House of Hessen

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Family coat of arms of the House of Hesse
Coat of arms of the House of Hesse around 1548
Large coat of arms of the state of Hesse
Coat of arms of the Grand Duchy of Hesse and the Rhine

The House of Hesse goes back to the Princely House of Lorraine-Brabant (the "Reginare"), which by marrying into the dying house of the Ludowingers - counts in the Hessengauen since 1122, Landgraves of Thuringia since 1131 - the Ludowingers made the Hessen-Gaue as theirs took over western domains around 1264.

The House of Hesse was then divided into numerous lines and branches that ruled over various periods of time in various independent territories of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation . Most recently they ruled as elector in Hesse-Kassel (= Electorate Hesse ) and as landgrave in Hesse-Homburg and until 1918 as Grand Dukes in Hesse-Darmstadt (= Grand Duchy of Hesse).


The Hesse family comes from the male line of the reginaries ruling in the Duchy of Brabant and, through the female line, a branch of the Ludowingers , who were the Landgraves of Thuringia until their male line died out . As a patron and matriarch of the house so the holy applies Elizabeth of Hungary . The Ludowingers had come to the Hessian counties of the Gisonen by marriage in 1122 , before they were raised to Landgraves of Thuringia a little later (1131).

Through the energy of Elisabeth's daughter, the Landgrave's daughter Sophie , married Duchess of Brabant , her son Heinrich (* June 24, 1244, † December 21, 1308 in Marburg) obtained the position of Landgrave of Hesse . After the Ludowingians died out in the male line in the Thuringian-Hessian War of Succession (1247–1264), Sophie put through a separate Hessian territory for her son, separated from Thuringia, while Thuringia fell to the Saxon Wettins , who divided it up into the Ernestine duchies .

  1. Landgrave Hermann I of Thuringia (* 1155; † 1217)
    1. Landgrave Ludwig IV , the saint, of Thuringia (* 1200; † 1227)
      Elisabeth of Hungary , Saint Elisabeth, (* 1207; † 1231)
      1. Landgrave Hermann II of Thuringia (* 1222; † 1241)
      2. Sophie of Thuringia (* 1224; † 1275)
        ∞ Duke Heinrich II. Von Brabant (*?; † 1248)
        1. Landgrave Heinrich I of Hesse , "the child" (* 1244; † 1308)
      3. Gertrud (* 1227; † 1297), abbess in Altenberg Monastery
    2. Heinrich Raspe (* 1204; † 1247), elected Roman (counter) king
      Elisabeth of Brandenburg (*?; † 1231) in 1246
    3. Konrad (*?; † 1240), Grand Master of the Teutonic Order

The actual lineage of the House of Hesse begins with Heinrich I of Hesse. For the detailed root list, see the root list of the House of Hessen .

Landgrave of Hesse until 1567

In 1292 the Landgraviate of Hesse was confirmed as an imperial principality for Landgrave Heinrich I of Hesse by King Adolf von Nassau and thus finally separated from Thuringia.

The Hessian Landgraviate initially essentially comprised parts of what is now northern Hesse in Lower Hesse and Upper Hesse , although Upper Hesse at that time was only slightly congruent with the province of the same name in the Grand Duchy of Hesse in the 19th century. These areas were based on the former counties of the Gisonen an Lahn and Ohm and the Count Werner an Eder and Fulda . In particular, the two counties Waldeck and Ziegenhain , the considerable free float of the Archdiocese of Mainz and the areas of the two imperial abbeys Fulda and Hersfeld did not belong to the Landgraviate .

Distribution of the estate in 1567

Philip of Hesse

After the death of Philip the Magnanimous , Landgrave of Hesse, on March 31, 1567, the government of the Landgraviate of Hesse, which had meanwhile grown considerably and rounded off, was divided among his four sons from his first marriage. For the time being they formed four ruling lines of the house in Hesse:

  • Hessen-Kassel comprised about half of the state and the Hessian capital Kassel. This oldest line still exists today in the branches of Hessen (-Kassel) -Rumpenheim and Hessen (-Kassel) -Philippsthal-Barchfeld. The House of the Princes of Hanau continues to exist as a morganatic descendant of the last reigning Elector of Hesse-Kassel to the present day.

This division of the landgraviate was partly responsible for the dwindling influence of Hesse on politics in the empire , and the two remaining lines were often hostile to each other. The division determined the history of Hesse until September 19, 1945, when the former Prussian provinces Kurhessen , Nassau and the People's State of Hesse were united to form "Greater Hesse " through Proclamation No. 2 of the American military government .

