The photos are from the private collection of a friend of mine and are not to be used elsewhere without permission.
On Tuesday 17 December 1918 a Duchess was born in Rostock, Germany. Where weeks earlier her birth might have been reported in all newspapers in the Duchy of Mecklenburg, this was not the case. World War I had just ended and Germany had ceased being a monarchy. The baby’s cousin, Duke Friedrich Franz IV zu Mecklenburg-Schwerin had also given up his throne on 14 November 1918.
Duke Adolf Friedrich zu Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1873-1969) had on 24 April 1917 married Princess Victoria Feodora Reuß (* 1889), who was named Victoria after the Empress of Germany, Auguste Victoria. Their marriage was blessed on 17 December 1918 with a daughter, who received the names Woizlawa Feodora Elise Marie Elisabeth. Unfortunately Victoria Feodora died only one day after giving birth. Adolf Friedrich remarried almost six years later to his sister-in-law Princess Elisabeth zu Stolberg-Roßla (1885-1969), the widow of his brother Duke Johann Albrecht.
The little Duchess was named Woizlawa after the first women in her family’s history, Feodora after her mother, Elise after her maternal grandmother, Marie after her paternal grandmother and likely Elisabeth after her paternal aunt. Although she according to genealogies officially is Woizlawa Feodora, in daily life she is called Feodora.
Woizlawa Feodora in 1939 married Prince Heinrich I Reuss (1910-1982) and had one daughter, five sons, 11 grandchildren and at least one great-grandchild. She is still alive, lives in the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) and turns 100 on this day. She will celebrate the day with family and friends on 20 December in Gera, Germany.
On 19 July 2011 she visited Kollum, The Netherlands. For my report of that visit see my website.
The meaning of the name Woizlawa Feodora
The old (Slavic?) name of Woizlawa is probably unique, as there are no other modern examples to be found online. Only her own granddaughter Princess Johanna Reuss (* 1985) also received it as one of her middle names.
The name Feodora is of Slavic, Russian origin meaning “gift of God”. The name derives from the Greek name Theodora. Also the name of Feodora is rather uncommon and rarely given. But there are several examples in royal and noble families until today.
The name Woizlawa Feodora in Mecklenburg Grand-Ducal history
Woizlawa was the (second?) wife of Pribislav, Prince of the Obotrites († 1178), and Lord of Mecklenburg and Kessin. She died in 1172 and was buried at the Chapel of Althof (Bad Doberan). Her background is unclear. She might have been from Scandinavia or the daughter of a Varangian Prince. The name wasn’t used since in the family, until Woizlawa Feodora was born.
The name Feodora comes from Woizlawa’s mother’s side and doesn’t occure elsewhere in the Mecklenburg genealogy. Her grandmother Elise was born a Princess zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg. Elise’s paternal grandmother was Princess Feodora zu Leiningen, whose mother was Princess Viktoria zu Sachsen-Coburg-Saalfeld (1786-1861). This Viktoria married secondly the British Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, and also became the mother of Queen Victoria.