Estates of the Grand Duchy of Hesse

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The state house in Darmstadt (1888), seat of the state parliament

The states of the Grand Duchy of Hesse formed the state parliament of the Grand Duchy of Hesse between 1820 and 1918. After the November Revolution , the state parliament of the People's State of Hesse became its successor.


Land estates existed both in the Landgraviate of Hessen-Darmstadt and in the Duchy of Westphalia , which had been largely added to the Landgraviate after 1803 . While their effect in the Landgraviate was small, the estates of the Duchy , based in Arnsberg, had managed to enforce and maintain considerable rights to have a say in the dispute with Kurköln . As part of the founding of the Grand Duchy and the dissolution of the Old Kingdom , the estates were dissolved by Grand Duke Ludwig I in 1806 .

From the founding of the Grand Duchy to the March Revolution

Federal Act of 1815

The Grand Duke was a staunch supporter of the monarchical principle and was critical of demands to restrict his power. On the other hand, a constitution was urgently needed, since the diverging, new and old parts of the country had to be integrated and Section 13 of the German Federal Act contained a corresponding requirement.

In the winter of 1818/1819 a number of towns and municipalities in the Grand Duchy elected “wild” state parliaments without the consent of the government. These met in Grünberg and Zwingenberg .

In March 1820, Minister of State Karl Ludwig Wilhelm von Grolman published a provisional “ Landstands constitution ”, which was published as a grand-ducal edict and on the basis of which the first state parliament was elected. On December 17, 1820, the constitution of the Grand Duchy of Hesse was enacted, which also provided for the establishment of estates with a two-chamber system .

The MPs were not subject to any instructions.

First chamber

The first chamber served to represent the nobility and high office holders. In addition to the princes of the grand ducal family - the grand duke himself, as sovereign, was not a member of the first chamber - it was above all the landlords , the heads of the mediatized , formerly imperial families. These had lost their sovereignty in 1806 in connection with the formation of the Rhine Confederation (or by decision of the Congress of Vienna: Principality of Isenburg ) and were to be compensated politically.

Furthermore, the heads of the Catholic Church (Diocese of Mainz) and the Protestant regional church in the Grand Duchy were represented by office. For the Catholic Church this was the Catholic regional bishop, the Bishop of Mainz , for the Protestant side, a Protestant clergyman raised to the office of prelate by the Grand Duke for life . The Chancellor of the State University in Giessen was also a member because of the office . This representation of the university took up the old-class tradition. The university was already represented in the estates in the old empire. In addition, the Grand Duke was able to give up to ten citizens a seat in the Chamber due to special merits.

The prerequisite for being allowed to take his seat in the first chamber was the completion of the 25th year of life.

Second chamber

The second chamber consisted of 50 elected representatives:

The deputies were elected for six years. During this period, there were two parliamentary periods. However, the Grand Duke was able to dissolve parliament, which resulted in a new election. The mandates of outgoing MPs (through non-confirmation, death or resignation) were filled in by-elections . These regulations were valid (apart from the revolutionary years 1848 to 1852) until 1875.

It was an indirect choice over two levels. The voters of the respective group elected representatives, these electors and these the members of parliament.

The representatives of the cities and the rest of the country were elected in one-person constituencies . The electoral district division was initially based on the cut of the offices .

The right to vote was limited. In principle, only taxable men were eligible to vote. In the first stage (the election of the authorized representative) the eligibility to vote was linked to the completion of the 25th year of life and to a tax payment of at least 25 guilders per year. In the second stage, the plenipotentiaries each elected a maximum of 25 electors who (like the MPs themselves) paid at least 100 guilders (nobles 300 guilders) direct taxes. Electors had to be 30 years old and belong to the 60 highest taxpayers in the respective constituency .

Thus participation was in fact limited to a small number of wealthy nobles and citizens. No diets were paid either . The MPs themselves had to bear the costs of exercising their mandate. It was an honorary dignitary parliament .


Central was the traditional right of the estates to have to consent to the collection of taxes . There were also initial approaches to budget law . The (three-year) budgets first had to be submitted to the 2nd Chamber. In contrast to modern parliaments, the estates were not bearers of state sovereignty . The estates were forbidden under threat of punishment to deal with objects that were not explicitly part of their field of activity. The Grand Duke was responsible for legislating, not Parliament. Also, the Grand Duke alone and at any time had the right to convene, adjourn, dissolve or close the estates.

