History Files


European Kingdoms

Central Europe




MapChatti (Hessians) (Germans)

Hesse's earliest recorded ancestors were the Chatten or Chatti, a Germanic folk who were in existence by the first century BC. They, along with the Cherusci, were the masters of Germania following the expulsion or absorption of the Celtic tribes and before Roman domination. They originated from Germanic migrants who had settled along the upper banks of the River Visurgis (Weser), the Moenus river valley (the modern Main), and the wooded Taunus highlands in between. This roughly covers areas of the modern German states of Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate.

Providing a definitive breakdown for the tribe's name is difficult because a precise definition for letter pronunciation shifts cannot be provided. The Edward Dawson model says that, with the Latin suffix of '-i' removed, the Chatti or 'Chat' name is really 'Khat'. The 'kh' corresponds to the modern German and Scottish 'ch' sound, as in 'ich' and 'loch' respectively. The word means 'anger' or 'hate'. So the tribe would have been 'the haters' or 'the angry'. The tribe may have been involved in some sort of feud or revolt against oppressors, perhaps, to have gained such a name.

But here is where the alternatives start. Vladimir Orel has *xataz ~ *xatez sb.m./n., which filters through as the Goth 'hatis', meaning ‘hatred, anger’, and many similar examples including the Old English 'hatr', all meaning hate or anger, with a relation to destruction. (The 'x' is the voiceless velar fricative.) Trish Wilson prefers an explanation that involves a change occurring through a second lingual shift, from 'c' to 'h' as in these examples from Latin/Germanic: 'captus/haflting', meaning 'prisoner' and ‘pisces/fisch', so it's clear that there has been a shift from 'p' to 'f'. Such a double change can also be seen in the 'l' to 'i' shift, 'flumen' to 'fiume', and 't' to 'z', used in Florentia becoming Fi(o)renze and in (Adriatic) Veneti becoming Veneziano.

The problem with providing a firm definition and also in showing how Chatti became Hessi revolves around how the 'c' (or 'ch') of Chatti (Catti) was pronounced. Was it a 'ch' as in much of Latin? Or a 'k' sound like some Latin and all Celtic? Or was it a 'kh' sound such as is used in modern German 'ch' and also in Scottish 'loch'? The shift is not tightly defined so until it is, the precise meaning of Chatti must remain relatively conjectural.

The Chattuarii may have been a branch of the Chatti (along with the Mattiaci). Their name breaks down into 'chatti' plus 'uari', which is the Gaulish word 'wiros' for 'man', the plural being 'wiri' which was adopted by German tribes. So Chattuari means 'Chatti men'. 'Chatti' gradually became 'Hessi', from which originates the modern state's name. The 't' to 'ss' shift occurs often enough in German, and can also be seen in the Boiocasses tribal name.

By the first century BC, a division of the Chatti had formed following an internal squabble (according to Tacitus). This splinter group became known as the Batavi, and it migrated to settle around the mouth of the Rhine, in the northernmost reaches of Celtic Belgae territory (in the modern Netherlands). Also noted both by Julius Caesar, they supplied several units to the Roman army. The Chatti themselves were not mentioned by Caesar by name, simply being lumped into the general Suevi collective. That collective became much stronger after Caesar's time, going on to become one of the most powerful opponents of the Romans during the first century AD. They defeated the powerful Cherusci and the other neighbouring tribes. In the second century AD, they were located close to the east bank of the Rhine, which became their traditional homeland. They were generally bordered to the east by the Hermunduri, and to the south by various other elements of the Suevi. Together with these groups they formed the Herminones, one of the five original groups of Germanics.

The capital of the Chatti was named by Roman writers as Mattium. It lay beyond the River Adrana (the modern Eder) and was destroyed by Germanicus in his campaigns of 12-9 BC. Despite being described by Tacitus its location was lost to history. General opinion believes it to have been located around modern Fritzlar, in the Schwalm-Eder district of northern Hesse, to the north of the Eder, but there are several potential sites in the region.

(Additional information by Edward Dawson and Trish Wilson, and from A Handbook of Germanic Etymology, Vladimir Orel.)

1st century BC?

Tacitus mentions the Batavi as a constituent part of the Chatti who are divided from them following an internal dispute. They migrate westwards before the first century AD, settling in what becomes the central Netherlands.

12 - 9 BC

Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus, stepson of Emperor Augustus, is appointed governor of the Rhine region of Gaul. He launches the first major Roman campaigns across the Rhine and begins the conquest of Germania. He starts with a successful campaign that subjugates the Sicambri. Later in the same year he leads a naval expedition along the North Sea coast, conquering the Batavi and the Frisii, and defeating the Chauci near the mouth of the Weser. In 11 BC, he conquers the Bructeri, Usipetes and Marsi, extending Roman control into the Upper Weser. In 10 BC, he launches a campaign against the Chatti and the resurgent Sicambri, subjugating both. The following year he conquers the Mattiaci, while also defeating the Marcomanni and Cherusci, the latter being taken care of near the Elbe. He is killed in a fall from his horse during his fourth campaign, and his death deprives Rome of one its best generals.

Teutoberger wald
The decimation of three legions in the Teutoberger wald was a massive humiliation for the Roman empire and caused the abandonment of plans to conquer Germania Magna

fl AD 9 - 19


King of the Chatti.

AD 9

Adgandestrius is part of the coalition of tribes which is led by Arminius of the Germanic Cherusci and which decimates three legions under Roman Governor Publius Quinctilius Varus. The disaster is a tremendous blow to Roman plans for expansion into Germania Magna, something from which they never entirely recover.


The Marsi role in resisting the Romans is short-lived. They are massacred by General Germanicus at the start of his invasion of northern Germany and an area of fifty Roman miles of Marsi territory is laid waste. Much of this land is later occupied by the Chatti and their Hessian descendants.


Adgandestrius asks for poison from Rome so that he might kill the Cherusci leader, Arminius. The request is refused on the grounds that it would be unsportsmanlike, although Rome is quite capable of being unsportsmanlike whenever it suits its own ends.


Strabo mentions the little-known Chattuarii as neighbours of the Chatti, placing them immediately to the east of the lower Rhine for the subsequent four centuries. The tribe's origins are unknown, and they seem not to be particularly migratory.


As recorded by Tacitus, the Hermunduri and Chatti fight a great battle. Each of them is vying for control of the rich salt-producing river which flows between them. Besides their passion for settling everything by force, Tacitus says, they hold a religious conviction that this region is close to heaven so that men's prayers receive ready access. In the battle, the Chatti are defeated with a disastrous result. In the event of victory, both sides have vowed their enemies to the gods Tiu (Tyr) and Wotan (Wodan). The vow implies the sacrifice of the entire defeated side with their horses and all their possessions. Similar German post-battle rituals have been discovered in first century AD Jutland.

69 - 70

Gaius Julius Civilis leads a Batavian insurrection against a Rome which is distracted by the events of the Year of the Four Emperors. He is supported by the Bructeri, Canninefates, Chauci, Cugerni, and Tencteri, while the Sinuci are also mentioned as a people who live in the region (although their involvement in the revolt is uncertain). The tribes send reinforcements and Civilis is initially successful. Castra Vetera is captured and two Roman legions are lost, while two others fall into the hands of the rebels. In AD 70 the Chatti, Mattiaci, and Usipetes join in, besieging the legionary fortress at Mogontiacum (modern Mainz).

Eventual Roman pressure, with aid from the Mediomatrici, Sequani, and Tungri, forces Civilis to retreat to the Batavian island where he agrees peace terms with General Quintus Petilius Cerialis. His subsequent fate is unknown, but the Batavi are treated with great consideration by Emperor Vespasian. During the revolt, the Roman fortress ceases to be used (for obvious reasons) and the Oppidum Batavorum is razed.

