Ludwig Hassenpflug

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Hans Daniel Ludwig Friedrich Hassenpflug (born February 26, 1794 in Hanau , † October 10, 1862 in Marburg ) was a German lawyer and politician in the Electorate of Hesse .

Ludwig Hassenpflug combined an anti-revolutionary- legitimist attitude with a strongly mystical - pietistic religiosity and a romantic- organic conception of the state and law. He fought liberalism as a worldview and advocated a monarchical - absolutist state.

Daniel Ludwig Friedrich Hassenpflug, 1850


Ludwig Hassenpflug, 1818

Ludwig Hassenpflug was born in 1794 as the only son of five children of Johannes Hassenpflug in Hanau and Marie Magdalena Dresen (born September 28, 1768 in Hanau, † December 19, 1840 in Kassel ) from a Huguenot , upper-class emigrant family based in Hanau . He attended the Lyceum in Kassel and in 1811/12 the monastery school in Ilfeld .

Hassenpflug studied law at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen from 1812 and became a member of the Corps Hassia Göttingen . In 1815 he became a member of the Teutonia Göttingen fraternity . After participation in the Wars of Liberation in 1813/14 interrupted his studies, he finished it in 1816 with the exam. In the same year he entered the state service of the Electorate of Hesse as an assessor for the government in Kassel . After the change of regent in 1821, he became an assessor at the Kassel Higher Appeal Court with the rank of higher judge; but his career did not progress well during the reign of Elector Wilhelm II .


Ludwig Hassenpflug's political worldview was shaped by the conservative lawyer Friedrich Julius Stahl , who placed the monarchical principle at the center of his state philosophy. He understood the monarch as an institution, not as the specific incumbent. This also formed a major difference between Hassenpflug and the Hessian elector during his two terms as minister. All attempts by Hassenpflug to get the Elector to fill his role in the state accordingly failed. A second essential difference between the two lay in their understanding of faith: while Hassenpflug turned to a romantic-mysticistic conception of faith attached to the wording of the Bible and also considered this to have priority over the position of the Elector as head of the regional church, the Elector Prince and later Elector Friedrich Wilhelm was von Hessen-Kassel - at least in his religious opinion - shaped by the Enlightenment and, in terms of church politics, by no means willing to give up something of his sovereign position towards the church on the basis of any theological arguments. This conflict culminated, among other things, in the reproach of the head of government against the sovereign that his marriage to Gertrude Lehmann was bigamy because she had already been married and had only been divorced for the marriage to the electoral prince.

First ministerial period in Kurhessen

It was only after the political upheaval in 1830/31 and several months after the revolution that the electoral prince's co-regent Friedrich Wilhelm took over the government to advance Hassenpflug's career, because the electoral prince and Hassenpflug knew each other through the Schönfeld district of the elector's mother, Auguste von Prussia . Friedrich Wilhelm appointed Hassenpflug as Minister of the Interior and Justice in May 1832, with the aim of overturning the relatively progressive Kurhessian constitution of 1831 . Hassenpflug thus de facto assumed the position of prime minister - without officially receiving a corresponding title.

In the period that followed, Hassenpflug led to violent political disputes with the largely liberal -minded Kurhessian assembly of estates . He survived four ministerial charges. After personal and political quarrels with the sovereign, he resigned in 1837, although the regent had asked him to continue running the Ministry of Justice. Hassenpflug was hoping for a job in Prussia , but this did not materialize at first.

Intermediate stations

Without a job in Prussia, Hassenpflug had to make do with management functions in small German states, initially as a secret conference councilor in the Principality of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (1838/39). That corresponded to the head of government there. When he left there after a short time, the Hanau public prosecutor Wilhelm Schenck zu Schweinsberg was his successor - probably through his mediation .

Hassenpflug became head of the civil administration of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg from 1839–1840 , which at the time was linked in personal union with the Kingdom of the Netherlands . The position of Hasenpflug corresponded roughly to that of a Prussian chief president .

It was not until 1840, when King Friedrich Wilhelm IV had ascended the throne in Prussia , that Hassenpflug was able to enter Prussian service. Presumably through Joseph von Radowitz , advisor to the king and former officer in the Hessian artillery , with whom Hassenpflug was friends, he received the coveted position and became senior tribunal councilor in Berlin and, in 1846, president of the higher court of appeal in Greifswald . There he got involved in several proceedings concerning forgery of documents and embezzlement of state funds over the renovation of his official residence . In September 1850 he was therefore - in the meantime head of government in Kurhessen (!) - sentenced to 14 days in prison in the first instance, but acquitted in the third instance after a legally complicated criminal process.

