If you wanted to reach the top in seventeenth century Europe, you had to be adept at all sorts of games. From war to diplomacy and everything in between, there was a lot to play for, and for ambitious rulers, the richest rewards were there for the taking.
One such ruler was Ernest Augustus, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg. Alongside his three brothers and fellow dukes, Christian Louis, George William, and John Frederick, Ernest Augustus ruled the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg. The division of territories between the four brothers had led to a fractious and sometimes strained state of affairs and though each sibling hoped to one day be the man who would unite the lands of Brunswick-Lüneburg under one ruler, in the end that role fell to Ernest Augustus. The reason behind this was simple: Ernest Augustus was the only brother whose marriage produced a son and heir to inherit the duchy3. It helped that he was also a man of unfettered ambition who was happy to push his brothers aside to realise it.
Ernest Augustus’ wife, Sophia of the Palatinate,4 was a woman with plenty of ambition of her own. She was the daughter of the short-lived Frederick V, who was Elector Palatine until his death in 1623, and who ruled as King of Bohemia for just fifteen months. His tenure was so short that it earned him the nickname, the Winter King. Brief though his time in the spotlight was, Frederick’s laurels paled in comparison next to those of his wife, Elizabeth Stuart. The Winter Queen had hit the dynastic jackpot: she had ancient royal blood flowing through her veins.
Elizabeth Stuart was the daughter of King James I and, like her eventual son-in-law, Ernest Augustus, she thrived on ambition. Elizabeth’s own marriage didn’t go quite as she had hoped and instead of ruling a kingdom, as befit the daughter of a monarch, she ended up joining her husband in exile when the armies of the Holy Roman Empire banished the Winter King from Bohemia. The royal family left in such haste that they didn’t even manage to pack all of the crown jewels and fled for a new life at The Hague without them.
Branded a yellow-bellied coward, the decline in Frederick’s health and fortunes was swift. His lands were seized, his titles stripped from him, and he was left at the head of a powerless court-in-exile, from which he and Elizabeth made occasional abortive attempts to regain the favour of the Holy Roman Emperor and win back all that they had lost. Though the Palatinate lands and electorate would eventually be returned to the family after a fashion, Frederick didn’t live to see it. Always subject to melancholy, he sank into a deep depression following the tragic death by drowning of his eldest son and never quite recovered from the shock. He died three years later of a fever, aged just 365.
Though Frederick was gone, his widow was far from beaten. From her exile in The Hague, Elizabeth Stuart indulged her love of politics and entertained visiting nobles from across Europe until her daughter, Sophia, observed that for all their illustrious visitors, “at our court we often had nothing to eat but diamonds and pearls”6. The family’s coffers were as empty as its larders, but Elizabeth couldn’t sell those diamonds and pearls, because they were vital to keeping up the illusion that a king’s daughter needed to preserve. She had to look the part, even if she was starving.
When the monarchy in England fell and Elizabeth’s brother, King Charles I, lost his head, the Protectorate understandably declined to offer any financial help to the exiled royal widow. Instead Elizabeth was cut adrift and, having come to rely upon wealthy royalists for support, found those sources of income were also now denied to her. In England, the estates and interests of her rich friends were being seized, leaving those benefactors who had once lived in lavish style and funded the exiled court of the Winter Queen to join her in penury. Elizabeth surveyed her options and decided that there was only one thing for it. She set out to find a rich husband for her daughter, with all the steely determination of a general planning a military campaign.
Elizabeth’s hope was that Sophia would snare Charles, Prince of Wales, and future king7, but it wasn’t to be. Though the prince came to The Hague and charmed the young lady, it soon became apparent that he had no interest in marriage. All he wanted was money, and that was the one thing that the exiled court couldn’t offer him. So Charles went on his merry way and as belts tightened still further in The Hague, Sophia left her mother’s side and travelled to Heidelberg, where she was to be a long-term guest of her brother, Charles I Louis, Elector Palatine, and his wife, Charlotte. It was during this trip that the young Winter Princess witnessed the damage that could be wrought by an unhappy marriage. She watched in horrified fascination as her brother and sister-in-law were alternately at war or in bed, their relationship fiery in all senses of the word.
