The one born under the name of Georges I King of England and his wife and first cousin Sophia Dorothea of Celle did not get along well. They had been forced into this arranged marriage and, since the first day they had met, it had been clear that this union was not to be a happy one. Sophia Dorothea fainted upon seeing her fiancé, while he preferred to grant his favours to his mistresses, and when she complained about it he brutally chased her out.
It was therefore not surprising that Sophia Dorothea took a lover, risking everything for the handsome count Philip Cristoph of Königsmarck, a Swedish soldier. The couple exchanged a few love letters and were soon the subject of all the Court’s conversations.
Königsmarck was a libertine however, and also had a liaison with the countess Clara de Platen. Clara was a woman of influence, difficult, mean, and feared by the other courtiers. She had long been the mistress of Prince Georges’ father, Ernest Augustus and loved nothing more than to stir up trouble.
When Königsmarck rejected her in favour of Sophia Dorothea, there was no greater fury. However, she was too intelligent to display her rage and, on the contrary, played the hypocrite, every day collecting proofs of the liaison between her lover and the royal princess, all smiles for Sophia Dorothea, waiting for the right moment.
The moment came when Sophia Dorothea and Königsmarck planned to flee Hanover forever and start a new life elsewhere, in Wolfenbüttel. On their flight’s eve, Königsmarck received a note seemingly from his mistress, calling him to her apartments. He obeyed and headed straight for Dorothea’s apartments, proving once and for all that they truly were a couple. Confronted with the proof that his daughter-in-law was betraying her husband, Ernest Augustus consented to have Königsmarck arrested, and Clara, along with four courtiers, rushed to execute the Duke’s order.
When Königsmarck left his mistress’s apartments, he found the door he usually used locked, and then, the four courtiers attacked him. The count stood no chance against his assailants and, suddenly, found himself in grave danger. Badly wounded by a blow to the head, he still had the strength to pray for the life of the princess before losing consciousness. The unconscious count was dragged to Princess Clara upon which he regained consciousness. Discovering who had designed his fate, he swore, made a bitter vow. Clara’s answer was to roughly strike Königsmarck to the face and that was the last thing he ever saw. A few moments later, he was dead.
Multiple versions exist of Königsmarck’s fate. All implicate Clara and some rumours even link her to his disappearance and these rumours followed her to her grave.
What became of Königsmarck’s corpse remains however a mystery. Maybe Clara and her accomplices panicked once their crime accomplished. After all, the father-in-law had given permission to arrest Königsmarck, not to kill him, and the future of the five courtiers linked to this crime could become quite dark were Ernest Augustus to discover what they had done. Some say the corpse was hidden under the wooden floor of Leineschloss Castle. Others say he was thrown into the river Leine, or burnt on site. We will never know what became of Königsmarck.
Victim and assassins alike took the secret to their respective graves, if Königsmarck ever had one.