Count of Diez

The Counts of Diez were the unequal descendants of the second, bigamistic marriage of Philip the Magnanimous with Margarethe von der Saale .

Hessen-Kassel and branch lines

Until 1866, Philip's descendants ruled in the older Kassel line, first as landgraves and from 1803 as elector of the Landgraviate of Hessen-Kassel . As a result of the Congress of Vienna and the accession of Hessen-Kassel to the German Confederation , the term Electorate of Hesse , or Kurhessen for short , became common in 1815 .

Landgraviate of Hessen-Kassel

Master lists:

  1. Main list of the house of Hessen # Line Hessen-Kassel (to Karl (Hessen-Kassel))
  2. Main list of the House of Hessen # Hessen-Kassel line (from Karl (Hessen-Kassel))

Electorate of Hesse

With the designation Electorate of Hessen , Kurhessen for short , Hessen-Kassel was listed as a state of the German Confederation from 1815, since the ruler of the Landgraviate of Hessen-Kassel had received the hereditary dignity of Elector in 1803. Although Hessen-Kassel remained a Landgraviate under constitutional law until the end of 1866, its ruler had precedent against its cousin in the Grand Duchy of Hessen-Darmstadt.

The first title of the reigning prince in Kassel was from the Napoleonic consolidation : elector and sovereign Landgrave of Hesse , Grand Duke of Fulda , Prince of Hersfeld , Prince of Hanau , Prince of Fritzlar and Prince of Isenburg , Count of Katzenelnbogen , count to Dietz , Count Ziegenhain , Graf zu Nidda , Graf zu Schaumburg , etc., etc.

The second and third marriage of Elector Wilhelm II and the marriage of Elector Friedrich Wilhelm were morganatic and thus without descendants entitled to the throne.

Wilhelm II actually abdicated after the July Revolution of 1830 in 1831 in favor of his son Friedrich Wilhelm. This, deposed by Prussia in 1866 , was the last Hessian elector. Because of his morganatic marriage, the landgrave dignity and the claim to the throne of the Electorate of Hesse passed to Friedrich Wilhelm from the branch line Hessen-Kassel-Rumpenheim after his death .

King of Sweden

By abdicating his wife Ulrika Eleonore , Friedrich von Hessen-Kassel ruled the Kingdom of Sweden from 1720 until his death in 1751 .

Prince of Hessenstein

Main article : Hessenstein (Count)

The Counts or Princes of Hessenstein came from an extra-marital relationship between King Friedrich I of Sweden , ruling Landgrave of Hessen-Kassel, and the Swedish Countess Hedvig Ulrika Taube . The line created in 1741 consisted only of the two brothers Friedrich Wilhelm (1735–1808) and Karl Eduard (1737–1769) and expired with the death of Friedrich Wilhelm.

Barons of Cornberg

Main article : Cornberg (noble family)

The barons of Cornberg emerged from the extramarital union between Landgrave Wilhelm IV and Elisabeth Wallenstein and therefore do not belong to the House of Hesse under nobility law.

Rotenburger Quart

Landgrave Moritz the Scholar of Hessen-Kassel established a partially sovereign domain, the so-called Rotenburger Quart , by house contract of February 12, 1627 and September 1, 1628 to equip his sons from his second marriage with Juliane von Nassau-Dillenburg . After Julian's sons came of age, he established the lines Hessen-Rotenburg, Hessen-Eschwege and Hessen-Rheinfels, which, however, quickly consolidated into Hessen-Rheinfels-Rotenburg.

The Rotenburger Quart (Quart = Latin quarter) comprised about a quarter of the Hesse-Kassel territory and remained under imperial law - especially in matters of foreign policy and defense - under the sovereignty of Hesse-Kassel until the fall of Hesse-Kassel. The common legacy of the Quart included the Nieder-Grafschaft Katzenelnbogen with the Rheinfels fortress , the offices and cities of Rotenburg an der Fulda , Wanfried , Eschwege , Treffurt , Ludwigstein , the rule of Plesse , and the office of Gleichen .

The ruling lines in the quarters repeatedly split and reunited in inheritance; they are summarized under the heading Hessen-Rheinfels-Rotenburg and Hessen-Rotenburg. Even in the first generation, only the Hessen-Rheinfels-Rotenburg line existed after inheritance, which was later only called Hessen-Rotenburg. Until the introduction of the Primogenitur , however, short-lived secondary lines repeatedly emerged from Hessen-Rotenburg.

