Thursday, November 21, 2013

Prince Rupert of the Rhine

I'm teaching Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia today, and started wondering a bit about some of her family. Her youngest sister, the Electress Sophie, I knew, because she was a patron and correspondent of Leibniz. But much of the rest of the family was involved in interesting occupations. One of her younger brothers, Prince Rupert of the Rhine, is a case in point. He spent most of his early life fighting as a soldier, first in the Eighty Years' War, then in the Thirty Years' War, then in the English Civil War. He was captured and imprisoned as a result of the English Civil War and Princess Elisabeth had to negotiate his release. He was banished from England, but after more soldier gigs, he returned under the Restoration and served as a naval commander in the Second and Third Anglo-Dutch Wars. He became actively involved in various entrepreneurial endeavors, the most successful of which was receiving a charter for "The Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson's Bay", which became known as the Hudson's Bay Company. Rupert's Land is named after him; it was the area in which the Hudson's Bay Company was granted a monopoly; there are a number of other places in Canada named after him. He was also one of the founding members of the Royal Society and was an active inventor and experimentalist. Prince Rupert's Drops, also known as Dutch Drops, are named after him (although he did not actually invent them), as is Prince Rupert's Cube, as is Prince Rupert's Metal (a variety of brass used for ornament).

All quite interesting.

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