House of Hesse

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House of Hesse
Country Germany, Sweden, Finland
Titles Landgrave of Hesse (Lower, Upper, Kassel, Rotenburg, Wanfried, Rheinfels, Philippsthal, Philippsthal-Barchfeld, Marburg, Rheinfels, Darmstadt, Butzbach
Homburg, Braubach, Itter)
Elector of Hesse
Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine
King of Sweden
King of Finland
Founded 1264
Founder Henry I, Landgrave of Hesse
Final ruler Ernest Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse
Current head Donatus, Landgrave of Hesse[1]
Dissolution 1918
Cadet branches Hesse-Kassel
Battenberg (Mountbatten)
Hesse-Darmstadt (extinct)
Hesse-Butzbach (extinct)
Hesse-Braubach (extinct)
Hesse-Homburg (extinct)
Hesse-Itter (extinct)
Hesse-Rotenburg (extinct)
Hesse-Wanfried (extinct)
Hesse-Marburg (extinct)
Hesse-Rheinfels (extinct)

The House of Hesse (German: Haus Hessen) is a European royal dynasty from the region of Hesse, originally and still formally the House of Brabant (or House of Reginar).[2]


The origins of the House of Hesse began with the marriage of Sophie of Thuringia, daughter of Louis IV, Landgrave of Thuringia and Elizabeth of Hungary with Henry II, Duke of Brabant from the House of Reginar. Sophie was the heiress of Hesse which she passed on to her son, Henry upon her retention of the territory following her partial victory in the War of the Thuringian Succession in which she was one of the belligerents.[3]

Originally the western part of the Landgraviate of Thuringia, in the mid 13th century it was inherited by the younger son of Henry II, Duke of Brabant, and became a distinct political entity. From the late 16th century it was generally divided into several branches, the most important of which were those of Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel) and Hesse-Darmstadt. In the early 19th century the Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel was elevated to Elector of Hesse (1803), while the Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt became the Grand Duke of Hesse (1806), later Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine. The Electorate of Hesse (Hesse-Kassel) was annexed by Prussia in 1866, while Grand Ducal Hesse (Hesse-Darmstadt) as lasted until the end of the German monarchies in 1918.

Donatus, Landgrave of Hesse is the current (2013) head of the house.

Rulers of Hesse

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Branches of the House of Hesse

Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse, died in 1567. Hesse was divided between his four sons, four new lines which arose: Hesse-Darmstadt, Hesse-Kassel, Hesse-Marburg and Hesse-Rheinfels.

The line of Hesse-Darmstadt was also part of the morganatic line of the Battenberg family when Prince Alexander of Hesse and by Rhine married to Countess Julia Hauke. The Battenbergs who later settled in England changed that name to Mountbatten after World War I.

Hesse-Kassel and its junior lines were annexed by Prussia in 1866; Hesse-Darmstadt became the People's State of Hesse when the monarchy was abolished in 1918. Hesse-Philippsthal died out in the male line in 1925; Hesse-Darmstadt in 1968. Descendants of Hesse-Darmstadt (descendants of a female line), Hesse-Kassel and Hesse-Philippsthal-Barchfeld are alive to this day.

The House of Hesse is one of the eldest dynasties still existing today in Europe in the direct male line, as the Reginar's eldest male ancestor Gilbert, Count of the Maasgau was first mentioned in 841. Only the Robertians (the later French Royal House of Capet) are going further back, since their first secured ancestor Robert of Hesbaye died about 807 and his eldest ancestor is believed to be Charibert de Haspengau (c. 555–636). The House of Welf-Este and the House of Wettin are both tracing their lines back to the 10th century, whereas all the other royal dynasties of Europe - as far as still existing today - were only documented after the year 1000.

See also

Notes and sources

  1. Burke's Royal Families of the World ISBN 0-85011-023-8, p. 202 re: father as head of the house, succession thus is obvious.
  2. Burke's Royal Families of the World Volume I (1977) p. 202
  3. Cawley, Thuringia