“In good marital confidence”: A German Consort’s Apologia Against Her Husband

Consorts of premodern Europe supported their husbands in ruling the territory, conducting dynastic politics, and organising the family and household. Juliane of Nassau-Dillenburg (1587–1643), a grandniece of William of Orange, fulfilled this role since her marriage to Maurice, Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel in the Holy Roman Empire in 1603. But in 1624, she publicly challenged her husband of more than 20 years. Juliane wrote an apologia – a memorandum or indictment – accusing Maurice of overspending, acting against the advice of his wife and councillors in matters of the Empire and Hesse, threatening the security of their lands and their dynasty, and opposing any agreement with the Hessian estates. She also refused to accept her husband’s physical and mental abuse, and made her emotional state publicly known. The talk analyses this unusual early modern text regarding its political and private dimensions.