The Gaulish and Germanic Batavian revolt of AD 69-70 was a major contributor to the instability experienced in the Roman empire during the 'Year of Four Emperors'


Around this year, Rome establishes two provinces on the border territory between Gaul and Germania Magna, calling them Germania Superior and Germania Inferior. The latter has contained Roman settlements for over a century, and had previously formed part of Gallica Belgica. Cities such as Aachen, Cologne, Mainz, Speyer, Trier, and Worms are all founded within these provinces by Rome and all of them become important medieval cities. Domitian also antagonises the Germanic tribes by driving back the Chatti from these new provinces at the River Taunus. All this appears to do is stir up the tribe to provide further opposition to the Romans on their western flank.


Two legions of Domitian's armies in Germania Superior at Mogontiacum (Mainz) revolt under L Antoninus Saturninus, for reasons that are largely lost to history (thanks to the later destruction of Saturninus' personal documents). The revolt is supported by the Chatti tribe. It is quite plausible that the officers involved rebel against Domitian's rather strict moral policies. Whatever goal Saturninus has is completely unknown and there seems to be little indication of a plan. The Roman governor of Germania Inferior puts down the revolt, seemingly before it even begins.


The Roman writer Tacitus mentions a large number of tribes in Greater Germania, which includes the Chatti. He states that their settlements begin at the Hercynian Forest (known to the Greeks as Orcynia - the modern Black Forest forms its western part), where the country is not so open and marshy as in the other cantons into which Germany stretches.

Hercynian Forest
The Riesengebirge was part of the once-vast Hercynian Forest which spread eastwards from southern Germany and which proved a serious impediment to Roman expansion

The Chatti are to be are found on the edges of the forest, and are "noted for their hardy frames, close-knit limbs, fierce countenances, and a peculiarly vigorous courage. For Germans, they have much intelligence and sagacity; they promote their picked men to power, and obey those whom they promote; they keep their ranks, note their opportunities, check their impulses, portion out the day, entrench themselves by night, regard fortune as a doubtful, valour as an unfailing, resource; and what is most unusual, and only given to systematic discipline, they rely more on the general than on the army. Their whole strength is in their infantry which, in addition to its arms, is laden with iron tools and provisions. Other tribes you see going to battle, the Chatti to a campaign. Seldom do they engage in mere raids and casual encounters. It is indeed the peculiarity of a cavalry force quickly to win and as quickly to yield a victory. Fleetness and timidity go together; deliberateness is more akin to steady courage".

By this time, Cherusci numbers and fighting ability have been dented through unsuccessful warfare against the Chatti. This point signals their eclipse and eventual absorption by other tribes.

162 - 170

The Chatti continue to trouble the Romans, raiding Roman territory in 162 and 170.

3rd century

By now elements of the Ampsivarii, Batavi, Bructeri, Chamavi, Chatti, Chattuarii, Cherusci, Salii, Sicambri, Tencteri, Tubantes, and Usipetes have formed the Franks, one of several West Germanic federations. They are largely to be found occupying territory on the Lower Rhine Valley, on the east bank, in what is now northern Belgium and the southern Netherlands), a region that has come to be known as Francia. The main body of Chatti remain located along the eastern bank of the Rhine, from where they mount yet another raid into Roman territory in 213.


In the late fourth century, Sulpicius Alexander writes a history of Germanic tribes that has since been lost but which has been quoted by Gregory of Tours. One of those quotes relates that Arbogast, the Frankish-born magister militum of the Western Roman empire, attacks the Franks across the Rhine, wreaking havoc amongst them. While there he sights on a distant hill a force containing Ampsivarii and Chatti under the control of Marcomer, king of the Salian Franks. The two forces do not engage.


FeatureThe formal partition of the Roman empire into the Eastern and Western sections is undertaken by Honorius and Arcadian. An official register of all the offices, other than municipal, which exist in the Roman empire at this time is compiled in the Notitia Dignitatum. A formation of Ampsivarii are mentioned as the Ampsiuarii unit of Palatine auxiliaries. This appears to be the last mention of the tribe in history before they appear to be subsumed by the Franks as a whole and by the Chatti in particular, probably with elements in both camps.


The main body of Chattuarii have probably remained to the east of the Rhine until this period. They are still neighboured to the east by the Chatti and to the south of the Bructeri. At this point they cross with the bulk of the Franks and settle between the Meuse and the west bank of the Rhine.

Citadel of Namur
The Meuse valley, shown here at the citadel of Namur, formed the western border for the Chattuarii following their crossing of the Rhine

496 - 505

MapThe Franks conquer the Alemanni at the Battle of Tolbiac in 496, although the victory is a narrow one. An Alemannic uprising in 505 is defeated and the kingdom is drawn directly within the Frankish kingdom. Any independence the Alemanni may have enjoyed after 496 is now lost. The region comes to be known by the less tribal and more formal name of Alemannia.

These events probably cause some Alemanni to drift south-eastwards where they form part of the Bavarii confederation. Back at home, the hilltop settlements of the Alemannic nobility are abandoned and their cemeteries fall into disuse, and it is this Alemannic drift that effectively removed the Chatti from their confederation. At the same time, strategically situated settlements of Frankish warriors and their entourages emerge in the sixth and seventh centuries, as the Franks impose their own governance on the region.

The Frankish Conradine family establishes itself as a leading noble house in the Lahngau (later a key location in the founding of Hesse). The Conradines maintain close familial relationships with the later Carolingians and Robertians. The early church also plays a key role in the management of the Lahngau. At this time the only existing monastery is that of St Lubentius in Dietkirchen (probably founded in the sixth century), although its first written mention is only in 841.


The Germanic Chattuarii appear to be named in both of the Old English texts, Beowulf and the Widsith list, as the Hætwerum (Hetwaras). They are bordered on their eastern flank by the Chatti. This group has been largely anonymous to Roman writers since the late third century, prompting some speculation that they have merged with other groups to form the Alemanni. This is possible, of course, but the fact that the Chatti re-emerge later (as the Hessi) suggests that they retain their identity within any such groupings.


St Boniface, 'Apostle of the Germans', fells the sacred oak of the Thuringians at Gaesmere (modern Geismar) to symbolise the abolition of their paganism, and they are converted to Christianity en masse. The Chatti are included amongst this group of Germans to be so converted, perhaps better known by now as Hessi.


A letter is written by Pope Gregory III which is sent to 'Bonifatius', St Boniface. In the letter, the pope refers to the populous as Hassiorum, the 'folk of Hessen'. That folk of Hessen are emerging into history as a series of small counties that are eventually joined together to form Hesse.


The Chatti of the first century AD gradually became the Hessi of the Middle Ages (Medieval Latin 'Hassia'). The first recorded entry of a location within Hesse's territory dates from AD 782. The town mentioned was Eberstadt, then called Eberstadt im Rheingau, where a certain Walther, along with his wife, Williswinde, gave their entire property to the Lorsch Convent (Eberstadt has since been absorbed by the city of Darmstadt). The first mention of Kassel is from AD 913, where it was referred to as Cassala (originating from the Latin Castellum Cattorum, meaning 'Castle of the Chatti').

The territory was divided during the period of the Frankish empire into several gaue, meaning 'districts' in English, these being Saxon Hessengau, Frankish Hessengau (Fritzlar and Kassel, to the south of the Saxon Hessengau), Buchonia, and Lahngau (to the south and south-west of the Hessengau), and these were ruled over by counts (grafen). Under the weakened successors of Charlemagne the counts gradually become less responsible officials and more feudal lords, and the Frankish family of the Conradines played an important role in the early development of Hesse, especially in the Lahngau. Records are patchy in places, making it hard to reconstruct the story of early Hesse's rise, but all of the important dates have been included here. The church acquired much landed property in the region, and secular Hesse became parcelled up into numerous pockets of territory.

