The Countess of Yarmouth
Portrait of Amalie Sophie Marianne von Wallmoden, ca. 1745
|Died||19 or 20 October 1765 (aged 61)|
|Known for||Royal mistress|
Gottlieb Adam von Wallmoden
|Children||Franz Ernst von Wallmoden|
Johann Ludwig, Reichsgraf von Wallmoden-Gimborn
Amalie Sophie Marianne von Wallmoden, Countess of Yarmouth, born Amalie von Wendt (1 April 1704 – 19 or 20 October 1765) was the principal mistress of King George II from the mid-1730s until his death in 1760. Born into a prominent family in the Electorate of Hanover, and married into another, in 1740 she became a naturalised subject of Great Britain and was granted a peerage for life, with the title of "Countess of Yarmouth", becoming the last royal mistress to be so honoured. She remained in England until the death in 1760 of King George II, who is believed to have fathered her second son, Johann Ludwig, Reichsgraf von Wallmoden-Gimborn. She returned to Hanover for the rest of her life, surviving the king for nearly five years.
She was born Amalie Sophie Marianne von Wendt on 1 April 1704, the daughter of Hanoverian General Johann Franz Dietrich von Wendt by his marriage to Friderike Charlotte von dem Bussche-Ippenburg, who belonged to one of the branches of von dem Bussche family. Her aunt was Melusine von der Schulenburg, Duchess of Kendal. She entered into the House of Wallmoden in 1727 with her marriage to Gottlieb Adam von Wallmoden, with whom she shared a son, Franz Ernst von Wallmoden. She was described in 1738 in a letter to Charles, Viscount Townshend as being a brunette with "fine black eyes", "very well shaped, not tall, nor low; has no fine features, but very agreeable in the main."
George II was first attracted to the Countess Wallmoden in 1735, during a visit to Hanover, where she lived with her husband. In 1736, she bore a son, called Johann Ludwig von Wallmoden, said to be the unacknowledged illegitimate child of the king. By 1738, George II's visits to Hanover to see his mistress were so numerous as to invite satire by Samuel Johnson in the poem "London". The king ended the necessity of those visits after the death of his wife Caroline of Ansbach in November 1737, sending for the Countess Wallmoden to join him in England, but it did not put an end to Johnson's disapproval. In 1739, Johnson wrote scathingly of the king's relationship with Wallmoden, "his tortured sons shall die before his face / While he lies melting in a lewd embrace".
In 1739, Amalie von Wallmoden divorced her husband. In 1740, she was naturalized and given the non-heritable title of Countess of Yarmouth, the last royal mistress to be so honoured. She was officially designated Amalie Sophie von Wallmoden to obscure the question of her marital status. Robert Walpole indicated that her primary focus was on pleasing the king, although she was also said to be interested in the bestowing of peerages, reputedly playing a part in the creation of a Barony for Stephen Fox-Strangways in 1741 and in the newly created title of Viscount Folkestone for Jacob des Bouverie in 1747.
- Rigg 1899.
- Cokayne, George Edward (1898). Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct, Or Dormant. 8, U–Z. G. Bell & Sons. p. 211.
- Beauclerk-Dewarre, Peter; Roger Powell (2006). Right Royal Bastards: The Fruits of Passion. Burke's Peerage & Gentry. p. 79. ISBN 0-9711966-8-0.
- Schade, Richard E.; Herbert Rowland (2000). Lessing Yearbook: 1999. Wayne State University Press. p. 257. ISBN 0-8143-2930-6.
- As the Countess Wallmoden was not yet separated from her husband at the time of this birth, the king's paternity has been challenged. Cf. DNB article.
- Greene, Donald (2000). Samuel Johnson: The Major Works. Oxford University Press. p. 793. ISBN 0-19-284042-8.
- "Samuel Johnson (1709–84) London: A Poem in Imitation of the Third Satire of Juvenal (1738)". Cardiff University. Retrieved 28 October 2008.
Scarce can our fields, such crowds at Tyburn die, / With hemp the gallows and the fleet supply. / Propose your schemes, ye senatorian band! / Whose ways and means support the sinking land, / Lest ropes be wanting in the tempting spring / To rig another convoy for the king.
- Greene, Donald (1970). The Age of Exuberance: Backgrounds to Eighteenth-century English Literature. Random House. p. 20. ISBN 9780394306384.
- Rudd, Niall (2005). The Latin Poems: The Latin Poems. Bucknell University Press. p. 39. ISBN 0-8387-5612-3.
The "lewd embrace" alludes to George II's liaison with Amelie von Wallmoden
- See also Johnson, Samuel (1823). "Marmor Norfolciense". The works of Samuel Johnson. Oxford University. pp. 3–33.
- Clark, J.C.D. (2002). The Memoirs and Speeches of James, 2nd Earl Waldegrave 1742-1763. Cambridge University Press. p. 159. ISBN 0-521-52689-2.
- Arnold-Baker, Charles (2001). The Companion to British History. Routledge. p. 1284. ISBN 0-415-26016-7.
- Profile, oxforddnb.com; accessed 30 April 2014.
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