The line Hessen-Rotenburg expired in 1834 in the male line, and in 1851 the last female bearer of the name died childless. With this, the Rotenburger Quart became extinct in 1834 and in 1851 the only line in the House of Hesse to become Roman Catholic.


Hessen-Rotenburg emerged as a partially sovereign landgraviate with the establishment of the Rotenburger Quart, acquired the possessions of Hessen-Eschwege by inheritance , to then itself in the first generation with the death of the childless Landgrave Hermann von Hessen-Rotenburg (born August 15, 1607 in Kassel; † March 25, 1658 in Rotenburg) to merge by inheritance with Hessen-Rheinfels to Hessen-Rheinfels-Rotenburg .

After an adaptation of the inheritance regulations in the house contract for the Rotenburger Quart, approved by Hessen-Kassel , “Rheinfels” later disappeared from the title, and the line was henceforth only called Hessen-Rotenburg .

Hessen- (Rheinfels) -Rotenburg

Landgrave Ernst von Hessen-Rheinfels inherited the partial principalities of Hessen-Eschwege and the eponymous Landgraviate of Hessen-Rotenburg in the first generation . He took over the entire Rotenburger Quart and henceforth called himself Landgrave von Hessen-Rheinfels-Rotenburg. His descendants later only called themselves Landgraves of Hesse-Rotenburg after a change in the hereditary rules in the Rotenburger Quart .

Ernst became a Catholic with his family in 1652 . Since Ernst was the first overall heir to the Rotenburger Quart, all branches of the Hessen-Rheinfels-Rotenburg line were subsequently also Catholic.


Hessen-Eschwege emerged as a partially sovereign Landgraviate with the establishment of the Rotenburger Quart, but with the death of Landgrave Friedrich it went out in the first generation.


At times also Hessen-Wanfried-Rheinfels u. a. The Titulierungen reflected changing ownership: The occupation rights of Rheinfels Castle were by 1711 Hessen-Kassel of Hesse-Rotenburg withdrawn and in 1718 Hesse-Wanfried been awarded. The residential palace in Eschwege was pledged from 1667 to 1713. In 1713 the pledging was triggered and Christian von Hessen-Wanfried was awarded as a substitute for his waiver of the Landgraviate of Hessen-Wanfried . It was not until 1731, after the death of his brother Wilhelm von Hessen-Wanfried- (Rheinfels) , that Christian became Landgrave of Hessen-Wanfried again. He gradually moved his residence to Eschwege. The occupation rights of Rheinfels Castle were finally ceded by Christian to Hessen-Kassel in 1735. With Christian's death in 1755, the Landgraviate of Hessen-Wanfried fell back to Hessen-Rotenburg after 79 years (from 1676 to 1755) .

Hessen-Philippsthal and Hessen-Philippsthal-Barchfeld

In 1685 Philip , the third son of Landgrave Wilhelm VI. and Princess Hedwig Sophie von Brandenburg , founded the Hessen-Philippsthal line, from which the Hessen-Philippsthal-Barchfeld line later emerged.

Hessen-Philippsthal-Barchfeld is one of the two lines of the House of Hessen that still exist today.

Prince of Ardeck

The Princes of Ardeck emerged from the marriage between Wilhelm von Hessen-Philippsthal-Barchfeld and Princess Maria von Hanau and zu Hořowitz .


From 1875 the Hessen-Kassel branch line Hessen-Kassel-Rumpenheim took the place of the Hessen-Kassel line, the oldest line in the Hesse family , and can be addressed as Hessen-Kassel or Hessen-Kassel-Rumpenheim . In addition to the Hessen-Philippsthal-Barchfeld line, Hessen-Kassel-Rumpenheim is one of the two lines of the House of Hessen that still exist today.

In 1875, after the death of the last Hessian elector, Friedrich Wilhelm, the family fideikommiss went to Hessen-Kassel-Rumpenheim, because the children of the elector from the morganatic marriage to Gertrude Lehmann were not eligible for succession according to the Hessian house law with regard to the fideikommiss property. The line of Hesse-Kassel-Rumpenheim is from that date as Hesse-Kassel (-Rumpenheim) referred.

On January 26, 1997, with the death of Princess Margaret of Hesse and near the Rhine , the Hesse-Darmstadt line also went out . Their inheritance also fell to the Hessen-Kassel-Rumpenheim line. After 500 years, the separation of the two main lines of the House of Hesse, which had a decisive influence on Hessian and German history for a long time, came to an end.

