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Karl August, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach

by Scott Mehl

source: Wikipedia

Karl August was the first Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, reigning from 1815 until 1828. He wa born in Weimar on September 3, 1757, the eldest son of Ernst August II, Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach and Anna Amalia of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. He had one younger sibling:

When his father died in May 1758, Karl August became Duke of Saxe-Weimar and Duke of Saxe-Eisenach at just nine months old. His mother served as regent, and is recognized for having built up the resources and strength of the duchies during her son’s youth. Meanwhile, Karl August was educated privately by several tutors, and then made a grand tour of Europe along with his younger brother. It was on this trip that he met Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who would become a close friend, confidante and advisor.

Luise of Hesse-Darmstadt. source: Wikipedia

Shortly after reaching his majority and taking control of the government of the two duchies, Karl August married Luise of Hesse-Darmstadt in Karlsruhe on October 3, 1775. Luise was the daughter of Ludwig IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt and Caroline of Zweibrücken. They had seven children:

Karl August’s surviving children – Bernhard, Karoline Luise and Karl Friedrich. source: Wikipedia

One of his first official acts was appointing Goethe to his privy council. It is perhaps through Goethe’s influence and support that Karl August worked to promote education and the arts. He established the Weimar Princely Free Drawing School in 1776, and was instrumental in reforming the education system and promoting the University of Jena.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. source: Wikipedia

A firm supporter of a unified Germany, Karl August was one of the leading forces behind the establishment of the League of Princes in 1785. Two years later, he was offered the Hungarian crown, but refused. He took up service with the Prussian Army, serving as major-general and leading his regiment into several battles in 1792. After the disastrous Battle of Jena in 1806, Karl August was forced to join Napoleon’s Confederation of the Rhine, to avoid losing his territories.

In 1809, the two duchies were united as one, and Karl August became Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach. Six years later, following the Congress of Vienna, Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach was elevated to a Grand Duchy with Karl August as its first Grand Duke. Much more liberal than many of his contemporaries, Karl August was the first German prince to grant a liberal constitution, and promoted the freedom of the press.

Grand Duke Karl August died in Graditz, Saxony on June 14, 1828, and is buried in the Weimarer Fürstengruft in the Historical Cemetery in Weimar.

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Royal News: Thursday 16 November 2017

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Royal News: Wednesday 15 November 2017

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Mathilde Karoline of Bavaria, Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine

by Scott Mehl

source: Wikipedia

Mathilde Caroline of Bavaria was Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine, through her marriage to Grand Duke Ludwig III. She was born in Augsburg on August 30, 1813, the eldest daughter of King Ludwig I of Bavaria and Therese of Saxe-Hildburgausen. Mathilde Karoline had eight siblings:

Ludwig III. source: Wikipedia

On December 26, 1833, Mathilde Karoline married the future Grand Duke Ludwig II of Hesse and by Rhine. They had no children. She became Grand Duchess upon her husband’s accession in 1848.

Grand Duchess Mathilde Karoline died in Darmstadt on May 25, 1862. Because she had remained Catholic after her marriage into the grand ducal family who were Lutheran, she is buried at St. Ludwig’s Catholic Church (link in German) in Darmstadt. One other member of the grand ducal family, her husband’s uncle, Prince Friedrich, was also Catholic and is buried at St. Ludwig’s as well.

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Royal News: Tuesday 14 November 2017

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Ludwig III, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine

by Scott Mehl

source: Wikipedia

Ludwig III was born in Darmstadt on June 9, 1806, the eldest son of Ludwig II, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine and Princess Wilhelmine of Baden. He had five siblings:

Ludwig studied at Leipzig University as well as receiving military training.

Mathilde Karoline of Bavaria. source: Wikipedia

On December 26, 1833 in Munich, Ludwig married Princess Mathilde Caroline of Bavaria, the eldest daughter of King Ludwig I of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. They had no children.

Ludwig became Grand Duke on March 5, 1848 when his father abdicated during the March Revolution.

Anna Magdalena Appel. source: Wikipedia

In June 1868, six years after the death of his first wife, Ludwig married a second time to Anna Magdalena Appel. The marriage was morganatic, so she did not become Grand Duchess. Instead, she was created Baroness of Hochstätten. Together, they lived very quietly at Schloss Braunshardt in Weiterstadt for the remainder of his life.

