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European Kingdoms

Central Europe



Nassau emerged from Franconia, which gradually fragmented in the thirteenth century. During the first century BC the core of its territory seems to have been home to the Mattiaci tribe of Germans. The rulers of twelfth century AD Nassau were the Laurenbergs. They bore the title count of Nassau.

b.c.1146 - 1198

Walram I

Count of Laurenberg & first Count of Nassau.

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.

1198 - 1250

Heinrich II the Rich

Count of Nassau. m Dutch Machteld of Gelders.


The county is divided between Heinrich's sons: Walram II gains Nassau-Weilburg. Otto gains Nassau-Dillenberg.

County of Nassau-Weilburg
AD 1250 - 1806

As with most minor German states, Nassau-Weilburg suffered from its own territorial sub-dividing. The various sub-divisions are not listed separately here.

1250 - 1276

Walram II

Son of Heinrich II of Nassau. Count of Nassau-Weilburg.

1277 - 1298

Adolph I

HRE (1291-1298).

1298 - 1304

Rupert IV

Died 1308.

1298 - 1355

Gerlach I

Died 1361.

1298 - 1322

Walram III

1344 - 1355

Adolph II

Count of Nassau-Weisbaden-Idstein (1355-1370).


Nassau-Weilburg becomes Nassau-Weilburg-Saarbrucken.

1344 - 1371

John I

Gained Nassau-Weilburg in 1355.

1355 - 1390


Count of Nassau-Sonnenberg.

1371 - 1429

Philip I

1429 - 1492

Philip II


Nassau-Weilburg reverts to its old title.

1492 - 1523

Louis I

1523 - 1559

Philip III

1559 - 1593


? - 1596

Johan Ludwig I

Count of Nassau-Idstein. Fell from a tower window.

1559 - 1602

Philip IV

1593 - 1625

Louis II

1625 - 1629

William Louis

Count of Nassau-Saarbrucken (1629-1640).

1625 - 1629

John IV

Count of Nassau-Idstein (1629-1668).

1625 - 1655

Ernest Casimir

1655 - 1675


1675 - 1719

John Ernest

Count of Nassau-Wiesbaden.

1675 - 1684

Frederick William

Count of Nassau-Weilburg.

1719 - 1753

Charles Augustus

1753 - 1788

Charles Christian

1788 - 1806

Frederick William


With the fall of the Holy Roman empire, the French First Empire's Napoleon I forms his Confederation of the Rhine and elevates the county to become the duchy of Nassau.

County of Nassau-Dillenberg
AD 1250 - 1555

1250 - 1289

Otto I

Son of Heinrich II of Nassau. Count of Nassau-Dillenberg.

1290 - 1303

Control of the county is apparently shared by John, Henry & Emich. In 1303, John gains overall control, with Henry being granted Nassau-Siegen, and Emich, Nassau-Hadamar. John is succeeded by Henry while Emich predeceases Henry.

1303 - 1328


Count of Nassau-Dillenberg.

1328 - 1343

Henry I

Count of Nassau-Siegen (1303), Nassau-Dillenberg (1328).

1290 - 1303

Emich I

Count of Nassau-Hadamar (1303-1334).


With the death of Emich, Nassau-Dillenberg is fully reunited under Henry's control.

1343 - 1350

Otto II

1350 - 1416

John I

1416 - 1420


1420 - 1443

John II

1420 - 1442

Engelbert I

Count of Nassau-Dietz (1403).

Engelbert marries Johanna van Polanen and gains the county's first possessions in the Netherlands.

1420 - 1429

John III

1442 - 1475

John IV

Son of Engelbert I.

1442 - 1451

Henry II

1475 - 1504

Engelbert II

1475 - 1516

John V

Grandson of Engelbert I.


Hendrik / Henry III marries Claudia of Chalon & Orange, and gains the title Prince of Orange. The Counts of Nassau are henceforth also Princes of Orange, a possession in the Netherlands, but they hold no power there until 1555. Nassau-Dillenberg becomes Nassau-Breda.

1516 - 1538

Henry III

Son of John V.

1538 - 1544

René of Chalon

Son. Prince of Orange (1540).


Nassau-Breda reverts to Nassau-Dillenberg.

1544 - 1555

William I the Rich

Nephew. Made Stadhoulder of Holland in 1555 by HRE.


The county of Nassau-Dillenberg becomes subsidiary to the title Prince of Orange as William the Silent becomes Stadhoulder in Holland. The county is renamed Nassau-Orange.

Duchy of Nassau-Weilburg
AD 1806 - 1866

The duchy held the east bank of the Rhine next to Hesse, and below the Ruhr and Maine.

1806 - 1816

Frederick William

Former Count of Nassau-Weilburg.


Nassau-Weilburg is granted the German lands of Nassau-Orange. The former county of Katzenelnbogen which formerly belonged to Hessen-Darmstadt and which had been annexed by the French in 1806, is included in its eastern territorial gains.

Map of Confederation of German States AD 1815
Following the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte 1814, the Congress of Vienna took on board much of his vital restructuring of the German principalities, with the result that a map of the new Confederation of German States in 1815-1817 looked very different to maps of the previous century (click or tap on map to view full sized)

1816 - 1839


Duke of Nassau.

1839 - 1866


Son. Loses duchy, but maintains title.


Prussia fights the Austro-Prussian War against Austria, essentially as a decider to see which of the two powers will be dominant in Central Europe. Prussia gains the newly-created kingdom of Italy as an ally in the south and several minor German states in the north. Austria and its southern German allies are crushed in just seven weeks (giving the conflict its alternative title of the Seven Weeks' War), and Prussia is now unquestionably dominant. Bismark oversees the seizure of four of Austria's northern German allies, the kingdom of Hanover, the electorate of Hessen-Kassel, and the duchy of Nassau, along with the free city of Frankfurt. Prussia also subsumes Schleswig and Holstein and Saxe-Lauenberg. The dukes of Nassau, now in exile, maintain their claim on the title.


William III king of the Netherlands has no surviving male heirs, so his daughter Wilhelmina becomes queen in his place. Under Salic Law, the grand duchy of Luxembourg cannot be ruled by a woman, so the position of duke is granted to a distant relative of William III. This ends the personal union between the Netherlands and Luxembourg, but it grants a ducal seat to Adolphe, the dispossessed duke of Nassau. Adolphe continues to uphold his claim to Nassau, as does his son, the succeeding grand duke of Luxembourg.

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