Yes, reader Lindy, Charlotte had 15 children. That is indeed a lot, but not all that unusual for families of that time, even royal ones. One can point to even larger families in the history of the British monarchy. James II had nineteen children by two different wives. Edward I achieved the same number but did it the old-fashioned way with just one wife. Braveheart fans know Edward I as Edward Longshanks, a.k.a. the “Hammer of the Scots.”

It’s only been over the last hundred years or so that British royal families have gotten small as a matter of course. Queen Victoria was the last sitting monarch to have what we would consider a very large family by modern standards, a total of nine. Her successor, Edward VII, had six. George V had six. Edward VIII had none. George VI had two. Elizabeth II had four. This of course is the official, legitimate count. There are quite a few kings of the past who sired large numbers of illegitimate children. William IV, for example, one of the sons of George III, had no legitimate children but ten illegitimate ones.

So fifteen really isn’t all that large a number, really, particularly for a king like George III who was a dedicated father and faithful spouse. Indeed, while he’s always been depicted as an evil tyrant here in the States, the truth is that George was a very genial man of few pretensions and simple tastes. For that he was labeled as a dullard by the members of his court, most of whom enjoyed lavish lifestyles and frequently flaunted their extramarital affairs. George, they snickered, only pleasured himself with two things: good mutton and his plain, plump little German wife.

2 thoughts on “Fifteen???”

  1. Hmmm. For a man to have 15 (or 50) children is not such a big deal (physically, that is). As you noted, he might divide his progeny amongst many wives. But I also raised my eyebrows when I read about Charlotte’s 15 children. The assumption is that she actually gave birth to all of them. So 15 is a very large number of children indeed, even if she had 15 husbands to help her along. See the difference? ;> And Charlottes — don’t they have ladyfingers surrounding the mousse? Well there ya go — a ladyfinger for each child!

    1. Thanks for the comment, Chana! Charlotte russe often has ladyfingers, Charlotte royale usually has these little spirals of jelly roll. But there are lots and lots and lots of different kinds of Charlottes. The term is nearly as generic as “cake.”

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