Elections and politics

On the basis of the edict of March 1820, the first state parliament was elected in the early summer of 1820 . The debate in the state parliament was initially determined by the constitutional discussion. Most MPs refused to take the oath on the draft constitution. In doing so, you pushed through a number of changes in the draft.

In the twenties, the government could regularly rely on majorities in the estates. However, that changed with the July Revolution in France in 1830. The activities of liberal -minded citizens across Europe increased significantly . The censorship of the Karlovy Vary resolutions lost its effect and the restoration seemed to have come to an end. In autumn 1830 there were peasant riots in the province of Upper Hesse , which were militarily suppressed.

In this politically explosive situation, Grand Duke Ludwig I died and his reactionary-minded son Ludwig II succeeded him on April 6th. He renewed the censorship regulations, tightened the police measures against liberal and democratic-minded people and also brought the state parliament against it with the demand that the private debts from his time as Hereditary Grand Duke in the amount of 2 million guilders be imposed on the state. The chambers oppose this matter with a clear majority and advocate further liberalization . In December 1832, after the revolutionary events had subsided, Ludwig II dissolved the estates and dismissed liberal government members (including Heinrich Karl Jaup ) and civil servants (including Heinrich von Gagern ).

After the new elections that followed, a conservative majority loyal to the monarchy came together again in the estates. The liberal opposition , led by von Gagern, achieved a majority in the 6th state parliament, which was opened on April 26, 1834. Ludwig II again dissolved the state estates in October 1834. From the 7th Landtag (1835), Ludwig II could again count on inclined majorities in the chambers. The liberal opposition was marginalized.

The tenth state parliament (1844-1847) dealt with the civil code and thus triggered conflicts between the province of Rheinhessen , in which the modern French civil code still applied, and the other provinces, in which old monaristic law still prevailed. The attempt to summarize the different legal traditions in a uniform body of law was violently rejected by the Rheinhessen MPs as a step backwards. Nevertheless, there was a majority in favor of the new civil code.

Revolution and Restoration

In Hesse, the pre- March ended with the state elections for the eleventh state parliament in December 1847, in which the liberals again achieved a majority. This was preceded by the founding of parties by the Liberals at meetings in Heppenheim and Offenburg in autumn 1847 as well as several bad harvests and starvation winters.

Ludwig II did not dissolve the Landtag, but postponed it to February 28, 1848. The session of the second chamber was influenced by the February Revolution in France. Gagern's demand to create a German national assembly, put forward in the state parliament , was accepted by the state estates. At the latest with the acceptance of Theodor Reh's request for a fundamental “change in the previous system of government that was not in line with the wishes of the Hessian people”, the March Revolution had also reached the Hessian estates. The previous chief minister Karl du Thil was dismissed on March 5th, Heinrich von Gagern as prime minister of the March government and Hereditary Prince Ludwig III. was appointed "co-regent".

The most important demands of the liberals ( freedom of the press , armament of the people, freedom of assembly , withdrawal of the police penal code, the guarantee of the Rhine-Hessian institutions, free party formation and the introduction of jury courts ) were decided by government edict.

Suffrage reform 1849

The change in the electoral law was crucial in order to form a more democratic state parliament. The electoral law of 1849 provided for a direct and more general election of the deputies of the second chamber. The first chamber should also be chosen. Here, however, a census option was still provided.

On May 24th, 1849 the old 11th state parliament was dissolved. On December 27, 1849, the 12th state parliament, elected under the new electoral law, met for the first time. It was ruled by a broad liberal majority, but was no longer able to have any effect due to the victory of the reaction : the state parliament was dissolved again on January 21, 1850. The 13th state parliament was also elected according to the electoral law of 1849. He met on September 11, 1850 and was also after 17 days on September 27, 1850 by Ludwig III. dissolved. With an ordinance of October 7, 1850 ("regarding the appointment of an extraordinary assembly of estates"), the 14th (extraordinary) state parliament met for the first time on January 17, 1851, which will meet until 1854.