Eventually the marriage of Charlotte and Charles Louis broke down irretrievably after Charlotte tried once too often to physically assault her husband’s beloved mistress, Marie Luise von Degenfeld. After nearly biting through Marie Luise’s finger and attacking her with a knife, Charlotte turned on Sophia, who she falsely accused of having an incestuous affair with Charles Louis. It was the final straw. The couple eventually divorced and Marie Luise was able to marry her man. It was a lesson Sophia would keep in mind when her own son’s marriage began to bow under the weight of unfulfilled expectations.
It was at the fiery Heidelberg court that Sophia finally met the man who would become her husband. Charles Louis hosted a visit by George William and Ernest Augustus, two of the Dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg, and she hit it off with Ernest Augustus from the start. Sadly, it seemed as though it had come too late. Charles Louis was actually in the midst of negotiating a betrothal between his sister and Adolph John I, Count of Zweibrücken-Kleeburg, brother of King Charles X Gustav of Sweden. The widowed count was noted for his unusual appearance, particularly what Sophia described as a “long pointed chin like a shoehorn” and though she was in no hurry to become his bride, Sophia, Charles Louis and Elizabeth alike recognised that such a financially shrewd marriage might be enough to save the family from its hardships. The fact that Adolph John I was brother to a king was the cherry on top.
Terms for the Swedish marriage were still being discussed when much to everyone’s surprise, George William of Brunswick-Lüneburg made a counter-offer. Just like Sophia’s family, the party-loving duke needed money and the Hanoverian estates had agreed to award him a generous allowance on condition that he marry. He snatched Sophia from beneath Adolph John I’s pointed chin and she was delighted. She far preferred the garrulous George William to her Swedish suitor and later recalled that when the proposal was received, “unlike the heroine of a novel, I did not hesitate to say yes”8. The marriage was on.
Yet even as Sophia was planning her wedding, George William was getting cold feet. No sooner had he secured the answer to his proposal than he received an unexpected increase in his allowance anyway, no marriage required. Now he could easily afford the lifestyle he wanted, and the last thing he needed was a bride to curb his fun. Unthinkably, George William offered to hand Sophia over to his brother, Ernest Augustus, which he reasoned would save Sophia from embarrassment as well as himself from any potential issues that might arise from this breach of promise. Ernest Augustus agreed to marry Sophia only on condition that George William would hand the wealthy territory of Lüneburg to him as well and would sign an undertaking in which he promised never to marry. The reason behind the second condition was that all-important territorial ambition. Ernest Augustus had plans for his lands and the last thing he wanted was George William fathering a son who might one day seek to regain Lüneburg for himself. George William accepted the deal and Ernest Augustus and Sophia were duly married. The bride herself was pragmatic. She had escaped the poverty-stricken deprivation of The Hague and “the only love I had felt was for a good establishment and that if I could obtain this I would have no difficulty trading the older brother for the younger”9. That’s the spirit.
The reason for this potted history of Hanover’s rulers is to understand both the world in which Melusine was to flourish and the man she was to love. Duchess Sophia’s origins were far grander than Melusine’s, but she hadn’t known the pampered, featherbed childhood of her daughter-inlaw Sophia Dorothea either. Sophia had lived in genteel poverty, mixing with princes whilst her empty belly rumbled. She had lost a parent young and witnessed her brother’s marriage being torn apart by infidelity and jealousies. She was acutely aware of her place in society and would do anything and everything to preserve and protect it. That included putting up with her husband’s mistress because it was simply the done thing in royal marriages. George Louis learned about mistresses by following the example set by his father.
Sophia was 27 when she married Ernest Augustus in 1658. Two years later, she gave birth to her first son and heir, George Louis, the future George I. The spare, Frederick Augustus, came along the following year. Ernest Augustus had secured his line of succession. Now he needed to secure his claim to the territories that, by rights, should never have been his alone.
The dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg had dreamed of seeing their duchy raised to the glittering status of an electorate ever since 1648, when the Holy Roman Empire made provision to admit new electorates to its rank. To be named an electorate was the highest honour a territory could receive and their rulers – the electors – were elevated to a status far above common-or-garden nobles. The electors alone were responsible for the election of a new Holy Roman Emperor when the current incumbent died and with that honour came power, prestige, and money. The rank of elector was symbolised by an electoral cap, or bonnet, and at a time when the Holy Roman Empire was still as powerful as it was vast, to be among the revered few electorates was every duchy’s dream.