Second ministerial period in Kurhessen

On February 22, 1850, Hassenpflug followed the call of the now Hessian Elector Friedrich Wilhelm I to take over the government in Kurhessen. After the revolution of 1848 , the elector had tried in vain to find another politician who was capable and willing to work with him to undo the achievements of the revolution.

As Minister of the Interior and Justice of Hesse - at times also in the role of Minister of Finance - Hassenpflug once again acted relentlessly against all liberal movements in the country and intensified the confrontation with the Assembly of Estates. The latter wanted to overthrow the hated, conservative minister at any cost and responded by refusing to pay taxes , whereupon Friedrich Wilhelm I dissolved the assembly of estates on June 12, 1850. The attempt to overturn the constitution by means of martial law and unilateral sovereign decrees initially failed because the officer corps was sworn in on both the sovereign and the constitution. In order not to break the oath , 241 of 277 officers - including four generals and seven colonels - submitted their dismissal requests between October 9 and 12, 1850. This "general strike" by the officer corps, a singular event in German history, made the Hessian military incapable of acting. In order to save the counterrevolution, the elector called the federal assembly for help, which on October 16, 1850 decided to send occupation troops to the Electorate of Hesse, especially the so-called “ penal Bavaria ”, in order to restore the “orderly” situation. Hassenpflug became the most hated man in Kurhessen and far beyond and was shunned even in conservative circles.

Hassenpflug's term of office was characterized by disputes with his sovereign. Both - Hassenpflug and Friedrich Wilhelm I - were prone to arrogance and overconfidence and defined the role of the leading minister differently. Among other things, there was a crisis because the elector was expecting a bribe of 100,000 thalers from the Hanau bank Bernus du Fay, which was financing the expansion of the Frankfurt-Hanau railway in the direction of Aschaffenburg , before he signed the corresponding concession. Hassenpflug wanted to resign, but the elector refused to resign.

After five years of the second ministerial term, Hassenpflug left his office in October 1855 - again in a dispute with the regent. The reason this time was the question of what influence the elector should have on the regional church , which was sparked by the election of August Vilmar as general superintendent (regional bishop). Hassenpflug and Vilmar, both shaped by religious and romantic ideas, wanted to weaken this influence, which Friedrich Wilhelm I naturally did not want to allow and underlined by his rejection of the election of Vilmar.


Hassenpflug withdrew from politics and lived for about seven years as a hostile pensioner in his self-chosen "exile" in Marburg . Here he worked with restless energy on his memoirs, which are also to be understood as a defense against the ongoing attacks on his controversial politics and himself. At the age of 68, he died on October 10, 1862, presumably of a series of consecutive strokes .


Ludwig Hassenpflug had been friends with the Brothers Grimm since his youth and married their sister Charlotte (Lotte) on July 2, 1822 . Politically, the Grimms and Hassenpflug were opposed to each other, but on a private level they got along until the mid-1930s. Lotte and Ludwig Hassenpflug had six children together:

  • Karl Hassenpflug (January 5, 1824 - February 18, 1890 in Kassel ), sculptor, died childless
  • Agnes (born December 11, 1825 - † October 29, 1829)
  • Friedrich (born September 10, 1827 - † January 23, 1892 in Breslau ). Higher regional judge in Breslau, married to Anna Volmar, daughter of a ministerial colleague of his father
  • Bertha (April 27, 1829 - June 9, 1830)
  • Ludwig Werner, called Louis (* December 1, 1831, † October 11, 1878 in Malta ), officer in the Austrian Navy , married childless to Frances Eleanor "Ellen" Whitehead, a daughter of the engineer Robert Whitehead
  • Dorothea (born May 23, 1833 - † January 24, 1898 Munich )

Lotte Hassenpflug did not recover from the birth of her youngest daughter and died shortly afterwards. The relationship between the Grimms and Hassenpflug then cooled, especially after the declaration of the Göttingen Seven and during the constitutional conflict of 1850 it came to a break.

In his second marriage, Ludwig Hassenpflug married Agnes von Münchhausen (born November 30, 1819 in Rinteln; March 23, 1899 in Hohenwalde / Neumark) on May 11, 1837 , daughter of the Hessian Oberlandforstmeister Wilhelm von Münchhausen auf Rinteln and Christiane von Loßberg. (Her sister Hedwig had been married to Otto von Scholley since 1845. ) This marriage resulted in eight children:

  • Elisabeth (* 1839 in Luxembourg ; † 1878 in Bremen )
  • Maria (* 1840 in Luxembourg, † 1841 in Luxembourg)
  • Anna (* 1843 in Berlin ; † 1921 in Marburg)
  • Berthold (* 1844 in Berlin; † 1905 in Vienna -Währing)
  • Otto (* 1848 in Greifswald , † 1919 in Marburg)
  • Hans (* 1851 in Kassel, † 1900 in Marburg)
  • Maria (* 1853 in Kassel, † 1932 in Oelde )
  • Walter (* 1855 in Kassel; † 1921 in Koblenz ), since 1911 curator of the University of Marburg .

