Category Archives: Hessian Royals

Marie Luise of Hesse-Kassel, Princess of Orange

by Susan Flantzer

Credit – Wikipedia

Marie Luise of Hesse-Kassel and her husband Johan Willem Friso, Prince of Orange hold the distinction of being the most recent common ancestors to all currently reigning European monarchs. In addition, they are the ancestors of many former monarchies. See Wikipedia: Royal descendants of John William Friso.

The second of the four daughters and ninth of the fourteen children of Karl I, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel and his wife and cousin Maria Amalia of Courland, Marie Luise was born on February 7, 1688, in Kassel, Landgraviate of Hesse (now in Germany).

Marie Luise had thirteen siblings:

Johan Willem Friso, Prince of Orange; Credit – Wikipedia

When she was 21-years-old, Marie Luise’s marriage was arranged by her future mother-in-law Henriëtte Amalia of Anhalt-Dessau who was concerned that her son Johan Willem Friso, Prince of Orange had been almost killed twice in battle and had no heir. She started searching for a bride and soon gave him a choice of two German princesses. Johan Willem Friso became engaged within a week to Marie Luise. They were married on April 26, 1709, in Kassel.

Marie Luise and Johan Willem Friso had two children:

Marie Luise and her children; Credit – Wikipedia

The couple made their home at the Stadhouderlijk Hof in Leeuwarden in Friesland one of the two of the seven provinces of the Dutch Republic where Johan Willem Friso was Stadtholder. However, Johan Willem Friso was often away at war. Sadly, their marriage lasted only two years. In July 1711, Johan Willem Friso traveled from the battlefields of the War of the Spanish Succession to The Hague to meet with King Friedrich I of Prussia. To cross the Hollands Diep, a wide river in the Netherlands, Johan Willem Friso and his carriage traveled on a ferry. The captain had trouble with the sails and suddenly a great gust of wind filled the sails, the ferry capsized and Johan Willem Friso drowned at the age of 23. His body was found floating in the river eight days later. At the time of her husband’s death, Marie Luise was pregnant with her second child. Six weeks later, she gave birth to a son who immediately became Willem IV, Prince of Orange.

Willem V succeeded his father as Stadtholder of Friesland and as Stadtholder of Groningen under the regency of his mother until he reached his majority in 1731. In 1722, he was elected Stadtholder of Guelders and Marie Luise also served as regent of Guelders. She put much effort into ensuring her children received a proper education. Marie Luise was loved and admired by the Dutch people who called her Marijke Meu (Aunt Mary). In 1731, Marie Luise’s role as regent was over. She purchased the Princessehof in Leeuwarden, moved in and started a collection of ceramics. Today her former home is the Princessehof Ceramics Museum and her collection forms part of the museum’s collection.

On March 25, 1734, Marie Luise’s son Willem IV, Prince of Orange married Anne, Princess Royal, the eldest daughter of King George II of Great Britain at the Chapel Royal in St. James’s Palace in London. It was the third time in less than 100 years that a British princess had married a Prince of Orange. Willem IV and Anne had two children including the future Willem V, Prince of Orange born in 1748. However, William IV died at age 40 from a stroke on October 22, 1751 and was succeeded by his three-year-old son as Willem V, Prince of Orange with his mother Anne serving as regent. Anne acted as regent until her death from dropsy in 1759 at age 49. As Willem V was still underage, his paternal grandmother 70-year-old Marie Luise became regent.

Marie Luise; Credit – Wikipedia

Marie Luise’s health had been deteriorating and she often had to travel from her home in Leeuwarden to The Hague for government business which exhausted her. She suffered a slight stroke that caused her to lose some functioning on the right side of her body. On Palm Sunday in 1765, Marie Luise was present at the Grote of Jacobijnerkerk in Leeuwarden greeting as many churchgoers as possible. The day before Easter, Marie Luise became ill and she was upset that her absence in church on Easter would disappoint the people. Two days after Easter, on April 9, 1765, Marie Luise died at the age of 77. She had survived her husband Johan Willem Friso by 54 years. Marie Luise was buried with her husband at the Grote of Jacobijnerkerk in Leeuwarden, Friesland now in the Netherlands, where sixteen members of Nassau-Diez family – six Stadtholders of Friesland, their spouses and children – are buried.

Grote of Jacobijnerkerk; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Wikipedia: Marie Luise of Hesse-Kassel, Princess of Orange

Anna of Hesse and by Rhine, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

by Scott Mehl

Anna of Hesse and by Rhine, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

Princess Anna of Hesse and by Rhine was the second wife of Grand Duke Friedrich Franz II of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. She was born Princess Maria Anna Wilhelmine Elisabeth Mathilde on May 25, 1843 in Bessungen, Hesse, the only daughter of Prince Karl of Hesse and by Rhine and Princess Elisabeth of Prussia. Anna had three brothers:

Friedrich Franz II of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

Anna was at one point considered as a possible wife for the future King Edward VII of the United Kingdom. However, she instead married Grand Duke Friedrich Franz II of Mecklenburg-Schwerin on July 4, 1864 in Darmstadt. His first wife had died two years earlier and Anna became stepmother to his four children. She and Friedrich Franz had one daughter:

  • Duchess Anna (1865) – unmarried, died in her teens

On April 16, 1865, just a week after giving birth to her daughter, Grand Duchess Anna died. She is buried in the Schwerin Cathedral.