Most prominent amongst the Hessian nobility in the tenth and eleventh centuries were the Gisos, the counts of Gudensberg. The daughter of the fourth Giso count married Count Louis I of Thuringia (1122). In 1130 he was raised to the rank of landgrave and recognised as overlord by the Hessians, uniting Hesse and Thuringia between 1130-1247. The male line of Thuringia became extinct with Henry Raspe (the brother-in-law of St Elizabeth of Thuringia) in 1247, so the Hessians selected Henry of Brabant (grandson of Elizabeth) as landgrave. Hesse was separated from Thuringia and after struggling against rival claimants, it was recognised as independent.

FeatureThe English form of the name is Hesse, while the German form is Hessen. For sake of clarity, the English 'Hesse' is used here to refer to the state in its singular form, while the divided states hold their German-form names. The Lahngau which forms the earliest domains of the eventual rulers of Hesse was a medieval territory that comprised the middle and lower Lahn river valley (now in the German states of Hesse and part of the Rhineland-Palatinate. This area was traditionally known as Loganahe Pagus or Pagus Logenensis. This betrays the region's Roman influence, as the descriptive Latin pagenses was the Roman equivalent of a district council. In at least one case this was adopted as the name of a Post-Roman territory, the Pagenses of Britain.

(Additional information by Trish Wilson, and from Historisches Lexikon der deutschen Länder (Historical Dictionary of German States), Gerhard Köbler, 1995, from Die Hollende bei Wetter (Hessen)-Warzenbach. Führungsblatt zu der Burg der Grafen Giso im Kreis Marburg-Biedenkopf, Christa Meiborg, Archäologische Denkmäler in Hessen, Issue 157, from The Annals of Fulda (Manchester Medieval Series, Ninth-Century Histories, Volume II) Timothy Reuter (Trans) 1992, and from Grafengeschlecht der Gisonen und die Burg Hollende bei Treisbach (Giso Counts and Castle Hollende at Treisbach), available from External Link: Wanderfreunde Treisbach, and information also from External Links: Saints, and Fab Genealogy, and from Pastoraler Raum Dietkirchen (in German).)

c.750? - 779?


Unnamed. Count in the Lahngau at some point in this period.


Adaltrud is the widow of the unnamed count in the Lahngau. At some point between the two dates given above she grants to Fulda Abbey various plots of land in Buchen, Meinlinten, Neistenbach, and Selters. If this occurs close to 779 then the act probably takes place after her husband's death, given the fact that Conrad is count in the Lahngau in 772.

River Lahn
The River Lahn ran through the gau or district of the same name, forming an important part of the origins of medieval Hesse

772 & 773


Count in the Lahngau on these dates. Founder of the Conradines.


The first recorded entry of a location within Hesse's territory dates from this year. The town mentioned is Eberstadt, called at the time Eberstadt im Rheingau, where a certain Walther, along with his wife, Williswinde, give their entire property to the Lorsch Convent. 'Rheingau' would mean the Rhine district, a 'gau' being an official term for the various districts within Frankish Germany at this time. Each gau is administered by a count ('graf').

? -821


Count in the Lahngau.


Mentioned only once, Adrian is otherwise a mystery. His death in 821 means that he is succeeded by Udo the Elder and that his widow, Waltrat, grants property in Bermbach, Feldum, and Stetim. The grant is almost certainly to an abbey and is made with the consent of a certain Uto (could this be a misreading of Udo, the new count?).

821 - 826

Udo the Elder / Udo / Eudes I

Son of Count Odo of Orléans? Count in the Lahngau.


Udo's time as count of Lahngau ends in 826, and in 828 he succeeds his father as count of Orléans.

826? - 879

Gebhard of Logenahe

Son? Count of Nieder-Lahngau.

? - 860?

Conrad I of Logenahe



Gebhard is a 'leading man of the [Eastern] Franks' and brother-in-law to Ernest, margrave of the Bavarian Nordgau. He may also be the son of Odo I, count of Orléans if he is identical with Udo the Elder, count of the Lahngau until 826. However, given the dates, he may instead be Odo's grandson.

In this year, 838, he becomes allied to Poppo of Grapfeld and Archbishop Otgar of Mainz against the rebellious Louis the German. The intention is to support Frankish Emperor Louis the Pious, a cause which is largely successful.

841 - 845

Along with the rest of the Hessi lands, the Lahngau has been governed by the Franks since their conquest of the Alemanni in 496. Following this the Frankish Conradine family had established themselves here, later becoming important political players. Around the time of their arrival the only existing monastery had been that of St Lubentius in Dietkirchen (probably founded in the sixth century). Its first written mention dates to 841, when it is described as being a 'monasterium' (a hermitage). The church's own information gives a date of 730 for the founding of the first stone church and its extension in 838 to take the bones of St Lubentius.

St Lubentius Dietkirchen Church
The modern St Lubentius Dietkirchen Church is largely a tenth and eleventh century rebuild of the original eighth and ninth century stone church

In 845 Count Gebhard founds the St Severus Abbey in the Kettenbach which, later in his own lifetime, moves its base to Gemünden.


The first count of Franconia appears, one Bogo. The new territory of Franconia is one of several stem duchies which forms out of the slow but inevitable collapse of the Carolingian empire.


The death of Louis the German results in his territory being divided between his three sons. This is something that he had already foreseen, and portions of territory had been appointed to each of them in 865. Now in a peaceful succession, Carloman inherits Bavaria and the Ostmark, Louis the Younger gains Franconia (which includes the Hessi territories), Saxony, and Thuringia, while Charles the Fat succeeds to Rhaetia and Swabia. As the oldest son, Carloman also retains de facto dominance over the Eastern Franks as a whole.

This could be the point at which Saxon Hessengau passes to Franconia. It is also the point at which a clear nobility begins to emerge in the future Hesse. For now the concept of a single state by that name does not exist - instead the region is a patchwork of minor lordships and counties. The most important in terms of their descendants are the Hessians of the Wetterau, the counts of the Lahngau.

881 - 882

Charles the Fat succeeds as titular head of the Frankish empire, holding the position as Emperor Charles III. He is crowned by Pope John VIII. In the following year, 882, Louis the Younger dies and Charles, as the last remaining of the three brothers, inherits his territories of Bavaria, Franconia, Saxony, and Thuringia, thereby reuniting East Francia following its division in 876.

? - 886?

Udo / Eudes II of Logenahe

Son of Gebhard. Count in the Lahngau.

Berengar of Neustria

Brother. Count in the Hessengau.


Brother. Abbot of St Maximin.


Brother. Archbishop of Trier.

886 - 906

Conrad the Elder

Son of Udo of Neustria. Count of Oberlahngau. Duke of Thuringia.

886 - 906

Conrad the Elder, duke of Thuringia (temporarily from 892) is the son of Udo of Neustria. His mother is most likely to be a daughter of Conrad I of Logenahe (832-860). Conrad also becomes a count of the Oberlahngau in 886, Hessengau in 897, Gotzfeldgau in 903, Wetterau in 905, and Wormsgau in 906. In gaining all these titles he unites all of the lands of the Hessi and their immediate neighbours under a single political control, creating a bastion of the duchy of Franconia and an entity that will evolve into the landgraviate of Hesse.

Fritzlar in Hesse
The Conradine success at the Battle of Fritzlar in Frankish Hessengau saw them reach the peak of their power, although this depiction of Fritzlar dates from the seventeenth century

In 906 the Conradines defeat the Babenberg counts at the Battle of Fritzlar and establish themselves as dukes of Franconia. Conrad the Elder is killed in the battle. His son, Conrad the Younger succeeds him.


Lahngau is divided into the Upper and Lower Lahngau (which, in the original German, are the Oberlahngau and Niederlahngau  - or Unterlahngau - respectively). The date is unclear, although it happens by about 900, but Conrad the Elder's acquisition of the county of Oberlahngau in 886 could be when it takes place, either divided for him or because of him.