As the youngest of four brothers Ernest Augustus might have nurtured dreams of becoming an elector but realistically, he would have known his opportunities were limited. He would also have known that the Holy Roman Emperor would have balked at the very notion of letting four power-hungry siblings share an electoral cap. As long as the brothers divvied up their territories and responsibilities between them, Hanover would not be elevated any higher than it already stood. Only one man could rule over an electorate. Yet Ernest Augustus wasn’t content to rest. He had long since produced his heir and his spare when, in 1665, his eldest brother, Christian Louis, died. Christian Louis was followed by John Frederick in 1679 and suddenly, quite unexpectedly, fate had dealt Ernest Augustus a generous hand. He alone from the four brothers had produced an heir and though George William still lived, he had already promised never to marry. Out of nowhere, the prospect for the duchy’s elevation to an electorate came once more into view.
Ernest Augustus had succeeded to the Prince-Bishopric of Osnabruck in 1662, under the terms of the Peace of Westphalia that decreed the office of Bishop should alternate between Catholic and Protestant holders. Ernest Augustus was the latter and with his new rank came a relocation to the bishop’s residence at Iburg castle, which Sophia found dark, cramped, and dingy. In short, it was thoroughly ill-suited to the family’s needs, so they set about constructing an opulent palace of their own in which to reside. After the deprivations of the exiled Winter Court, Sophia had had enough of being humble.
If Hanover was ever to become an electorate, it needed to look like one. Ernest Augustus was devoted to Italy – and its women – and adored the Venetian carnival. He envisioned Hanover as a Venice of the North that would rival the Italian city for romance and intrigue, and he was willing to spend serious money to achieve it. As well as the new construction at Osnabruck, Ernest Augustus’ ducal residence at Herrenhausen and the family’s ancestral castle, the Leineschloss, were both completely remodelled as part of the extensive programme of improvements. Herrenhausen in particular was seen by Ernest Augustus and Sophia as a showcase of Hanoverian excellence, and together they created a place worthy of any electorate. These renovations had been started by the late Duke John Frederick, but they now became Sophia’s pet project. She nurtured the gardens and grounds of the estate and in her later years, they became a sanctuary in times of trouble. It was fitting, therefore, that Sophia would take her final peaceful breath on the grass of Herrenhausen’s lawn decades later.
Hanover shimmered under the stewardship of Ernest Augustus. An annual carnival was established, and Venetians were brought into Germany to pilot ornate gondoliers along purpose-dug canals whilst musicians played on the shores and everyone who was anyone partied the night away. It was a must-see destination.
At first it seemed as though nothing could stand in the way of Ernest Augustus and Sophia’s ambition. They had the land, they had the prestige, and they had the heir. All they needed to do was slot the last piece of the puzzle into place and approach the Holy Roman Emperor to make the first moves towards becoming the ninth electorate. But just when all was going smoothly, George William forgot the promise that he had made his brother years earlier. Not only did he fall in love, but he wanted to marry too.
Sophia first encountered Éléonore Desmier d’Olbreuse, destined to become a lifelong thorn in her side, when the exiled Huguenot had been serving as lady in waiting to the Princess of Tarente, a French noblewoman. Always one for the ladies, George William met Éléonore and fell for her just as he was about to undertake a trip to Italy with his brother and sister-in-law. He asked Sophia if she would bring Éléonore along on the tour ostensibly as a lady in waiting, but really it was so he could have his wicked way with her. Éléonore decided to remain with the Princess of Tarente, playing hard to get. She wouldn’t play hard to get for long. Just like Melusine and Henrietta, her own illustrious career began as a lady-in-waiting in the circle of Sophia of Hanover.
Éléonore eventually came to Hanover once the trip to Italy was out of the way. She initially joined Sophia’s household but was soon George William’s official mistress, with a salary of 2,000 crowns per year to match. Though Sophia understood things had taken an intimate turn, she maintained her rigid adherence to protocol and, despite being the mistress of a duke, Éléonore was still treated as a servant by the duchess. She managed to secure herself the somewhat unimpressive title of Lady Harburg, (Harburg was part of the Hanoverian territories), but at mealtimes she was still seated at the staff table, whilst her plain supper wasn’t half so enticing as the delicacies enjoyed by the dukes and duchess. What Éléonore wanted was the full works: marriage, a ring on her finger and the title of Duchess, just like Sophia. It’s an indication of Sophia’s absolute dedication to rank and protocol that she was determined to prevent Éléonore from getting her hands on either. She failed on both counts.