Grand Duke Ludwig III died in Seeheim, Hesse, on June 13, 1877. He is buried in the Altes Mausoleum in the Rosenhöhe in Darmstadt. He was succeeded by his nephew, Ludwig IV. The Baroness of Hochstätten moved to Wiesbaden where she lived until her death in December 1917. She is buried in the Old Cemetery in Darmstadt.

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Wilhelmine of Baden, Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine

by Scott Mehl

source: Wikipedia

Wilhelmine of Baden was the second Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine, as the wife of Grand Duke Ludwig II. She was born in Karlsruhe on September 21, 1788, the youngest child of Karl Ludwig, Hereditary Prince of Baden and Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt. Wilhelmine had seven siblings:

Ludwig II. source: Wikipedia

On June 19, 1804 in Karlsruhe, Wilhelmine married her first cousin, the future Ludwig II of Hesse and by Rhine. They had seven children:

In 1810, Wilhelmine had a large garden – called the Rosenhöhe (link in German) – built on a hill in Darmstadt. Soon, she added several buildings, including a summer residence and a tea house. When her daughter Elisabeth died in 1826, Wilhelmine decided to have a mausoleum built in the park instead of using the traditional grand ducal tomb in the Darmstadt Stadtkirche. It is because of this that the Rosenhöhe has become the traditional burial site for the Grand Ducal Family.

Schloss Heiligenberg. photo: by Heidas – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3645053

Wilhelmine’s marriage was never happy, and she separated from her husband after the birth of their first three children. In the 1820s, Wilhelmine purchased Schloss Heiligenberg in Jugenheim and expanded and designed the grounds just as she had done at Rosenhöhe. It was here where she met her chamberlain, Baron August von Searclens de Grancy and began a longtime affair. While her husband recognized their younger children as his own, it is believed that they were actually fathered by de Grancy.

Despite her separation, Wilhelmine became Grand Duchess upon her husband’s accession in 1830. With the increased means now at her disposal, she set about expanding Heiligenberg, and avoiding the court in Darmstadt as much as possible.

Grand Duchess Wilhelmine died in Darmstadt on January 27, 1836 after contracting typhoid. She is buried in the Altes Mausoleum in the Rosenhöhe in Darmstadt.

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Royal News: Thursday 9 November 2017

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Royal News: Wednesday 8 November 2017

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Ludwig II, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine

by Scott Mehl

source: Wikipedia

Ludwig II was Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine from April 6, 1830 until his abdication in 1848. He was born in Darmstadt on December 26, 1777, the eldest son of Ludwig X, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt (the future Grand Duke Ludwig I) and Luise of Hesse-Darmstadt. He had seven siblings:

  • Princess Luise (1779) – married Ludwig of Anhalt-Köthen, had issue
  • Prince Georg (1780) – married Caroline Török de Szendrö, had issue
  • Prince Friedrich (1788) – unmarried
  • stillborn twin daughters (1789)
  • Prince Emil (1790) – unmarried
  • Prince Gustav (1791) – unmarried

Ludwig became Hereditary Grand Duke in 1806 when the Grand Duchy of Hesse and by Rhine was established. He served in the First Chamber of the Hessian parliament, and was a member of the Council of State from 1823-1830. He also represented the Grand Duchy at the Congress of Erfurt in 1808 and the Congress of Vienna in 1814-1815.

Wilhelmine of Baden. source: Wikipedia

On June 19, 1804 in Karlsruhe, Ludwig married his first cousin, Princess Wilhelmine of Baden. She was the daughter of Karl Ludwig, Hereditary Prince of Baden and Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt. Ludwig and Wilhelmine had seven children:

Ludwig became Grand Duke upon his father’s death in March 1830, and continued his father’s policies. Soon after his accession, he demanded that the state assume all of his personal debts. This led to a growing dislike for Ludwig amongst the Hessian people. He also stood strongly against calls for a more liberal government which was sweeping through Europe. Following the beginning of the March Revolution, Grand Duke Ludwig II abdicated on March 5, 1848, in favor of his eldest son.

Grand Duke Ludwig II died just three months later, on June 16, 1848. He is buried in the Altes Mausoleum in the Rosenhöhe in Darmstadt.

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