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Marie of Hesse-Kassel, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

by Scott Mehl

Marie of Hesse-Kassel, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

Princess Marie of Hesse-Kassel was the wife of Grand Duke Georg of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. She was born Princess Marie Wilhelmine Friederike on January 21, 1796 in Hanau, Hesse-Kassel, the second daughter of Landgrave Friedrich of Hesse-Kassel and Princess Karoline of Nassau-Usingen. Marie had seven siblings:

Georg of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

On August 12, 1817, Marie married Grand Duke Georg of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, in Kassel. They had four children:

Marie’s copy of Raphael’s ‘Christ Falling on the Way to Calvary’, painted in 1856, used on the altar at the town church in Neustrelitz. photo: Von Concord – Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20264996

A talented painter, Marie often painted copies of famous paintings. Many were used as altarpieces in churches within Mecklenburg, including the town churches in Schönberg and Neustrelitz – both of which still exist. Another, which was used in the Johanniterkirche in Mirow, was destroyed when the church burned in 1945.

Marie in her later years. source: Wikipedia

Having survived her husband by just three months, the Dowager Grand Duchess Marie died in Neustrelitz on December 30, 1880. She is buried in the New Crypt at the Johanniterkirche in Mirow.

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Friederike of Hesse-Darmstadt, Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

by Scott Mehl

Friederike of Hesse-Darmstadt, first wife of Grand Duke Carl II

Friederike Karoline Luise of Hesse-Darmstadt was the first wife of the future Grand Duke Carl II of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. She was born in Darmstadt on August 20, 1752, the eldest daughter of Prince Georg Wilhelm of Hesse-Darmstadt and Countess Maria Luise Albertine of Leiningen-Falkenburg-Dagsburg. Friederike had eight siblings:

Carl of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

On September 18, 1768 in Darmstadt, Friederike married Carl of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. At the time, he was heir-presumptive to his brother, the Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Friederike and Carl had ten children:

The New Crypt at the Johanniterkirche. photo: Von Peter Schmelzle – Eigenes Werk (Eigenes Foto), CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4816015

On May 22, 1782, three days after giving birth to her last child, Friederike died from complications of childbirth in Hanover. She is buried in the New Crypt at the Johanniterkirche in Mirow. Two years later, her husband married her younger sister, Charlotte. He later became the first Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in 1815.

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Luise of Hesse-Darmstadt, Grand Duchess of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach

by Scott Mehl

source: Wikipedia

Luise Auguste of Hesse-Darmstadt was the first Grand Duchess of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach through her marriage to Grand Duke Karl August. She was born in Berlin on January 30, 1757, the daughter of Ludwig IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt and Caroline of Zweibrücken. Luise had seven siblings:

Karl August of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach. source: Wikipedia

In the early 1770s, Luise’s mother took Luise and two of her sisters to St. Petersburg to be presented to the Russian Empress Catherine the Great as potential brides for the future Tsar Paul. Luise’s sister Wilhelmine was chosen, but on the journey home, Luise’s future would be arranged thanks to a chance meeting with Anna Amalia of Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Eisenach, who was serving as Regent for her young son, Karl August. An engagement was soon arranged, and Luise and Karl August were married in Karlsruhe on October 3, 1775, just a month after he reached his majority. Luise became the Duchess of Saxe-Weimar and Duchess of Saxe-Eisenach upon her marriage, and the couple had seven children:

The arranged marriage was purely dynastic and there was not much love between the two. Karl August had a long-term and very public affair with an actress, and gave his wife little emotional support. Despite this, she was devoted to her husband’s position, as well as her new homeland. When French forces advanced on Weimar in 1806, Luise stood firm and remained there while most of the family fled or were off fighting in the war. She would take it upon herself to stand up to Napoleon himself and protect Weimar and its people from the fighting. Her efforts were successful, and Weimar remained mostly untouched. Several years later, at the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Luise’s efforts ensured that the duchy did not have to cede any territory, and was instead elevated to a Grand Duchy. Those efforts also earned her the love and complete devotion of the people.

Luise stepped away from public duties after being widowed in 1828. The Dowager Grand Duchess died nearly two years later, on February 14, 1830 at the age of 73. She is buried in the Weimarer Fürstengruft in the Historical Cemetery in Weimar.

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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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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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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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Luise of Hesse-Darmstadt, Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine

by Scott Mehl

source: Wikipedia

Luise Henriette Karoline of Hesse-Darmstadt was the first Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine, through her marriage to Grand Duke Ludwig I. She was born in Darmstadt on February 15, 1761, the daughter of Prince Georg Wilhelm of Hesse-Darmstadt and Countess Maria Luise Albertine of Leiningen-Falkenburg-Dagsburg. Luise had eight siblings:

Ludwig I. source: Wikipedia

On February 19, 1777 in Darmstadt, Luise married her first cousin, Ludwig of Hesse-Darmstadt (the future Grand Duke Ludwig I), the son of Ludwig IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt and Caroline of Zweibrücken. Luise and Ludwig had eight children:

Since the mid-1780s, Grand Duchess Luise spent the summer months Auerbach, where the family had a summer residence in a large park known as the Fürstenlager. It was there that she died on October 24, 1829. She was buried in the Darmstadt Stadtkirche until 1910, when her remains were moved to the Altes Mausoleum in the Rosenhöhe in Darmstadt.

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