In 1666 Éléonore gave birth to Sophia Dorothea, who Melusine would one day supplant at court. It came as a surprise to everyone, since George William had long since been told that repeated bouts of venereal disease had left him unable to father a child. Instead he had somehow ended up with a mistress and a daughter who he adored, but he knew that if Sophia Dorotha was to stand a chance of fulfilling her marriage potential, she couldn’t be branded as illegitimate. George William asked Leopold I, the Holy Roman Emperor, to legitimise his union with Éléonore. When Sophia heard that George William had approached the emperor she was outraged, but Ernest Augustus was a little more pragmatic. He needed the Holy Roman Emperor on side if Hanover was to become an electorate and he reluctantly agreed to support George William’s audacious request. Sophia was disgusted, referring to Éléonore scathingly as a “little clot of dirt”, but she was powerless to stop the Holy Roman Emperor from legitimising the marriage. She was equally powerless to prevent her newly minted sister-in-law from parading triumphantly through Celle in her state carriage, or to stop George William from buying up the rich territory that surrounded his existing lands. Ernest Augustus’ agreement with his brother might initially have left George William worse off, but now the situation was in sharp reverse.
In Celle, George William enjoyed the benefits of land and money, as well as the PR boost afforded by a popular wife and a pretty daughter. That daughter was growing into an eligible young lady, and as wealthy families with unwed sons jockeyed for position, Duchess Sophia took matters into her own hands. As far as she was concerned, there could only be one man who would make a suitable bridegroom for Sophia Dorothea.
“[George Louis is] the most pig-headed, stubborn boy who ever lived, and who has round his brains such a thick crust that I defy any man or woman ever to discover what is in them,” said his mother, but that didn’t deter her from doing everything in her power to ensure George Louis became the bridegroom of his cousin, Sophia Dorothea of Celle. It was a masterful decision to pursue a marriage that would ensure the vast wealth of Celle that Sophia Dorothea stood to inherit would one day flow into Hanover’s coffers. By marrying the cousins, there was also no chance that Sophia Dorothea would wed an ambitious outsider who might agitate for his own slice of the Brunswick-Lüneburg fortune. Yet Sophia would have to wait for an answer, because George William wouldn’t even entertain the notion of his daughter’s marriage until she turned 16.
This, of course, is a book about two particular mistresses, but one mistress at Hanover far outstripped all the others. She also brought Melusine von der Schulenberg into the heart of the Hanoverian court.
Clara Elisabeth von Meysenburg and her sister, Catherine Marie, were the pretty and accomplished daughters of Count Georg Philipp von Meysenburg, an impoverished adventurer. When his efforts to make a splash with his girls at Versailles failed, he took them instead to Hanover, where they stood out as they never had in the glamourous French court. The sisters shone at a gala in 1673, when they dressed as romantic shepherdesses and performed a short sketch for Ernest Augustus. Soon after, they married George Louis’ governors, Franz Ernst von Platen and Johann von dem Busche, and Clara took her place among Sophia’s ladies-in-waiting. She was nearly 20 years Sophia’s junior and Ernest Augustus quickly made her his official mistress, whilst her sister slipped into bed with his son George Louis. Between them, the two young ladies had snared both the duke and his heir.
Catherine Marie was not George Louis’ first amour. In 1676 the young man became a father for the first time when an affair with his sister’s under-governess resulted in pregnancy. The nameless young lady had come with Sophia from her brother’s Heidelberg court and Ernest Augustus feared a scandal, but instead her family spirited both mother and baby away. Money almost certainly changed hands to buy their silence and the mother and child were spoken of no more. Ernest Augustus was glad to see his son take Catherine Marie as a lover in place of the undergoverness. She understood the role of a courtly mistress and could be relied upon to be discreet.