Amalie Hassenpflug (1800–1871), Ludwig Hassenpflug's youngest sister, was a close friend of Annette von Droste-Hülshoff .


Hassenpflug's estate in the Hessisches Staatsarchiv Marburg (inventory 340 Hassenpflug) contains memory fragments, private correspondence and official documents. In addition, there are numerous memorabilia in the Brothers Grimm Museum in Kassel and in the private possession of his descendants.


Hassenpflug is one of the most controversial politicians of the first half of the 19th century. Since he vehemently resisted the zeitgeist , fought liberalism and thus made himself the enemy of the ultimately victorious bourgeoisie , his historical assessment is largely negative. Even by the standards of the years around 1830, he must be classified as reactionary.

Ludwig Hassenpflug had been the target of sharp attacks by liberal journalists, including Kladderadatsch , since the 1830s . After 1850 he was one of the most notorious German politicians. The historian Heinrich von Sybel shortened his first name with defamatory intent to "Hans Daniel" and dropped the nickname "Ludwig" entirely in order to burden him with prejudices regarding a peasant-Jewish nature. In popular parlance he was given the nickname "Hessen curse" .



  • Pieces of files, the state indictments against the Electoral Hessian Minister of State Hans Dan. Ludw. Friedr. Concerning Hassenpflug. A contribution to contemporary history and to modern German constitutional law. The defenses of the defendant himself and of Professor Dr. R. [obert] Mohl in Tübingen . Cotta, Stuttgart / Tübingen 1836 (published anonymously).
  • Ewald Grothe (Ed.): Brothers Grimm. Correspondence with Ludwig Hassenpflug (including the correspondence between Ludwig Hassenpflug and Dorothea Grimm, née Wild, Charlotte Hassenpflug, née Grimm, their children and Amalie Hassenpflug). (= Brothers Grimm. Works and correspondence. Kassel edition. Letters. 2). Brothers Grimm Society eV, Kassel / Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-929633-64-7 .
  • Memories from the time of the second ministry, 1850–1855 . (= Publications of the Historical Commission for Hesse. 48.11). Edited by Ewald Grothe . Elwert, Marburg 2008, ISBN 978-3-7708-1317-9 .
  • Youth memories 1794 to 1821 . Edited by Klaus Hassenpflug with the collaboration of Ewald Grothe and Bernhard Lauer . (= Sources on the Brothers Grimm research. 4). Brothers Grimm Society, Kassel 2010, ISBN 978-3-940614-14-8 .
  • Small fonts with legal content . Volume 1, Breitkopf & Härtel, Leipzig 1845.
  • Ewald Grothe, Karl Murk: Ludwig Hassenpflug - a conservative politician in the 19th century. Catalog for the exhibition in the Hessian State Archive in Marburg. In: Ewald Grothe (Hrsg.): Conservative German politicians in the 19th century. Working - effect - perception. (= Publications of the Historical Commission for Hesse. 75). Historical Commission for Hessen, Marburg 2010, ISBN 978-3-942225-09-0 , pp. 141-188.
  • The superintendents in the first chamber of the estates in Kurhessen. First printed as a manuscript, now with an afterword in relation to the report, the latest events in the Evangelical Church of the Electorate of Hesse regarding Bertram, Cassel 1856 (published under the name Richter ).

