queen of Württemberg.

[15 children! A tribute to the role of royal women as brood mares. As for the children in #2:

George IV, b. 8/12/1762: succeeded his father, reigned 1820-1830

Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, b. 8/16/1763

Then there’s the third son, William IV, b. 8/21/1765: succeeded his brother, reigned 1830-1837, was succeeded by his niece Victoria.]

… King George III and Queen Charlotte were music connoisseurs with German tastes, who gave special honour to German artists and composers. They were passionate admirers of the music of George Frideric Handel.

In April 1764, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, then aged eight, arrived in Britain with his family as part of their grand tour of Europe and remained until July 1765. The Mozarts were summoned to court on 19 May and played before a limited circle from six to ten o’clock. Johann Christian Bach, eleventh son of the great Johann Sebastian Bach, was then music-master to the Queen. He put difficult works of Handel, J. S. Bach, and Carl Friedrich Abel before the boy: he played them all at sight, to the amazement of those present. Afterwards, the young Mozart accompanied the Queen in an aria which she sang, and played a solo work on the flute. [It’s been a long time since England had a queen who was up to singing concert arias.] On 29 October, the Mozarts were in London again, and were invited to court to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the King’s accession. As a memento of the royal favour, Leopold Mozart published six sonatas composed by Wolfgang, known as Mozart’s Opus 3, that were dedicated to the Queen on 18 January 1765, a dedication she rewarded with a present of 50 guineas.

Queen Charlotte was an amateur botanist who took a great interest in Kew Gardens. In an age of discovery, when such travellers and explorers as Captain James Cook and Sir Joseph Banks were constantly bringing home new species and varieties of plants, she ensured that the collections were greatly enriched and expanded. Her interest in botany led to the South African flower, the Bird of Paradise, being named Strelitzia reginae in her honour.

[See my 7/4/17 posting “Fay Zwicky”, with its section on the genus Banksia and on Joseph Banks; and my 9/23/17 posting “Boys with plants”, with a section on the genus Strelitzia, the bird of paradise plants, and the species S. reginae, named for Queen Charlotte.]

Among the royal couple’s favored craftsmen and artists were the cabinetmaker William Vile, silversmith Thomas Heming, the landscape designer Capability Brown, and the German painter Johann Zoffany, who frequently painted the king and queen and their children in charmingly informal scenes, such as a portrait of Queen Charlotte and her children as she sat at her dressing table. In 1788 the royal couple visited the Worcester Porcelain Factory (founded in 1751, and later to be known as Royal Worcester), where Queen Charlotte ordered a porcelain service that was later renamed “Royal Lily” in her honour. Another well-known porcelain service designed and named in her honour was the “Queen Charlotte” pattern.

… Places named after her include the Queen Charlotte Islands (now known as Haida Gwaii) in British Columbia, Canada, and Queen Charlotte City on Haida Gwaii; Queen Charlotte Sound (not far from the Haida Gwaii Islands); Queen Charlotte Bay in West Falkland; Queen Charlotte Sound, South Island, New Zealand; several fortifications, including Fort Charlotte, Saint Vincent; Charlottesville, Virginia; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; Charlotte, North Carolina; Mecklenburg County, North Carolina; Mecklenburg County, Virginia; Charlotte County, Virginia, Charlotte County, Florida, Port Charlotte, Florida, and Charlotte Harbor, Florida. The proposed North American colonies of Vandalia (because of her supposed Vandal ancestry…) and Charlotina were also named for her. Queen Street, or Lebuh Queen as it is known in Malay, is a major street in Penang, Malaysia named after her. In Tonga, the royal family adopted the name Sālote (Tongan version of Charlotte) in her honour, and notable individuals included Sālote Lupepauʻu and Sālote Tupou III.

… Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, was chartered in 1766 as Queen’s College, in reference to Queen Charlotte. It was renamed [in] 1825, in honor of Henry Rutgers, a Revolutionary War officer and college benefactor. Its oldest extant building, Old Queen’s (built 1809–1823), and the city block that forms the historic core of the university, Queen’s Campus, retain their original names.

Returning to Charlottian places in North America: they are all photogenic, each in its own way, but it would be hard to beat the Queen Charlottes:


(#2) One of many stunning views in Haida Gwaii

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