Clara’s presence and influence over Ernest Augustus made Sophia miserable, but she knew better than to make a scene. Instead she bore her husband’s infidelity without complaint and indulged in petty acts of revenge, such as forcing the heavily made-up and overdressed mistress to join her on long, brisk walks in the summer sunshine. As Sophia glided through the gardens, Clara laboured in her wake, sweating and exhausted. Clara took her own sort of vengeance when both women delivered sons in 1674, each calling them Ernest Augustus. Clara’s husband claimed the little boy as his own son, and everyone dutifully looked the other way. Like all courts, Hanover was one in which a mistress wouldn’t raise so much as an eyebrow, but a pregnant mistress could cause all sorts of problems.
Yet Clara, unlike Melusine, was absolutely clear in her motivations. She wanted power above all else. Thanks to her machinations her husband eventually rose to the rank of prime minster, and nobody exercised more unofficial influence at court than she did. Years later that influence would lead to murder. It would also prove instrumental in bringing Melusine into Sophia’s circle.
In 1682, on the very eve of Sophia Dorothea’s sixteenth birthday, Sophia of Hanover leapt into a carriage and raced through the night to her brother-in-law’s castle at Celle. She knew that her son had at least one rival for the wealthy princess’ heart and she was determined to be the first on the scene. She arrived early enough to catch George William dressing and Éléonore sleeping and, by the time her social climbing sister-in-law awakened, the deal had been done. Sophia Dorothea would marry the surly, disinterested George Louis. She would bring with her a fortune in dowry and with the two cousins married, the territories of Brunswick- Luneburg would be reunited. What had once been divided between four brothers might soon stand to be inherited by one lone son: George Louis.
Famously, when the young princess was told that she was to marry her cousin, George Louis, she retorted furiously, “I will not marry the pig snout!”, but marry him she did and she was expected to make the best of it. George Louis simply accepted the union as his fate, recognising that his father’s ambitions for the future of the family were more important than any wishes that he might have. Hoping to give the new couple the best start they could hope for, Sophia even banished George’s mistress, Catherine Marie von dem Busch, before the bride-to-be arrived in Hanover. George Louis would greet his new wife with an empty bed.
George Louis and Sophia Dorothea married on 22 November 1682. Their first child, who would one day rule as George II, was born within a year and their second, a daughter named Sophia Dorothea, came along in 1686. Though this might appear to suggest a happy or at least tolerable marriage, the reality was far different. Yet as things began to unravel in the relationship between the couple, in the government of Hanover, all was going from strength to strength.
Like his father, George Louis was a born soldier. It was a time when continental warfare was rife and for the victor, the pickings could be rich. Shrewd politicking and some fierce battles had seen Ernest Augustus’ star gradually rise over the years and Hanover’s with it, but there remained the question of inheritance. Ernest Augustus had two children by his mistress, Clara, but these were acknowledged by her husband as his own and had no place in the line of succession. The same couldn’t be said for his official children.
The matter of succession would have been relatively simple if George Louis had been the only son of Sophia and Ernest Augustus but instead the couple were extraordinarily fecund. Setting aside the traumatic miscarriages and stillbirths that Sophia suffered, they still raised seven children to adulthood. All but one of them were sons. Even given the fact that George William was father only to a single daughter, that meant the lands that had once been split between four brothers now faced an even worse fate: to be split between six. If that happened, Ernest Augustus might as well kiss his dreams of a glamorous electorate goodbye.
The answer was obvious. The six-way split simply wouldn’t work, so an alternative had to be found. Ernest Augustus began to investigate the possibility of passing on the estates and titles of Hanover via primogeniture, simply meaning that there would be no divide in future generations, but that the eldest son would inherit everything. He could see no other way forward and following the marriage of George Louis and Sophia Dorothea, began to make the necessary arrangements for the change. The ducal family knew nothing of Ernest Augustus’ decision until Emperor Leopold had agreed it, but still there was no guarantee that Hanover would ever be an electorate. Leopold, however, was under siege. The massed forces of France were beating at the doors of the Holy Roman Empire and Ernest Augustus’ well-drilled armies were a valuable part of the Empire’s defence. In time, the military support Ernest Augustus could lend to the emperor would prove too valuable to ignore. The road to the electorate was becoming ever smoother.
