History Files

European Kingdoms

Central Europe


AD 1626 - 1651

The process of dividing and sub-dividing the German territorial duchies and electorates was one that eventually served to weaken all of the Holy Roman empire's states, save Austria. Some of these divisions were never undone by succeeding generations. In fact, there could sometimes be as many landgraves or dukes as there were heirs. The complicated divisions and swapping of territory and names are sometimes tricky to cover in detail, with much of the more intricate details rarely being covered by English language publications. Each of the rulers of these divisions usually continued to hold the title of landgraf ('landgrave' in English).

Landgrave Ludwig III of early Hesse set a local precedence in this particular territory by dividing part of his lands so that his younger brother, Henry, would have something to govern. In this case, Henry's domain of Hessen-Marburg would be a short-lived splinter state that was returned to central control in 1500, but this splintering would be repeated time and time again, successively weakening Hesse (and many other German states which followed the same practice). The most minor of the splinter titles really were little more than that - a title, perhaps with a bit of land that held a castle or an estate. Many lasted for a single generation or so, effectively being not much more than a life appointment before reverting to their 'parent' body.

The title of Hessen-Braubach was founded for a Hessian cadet line in 1626 at the death of Landgrave Ludwig V of Hessen-Darmstadt. The Braubach title was handed to the younger brother of Ludwig's successor, Landgrave George II of Hessen-Darmstadt, being held by Landgrave Johann for the remainder of his life, another twenty-five years. However, he failed to produce an heir so, upon his death in 1651, it is possible that the landgraviate's territory was reintegrated back into Hessen-Darmstadt, although not necessarily. The Braubach title was passed to George, son of George II. In 1661, the younger George was also handed the title of landgrave of Hessen-Darmstadt-Itter to sit alongside the Braubach title, both of which remained his for his lifetime before (this time definitely) returning to Hessen-Darmstadt.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Coercion, Capital, and European States, Charles Tilly, 1992, from Historisches Lexikon der deutschen Länder (Historical Dictionary of German States), Gerhard Köbler, 1995, from Medieval Lands: Thuringia, Charles Cawley, from Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, Historischen Kommission bei der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Vol 11 (1880, in German), and from External Links: Euratlas, and Historical Atlas of Germany, and Genealogy.eu.)

1626 - 1651

Johann (John)

Younger son of Ludwig V. Junior to Hessen-Darmstadt.

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) and attempting to impose Calvinism there against the rules of inheritance. 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), along with a portion of Upper Hesse, the former Benedictine territory of Hersfeld, and part of Hessen-Marburg.

Burg Frankenstein
Burg Frankenstein (better known in English as Frankenstein Castle) sits on a high hill in the Odenwald, overlooking the city of Darmstadt, possibly serving as the inspiration for Mary Shelley's Gothic novel of the same name


Johann dies without having produced an heir, so his newfound line of Hessen-Braubach line ends with him. It is possible that the landgraviate's territory is reintegrated back into Hessen-Darmstadt, but the title is passed to George, son of George II of Hessen-Darmstadt. In 1661, George is handed the title of landgrave of Hessen-Darmstadt-Itter to sit alongside the Braubach title, both of which remain his for his lifetime before returning to Hessen-Darmstadt.