The exact boundary line between Oberlahngau and Niederlahngau has not survived. Theory suggests that it lay approximately around the watershed between the Solmsbach and Weil rivers to the east of Weilburg. In 1894 Christian Spielmann noted that 'Weilburg lay in the Niederlahngau. It extended from about the Nister to the Pfahlgraben and from the Gelbach and Aar westwards to the Ulmbach and eastwards to Weil'. Others have suggested that the border lay more to the west of Weilburg, perhaps around the watershed between the Kerkerbach and Elbbach.

? - 910

Gebhard of the Wetterau

Son of Udo. First Count of the Wetterau? Duke of Lotharingia.

903 - 910

Gebhard of the Wetterau is confirmed as duke of Lotharingia by Louis the Child, king of Germany, in 903. He is killed in 910 in battle against the Magyars, somewhere in the region of Augsburg. His eldest son is Herman, who becomes duke of Swabia in 926. His younger son succeeds him as count of the Wetterau (from 914) and succeeds Eberhard as count of Oberlahngau (presumably in 918).

910 - 914

Other Conradine ecclesiastical foundations follow the creation of the St Severus Abbey in 845, these being St George in Limburg in 910, St Walpurgis Abbey in Weilburg in 912, and St Mary's Abbey in Wetzlar in 914/915. The last, at Wetzlar, may at least be to honour the slain Gebhard, especially as it is founded by his son, Udo IV.


The first mention of Kassel dates to this year, where it is referred to as Cassala, the name originating as Castellum Cattorum, the 'castle of the Chatti'. The location defends a crossing on the River Fulda. A Hessian nobility is also beginning to emerge by this time, although it apparently plays no major role in the region's politics until the twelfth century.

914 - 949

Udo IV of the Wetterau / Eldo / Othon

Son of Gebhard. Count of Wetterau (914) & Oberlahngau (918?).

918 - 939


Brother of Conrad the Younger. Count of Oberlahngau.

918 - 939

The precise line of succession for Oberlahngau and Wetterau is far from clear. Records are patchy in places and often only dates of death are known. It seems that the main Conradine line holds sway while it survives, with both Conrad the Younger and Eberhard holding titles before giving way to a more minor branch of the family in the form of the descendants of Gebhard of the Wetterau. Eberhard is count of Hessengau and Persgau from 913, becoming count of Oberlahngau in 918. He also becomes a margrave in 914-918, and duke of Franconia until 939.

The Wetterau formed an important part in the creation of early Hesse, although it lay to the north, immediately beyond Frankfurt and outside the core Hessian lands

939 - 949

The rebellious dukes Gilbert II of Maasgau, duke of Lorraine, and Eberhard of Franconia loot the counties of Udo IV of the Wetterau (or Odo) and his nephew Conrad of Niederlahngau. Their force is so large that Udo and Conrad are unable to resist them. But then the rebel dukes re-cross the Rhine at Andernach on 2 October in order to return to Lorraine and Udo and Conrad take the opportunity that has been presented to them.

The Battle of Andernach takes place with Gilbert and Eberhard still on the east bank of the Rhine and the bulk of their forces already across. Udo and Conrad attack and defeat them, killing Eberhard while Gilbert drowns when trying to escape. Their deaths allow Otto I, king of Germany, to restore order and show his favour to Udo. He succeeds Conrad as count of Niederlahngau in 949.


The lands of the Gisonen and their immediate ancestors, beginning with Udo IV, are mainly in the upper Lahn area (Oberlahngau in German), which seem to have increased since the time of Eudes of Lahngau. They rule small areas of Hesse alongside the far more powerful counts of Lower Hesse - this becomes northern Hesse. The latter are shown in green to differentiate them from the Gisonen.



Origins unknown. Mention as Count of Oberlahngau in this year.

? - 978?


Son of Udo IV. Count of Oberlahngau.

The records make it hard to be certain, but it seems that Count Meginfred marries Kunigunde or Cunigundis de Vermandois. She is the daughter of a Carolingian noble called Herbert or Hubert, otherwise known as Herbert I, count of Soissons, Meaux, and Vermandois until his murder in 902.

? - 987?


Son. Count of Oberlahngau.



Mentioned as Count of Oberlahngau. Count of Niederlahngau?

? - c.1000?

Werner I

Count of Lower Hesse.


Following the death of Count Werner of Lower Hesse (an area of northern Hesse), the Gisonen inherit his significant amount of territory. This makes them a powerful regional family that takes over as the county's titular heads, largely based at their ancestral seat of Hollende Castle. While they are often referred to as the Hollenden counts thanks to the castle's name, they are more correctly known as the Gudensberg counts (the 'Comes de Udenesberc' in Latin).

They seem to be descended from the Conradines, but are not themselves of that house, suggesting a connection by marriage or a change of name for this branch due to circumstances, perhaps the marriage of Meginfred to the daughter of a Carolingian noble. Giso I is also referred to as having been 'Count of Maden', with a family seat in Odernburg (Gudenberg near Fritzlar, within Frankish Hessengau). The names of the counts are largely known, but their order of succession is relatively unclear. They become advocates of the HRE thanks to Emperor Henry II in 1015.

A general view of Gudensberg, with the Castle Hill prominent, and Fritzlar in the background from the Sciographia Cosmica, printed between 1637-1678

? - 1008?

Giso I

Son of Thiemo. Count of Oberlahngau & Gudensberg (c.1000?).



Mentioned as Count of Oberlahngau. Count of Niederlahngau?


With the death of Holy Roman Emperor Henry II, the empire is administered by his widow, Cunigunde (Kundigunde) of Luxemburg. She has long been politically active at Henry's side and now, with the assistance of her brothers, Dietrich and Heinrich, she manages the regency period for about two months until the vacancy on the throne is filled by Conrad the Salian. Cunigunde hands over the imperial jewels to Conrad as a symbol of her legitimacy in office before retiring to Kaufungen Abbey, which she had previously founded in Wetter in Hesse.

? - 1040

Werner III of Maden

Count of Maden? Count of Gudensberg.


Giso II

Son or grandson of Giso I? Count of Gudensberg.

al 1049 - 1073?

Giso III

Son or brother? Count of Gudensberg.

1070 - 1073

Duke Otto II of Bavaria is intent on extending the duchy. This brings him into conflict with HRE Henry IV who covets the same lands on his southern border. A dubious charge of plotting to assassinate the emperor is levelled against him by Count Giso II and Adalbert of Schauenburg, probably with the emperor's full knowledge. Otto is deposed as duke of Bavaria, deprived of his Saxon lands, and pronounced an outlaw. At Pentecost in 1071 he submits to Henry who has him arrested until July 1072. Then he is released and his personal domains returned to him - but not his extensive fiefs. In 1073 his followers murder Count Giso and Adalbert.

? - 1121

Werner IV

Count of Maden & Gudensberg. Died without a male heir.


As the Imperial standard-bearer, the future Giso IV marries Kunigunde, daughter of Count Rugger II of Bilstein. Through this union he gains widespread property and vogtship (advocate) rights from the counts of Bilstein. His first mention in history occurs in 1099 as the son of Countess Matilda in her first marriage (either to Giso II or Giso III, although which is unclear). He often acts in close collaboration with the current count of Maden and Gudensberg, Werner IV. Giso succeeds Werner, probably on the basis of his marriage to Kunigunde.

1121 - 1122

Giso IV

Son of Giso II or III. Count of Gudensberg & Upper Lahngau.


Still most prominent amongst the Hessian nobility in the tenth and eleventh centuries are the Gisos, the counts of Gudensberg. It is at this time (1121) that the town of Gudensberg itself receives its first direct mention in history. Wotan mountain can be derived from this mention, an indication of the worship of the Chatti's chief god. A castle had been built here, on Castle Hill, which had already become the seat of the Hessian counts.

