Anna of Pruvia
Anna Maria Pruvia (20th of Sun’s Smile, 1729 - present) is the eldest child and daughter of John-Henry, Prince of Pruvia and Margarita of Marna, an heiress to the Houses of Pruvia and Marna by way of her parentage. Raised in the both the lands of Khalestine in Aeldin during her youth, Anna was given an astounding education by private tutors indebted to her late grandfather, Joseph of Marna. This paved the way for her introduction to the Imperial court of Helena.
In 1741, following the tradition of election within the House of Pruvia, Anna Maria was made heir to her father officially. She was afforded the title Duchess of Ostland. She inherited the titular Principality of Pruvia in 1753, following the abdication of her father.
Birth and Childhood
Anna Maria Pruvia was born in the summer months of 1729 within the estate walls of Casa de Rafal in Khalestine, one of the many Aeldinic residences of the House of Marna. Her parents were John-Henry Pruvia, the heir to the line of John Godfrey of Vandoria, and Margarita of Marna, daughter to Joseph I, Holy Orenian Emperor. This made the newborn child an heiress to two senior Johannian lineages, though the importance of this wouldn't be realized till much later in her life. Anna Maria was christened and baptized within the Chapel of Saint Julia the following fortnight, held by her aunt Josephine. Allies of her mother's house celebrated the birth, with her own grandmother, the Dowager-Empress Annunziata regarding her as the bright future of both dwindling houses. Her christening cloth, which was spun from gold and embroidered with the intertwined dragons of Pruvia and Marna, was sold at auction to fund the opening of a literary conservatory academy in the capital city of Shafei.
Early on in her childhood, Anna Maria showed an abnormally-advanced intellect for her youth. She began her education beneath her tutors, chosen for her by her grandmother by way of debts owed to her late grandfather, Emperor Joseph. One family friend, Matilda Ludovyk, was chosen in 1734 to remain as the young lady's permanent teacher. Her initial lessons included history, etiquette, language, dance, and singing. Her grandmother would also take it upon herself to teach her various courtly duties, like public speaking and holding assemblies within their estate manor. Many young girls were summoned to study alongside Anna Maria, including ladies from the Houses of Marna, Grimm, and Warlai. Her most notable childhood companion was Lady Myra Grimm, sister to the Prince of Venerra, who was always able to make the rather serious heiress laugh. The pair are still said to correspond, due to the latter having been appointed as Princess Margarita's personal secretary following the conclusion of her own education.
In 1736, a few weeks before her departure for the continent of Arcas to join her father in the Orenian capital, a feast was held in her honor which spanned an entire week's end. The estate gardens were lit with hundreds of candles and musicians hid around every corner. The food has been prepared and brought from all corners of the Aeldinic Empire, with all of their family and friends in attendance. At the end of the festivities, to the awe of many, the young Anna Maria gave a speech of farewell in High Imperial, one of the languages she had worked to refine early on. Many afterward were heard to say that she spoke it as if it were her first language, a sign of her good-breeding and intelligence. Upon the day of her departure, a crowd of united citizens and family turned out to bid the young lady farewell, chief among them the sickly Dowager-Empress. The wife of the disgraced Emperor is said to have kissed Anna Maria upon the forehead, whispering to her before rejoining the onlooking party. It is said by many that this is the only time Annunziata was seen to have shed public tears. Anna Maria departed Shafei aboard 'The Lady Francesca' on the 3rd of Bitter Harvest, 1736.
Life in Helena
Arriving in Oren during the first saint's week of spring, Anna Maria transferred from the Marnan galley to a small riverboat, being delivered to Helena just after sunrise the following day. She was met by her father, John-Henry, who had been recently remade as the Prince of Pruvia. This was a title previously held by the House of Pruvia, lost with the fall of the Johannian Imperial Family and the separation of Marna and Renatus. The reclamation of this moniker was a personal triumph for the family, and brought much sweetness to the arrival of the young lady. John-Henry quickly made use of his connections with the Imperial Court, introducing his eldest child to the Empress-Consort, Lorena Christina. So impressive was the introduction, the Empress claimed Anna as her ward right away, providing her with room and board at the Novellen Palace. The young Pruvia flourished among the many statesmen and noblewomen that constantly filled the Imperial Court, aiding in the refinement of her courtesies and courtly knowledge.
Anna Maria became friends with the Princess Imperial, Anne Augusta, very early on in her time as a ward to Empress Lorena. The latter was very shy and reserved, but was charmed by Anna's exuding confidence and charm. The pair quickly became a trio, with the addition of Anne's betrothed, Joseph Clement de Sarkozy, who was also the Duke of Helena. These friendships brought the promising pupil to the attention of the Imperial Archchancellor, Simon Basrid. Anna Maria made it a habit to follow the Rhenyari councilor around, keeping quiet in corners during state meetings and imperial courts to learn from his experience.
In 1741, her father called an assembly of their kinsmen, to follow in the tradition of an elected heir that had been upheld within their family for hundreds of years. In a unanimous vote, the young Anna Maria was chosen to follow her father as the succeeding matriarch of Pruvia, being granted the heir's title, Duchess of Ostland. This elevated the young lady in the eyes of many, a role which she had expected and had openly shared she had been entitled to since her birth. In 1745, having come of age and acclimated herself to her newfound duties, the Imperial Privy Council finally approached her with an offered position as Undersecretary to Foreign Affairs. Under the leadership of the Secretary, Lord Jahan Basrid, the Duchess was eager to prove her worth. She swiftly conducted two successful vassal relation missions, one to the Kingdom of Hanseti-Ruska and the other to the Kingdom of Curonia. These were met with critical acclaim. Anna Maria was also sent, in 1747, to meet with the rebelling lords in the Archduchy of Suffonia, to try and come to an agreement of neutrality that would see them abandon their aiding of Morsgrad.
In that same year, the Duchess was presented with her first badge of office, as the Minister of Culture, personally appointed by the Archchancellor's request. Always eager to prove her prowess, Anna Maria quickly planned a theatrical performance, set in the Imperial Baltas Theatre. She opened the proceeding herself, singing an aria in High Imperial and moving some in the crowd to tears. The night was a success, leaving many citizens and courtiers in awe of the young woman's many gifts. In 1752, the Duchess was afforded two great moments of triumph. The first was the completion of renovations upon her new lands, the Barony of Provins. The second, and celebrated in great grandeur, was her union with the Senator Cyrus Basrid, brother to the Imperial Archchancellor, Simon Basrid. The bride wore a fitted gown of white and pearl silk, lined with trimmed spun gold. Upon her head she wore a tiara, said to have been previously worn by the last Queen-Consort of the Westerlands, Eleanora Helvets. According to onlookers, Anna Maria seemed triumphant as she made her way to the dais within the Basilica of the Final Revelation, a moment of pride for the young heiress.
In 1753, the Duchess received a writ from her father, who was residing in Casa de Rafal due to a terminal fever and illness, which abdicated his titles and wealth to his eldest daughter. Upon the reception of this letter, Anna Maria was made, officially, Princess of Pruvia in her own right.
Titles, Styles, and Honors
Titles and Styles
- 1741-Present: Her Grace, the Duchess of Ostland
- 1745-1758: Her Excellency, the Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs
- 1747-1758: Her Excellency, the Minister of Culture
- 1752-Present: Her Ladyship, the Reeve of Provins
- 1753-Present: Her Serene Highness, the Princess of Pruvia