Friedrich Karl von Hessen -Kassel-Rumpenheim (1868–1940) was elected King of Finland in 1918, but without being able to take office.

Barons von Heimrod

The Freiherren von Heimrod are illegitimate descendants of Elector Wilhelm I of Hesse with Charlotte Christine Buissine and therefore do not belong to the House of Hesse under nobility law.

Barons of Haynau

Coat of arms of the barons of Haynau

The barons of Haynau are illegitimate descendants of Elector Wilhelm I of Hesse with Rosa Dorothea Ritter , Baroness von Lindenthal, and therefore do not belong to the House of Hesse under nobility law.

Count of Hessenstein

Main article : Hessenstein (Count)

The Counts of Hessenstein are illegitimate descendants of Elector Wilhelm I with Karoline von Schlotheim and therefore do not belong to the House of Hesse under nobility law. See root list of the House of Hessen # Line Hessen-Kassel (from Karl (Hessen-Kassel))

Count of Reichenbach-Lessonitz

The Counts of Reichenbach-Lessonitz are descendants of Elector Wilhelm II of Hesse from his morganatic marriage to Emilie Ortlepp, or Ortlöpp and therefore do not belong to the House of Hesse under nobility law.

Prince of Hanau

Coat of arms Prince of Hanau, Count of Schaumburg

The descendants of Friedrich Wilhelm I , the last reigning Elector of Hesse , came from an morganatic marriage that was not legitimized by the house law. In terms of nobility, they do not belong to the House of Hesse, but rather constituted the House of Hanau, which still exists today, and are named Princes / Princes of Hanau and zu Hořowitz, Counts of Schaumburg. The family belongs to the still existing Althessian knighthood .


Hessen-Marburg emerged from the division of the estate after the death of Landgrave Philip the Magnanimous and was assigned to his second son, Ludwig IV of Hessen-Marburg (* 1537, † 1604). Since he had no offspring, his inheritance reverted to his brothers' families after his death.


Hessen-Rheinfels (older line) emerged from the division of the estate after the death of Landgrave Philip the Magnanimous and was given to his third son, Philip the Elder. Younger (* 1541; † 1583), assigned. Since he had no offspring, his inheritance reverted to his brothers' families after his death.

Hessen-Darmstadt and branch lines

In the southern part of what is now Hesse and part of what is now the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, the Hessen-Darmstadt line ruled from 1567 to 1918, initially as Landgraves, and from 1806 as Grand Dukes of Hesse .

Landgraviate of Hessen-Darmstadt

Grand Duchy of Hesse

The first title of the reigning prince in Darmstadt was from the Napoleonic consolidation : Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine , sovereign Landgrave of Hesse , Prince of Hersfeld , Mainz , Worms , Count of Katzenelnbogen , Dietz , Ziegenhain , Nidda , Hanau , Schaumburg , Isenburg and Büdingen , Mr. zu Friedberg and Wimpfen , etc. etc.


Landgrave Philip III ruled from 1609 to 1643 . von Hessen-Butzbach in a sub- territory of the Landgraviate of Hessen-Darmstadt . He died without descendants, which meant that the Hessen-Butzbach line was extinguished again with his death. The inheritance fell back to Hessen-Darmstadt.


The Landgraves of Hesse-Homburg were a branch line of the House of Hesse-Darmstadt, which ruled in Hesse-Homburg from 1622 to 1866 .


From 1650 to 1681 the Hessen-Homburg line was also called Hessen-Bingenheim. The second Landgrave of Hesse-Homburg, Wilhelm Christoph , preferred to live in Bingenheim Castle, which had been converted into a palace, from 1650 and was therefore usually called Landgrave of Bingenheim, especially after he had sold the town and office of Homburg to his brother Georg Christian in 1669 .


Landgrave Johann von Hessen-Braubach (* 1609; † 1651) was a later son of Landgrave Ludwig V of Hessen-Darmstadt. He died childless, so that his partial territory fell back to the Landgraviate of Hessen-Darmstadt.


Georg (III.) Von Hessen-Darmstadt (* 1632; † 1676) was the second son of Landgrave Georg II. Von Hessen-Darmstadt (* 1605; † 1661) and received the small rule of Itter around North Hesse after the death of his father Vöhl as Paragium . Since he died without a male heir, the Hessen-Itter line also ended with him.