Gudensberg and Castle Hill
To contrast with the above seventeenth century illustration of Gudensberg and Castle Hill, this modern photo shows the area not to be too greatly changed

The daughter of Giso IV is Hedwig of Gudensberg (1098-1148). She now marries the soon-to-be Count Louis III of Thuringia. The widowed Kunigunde of Bilstein, Hedwig's mother, remarries, this time to Henry Raspe I (younger brother of Louis).

1122 - 1137

Giso V

Son (a minor). Count of Gudensberg.

1122 - 1123

Kunigunde of Bilstein

Mother and regent. Remarried to Henry Raspe I.


Following the death of Giso V, Landgrave Louis I of Thuringia inherits his title and lands thanks to his marriage to Giso's sister, Hedwig, and his brother's marriage to Hedwig's mother, Kunigunde of Bilstein. Louis effectively becomes the most powerful Hessian noble as a result, holding the position of bailiff of Hersfeld Abbey, and territory that includes a large proportion of the lordship of Bilstein; the bailiwick of Wetter and the Gisonen lands to the north of Marburg; and the inherited territories of the counts of Werner (Lower Hesse) following the end of their line in 1121, which also include the county of Maden-Gudensberg, and the position of bailiff of the abbeys of Breitenau and Hasungen, and Fritzlar Cathedral. It seems likely that Henry Raspe I administers his brother's Hessian lands from this point onwards, having already done so as regent for Giso V.

? - 1140

Louis I

Landgrave of Thuringia (1130) & Count of Gudensberg.

Henry Raspe I

Younger brother. Administrator for Hessen territories?


Count Louis III is raised to the rank of landgrave as Louis I, and his Thuringia is recognised as overlord by the Hessians. This unites Hesse and Thuringia from 1130-1247, clearly to the detriment of Hesse's traditional link with Franconia.

1140 - 1172

Louis II the Iron

Landgrave of Thuringia & Count of Gudensberg.

Henry Raspe II

Younger brother and administrator for Hessen territories.


While acting as regent for her son, Louis II of Thuringia, Hedwig of Gudensberg founds Ahnaberg Abbey in Kassel. Support for this act comes from her younger son, Henry Raspe II, who is managing the administration of Thuringia's holdings in Hesse.

1172 - 1190

Louis III the Mild

Landgrave of Thuringia & Count of Gudensberg.

? - 1217

Henry Raspe III

Younger brother and administrator for Hessen territories.


A deed that is dated to this year confirms that the growing settlement of Kassel has gained city rights at an unknown point after 913.

1190 - 1216

Herman I

Landgrave of Thuringia & Count of Gudensberg.

1196 - 1247

Franconia gradually collapses, along with large swathes of other German stem duchies. It is broken up into several smaller states which include the semi-independent Hesse and Nassau, with the district administrators, the counts (grafs), assuming more and more regional responsibility and authority.

1216 - 1227

Louis IV the Pious

Landgrave of Thuringia & Count of Gudensberg.

1227 - 1241

Herman II

Landgrave of Thuringia & Count of Gudensberg.

1231 - 1241

With the death of St Elizabeth of Thuringia, Louis' widow, Henry Raspe is able to assume unquestioned control of Thuringia as its regent. His nephew, the young Herman II, dies ten years later, never having ruled himself. Henry is numbered IV as he follows three previous uncles as (joint) count of Gudensberg with their respective brothers. While the latter had fulfilled the role of landgrave of Thuringia, the Raspes had always administered the family's Hessian lands.

1241 - 1247

Henry Raspe IV

Brother-in-law of Elizabeth of Thuringia. No male heir.

1241 - 1234

Conrad Raspe

Younger brother and administrator for Hessen territories.


The male line of Thuringia becomes extinct with the death of Henry Raspe (the brother-in-law of St Elizabeth of Thuringia). Henry's younger brother, Conrad, has already relinquished his own titles in Hesse to join the Teutonic Knights (in 1234) and become their head (in 1239). Hesse is guided by his niece, Duchess Sophia, but his death triggers the War of the Thuringian Succession.

Duchess Sophia of Brabant
Duchess Sophia led the fight to secure the various Hessian lands as a unified landgraviate for her son, Henry of Brabant, otherwise known as Henry the Child due to his young age

1247 - 1263

Duchess Sophia of Thuringia

Niece of Henry Raspe. Established the landgraviate from 1247.

1247 - 1263

With the death of Henry Raspe, Duchess Sophia, his niece, now steers Hesse towards becoming a semi-independent landgraviate. The Hessians are able to select Henry of Brabant (grandson of Elizabeth and son of Sophia and her husband, Henry II of Brabant) as their first landgrave, but following a heavy defeat at Besenstedt (near Wettin) in October 1263, Sophie has to admit failure in securing the remainder of Thuringia for her son. That passes to the March of Meissen, and through this it eventually becomes part of the electorate Saxony when the Wettins gain the ducal title (1423). Hesse is separated from Thuringia and is eventually recognised as independent.

Landgraves of Hesse
AD 1263 - 1500

Ruled by the Ydulfings, the capital of this new landgraviate was usually Marburg, with a co-ruler or sub-ruler based in the lesser town of Kassel. This was at a time when German knights were crusading not only on the Holy Land but also in the Baltics and Eastern Europe, as shown by the origins of the first grand masters of the Livonian Knights.

Until the middle of the thirteenth century, Hesse had firmly been part of the landgraviate of Thuringia. The death of the last of the Ludowinger dynasty of landgraves, Henry Raspe, gave his niece, Sophie of Thuringia, the opportunity to gain the title for her own son. Sophie's own brother, Herman II, should have been landgrave himself but had been dominated by Henry Raspe and died young, without having assumed power. Sophie did her best to secure all of Thuringia between 1247-1263 and, once it became clear that she would be unable to gain the core of Thuringia itself, she was able to steer Hesse towards becoming a semi-independent landgraviate in its own right. The Hessians were able to select Sophie's son, Henry of Brabant, as their first landgrave and Thuringia was effectively split in two. Hesse was eventually recognised as being independent.

1263 - 1298

Henry I the Child, Prince of the Empire

Son of Duchess Sophia. First head of the House of Ydulfing.

1264 - 1265

The division of Thuringia is accepted by Sophie's cousin and main rival for the landgraviate, Henry the Illustrious, margrave of Meissen. The other main rival, the archbishop of Mainz, also accepts Henry the Child as landgrave of Hesse in the Treaty of Langsdorf but maintains his own position of supremacy over Henry. Henry acquires part of the county of Gleiberg with Giessen (Gießen) from the counts palatine of Tübingen. In later Hesse, Giessen forms a central region between Kassel in the north and Darmstadt in the south, but for now Hesse is centred around its capital at Marburg and the town of Kassel.

Alte Schloss, Giessen, Hesse
Hesse gained Giessen as part of the settlement of 1265, and construction of the Alte Schloss (the old castle) began in 1350 with the building surviving to the present day


Henry gains the title 'Prince of the Empire' (reichsfürst) from Holy Roman Emperor Adolph of Nassau-Weilburg. This makes Hesse an imperial principality, part of the empire itself, and frees it from the control of the archbishops of Mainz. Henry is entitled to vote in the Reichstag, although his title of landgrave places him in the sixth rank of princes, below the king, grand dukes, dukes, margraves, and counts in order of superiority.

Along with his new position, Henry gains Eschwege and the Boyneburg (with Sontra), increasing Hesse's landholding. With the use of some wily diplomacy he subsequently adds to this the cities of Grebenstein, Immenhausen, Kaufungen, Reinhardswald, Sooden-Allendorf, Staufenberg, Trendelburg, Wanfried, and Witzenhausen.

Unfortunately, Henry's second marriage in 1274 now leads to conflict. His new wife demands an equal inheritance for her sons by him, John and Louis. Henry's sons by his first marriage, Henry the Younger and Otto, object, unwilling to divide their own inheritance. This leads to a rumble of civil war that lasts for the rest of the landgrave's lifetime.