The state parliament after the victory of the reaction

Ludwig III. With the edict of October 9, 1850, suspended the democratic electoral law and passed a new electoral law for the election of an extraordinary state parliament. The electoral rules were the same as before the revolution.

The extraordinary state parliament largely repealed the decisions of its predecessors and passed a new electoral law that was also based on the principles of the 1820 constitution. After the extraordinary state parliament was repealed on October 16, 1856, the 15th state parliament (December 1856 to July 2, 1858) was elected.

The liberals regained strength

In 1861 the Hessian Liberals reorganized themselves in the Hessian Progressive Party . In the state elections in 1862, the Progress Party under August Metz achieved a landslide victory.

With their liberal majority, the estates demanded that press censorship and other reactionary laws be lifted, but they could not get their way. The Dalwigk government also remained in office. However, by adopting the Franco-Prussian trade agreement and making significant cuts in the budget in 1864, the state parliament was able to set liberal accents.

In the empire

After the Grand Duchy joined the German Empire , the electoral law was modified. The main change was the elimination of the nobility's seats in the second chamber. The second chamber now consisted of 10 deputies from the cities and 40 from the other constituencies. The new electoral law was adopted by the estates in October 1872 and published as an electoral law of November 8, 1872.

In 1884, Franz Jöst was the first social democrat to be elected to the state parliament.

In 1911 there was another reform of the electoral law. The 35th state parliament was already elected under this new electoral law. Due to the First World War , the 1914 elections were no longer held. Only after the November Revolution was a Landtag re- elected in 1919 - then in the People's State of Hesse during the Weimar Republic .

Election results

For the elections before 1862, it is not sensible to assign the delegates to parties. Parties in the current sense were only formed at this point in time. For the time before, it can only be roughly stated whether the MPs are conservative , i.e. close to the government, or liberal , i.e. H. were classified as oppositional.

Election to the Second Chamber of the Estates in 1911
Turnout: 71.2%
SPD liberal National Liberals center conservative Farmers' union Anti-semites Non-attached total
1862 29 13 2 6th 50
1865 29 13 2 6th 50
1866 13 21st 4th 7th 3 48
1868 11 19th 4th 10 4th 48
1872 4th 40 3 3 50
1875 4th 40 5 1 50
1878 1 40 8th 1 50
1881 2 39 8th 1 50
1884 2 4th 37 6th 1 50
1887 2 3 39 5 1 50
1890 3 4th 37 4th 1 49
1890/1 3 5 38 4th 50
1890/2 4th 5 32 5 3 1 50
1897 5 5 25th 6th 1 5 3 47
1899 6th 2 22nd 7th 13 50
1902 6th 3 18th 7th 13 3 47
1905 5 3 20th 8th 11 3 45
1908 8th 8th 17th 9 15th 1 58
1911 8th 8th 17th 8th 14th 1 56


49 ° 52 '20.5 "  N , 8 ° 39" 0.7 "  E

Floor plan of the estate building in Darmstadt at the end of the 19th century

The seat of the estates of the Grand Duchy of Hesse was in the Estates building on Luisenplatz in Darmstadt. The residence of the Grand Duke ( Altes Palais , today the Luisencenter is located there ) and the seat of government ( college building , today the seat of the Darmstadt regional council ) were also located on this square . The Ständehaus, formerly the Palais of Landgrave Christian , was rebuilt accordingly from 1836 to 1839 and completely destroyed in the Second World War, as was the Old Palace. Today, the headquarters of Sparkasse Darmstadt is located in its place .

The presidents of the estates

First chamber

Second chamber


  • Hans Georg Ruppel, Birgit Groß: Hessian MPs 1820–1933. Biographical evidence for the estates of the Grand Duchy of Hesse (2nd Chamber) and the Landtag of the People's State of Hesse (= Darmstädter Archivschriften. Volume 5). Verlag des Historisches Verein für Hessen, Darmstadt 1980, ISBN 3-922316-14-X .
  • Parliamentary minutes of the state estates of the Grand Duchy of Hesse (still incomplete and not released)
  • Negotiations of the Second Chamber of the Estates of the Grand Duchy of Hesse: Protocols 1820/21 - 1844/47; State Parliament 11.1847 / 49 - 36.1914 / 18. Almost complete digital copies are available from the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek
  • Peter Joseph Floret : Historically critical presentation of the negotiations of the Estates Assembly of the Grand Duchy of Hesse in 1820 and 1821. Gießen 1821.

