Germany's small central states in 1861   

For the benefit of those who want to know more about the states that are too small to be given lettering on the main maps, this map of the Central German mini states, as they were in the year 1859 is added. I have enlarged a section of the 1859 map. Only the five German Kingdoms however are given names in letters. The others are given numbers in white or black, and will be described on this page. When these monarchies united into a single German Realm, they continued their existence as constituent states of the new Realm. Their dynasties were all lost however in the Republican revolutions that swept Germany in 1918. Most European monarchies however originated from, or had ties with these reigning families. In 1918 the core was taken from the European monarchical system with the demise of the German monarchies.

1. The Electorate of Hesse-Cassel

Originally a Margraviate, it was elevated to an Electorate in Napoleonic days. When the Holy Roman Empire was abolished and Electorates had lost their function, the country kept its denomination of Electorate. A peculiar thing, since even in the days of the Old Empire, Electorates or Electors only added that title to their original titles like King, Duke or Prince-Bishop. Only Hesse-Cassel replaced its denomination of Margraviate by Electorate. Hesse-Cassel was one of two Hesses. German dynasts often divided their domains between their sons, creating collateral branches that could succeed in each others dominions (and thus reunite them) if one of the branches became extinct. The habit of splitting countries was later abandoned, but its consequences were evident well into the Twentieth Century. Hesse was split up in the 15th century between the branches of Cassel and Darmstadt. Hesse-Cassel was annexed by Prussia in 1866.

2. The Grandduchy of Baden

Originally a small Margraviate, it was elevated to an Electorate in Napoleonic days. It became a Grand duchy in 1805 and was greatly enlarged by Napoleon. It gave us the longest reigning monarch in modern history. Karl, Margrave of Baden-Dürlach reigned 1742-1820, becoming an Elector in 1804 and a Grandduke in 1805.

3. The Grandduchy of Hesse-Rhine (German: Hessen am und bei Rhein)

Originally known as the Margraviate of Hesse-Darmstadt (see Hesse-Cassel). It was enlarged in Napoleonic days. A morganatic branch of its Royal Family became the Mountbattens, originally Princes of Battenberg, ancestors of Lord Milford Haven, Lord Carisbrooke and Lord Mountbatten of Burma.

4. The Grandduchy of Oldenburg

From this country the dynasty that produced the Kings of Denmark, Norway, Greece, and the later Romanovs, Emperors of Russia, originates. Also the Dukes of Schleswig-Holstein (see the page on 1861 in the European-wide section) were from the house of Oldenburg. Oldenburg itself was ruled in the 19th century by a younger branch of the Dukes of Holstein-Gottorp, who became the Russian Romanovs. Earlier it was a County, ruled by the Kings of Denmark. The House of Oldenburg also gave us Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. He however took his mothers name of Mountbatten (see Hesse-Rhine). When the Prince of Wales succeeds his mother, the British throne will technically be occupied by a member of this House.

5. The Grandduchy of Saksony (Saxe-Weimar)

Originally the Duchy of Saxe-Weimar & Eisenach. Ruled by a collateral branch of the Wettin dynasty, that also brought us Electors and Kings of Saksony and Kings of Poland. In the Fifteenth century the Electors of Saksony, from the House of Wettin, divided their dominions into a Ducal and an Electoral part. The Electoral part was mainly in Thuringia, a County-Palatine that the Wettins had acquired earlier. During the Thirty Years War the Electoral branch lost the Electoral dignity to the Ducal branch in Dresden, making the Ducal branch Electoral while reverting to the Ducal status themselves. Divisions among the several Ducal branches left Thuringia littered with Duchies ruled by them. Weimar was the most senior of them, and all the other branches originate from the Weimar branch. The new Electoral branch in Dresden reverted to Catholicism and became Kings of Saxony in 1805.

6. The Duchy of Anhalt

Only years before the date of this map (1859) the Princes of Anhalt-Zerbst and Anhalt-Kothen became extinct, making the Dukes of Anhalt-Dessau, Dukes of the entire country. The Zerbst branch of the Anhalt dynasty gave us Catherine II "the Great" Empress of Russia, in the late 18th century. The Zerbst branch also ruled Jever in East-Frisia, inherited by them from the Papinga family. Catherine's son, the Emperor Paul gave it to his Oldenburg relatives

7. The Duchy of Brunswick and Lueneburg

Originally known as Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. It was ruled by a collateral branch of the Ghuelph house, that also ruled the Kingdom of Hanover (originally called Brunswick-Lüneburg-Hanover) and produced monarchs of Britain from 1714 to 1901. When the Wolfenbüttel branch became extinct in the 1870's, the Hanover branch was entitled to the succession. They were however barred from the succession by the authorities of the new German Realm, because of their refusal to give up their claim to the Kingdom of Hanover, lost to Prussia in 1866. The grandson of the last Hanoverian King finally succeeded to the Duchy in 1913, when he married a Prussian Princess, and gave up his claim to Hanover. The Ghuelphs are the oldest royal house in Europe, going back to the times of Charlemagne. Its present representative and dynast is Prince Ernst-August, third husband of Caroline, Princess of Monaco.

8. The Duchy of Nassau

Originally Nassau-Weilburg, it took the lands of its collateral branch of Orange-Nassau, later the Dutch Royal family, when Orange-Nassau chose to take the side of Prussia in its disastrous war against Napoleon in 1805. The Oranges were later compensated with the Grand duchy of Luxembourg, which took the place of Orange-Nassau in the family's succession arrangements. The small collateral branch of Üsingen became extinct some years later and so the country was united for the first time since the 13th century. Nassau was annexed by Prussia in 1866, but when the Orange-Nassau branch, reigning in the Netherlands and Luxembourg, became extinct in the male line in 1890, Duke Adolph of Nassau, succeeded to the Grandduchy of Luxembourg.