In 1684 Ernest Augustus announced to his family that from now on, primogeniture would be the method of Hanoverian succession. The decision shook the ducal court to its very roots, and nobody was more furious than Frederick Augustus, the second son of Sophia and Ernest Augustus. His protests grew so angry that Ernest Augustus eventually threw him out. Years later when Frederick Augustus died in battle it was the turn of the third son, Maximilian William, to realise that primogeniture had robbed him of what could have been a very lucrative opportunity indeed. He conspired to overthrow his father and was eventually thrust into exile too, narrowly escaping execution. Some of his co-conspirators weren’t so lucky. George Louis didn’t only learn about mistresses by his father’s example. Ernest Augustus also taught him that dissent in the family wasn’t to be tolerated and if one’s sons proved problematic, they could simply be banished. George Louis would certainly follow that example to the letter.
Whilst Melusine was growing into a young lady at her father’s castle in Emden, dreaming of what the future might hold and where the world might take her, she could little guess that events not only in Hanover but far away across the sea would one day make her a quasi-queen, uncrowned but far from unknown.
As Ernest Augustus hustled at home in 1688, in England the Glorious Revolution changed the political landscape forever. At its heart was religion. King James II had converted to Catholicism in the late 1660s and though the move was unpopular, it hadn’t quite sparked a revolt until he baptised his newborn son, James, Prince of Wales, into the Catholic faith too. At the thought of at least another generation of Roman Catholic rule, a group of well-connected Protestant nobles known collectively as the Immortal Seven, decided that a change was due. James II’s Protestant daughter, Mary, was married to William III, Prince of Orange, and the Immortal Seven wrote to him and invited him to come to England and usurp the king. If he agreed, the nobles could offer military backup and the promise that the people of England would throw their support behind the coup. It was an audacious move.
As William and his armies sailed for England, Louis XIV offered James II France’s military support. The beleaguered monarch fatefully declined, believing that he was more than equipped to see off the Orange invasion. He was to be proven wrong and, when William and his army made landfall in November 1688, James realised that he’d made a catastrophic mistake. Protestant soldiers amongst his own ranks defected to the Orange cause and James’ daughter, the future Queen Anne, joined forces with those who sought to dethrone her father. Yet William preferred a bloodless takeover and he allowed James to escape to France. There he remained in exile until his death, never able to regain the crown he had lost.
In England, William and Mary took their place on the throne with their position enshrined by the Bill of Rights, which established the new constitution. It was also time to think about succession, as the new sovereigns had no children who would succeed them. Although Anne was the next in line, she would produce no living heirs despite over a dozen sometimes traumatic pregnancies. Though nobody knew it yet, this meant that the line of succession would eventually skip fifty Roman Catholic claimants to the crown and land on the next Protestant in line. That Protestant was Sophia of Hanover.
Of course, with Anne only in her twenties and happily married to a man she loved, the chance of Sophia succeeding ahead of any children the young princess might yet have was scant indeed. Ever the pragmatist, Ernest Augustus considered the possibility of his wife ever inheriting the English crown so remote that he barely even considered it. Instead he focussed all his efforts on the vacancy in the Holy Roman Empire for a ninth electorate, a vacancy he was now closer than ever to filling.
When the Palatinate War broke out between the Holy Roman Empire and the French, it was the might of Hanover that held the balance. From both sides, envoys bearing gifts and promises trekked to the Leineschloss, each hoping to win Ernest Augustus to their cause. Ernest Augustus promised France and the Holy Roman Empire that he would consider both options but true to form, he was hustling again. “[There is] great talk of creating a new Elector in favour of the Duke of Hanover,” wrote the English press, “Never had that Most Serene Family a more favourable Opportunity; but ‘tis much to be fear’d that the Prince will meet with Obstacles, and that all Endeavours will be us’d at Rome, to dissuade the Emperor from it.”10
But Ernest Augustus was ready to take up the cudgels and emerge as the victor. The duke approached the electors and assured them that he would be willing to send Hanover’s armies into battle on their behalf if they formally supported the elevation of the duchy to an electorate. With French armies poised to land a damaging blow, the electors of the Holy Roman Empire consented to admit Hanover to their select number. Though there would be years of negotiation to secure the final honour, Leopold had no choice but to bow to Ernest Augustus’ demands. He desperately needed military help and only Ernest Augustus could provide it, so the deal was done. Hanover was to become the ninth electorate of the Holy Roman Empire11, and George Louis was its sole heir.
It was in this duchy on the edge of greatness that Melusine von der Schulenberg was to make her mark.