The Landgraviate was established by William IV, son of Philip the Magnanimous in 1567. It was constituted an electorate in 1803 and retained this status, except for a brief period during the Napoleonic Wars, until 1866 when it was adsorbed by Prussia just before the formation of the German Empire. The Langraves included Maurice, William V, William VI, William VII, Charles I, Redeerick I (who was also king of Sweden 1720-51), and Frederick II (the landgrave who provided George III Hessians soldiers to fight in the Revolutionary War). The electors included William II and Frederick William (who was deposed by the Prussians) after he supported the Austrians in the Austro-Prussian War. The Prussians annexed Hesse-Kassel and made it part of the province of Hesse-Nassau. Frederick Charles von Hessen, Landgrave of Hesse in 1893 married Princess Margrethe, Kaiser Wilhem II's younger sister. Their son Prince Max was killed early in World War I during service with the Prussian 1st Life Hussars. After World War I, the Hesse-Kassel family became deeply involved with the NAZIs. They were used in elections during the 1920s and 30s to help gain votes for the NAZIs. Support from prominently families help to establish the NAZIs as a legitiamte political party. Prince Philip of Hesse-Kassel was especially active. He was introduced to the NAZIs by Prince August Wilhelm, the Kaiser's fourth son. [Vickers, p. 271.] Prince Christopher of Hesse-Cassel married the younger sister of Prince Philip (Duke of Edunburgh)--Princess Sophie of Hanover. Prince Christopher was an SS Colonel attached to Heinrich Himmler's personal staff. He was appointed to head the Forschungsamt. This was a security service Hermann Göring controlled which attempted to feret out anti-NAZIs. Sophie and Christopher named their eldest son Karl Adolf after Hitler.
Hesse was an early convet to Protestantism in the Reformation, although Calvinism became the primary influence. The Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel (Hessen-Kassel) was established when Landgrave Philip of Hesse (Philip the Magnanimous) died (1567). Hesse was divided into two pincipaslities (1568). Philip's eldest son Wilhelm IV inherited the northern portion and established his capital at Kassel. The Landgraviate expanded when Landgrave Maurice inherited Hesse-Marburg from his uncle (1604). Calvinist Hesse-Kassel became a loyal Protestant ally to Sweden's during the Thirty Years War (1618-48). Landgrave Wilhelm V, and after his death in 1637, his widow, continued to support the Protestant cause with French and Swedes throughout the War. Hesse-Kassel maintained its own army, garrisoning strongpoints, even after Hesse-Kassel was overun and occupied by the Catholic Imperial forces. Hessian soldiers achieved a reputation as tough fighters
The Landgraves of Hesse-Kassel earned money by hiring out their soldiers as mercenaries (17th and 18th centuries). Landgrave Frederick II was perhaps the most famous because he hired troops to his nephew King George III of Great Britain to assist in efforts to suppress the rebellion in America. Many of those soldiers remained in America after the Revolutionary War.
The Reichsdeputationshauptschluss (Principal Decree of the Imperial Deputation) of 1803
granted Landgrave Wilhelm IX the position of an Imperial Elector of the Holy Roman Empire. William then took the title Wilhelm I, Elector of Hesse. The principality thus became officisally known as Kurhessen, although was commonly called Hesse-Kassel. Wilhelm I was dispossessed by Napoleon I during the Napoleoinic Wars (1806). William had supported Prussia. Napoleon reorganized Germany. He made Kassel the capital of a new Kingdom of Westphalia which he placed under the control of his brother Jerome. After Naapoleon's disaster in Russia, the Austrias and Prussians aided by the Russians, drive Bapoleon from Germany (1813). At this time Elector William I was restored.
Napoleon had abolished the Holy Roman Empire ad it was not reconstituted. Wilhelm retained the title of Elector, believing it gasve him more sratus than his cousin, the Grand Duke of Hesse-Darmstadt.
The Landgraviate was adsorbed by Prussia just before the formation of the German Empire. Hesse-Kassel sided with Austria in the Ausrto-Prussian Ear (1866). This meantthat Prussia deposed the family was it was no longer a ruling family.
We have some information on the individual Landgraves.