Henry dies with the succession problem still unresolved. He is buried in St Elisabeth's Church in Marburg, which will be used by his successors for several more centuries. A resolution is finally reached by means of division. Hesse is sub-divided into its two main constituent parts, with Otto gaining the principle section around Marburg as Oberhessen (Upper Hesse) and John gaining the secondary seat around Kassel as Niederhessen (Lower Hesse). Holders of subsidiary territory are shown in green.

1298 - 1328

Otto the Elder

Son. Landgrave in Oberhessen, based at Marburg (until 1311).

1298 - 1311


Brother. Landgrave in Niederhessen, based at Kassel.


John is required to conquer the city of Gudensberg after Hesse's mortgaging of it to the duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg. Duke Albert II of Brunswick-Göttingen is forced to accept John's repayment of the debt. Subsequently, Holy Roman Emperor Henry VII of Luxemburg appoints him protector of the free imperial cities of Goslar, Mühlhausen, and Nordhausen, but Margrave Frederick I of Meissen views this as an intrusion into Thuringia which he now rules. Frederick goes mobilises his forces to prevent this perceived intrusion, and John is forced to retire to Kassel.


John dies of plague, allowing Otto to reunite the two halves of Hesse. He now rules over Alsfeld, Giessen, Grünberg, Marburg (all within Oberhassen), Eder, the region south of Fulda, Homberg (Efze), Kassel, Melsungen, Rotenburg an der Fulda, Schwalm, Werra, and the upper Weser (all parts of Niederhessen). Otto now divides his time between Marburg and Kassel.

1328 - 1377

Henry II the Iron

Son of Otto. Landgrave in Oberhessen.

1328 - 1343

Ludwig / Louis I (II) the Junker

Brother. In the castle and district of Grubenstein.

1328 - 1367

Herman I the Elder

Brother. In the castle and district of Nordeck.


Otto the Younger

Son of Henry II Predeceased his father.

1377 - 1413

Herman II the Learned

Son of Ludwig II. Adopted by Henry II at his father's death.

1413 - 1458

Ludwig / Louis II (III) the Peaceful

Son. Landgrave in Niederhessen at Kassel.

1425 - 1427

The electorate of Mainz claims that it should control Hesse. The claim quickly results in open conflict until Archbishop Conrad III of Mainz suffers a decisive defeat at Fulda in 1427.

St Martin and St Stephen, Mainz
The archbishopric of Mainz from its seat in the spectacular six-towered Catholic Cathedral of St Martin and St Stephen (seen here in 1840) claimed supremacy over Hesse thanks to its dominance of the region prior to the landgraviate's creation


Hesse is greatly enlarged following a division of territory within the Holy Roman empire. It is now centred on the city of Kassel and the new ruler, Ludwig, creates a sub-landgraviate for his younger brother, Henry. This is based around the old capital at Hessen-Marburg which has now been relegated in importance. Ludwig remains the senior landgrave in Hesse.

1458 - 1471

Ludwig / Louis III (IV) the Frank

Son. Niederhessen in Kassel (now without Hessen-Marburg).

1471 - 1493

William I the Elder

Son. Landgrave of Niederhessen in Kassel. Died 1515.

1471 - 1500

William II the Intermediate

Brother. Landgrave of Niederhessen in Kassel. Elevated to duke.

1491 - 1493

William the Elder goes on pilgrimage to Jerusalem. On his journey he contracts an illness (possibly syphilis). He abdicates his title in favour of his co-ruling brother and lives in self-imposed exile in the town of Spangenberg in north-eastern Hesse.


William III the Younger of Hessen-Marburg dies without having produced a male heir. With his cousin dead, William the Intermediate is now sole landgrave in all of Hesse. He reunifies Hesse's divided territories to form a single, elevated duchy of Hesse.

Dukes of Hesse
AD 1500 - 1567

Hesse was a single, unified and enlargened state from 1500. The main body of its territory was comprised of various regions east of Nassau, and between the River Lippe to the north and just below the Maine in the south.

1500 - 1509

William II the Intermediate

Formerly Landgrave William II. d.1515.

1509 - 1567

Philip I the Magnanimous / Generous

Son. State divided between his four sons.

1546 - 1547

Holy Roman Emperor Charles V sees the tide of conversions to Protestant rites as a move by the many princes and lords of the empire to gain more autonomy from imperial governance. Many of them, organised by Elector John Frederick I of Saxony and Duke Philip I of Hesse, had formed the Schmalkaldic League when meeting at the town of Schmalkalden in Thuringia in 1531. Now that Charles has returned from his war in Italy, the two sides concentrate their forces, with Charles intent on destroying the Protestant league. Elector John is distracted by his cousin, Duke Maurice of Saxe-Meissen, invading his lands in Ernestine Saxony, and ultimately the league is defeated. John is captured and forced to sign the Capitulation of Wittenberg, losing both his status as an elector and some of his lands to Maurice.


Philip is one of the political leaders of the Reformation. This is the only time Hesse plays a role of great importance in the Reich (empire - in this case the Austrian-dominated Holy Roman empire which covers most of Central Europe. Hesse's city of Frankfurt-am-Main was for a long time a free imperial city and the place where German emperors were crowned).

Following Philip's death, Hesse is divided into the regions of Hessen-Kassel, Hessen-Marburg, Hessen-Rheinfels and Hessen-Darmstadt, one each for Philip's four sons.

Further sub-dividing of Kassel and Darmstadt eventually leads to splinter states such as Hessen-Homburg, Hessen-Rumpenheim, Hessen-Philippsthal, Hessen-Philippsthal-Barchfeld, Hessen-Eschwege, Hessen-Rheinfels, Hessen-Rheinfels-Rotenburg, Hessen-Rheinfels-Wanfried, Hessen-Butzbach, Hessen-Brubach, Hessen-Darmstadt-Itter, Hessen-Marburg, and Hessen-Hanau, and ultimately to political obscurity for all of Hesse by the eighteenth century. Like most of the moderate North German states, by the fifteenth century Hesse has switched to the Protestant faith, Kassel becoming Calvinist, Darmstadt Lutheran.

Landgraves of Hessen-Kassel
AD 1567 - 1803

Created from the division of the Duchy of Hesse, Kassel was the largest of the four new Hessen states, being the most senior and dominant, and owner of approximately half the former duchy's lands. It inherited the region of Lower Hesse which had originally From the capital at Kassel, the rulers of the northern half of Hesse continued to hold the title of landgrave. They built up strong connections with the Netherlands, and through them, with England. Troops were provided to England on numerous occasions, not least during the American War of Independence.

1567 - 1592

William IV

Eldest son of Philip I.


Hessen-Rheinfels is claimed back following the death of Philip, although the title itself is not reclaimed.

1592 - 1627

Maurice the Learned

Became Protestant in 1605. Abdicated in favour of his son.


The Ydulfings of Hessen-Marburg die without producing a successor, and Hessen-Kassel claims back the title. This causes disagreements between Kassel and Hessen-Darmstadt which are not resolved until the Peace of Westphalia in 1648.


Hessen-Eschwege is created for one of Maurice's younger sons (out of a total of at least six sons). Hessen-Rheinfels is recreated along with Hessen-Rotenburg for two further sons.

1627 - 1637

William V

Son. Forced to retire into exile during the Thirty Years War.

1637 - 1663

William VI

Came of age in 1650.

1637 - 1650

Amalie Elizabeth von Hanau

Mother & landgravine, acted as regent and regained Kassel.

1640 - 1643

When Count Otto V of Holstein-Schaumburg dies in 1640 without having produced an heir, the county of Schaumburg is divided (in 1643) between Brunswick-Lüneburg, Hessen-Kassel, and Lippe. Count Philip I of Lippe-Alverdissen is able to found the Schaumburg-Lippe line of the House of Lippe to incorporate the expanded territory that comes to him. Hessen-Kassel holds the lion's share, including the county of Schaumburg itself, minus various territories, and retains some feudal rights over Schaumburg-Lippe at first, along with control of many institutions that Schaumburg-Lippe has to share.

