Anna Karolina Orzelska
Princess of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck
Portrait by Rosalba Carriera, 1730
|Spouse||Charles Louis, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck
(m. 1730 - div. 1733)
|Issue||Charles Frederick, Hereditary Prince of Schelswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck|
|House||House of Wettin|
|Father||Augustus II of Poland|
23 November 1707|
|Died||27 September 1769
Anna Karolina Orzelska (23 November 1707 – 27 September 1769) was an adventuress and Polish szlachcianka (noblewomen), the illegitimate daughter of August II the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, by Henriette Rénard.
The King-Elector August II the Strong met Henriette Rénard in Warsaw on 1706, where her father André Rénard, a wine merchant from Lyon, had a saloon. Most historians agree that at first, Henriette didn't know the true identity of her lover. As a result of the liaison, in November 1707 a daughter was born, Anna Karolina. August did not learn of her existence until a year and half later. Henriette married the Paris businessman François Drian shortly after Anna Karolina's birth and moved to France, where she grew up.
For a long time, the girl lived in Paris with her mother in complete obscurity without the support of her father. However, in 1723, her half-brother, the later Count Frederick Augustus Rutowsky, found her. Anna Karolina followed him on his return to the Dresden court, where the sixteen-year-old beauty was presented to the King. On 19 September 1724, August the Strong officially acknowledged Anna Karolina as his daughter and gave her the title of Countess Orzelska (Polish: Hrabina Orzelska, German: Gräfin Orzelska).
Anna Karolina became one of Augustus's most beloved children, not only because of her exceptional beauty, but also because of her improbable and extraordinary resemblance to her father. Without formal intellectual training, she nevertheless proved to be an excellent addition in the court life.
The court of August the Strong had the most scandalous reputation in Europe and encouraged the Countess's behavior, which was considered scandalous according to the official moral of the time. Contemporaries noted her tendency to drink, smoke tobacco, and have numerous affairs. Anna excelled in riding, hunting, and dancing. The Countess frequently appeared in men's clothing and even in military uniform. Some sources alleged that August the Strong made his own daughter his favorite; however, this cannot be proved.
In 1728, while King Frederick Wilhelm I of Prussia was visiting Dresden, the Countess Orzelska met his son, the Crown Prince Karl-Frederick (the future Frederick II the Great). She became the first (and, probably, the only) mistress of Frederick's life. In early 1729, Orzelska secretly arrived in Berlin in order to spend time with the Prussian heir. He dedicated verses and musical works of his own composition to her. Some believe that Orzelska, during her liaison with Frederick, carried out the tasks of reconnaissance nature.
In 1730, the Countess obtained from her father 300,000 thalers as a dowry and married with the Prince Charles Louis of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck - younger brother of the reigning Duke Frederick Wilhelm II- in the city of Dresden, on 10 August of that year. They had one son, Karl Frederick (b. Dresden, 5 January 1732 - d. Strassburg, 21 February 1772), future General Major of the Saxon Army. Her husband would become Duke after their divorce.
However, after three years of marriage (1733), Orzelska requested a divorce; from this moment, the couple began to live separately: Karl Ludwig in Königsberg and Anna Karolina in Venice. Inclined to adventure, the Countess participated, until the last days of her life, in a variety of activities which were considered scandalous.
She died in the French city of Avignon, aged sixty-one.
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