The Langraves included William IV, Maurice, William V, William VI, William VII, Charles I, Redeerick I (who was also king of Sweden 1720-51), and Frederick II (the landgrave who provided King George III of Britain Hessians soldiers to fight in the Revolutionary War). After the Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel was mase an Imperial Elector, the Electors were renumbered, meaning there was William I.
Wilhelm's grandson, Elector Friedrich Wilhelm was born in Copenhagen (1820). He was the only son of Wilhelm I and Princess Louise Charlotte of Denmark. He had a dynastic claim to both the the Hesse-Kassel dynasty (through his father) and to the Danish throne (through his mother). He grew up in Copenhagen. He attended the university of Bonn. And after graduating began a military career. He married Alexandra Nikolaevna of Russia (1825–1844), the daughter of Emperor Nicholas I of Russia and Charlotte of Prussia. Their one son was born 3 months prematurely and died. He next married Princess Anna of Prussia (1836–1918). They produced six children. Prince Frederick William II of Hesse (1854–88) never married. Princess Elisabeth Alexandra Charlotte (1861–1955) married Prince Leopold Friedrich of Anhalt. Prince Alexander Frederick (1863–1945) married Baroness Gisela Stockhorner von Starheim. Prince Frederick Charles of Hesse, King of Finland (1868–1940) married Princess Margaret of Prussia. Princess Marie-Polyxene of Hesse (1872–1882). Princess Sybille Marguerite of Hesse (1877–1925) married Baron Friedrich von Vincke, but divorced (1923). Landgrave Frederick William sided with Austria in the Austro-Prussian War (1866). The Prussians who won the War thus deposed him. The Prussians proceeded to annex Hesse-Kassel and made it part of the province of Hesse-Nassau along with Nassau and Frankfurt-am-Main.
When Frederick William I died (1884), his eldest son Frederick William II became the head of the House of Hesse. He never married and when he perished on a sea voyage from Batavia to Singapore, his younger brother Alexander became head of the famiy.
Landgrave Alexander abdicated as the head of the House of Hesse (1925). He was succeeded by Frederick Charles, his younger brother.
Frederick Charles von Hessen, Landgrave of Hesse was born at the family's manor, Gut Panker, in Plön, Holsteinin (1868). He was the third son of Frederick William of Hesse and his wife Princess Anna of Prussia.
He married Princess Margrethe, Kaiser Wilhem II's younger sister (1893). They had six children, including two sets of twins: Friedrich Wilhelm Sigismund (1893–1916), Maximilian Friedrich Wilhelm Georg (1894–1914), Philipp (1896–1980), Wolfgang Moritz (1896–1989), Prince Christoph Ernst August (1901–1943), Richard Wilhelm Leopold (1901–69). Upon Frederick Charles' death (1884), Their son Prince Max was killed early in World War I, serving with the Prussian 1st Life Hussars. He was selected by the Finnish pro-German government to be King of Finland. The Kaiser had hoped to install his son Prince Oscar on the Finnish throne. Frederick Charles never reigned in Finland. The country became a republic. After World War I, the Hesse-Kassel family became deeply involved with the NAZIs. This was especially the case of the Landgrave's sons Philipp and Charles. They were used in Weimar elections and during the early NAZI years. Right-wing views and the belief that the NAZIs would restore the monarchy helped draw aristocratic support. Support from prominent families, especially aristocratic families, helped establish the NAZIs as a legitiamte political force. This was helpful in Hitler's rise to power and during the early years after seizing power.
Prince Philipp of Hesse-Kassel was especially involved with the NAZIs. He was born in Schloß Rumpenheim (1896).
Landgrave Philipp and Prince Wolfgang were twins. Like many German aristocrats, he had an English governess.
In the more relaxed years before Workld war I, his prebts sent him to England to attend school at Bexhill-on-Sea (1910). When he retuned to Germany, he attended a Musterschule in Frankfurt and then the Realgymnasium in Potsdam. He was the only male member of the family wjo did not attend a military academy.