1644 - 1648

The Marburger Succession Conflict between Kassel and Darmstadt is a result of Kassel claiming back both Rheinfels and Marburg (the latter in 1604). An ally of Sweden during the Thirty Years War, Hessen-Kassel fights some of its bitterest battles in the final four years of the war against Hessen-Darmstadt. Part of Hessen-Marburg is ceded to Darmstadt to end the quarrel over land.


The cadet line of Hessen-Philippsthal is created for one of William VI's younger sons, Philip.

1663 - 1670

William VII

Son. Acceded as an infant, died young.

1663 - 1677

Hedwig Sophie von Brandenburg


1670 - 1730

Charles / Karl (I)

Brother. First to hire out troops to foreign powers.


Charles' son, Frederick, is married to Queen Ulrika Eleonora of Sweden. Having renounced the rights of absolute monarchy in return for being confirmed as queen, she now abdicates in favour of her husband. She had preferred the idea of a co-monarchy in the style of England under Mary II and William III, but this has not been allowed in Sweden since the fifteenth century. Parliamentary rule is reinstated in Sweden with the monarchy greatly limited in power.

1730 - 1751

Frederick I

Son. Also king of Sweden (1720-1751) by marriage.


Hessen-Kassel gains Hanau-Munzenberg upon the end of the line of counts of Hanau.


One of the things for which Count William of Schaumburg-Lippe is noted during his reign is the comparatively large standing army that he maintains. A thousand men for such a small territory is quite unusual, but he is prompted by security fears in relation to his share of the productive Bückeberg mines and the possibility (however remote) that the dominating force in the county of Schaumburg, Hessen-Kassel, might attempt to seize total control of them.


Frederick dies without having produced an heir. In Hessen-Kassel he is succeeded by his brother, William VIII, who has already governed the landgraviate during Frederick's absences in Sweden. Sweden itself elects Adolphus Frederick, son of Christian August of Holstein-Gottorp and Margravine Albertina Frederica of Baden-Durlach.

1751 - 1760

William VIII

Brother. Represented Frederick in Kassel during his rule.

1760 - 1785

Frederick II



Frederick II reverted to the Catholic Church in 1749. When this became known (probably around the time of his accession to the title), his father, the Hessian estates, Prussia and Hanover all demand that he neither appoint any Catholics to public positions nor permit Catholic worship. Frederick is forced to agree, but his reign is not always shown in Hessian lists, his father's reign being extended to 1785 in his place.

1776 - 1783

Kassel supplies troops to England to fight in the American War of Independence. Approximately 15,000 to 20,000 Hessians or Hessian-led mercenaries are supplied.

1785 - 1803

William IX


1793 - 1795

Hessen-Kassel takes part in the fight against revolutionary France by supplying troops to the English crown. Peace between Kassel and France is declared at Basle.


The state is enlarged by a sharing out of previously imperial free towns and church states to compensate for land lost to France (including Hessen-Rheinfels). The landgraviate is elevated by France's Napoleon Bonaparte, William securing the coveted title of Kurfürst (prince elector of the HRE).

Kurfürsts of Hessen-Kassel (zu Rumpenheim)
AD 1803 - 1980

Elevated to elector status by the Holy Roman Emperor in 1803, the title was never resigned, even after the dissolution of the HRE in 1806.

A minor district of Hessen-Kassel was Rumpenheim, situated near Offenbach, in Rheinland-Pfalz (in 1802, and probably gained during the sharing out in 1803). Rumpenheim Castle in Kassel was named after it, and during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the rulers of Hessen-Kassel attach this name to their title, without their being any apparent division of the territory. Rumpenheim remained part of Hessen-Kassel after its absorption by Prussia in 1866. It continued to be claimed until at least 1880.

1803 - 1806

William / Wilhelm I

Formerly William IX. First Kurfürst of Hessen-Kassel.


Wilhelm partially mobilises his army while France's Napoleon Bonaparte is destroying the Prussian army in October. The following month Bonaparte takes his revenge by dissolving the state and incorporating its territory into his younger brother's newly created Kingdom of Westphalia. Kassel becomes the capital of the new kingdom.

1806 - 1813

Jerome Bonaparte

King of Westphalia / Westfalia.


MapNapoleon loses control of Germany. Westphalia is dismantled and Hessen-Kassel restored by the allied armies. The kurfürst gains the Nieder-Grafschaft of Katzenelnbogen, and the Prince-Bishopric (Grand Duchy) of Fulda, which connects his Hessian lands with those in Hanau. At the Congress of Vienna, William's request to be recognised as king of the Chatti is refused.

1813 - 1821

William I

Restored. Died 27 Feb.

1821 - 1847

William II

Son. A profligate ruler. Retired in 1831. Died 20 Nov.


Following the July Revolution in Paris, a similar uprising occurs in Kassel. William II is compelled to give the land a constitution which ensures every citizen complete liberty of conscience and freedom to practice his religion. William retires to Hanau, appoints his son as regent and takes no further part in public affairs.

1847 - 1866

Frederick William

Son. A tyrant. Deposed by Prussia.


As his control over the state is weakened, Frederick William is persuaded to leave Kassel along with the head of his administration. Austrian and Bavarian troops march into the electorate, in a direct challenge to Prussian supremacy in the area (1850-51). Although Frederick William returns, Hessen-Kassel is governed by the reconstituted federal diet.


Hessen-Kassel is annexed by an empire-building Prussia (20 September) following the defeat of Austria in the Austro-Prussian War. Frederick William is made a prisoner in Stettin. The landgraves continue to hold their title but no real power. Hessen-Darmstadt is the only surviving Hessen state from this point. Hessen-Kassel is combined with Hessen-Homburg and renamed Hessen-Nassau and remains part of Prussia until the latter is unified within modern Germany at the close of the Second World War.

1866 - 1875

Landgrave Frederick William

Retained title but lost the landgraviate.

1875 - 1884

Landgrave Frederick William


1884 - 1925

Landgrave Alexander Frederick

Son. Renounced title. d.28 May 1940, Kassel.


The heir to the landgraviate, Frederick Charles, is offered the throne of Finland, but declines.

1925 - 1940

Landgrave Frederick Charles

Brother. m Margarethe, younger sister of Kaiser Wilhelm II.

1940 - 1980

Landgrave Philipp



Following the death of Prince Ludwig of Hessen-Darmstadt, Philipp becomes the new head of the House of Hesse (family pact signed in 1902).

Landgraves of Hessen-Rheinfels / Hessen-Rotenburg
AD 1567 - 1869

Created from the division of the Duchy of Hesse in 1567, Rheinfels was the third Ydulfing family branch. Its share of the former duchy's territory amounted to an eighth, but its ruling line died out quickly. It was situated near the Rhine in the west of Hesse.

1567 - 1583

Philip II

Third son of Philip I.


The Ydulfing line of Hessen-Rheinfels dies without a successor. Hessen-Kassel claims back the land.


Upon the resignation of Maurice the Learned of Hessen-Kassel in favour of his son, William V, two younger brothers found the joint cadet lines of Hessen-Rheinfels and Hessen-Rotenburg.

1627 - 1658


Hessen-Rotenberg. Son of Maurice. No heir.

1644 - 1648

The Marburger Succession Conflict between Kassel and Darmstadt is a result of Kassel claiming back both Rheinfels and Marburg (the latter in 1604). An enemy of Kassel during the Thirty Years War, Hessen-Darmstadt fights some of its bitterest battles against its neighbour. Darmstadt gains power after the war and the Peace of Westphalia (1648), a portion of Upper Hesse, the former Benedictine territory of Hersfeld, and part of Hessen-Marburg.