Web links

Commons : Landstands of the Grand Duchy of Hesse  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. On the constitutional discussion see: Uta Ziegler: Government files of the Grand Duchy of Hesse 1802–1820 (= sources on the reforms in the states of the Rhine Confederation, Volume 6). 2002, ISBN 3-486-56643-1 , p. 461 ff.
  2. Eckhart G. Franz: Großherzoglich Hessisch… 1806–1918. In: Uwe Schulz (ed.): The history of Hesse. Stuttgart 1983, ISBN 3-8062-0332-6 , p. 184.
  3. ^ Constitution of 1820
  4. Article 61 of the constitutional charter for the Grand Duchy of Hesse from December 17, 1820 formulates the prohibition "to take instructions for one's voice"
  5. See § 16 edict on the civil status of February 17, 1820, which formed part of the constitution.
  6. ^ Friedrich Gackenholz: The representation of the universities on the state parliaments in Vormärz. 1974, ISBN 3-8114-0006-1 , page 56
  7. Article 52 of the constitutional document for the Grand Duchy of Hesse of December 17, 1820.
  8. Article 54 of the constitutional document for the Grand Duchy of Hesse of December 17, 1820.
  9. Article 53 of the constitutional document for the Grand Duchy of Hesse of December 17, 1820.
  10. Ordinance (of March 22, 1820) on how the election to the Chamber of Deputies should take place, Reg. Bl. 1820, pp. 169–172.
  11. Announcement (of March 31, 1820) about the eligibility of capitalists to the 2nd Chamber of Estates, Reg. Bl. 1820, page 173 ff.
  12. Article 57 (2) of the constitutional document for the Grand Duchy of Hesse of December 17, 1820.
  13. ^ Announcement (of March 29, 1820) on the electoral districts, Reg. Bl. 1820, pp. 169–172
  14. Article 57, paragraph 4 of the constitutional document for the Grand Duchy of Hesse of December 17, 1820.
  15. Article 57 (3) of the constitutional document for the Grand Duchy of Hesse of December 17, 1820.
  16. Article 67 (1) of the constitutional document for the Grand Duchy of Hesse of December 17, 1820: "Without the consent of the estates, no direct or indirect edition can be advertised or levied"
  17. Article 67 (2) of the constitutional document for the Grand Duchy of Hesse of December 17, 1820
  18. Article 66 of the constitutional document for the Grand Duchy of Hesse of December 17, 1820
  19. Article 63 of the constitutional document for the Grand Duchy of Hesse of December 17, 1820
  20. A. Müller: The emergence of the Hessian constitution of 1820 (= sources and research on Hessian history, Volume 13). Darmstadt 1931, page 66
  21. Meyers 1888
  22. Eckhart G. Franz: Großherzoglich Hessisch… 1806–1918. In: Uwe Schulz (ed.): The history of Hesse. Stuttgart 1983, ISBN 3-8062-0332-6 , page 186
  23. Of course, women continued to be excluded from voting. See: Women's suffrage .
  24. Ruppel / Groß 1980, p. 13
  25. election results
  26. Andreas Dörner, Ludgera Vogt : Language of Parliament and Semiotics of Democracy: Studies on Political Communication in the Modern Age, 1995, ISBN 3-11-014496-4 , page 287 online
  27. ^ Jochen Lengemann : MdL Hessen. 1808-1996. Biographical index (= political and parliamentary history of the State of Hesse. Volume 14 = publications of the Historical Commission for Hesse. Volume 48, 7). Elwert, Marburg 1996, ISBN 3-7708-1071-6 , pp. 434-435.
  28. ^ Jochen Lengemann: MdL Hessen. 1808-1996. Biographical index (= political and parliamentary history of the State of Hesse. Volume 14 = publications of the Historical Commission for Hesse. Volume 48, 7). Elwert, Marburg 1996, ISBN 3-7708-1071-6 , p. 435.