Secondary literature

  • Helge Dvorak: Biographical Lexicon of the German Burschenschaft. Volume I: Politicians. Sub-Volume 2: F-H. Winter, Heidelberg 1999, ISBN 3-8253-0809-X , pp. 249-250.
  • Eckhart G. FranzHassenpflug, Hans Daniel Ludwig Friedrich. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 8, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1969, ISBN 3-428-00189-3 , p. 46 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Robert Friderici: Ludwig Hassenpflug (1794–1862) / Minister of State of Hesse. In: Ingeborg Schnack (Ed.): Life pictures from Kurhessen and Waldeck 1830–1930. (= Publications of the Historical Commission for Hesse. 20.5). Volume 5, Elwert, Marburg 1955, pp. 101-121.
  • Ewald Grothe: Hassenpflug and the revolution. On the worldview and politics of a highly conservative Kurhessian. In: Winfried Speitkamp (Ed.): State, Society, Science. Contributions to modern Hessian history. (= Publications of the Historical Commission for Hesse. 55). Elwert, Marburg 1994, pp. 53-72.
  • Ewald Grothe: Inside views of the “healing reaction”. The "Memories" of Hassenpflug and the 1850s in Kurhessen. In: Ewald Grothe (ed.): Ludwig Hassenpflug. Memories from the time of the second ministry, 1850–1855. (= Publications of the Historical Commission for Hesse. 48.11). Elwert, Marburg 2008, ISBN 978-3-7708-1317-9 .
  • Ewald Grothe: Ludwig Hassenpflug - the "devil of reaction". In: Ewald Grothe (Hrsg.): Conservative German politicians in the 19th century. Working - effect - perception. (= Publications of the Historical Commission for Hesse. 75). Historical Commission for Hessen, Marburg 2010, ISBN 978-3-942225-09-0 , pp. 69–80.
  • Ewald Grothe: Personal sympathy and political dissent. Ludwig Hassenpflug and the Brothers Grimm. In: Hessisches Jahrbuch für Landesgeschichte 51 (2001), pp. 149–167.
  • Ewald Grothe: Longing for Prussia. The career path of the Hessian Minister Ludwig Hassenpflug after his dismissal from 1837–1840. In: Yearbook of the Brothers Grimm Society 4 (1994), pp. 81-102.
  • Ewald Grothe: Constitution and Constitutional Conflict. The Electorate of Hesse in the first Hassenpflug era 1830–1837 . (= Writings on constitutional history. 48). Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1996, ISBN 3-428-08509-4 .
  • Rüdiger Ham: Federal intervention and constitutional revision. The German Confederation and the Hessian constitutional question 1850/52. (= Sources and research on Hessian history. 138). Self-published by the Hessian Historical Commission Darmstadt and the Historical Commission for Hesse, Darmstadt / Marburg 2004, ISBN 3-88443-092-0 . A short biography on Hassenpflug can be found in Appendix I.3.
  • Rüdiger Ham: Ludwig Hassenpflug: statesman and lawyer between revolution and reaction. A political biography. (= Studies on historical research in modern times. 50). Kovac, Hamburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-8300-2764-5 .
  • Harald Höffner: Kurhessens Ministerialvorstand the constitutional period 1831-1866 . phil. Dissertation . Giessen 1981, pp. 156-163.
  • Philipp Losch : Ludwig Hassenpflug, a statesman of the 19th century (from romantic to mystic). In: Journal of the Association for Hessian History and Regional Studies 62 (1940), pp. 59–159.
  • Heinrich von Sybel : Hans Daniel Hassenpflug. In: Historische Zeitschrift 71 (1893), pp. 48–67.
  • A. [August] F. [riedrich] C. [hristian] Vilmar: Hassenpflug, Hans Daniel Ludwig Friedrich. In: Herrmann Wagener (Ed.): New Conversations Lexicon. State and society lexicon. Volume 9, Heinicke, Berlin 1862, pp. 157-162. (Reprint: Ludwig Hassenpflug. A biographical character sketch. In: Hessische Blätter. 26 (1894), No. 2026 ff.)
  • Egbert Weiß: Corps students in the pre-March period, “persecuted” and “persecutors”. In: Einst und Jetzt 33 (1988), pp. 47, 59.
  • [Karl] Wippermann:  Hassenpflug, Hans Daniel Ludwig Friedrich . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 11, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1880, pp. 1-9.

Web links

Commons : Ludwig Hassenpflug  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Georg Meyer: Directory of teachers and students of Ilfeld Pedagogium from Easter 1800 to Easter 1853. ago In: Annual Report on the Royal Convent School to Ilfeld, from Easter 1905 to Easter 1906 Göttingen 1906, p 21 .
  2. Kösener Corps Lists 1910, 73, 13.
  3. ^ Fritz Groos: The corps list of Hassia Göttingen. In: then and now . Volume 17 (1972), pp. 218-219 (No. 40).
  4. ^ Helge Dvorak: Biographical Lexicon of the German Burschenschaft. Volume I: Politicians. Sub-Volume 2: F-H. Winter, Heidelberg 1999, ISBN 3-8253-0809-X , p. 249.
  5. Ham, Ludwig Hassenpflug , p. 215 ff.
  6. ^ Gregory W. Pedlow : The Survival of the Hessian Nobility 1770-1870 . Princeton 1988.
  7. Overview of the "Hassenpflug family  archive " (HStAM inventory 340 Hassenpflug). In: Archive Information System Hessen (Arcinsys Hessen), as of September 1, 2014.
  8. Ham, Ludwig Hassenpflug , p. 132.