Edition of the correspondence (1751-1752) between Luise Dorothea of Saxe-Gotha and Friederike von Montmartin

Material description

The originals of the correspondence between the Gotha princess Luise Dorothea and her lady-in-waiting Friedrike von Montmartin are in the Thuringian State Archives Gotha (call number Geheimes Archiv E XIII a 9). It consists of 404 manuscript pages in French. The volume contains 36 letters of Luise Dorothea, 35 letters of Friederike von Montmartin and 2 letters of Friedrich Samuel von Montmartin. The correspondence begins on June 27, 1751, shortly after the newly married court lady moved from Gotha to Regensburg, where her husband, an influential Freemason, became Gotha's envoy to the Imperial Diet in 1756, and ends after 11 months with Samuel von Montmartin's news of Friederike's death in childbirth on May 22, 1752.

Letter conclusion from Friederike von Montmartin
Letter conclusion from Friederike von Montmartin
Letter conclusion from Duchess Luise Dorothea
Letter conclusion from Duchess Luise Dorothea


The publication appears in the series of publications of the Thuringian State Archives Gotha, Friedensteinsche Quellen Nr. 3, Der Briefwechsel zwischen Luise Dorothea von Sachsen-Gotha-Altenburg und Friederike von Montmartin. Translated, introduced and commented by Bärbel Raschke, Gotha 2009. The edition is a contribution to the indexing of sources for gender research in modern times. For about 10 years, historical gender research has been strongly oriented towards the area of the German courts, since the tradition situation is comparatively favorable for corresponding questions. The publication and content analysis of the correspondence sheds light on the following problem areas from the perspective of and in relation to women at court:

  • the social position of women in the courtly structure; the role of ceremony and ritual,
  • the contemporary perspective on the Protestant and Catholic cultural areas in Germany,
  • the share of noble women in political events in the Old Empire, both regional and supraregional,
  • the contemporary perspective on anthropological constants of women's life in the 18th century (virginity, marriage, matrimony, pregnancy, childbirth, death),
  • the discourse of gender in the courtly sphere,
  • forms of sociability in court life; female view of newly emerging exclusively male sociability in the Masonic movement,
  • European communication networks of the Enlightenment and knowledge transfer.


Dr. Bärbel Raschke