He entered the university, but diud not earn a degree. He worked at the Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum in Berlin. He next moved to Rome where his aristocratic connections herlped him establish a successful interior design business. Prince Philipp married Mafalda Maria Elisabetta Anna Romana, Princess of Savoy (1902-44). They were married in Racconigi, Cuneo, Italy (1925). She was the daughter of King Vittorio Emanuele I, King of Italy and Royal Highness Jelena (Elena) Princess Petrovich Njegosh of Montenegro Queen of Italy. The children included: Moritz Friedrich (future , Landgrave), Heinrich Wilhelm Konstantin Victor Franz (1927-99), Otto Adolf, and Elisabeth Margarethe Elena Johanna Maria Jolanda Polyxene. During his time in Italy, Orince Philipp became impressed with Fascism.
He was introduced to the NAZIs by Prince August Wilhelm, the Kaiser's fourth son. [Vickers, p. 271.] Prince Philipp joined the NAZI Party (1930). This was before Hitler seized power.
He joined the SA (1932). The following year his younger brother Christoph joined the Schutzstaffel (SS). Later his two other brothers also joined the SA. Philipp became a particularly close friend to NAZI big-wig Hermann Göring who liked to make aristicratic friends. Philipp played an important role in the NAZI seizure and consolidation of Npower. He introduced other aristocrats to NAZI leaders. After Hitler seized power (1933), he appointed Philipp Oberpräsident (Gauleiter) of Hesse-Nassau (June 1933). Philipp also became a member of the Reichstag and of the Prussian Staatsrat. As a son-in-law of the king of Italy, he helped develop the relsatinship between Hitler and Mussolini. He also quietky acted as an art agent for Hitler in Italy. As Gauleiter in Hesse-Kassel, Philipp was complicit in the horific T-4 Euthanasia Program--the poredecessor of the Holocaust (February 1941). Philipp signed the contract placing the sanitarium of Hadamar at the disposal of the Reich Interior Ministry. In a killing process overseen by doctors, over 10,000 retarded, mentally ill, and handicapped people were gassed there. We do not know just how much he personally knew about what occurred there. His desire to please Hitler may explain his approval.
Hitler who once courted German aristocrats began to turn against them when the War turned against Germany and the possibility of other leaders arose. Hitler ordered Philipp to report to Hitler's headquarters (April 1943). Hitler then issued the "Decree Concerning Internationally Connected Men" (May 1943). This decreed that princes could not hold positions in the party, state, or armed forces. The arrest of Mussolini by Philipp's father-in-law King Victor Emanuel (July 1943) further underminedf Phillip's position. Hitler knew from inteligence reports that Italy's participation in the war was wavering. Without any real ecidence, he believed that Philipp was involved in Mussolini's ouster and arrest. Italy's surrender to the Allies dramatically changed the position of Prince Philipp and his family. After Italy surrendered to the Allies, the Gestapo arrested Philipp (September 8). He was stripped of his membership in the NAZI party. He was interned at Flossenbürg concentration camp. He was properly fed, but held in solitary confinement. Princess Mafalda was also arrested. She was in of Hesse-Cassel was in Bulgaria to attend the funeral of her brother-in-law King Boris III when Italy capitulated. The King and Queen and her children had sought protection from the Germans who seized control of Itay in the Vatican. Pn her way to join her parents, the German embassy contacted her and offered to establish radio contact with her husband. The Princess went to the the Embassy where the Gestapo arrested her. She was retuned to Germany by a special plane and she was held in the infamous Buchenwald Concentration Camp, although under relastive reasonable conditions. Hitler himself personally ordered the arrest and confinment. Buchenwald was near an armaments plant. She was severely injured during an Allied air raid. She was treated and an arm amputated. She died the following day.
After the War, Prince Philipp was arrested by the American Army as a possible war criminal. He was charged with murder because of his connectioins with the T-4 program, but the charges were subsequently dropped. He was released (1948). He became head of all the House of Hesse (1968).
Prince Christopher of Hesse-Cassel married the younger sister of Prince Philip (Duke of Edunburgh)--Princess Sophie of Hanover. Prince Christopher was an SS Colonel attached to Heinrich Himmler's personal staff. He was appointed to head the Forschungsamt. This was a security service Hermann Göring controlled which attempted to feret out anti-NAZIs. Sophie and Christopher named their eldest son Karl Adolf after Hitler.
The head of the House of Hesse-Kassel became the Head of the entire House of Hesse due to the extinction of the Hesse-Darmstadt line.
Vickers, Hugo. Alice: Princess Andrew of Greece (St. Martin's Press: New York, 2000), 477p.
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