The Battenberg House was created in 1858 through the morganatic marriage of Landgrave Alexander von Hessen-Darmstadt (* 1823; † 1888) to Countess Julia Hauke (* 1825; † 1895), later raised by her brother-in-law to Countess and then Princess of Battenberg , whose English line was renamed " Mountbatten " in 1917 . The members of the British royal family descending from this through a female line call themselves Mountbatten-Windsor .

Count of Nidda

During the time when it belonged to the Landgraviate and later to the Grand Duchy of Hesse, the designation "Graf zu Nidda" was part of the title. In the 19th century it was also given to people who married into the House of Hesse but were not equal and therefore had to be given a different family name. Those were:

Caroline Török de Szendrő (* 1786; † 1862), who morganatically married Prince Georg (* 1780; † 1856). In 1808 she became “Countess of Nidda”, in 1821 she became “Princess of Nidda” together with her and Georg's daughter Luise Charlotte.
Caroline Willich called von Pöllnitz (* 1848; † 1879), who morganatically married Prince Heinrich (* 1838; † 1900) in 1878 . On this occasion, she received the title of "Baroness of Nidda". Their son from this marriage, Karl (* 1879, † 1920), was given the title "Graf von Nidda" in 1883.

Today's name

In 1875, the Hesse (-Kassel) -Rumpenheim branch, which still exists today, was entitled to inheritance with regard to the family fideikommiss, but not the princes and princesses of Hanau.

In the House of Hesse, too, a name was chosen on the basis of the nobility law of June 23, 1920, and the name was chosen: Prince and Landgrave of Hesse. It is common practice in the family that only the head of the house appears publicly or signs as such under the name “Landgrave of Hesse”.

Strictly speaking, information such as Hessen-Kassel and Hessen-Darmstadt are not the correct names, but secondary names in order to be able to better distinguish the individual lines of the entire house. They were never used by the family themselves.

The House of Hesse after 1918

After 1918, in addition to the main lines Hessen-Darmstadt and Hessen-Kassel with its branches Hessen-Philippsthal and Hessen-Philippsthal-Barchfeld , the Hanau house and the Battenberg house existed.

Merging of the main lines Hessen-Kassel and Hessen-Darmstadt

In 1968 the last male representative of the Hessen-Darmstadt line - the former Grand Dukes of Hesse and the Rhine - died with Ludwig Prince of Hesse and the Rhine . In 1997, Ludwig's widow Margaret, the last living person on the Hessen-Darmstadt line, died and ended this.

Moritz von Hessen from the Kassel-Rumpenheim line inherited as an adopted son and also brought the legacy of the Hessen-Darmstadt line to the Hessian House Foundation . In the person of Moritz von Hessen, the two lines of the House of Hesse, which had been separate since 1567, were reunited, and the 400-year division of the House of Hesse was thus ended.

Heads of the Hessian Houses

Heads of the House of Hessen-Darmstadt:

Head of the House of Hessen-Kassel, since 1968 of the entire House of Hessen:

Heads of the Hessen-Philippsthal and Hessen-Philippsthal-Barchfeld houses :

  • 1918–1925: Ernst Landgraf von Hessen-Philippsthal (1846–1925) (childless, with him the line Hessen-Philippsthal expired)
  • 1918–1954: Chlodwig Landgrave of Hessen-Philippsthal-Barchfeld (1876–1954)
  • since 1954: Wilhelm Prince and Landgrave of Hesse (* 1933)

The former princely house of Hanau still exists today , originating from the main Hessen-Kassel line, and the Battenberg house (since 1917 Mountbatten) originating from the Hessen-Darmstadt line.

Other legitimate descendants of the House of Hesse have lived in Austria since the Second World War.

Hessian House Foundation and Althessian Knighthood

The legacy of the Hessian landgraves, electors and grand dukes is looked after today by the Hessian House Foundation , which was established in 1928 as the Kurhessische Hausstiftung.

The foundation's museum is located in Schloss Fasanerie near Eichenzell near Fulda . Today the foundation is chaired by Heinrich Donatus Landgrave of Hesse.

The Landgraves of Hesse have continued to belong to the Althessian Knighthood since it was founded. Today it is the oldest foundation in Hesse and is based in the former Kaufungen monastery near Kassel.

See also


Web links

Commons : Haus Hessen  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Treasures of the Marburg State Archives: Treaty of the legacy between Wilhelm, Ludwig, Philipp and Georg, the four sons of Landgrave Philip of Hesse, May 28, 1568 .