9. The Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg

Ruled by another Wettin collateral branch (see Grandduchy of Saxony). The family originally ruled Saxe-Hildburghaussen (later given to Saxe-Meiningen) but became Dukes of Saxe-Altenburg in 1832 when the branch of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg became extinct. An elaborate land-swap between the Wettin families in Thuringia was the result, and so the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg was born.

10. The Duchy of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha

Ruled by yet another Wettin colateral branch. Originally Dukes of Saxe-Saalfeld-Coburg, they enlarged their tiny dominions in 1832 when the branch of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg became extinct (see Saxe-Altenburg). This was one of the most successful dynasties in 19th and 20th century Europe. Prince Leopold married the British heir Charlotte, daughter of George IV. She and their child however died in labour. Leopold was asked to become King of Greece, but eventually became King of Belgium in 1830. He ensured the marriage of his cousin Albert to Queen Victoria of Great Britain. Members of this influential dynasty also became Kings of Portugal (by marriage) and Bulgaria (see persons depicted on the homepage). King George V of Great Britain, a member of this House, changed his name to Windsor in 1917. Technically however Queen Elizabeth II is a member of the House of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha. Saxe-Coburg & Gotha was inherited by Arthur Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Victoria and Albert's son, and later by Charles-Edward, Duke of Albany, a grandson of Queen Victoria and Albert. The present King of the Belgians, Albert II is a representative of this dynasty.

11. The Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen

Another Wettin Duchy. It was enlarged in 1832 when the Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg branch became extinct. It received Saalfeld from the Coburgs and Hildburghaussen from the subsequent rulers of Saxe-Altenburg.

12. The Principality of Lippe

The country that gave us Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, husband of former Queen Juliana. Its dynasty of Lippe-Detmold became extinct in 1903. After a legal battle with the Prince of Schaumburg-Lippe, the collateral branch of the Counts of Lippe-Biesterfeld succeeded to the Principality. Bernhard was born a morganatic member of this House, his mother being a mere Baroness. He was originally known as Count of Biesterfeld. Only in 1917 Prince Leopold IV, made Bernhard a Prince with the right of succeeding to the Principality. He would however retain the suffix of Biesterfeld, discarded by the other members of the House, to mark his original morganatic status

13. The Principality of Schaumburg-Lippe

The original County of Schaumburg or Schauenburg, was divided between Lippe and Hesse, when its original dynasty became extinct in the 15th century (As you can see, the Hesse part is stil present on the east of the Principality) The Schauenburgs had also colonised Holstein, and given it to a collateral branch. The Schauenburg inheritance in Holstein fell to the House of Oldenburg by marriage. They used it as a steppingstone to gain the throne of Denmark. The Lippians gave their part of Schaumburg to a collateral branch that ruled the County and later Principality of Schaumburg-Lippe until 1918. Theoretically they never gave up their claim to Holstein, making the Schleswig-Holstein question (see the page on 1861 in the European-wide section) even more complicated.

14. The Principality of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt

Schwarzburg in Central and North Thuringia, was subdivided between the branches of Rudolstadt and Sondershaussen. It was not a Wettin land, like most of the Thuringian states. In 1909 the collateral branch of Sondershaussen became extinct, creating a united Principality of Schwarzburg.

15. The Principality of Schwarzburg-Sondershaussen

Schwarzburg in Central and North Thuringia, was subdivided between the branches of Rudolstadt and Sondershaussen. It was not a Wettin land, like most of the Thuringian states. In 1909 the collateral branch of Sondershaussen became extinct, creating a united Principality of Schwarzburg.

16. The Principality of Reuss zu Greiz

The Reuss Principalities were ruled by two branches of the House of Reuss. All male members of the House were traditionally called Henry (German: Heinrich) and were all (reigning or not) given a number. The Reuss Princes are often given the honour of having the highest regnal numbers in recorded history. This however is a fallacy. The numbers given to the Henrys are not regnal numbers. They are personal.

17. The Principality of Reuss zu Schleiz

The Reuss Principalities were ruled by two branches of the House of Reuss. All male members of the House were traditionally called Henry (German: Heinrich) and were all (reigning or not) given a number. The Reuss Princes are often given the honour of having the highest regnal numbers in recorded history. This however is a fallacy. The numbers given to the Henrys are not regnal numbers. They are personal.

18. The Principality of Waldeck & Pyrmont

The country that gave us the Duchess of Albany and Queen-Regent Emma of the Netherlands (sisters). It consisted originally of two counties. Waldeck, between Westphalia and Hesse-Cassel, and the Spa-resort of Pyrmont, between Lippe and Brunswick. Pyrmont was placed under the rule of the Prussian King in the 19th century, remaining only formally a part of Waldeck. The last reigning Prince gave up its rule over Waldeck to Prussia, remaining only a sovereign in name.

19. The Free City of Frankfurt on the Main

The only non Hanseatic Free City that survived in Germany after 1803. There were three Hanseatic Free cities, Hamburg, Bremen and Lübeck. Frankfurt was the scene of the 1848 Revolutionary Parliament that tried to enforce a new German Empire. In 1866 it was annexed by Prussia and added to the Province of Hesse-Nassau.