1627 - 1693


Hessen-Rheinfels. Son of Maurice. United Rheinfels & Rotenberg.


The Rheinfels and Rotenbergs revert to Catholicism.


The Rotenberg title is united with that of Rheinfels.


Ernst's elder son, William, continues to govern the House of Rheinfels-Rotenbergs. His second son, Karl, is created Landgrave of Hessen-Rheinfels-Wanfried.

1693 - 1725



1725 - 1749



1749 - 1778




Rheinfels is removed from the family title, reducing it to Hessen-Rotenberg.

1778 - 1812

Karl Emanuel



The Rheinfels territory is lost to the revolutionary French.

1812 - 1834

Victor Amadeus

Map Son. Also Duke of Ratibor & Prince of Corvey.


Victor produces no legitimate offspring, so the Hessen-Rotenberg male line dies out.

1834 - 1869

Marie Adelheid



Marie had married Karl August, Prince of Hohenlohe-Bartenstein in 1811, so with her death, the title passes out of Hessian descent.

Landgraves of Hessen-Rheinfels-Wanfried
AD 1693 - 1731

This was a minor division of the already minor Hessen-Rheinfels-Rotenberg line.

1693 - 1711


Younger son of Ernst.

1711 - 1731




William dies without producing an heir.

Landgraves of Hessen-Eschwege
AD 1617 - 1655

A cadet line apparently created for a younger son of Landgrave Maurice of Hessen-Kassel.

1617? - 1655


Younger son of Maurice.


Frederick dies without producing a surviving male heir.

Landgraves of Hessen-Philippsthal
AD 1655 - 1925

A cadet line created for the younger son of Landgrave William VI of Hessen-Kassel.

1655 - 1736

Philip (III)

Third son of William VI.


The two sons of Philip divide the landgraviate into Hessen-Philippsthal and Hessen-Philippsthal-Barchfeld.

1736 - 1770

Charles / Karl (II)


1770 - 1810



1810 - 1816


Map Son.

1816 - 1849

Ernst Constantine


1849 - 1868

Charles / Karl



The lines of Philippsthal and Philippsthal-Barchfeld gain certain castles and palaces from Kassel through Prussian management of the former landgraviate.

1868 - 1925


Son. No heir.


The line of Hessen-Philippsthal dies with Ernst. The title is merged with Hessen-Philippsthal-Barchfeld, which continues.

Landgraves of Hessen-Philippsthal-Barchfeld
AD 1736 - Present Day

Collateral line of Hessen-Philippsthal, which was divided upon the death of the former title-holder.

1736 - 1761


Brother of Charles of Hessen-Philippsthal.

1761 - 1777



1777 - 1803



1803 - 1854


Map Son.


The lines of Philippsthal and Philippsthal-Barchfeld gain certain castles and palaces from Kassel through Prussian management of the former landgraviate.

1854 - 1905



1905 - 1954


Nephew. Born 1876.


The line of Hessen-Philippsthal dies out with Ernst. The title is merged with Hessen-Philippsthal-Barchfeld, and becomes simply Hessen-Philippsthal.

1954 - Present


Grandson. His father, William, died in Russia in 1942.

Hereditary Prince William

Son. b.1963.

Landgraves of Hessen-Homburg
AD 1622 - 1866

A junior branch of Hessen-Darmstadt created by Ludwig V for his younger brother in 1622. The rulers held the title of landgrave, but were in effect junior rulers to Darmstadt's (to begin with). Hessen-Homburg consisted of the district of Homburg on the right side of the Rhine, and the district of Meisenheim, which was added in 1815, on the left side of the same river - little more than the city of Homburg and its environs.

1622 - 1638

Frederick I

Brother of Ludwig V.


Homburg is sub-divided into Hessen-Homburg and Hessen-Homburg-Bingenheim by Frederick's first two sons.

1650 - 1681

William Christopher

Son. Landgrave of Bingenheim (1648-1681).


Homburg becomes independent of Hessen-Darmstadt.

1669 - 1677

George Christian

Brother. No heir.


Homburg and Bingenheim are reunited into one title by Frederick II.

1681 - 1708

Frederick II

Third son of Frederick I.

1708 - 1746

Frederick III

1746 - 1751

Frederick IV

Son of Kasimir Wilhem (d.1726). Nephew of Frederick III.

1751 - 1806

Frederick V


The landgrave is driven out at the formation of the French-controlled Confederation of the Rhine, when Napoleon annexes the land to Hessen-Darmstadt.


Hessen-Homburg is reinstated by the Congress of Vienna, and is then recognised as a member of the German Confederation (1817).

1815 - 1820

Frederick V

Map Restored.


Following the death of Frederick V, five of his sons fill the title in succession. All are in their forties or fifties at the time.

1820 - 1829

Frederick VI Louis


1829 - 1839



1839 - 1846



1846 - 1848



1848 - 1866


Brother. Succeeded Gustav at the age of 65. Died 24 March.


The territory passes back to Hessen-Darmstadt. The Hessen-Homburg territory is taken by Prussia following Hessen-Darmstadt's defeat in the Austro-Prussian War.

Landgraves of Hessen-Butzbach
AD 1596 - 1643

A cadet line formed by the younger brother of Landgrave Ludwig V of Hessen-Darmstadt.

1596 - 1643


Brother of Ludwig V.


Philipp has no offspring, so the line dies out.

House of Hessen-Battenberg
AD 1888 - 1917

A junior branch of the family with no political power. Alexander, son of Ludwig II of Hessen-Darmstadt, concluded a morganatic marriage with Julia Hauke, thereafter know as Princess Julia of Battenberg, and was effectively barred from acceding to Darmstadt's title. As the daughter of John Maurice Hauke, a high ranking officer of German origin in the army of Congress Poland, Julia was not considered worthy of the lineage of Hesse, so this special title was created for her and her descendants.

Alexander of Hesse

Son of Ludwig II. m Julia Hauke. Died 1888.

1888 - 1917

Prince Louis Alexander


Prince Alexander

Brother. Prince of Bulgaria (1879-1886). Died 1893.


At the request of George V of England, Louis Alexander alters the family name from Battenberg to the Anglicised Mountbatten, and the German title of Hessen-Battenberg is relinquished in favour of the English title of marquess of Milford Haven. Prince Louis also gains the titles earl of Medina and viscount Alderney.

Mountbatten Marquesses of Milford Haven
AD 1917 - Present Day

The First World War wrought great changes on German society as a whole, and also on the the Hessen-Battenbergs. The serving prince, Louis Alexander, was resident in England at the time. When in 1917 King George V severed all familial links with his Teutonic cousins, Louis had to do the same, changing the family name from Battenberg to Mountbatten. In place of his German title, he became the marquess of Milford Haven, while his younger brother, Louis Francis, later became Earl Mountbatten of Burma. With two major titles in the family, seniority remained with the marquesses of Milford Haven (shown normally below), while the earls of Burma are shown in green text, and other siblings are shown with a shaded background.

1917 - 1921

Louis Alexander Mountbatten

Altered Hessen-Battenberg to Mountbatten. First Sea Lord.


Hesse is proclaimed a republic.


Alice Mountbatten

Dau. m Andrew of Greece, brother of Constantine I (1913-1922).

1921 - 1938

George Mountbatten

Son of Louis Alexander. 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven.

1938 - 1970

David Mountbatten

Son. 3rd Marquess of Milford Haven.

1946 - 1979

Louis Francis Mountbatten

Brother of Louis. 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma. Viceroy of India.


Prince Philip of Greece & Denmark

Son of Alice. m Elizabeth II of England.

1970 - Present

George Ivar Louis Mountbatten

Son of David. 4th Marquess of Milford Haven.

1979 - Present

Countess Patricia Edwina Victoria

Dau of Louis Francis. 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma.