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European Kingdoms

Central Europe


AD 1762 - Present Day

The early modern German county of Lippe was a parcel of territory that was located between the River Weser and the south-eastern section of the Teutobergerwald. The House of Lippe resided along the river of the same name, originating in the person of Count Jobst Hermann of Lippe. He died around 1056, but his grandson (or great-grandson, born around 1090), Bernard, succeeded him. In 1123, he was granted a parcel of territory by Holy Roman Emperor Lothar II of Supplinburg and, as the new, and first, 'Lord of Lippe', Bernhard became Bernhard I.

With the death of Count Simon VI in 1613, Lippe was divided in four: Lippe-Detmold (held by the senior line of descent under Simon VII), Lippe-Brake (passed to the next oldest son, Otto), Lippe-Schwalenberg (held by the next in line, Hermann, who is included alongside the counts of Lippe-Detmold), and Lippe-Alverdissen (held by the youngest, Philip I). Each division retained the status of a county, although the secondary divisions rarely held any territory of note other than the odd castle or town. A cadet branch of the counts of Lippe-Biesterfeld became the counts of Lippe-Weissenfeld in the form of Ferdinand Johann Ludwig in 1762. Officially, they lost power in 1781 when their authority was rescinded, but they continued to claim the title of count, unfortunately distributing it amongst several descendants at once to create a confusing mess of names, with no particular branch of the family apparently having precedence over another. The trail of 'counts' peters out at the start of the twentieth century, but there remain plenty of descendants of the first count, Ferdinand Johann Ludwig, who may still be using it.

(Additional information Jackie Speel, and from External Links: German Genealogy: Lippe, and European Heraldry: House of Lippe (dead link), and Lippe, and Royalty Guide, and European Royalty During World War II.)

1762 - 1791

Ferdinand Johann Ludwig

First lord of Lippe-Weissenfeld. House of Lippe-Biesterfeld.


The counts of Lippe-Detmold are raised to the rank of 'Prince of the Empire', the title for the head of noble families rather than the offspring of monarchs. Despite already being the senior line of descent for the House of Lippe, it is clearly now superior to the other branches of the family, and so the designation of Detmold is dropped from the title. The town of Detmold itself remains the capital of the new principality.

1791 - 1808

Charles / Karl



The county of Schaumberg-Lippe is raised to a principality, while Lippe is part of the Confederation of the Rhine, dominated by Napoleon Bonaparte's French First Empire.

1808 - 1857




FeatureLippe sends a battalion of infantry and a battalion of landwehr (militia) along with three companies of the Detmold Landwehr and the Schaumberg-Lippe Battalion to join the allied forces that array themselves against France during the Hundred Days. The units are attached to the Anhalt-Thuringian Infantry Brigade, part of the Army of North Germany under the command of General Kleist von Nollendorf. As a result of the subsequent Congress of Vienna, Lippe becomes a member of the German Confederation.

Map of Northern Germany 1815
Lippe's position in northern Germany placed it in the path of Prussian expansionism in the nineteenth century, making it more likely that it would be gobbled up

? - 1841


Brother. Carried the title of 'count' during his brother's lifetime.


MapAll of the main forms of worship in Lippe are granted equal status, including the main two forms of Protestantism, Lutherism and Calvinism, as well as the Catholic Church. This allows Catholics to have their own parishes for the first time since the Reformation.

? - 1868


Great-grandson of Ferdinand Johann. Count. Died aged 59.

? - 1880

Francis / Franz


1857 - 1899


Son of Bernhard.

1841 - 1885

Octavio / Oktavio

Son of Hermann. 'Count' during his cousin's lifetime.


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. 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, and the new, Prussian-dominated North German Confederation gains members in Lippe and Schaumberg-Lippe Bückeburg, among many others.

1870 - 1871

The exile of Queen Isabella of Spain to France starts a remarkable chain of events. Isabella's abdication on 25 June 1870 leads to the Franco-Prussian war when France refuses to accept the possibility of the Prussian Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen gaining the Spanish throne. French troops are humiliated by Prussia's ultra-modern army and the siege of Paris brings about the downfall of its empire. Following the victory, the Second Reich (Germanic empire) is declared by Prussia, which now displaces Austria as the main Germanic power, as well as being the dominant power throughout central and Western Europe. Lippe is incorporated into the empire as a client state.

1885? - 1895


Brother. Also 'count' during his cousin's lifetime.

1885 - 1896


Son of Octavio. 'Count' succeeding his father.


FeatureWith the accession of the incapacitated Prince Alexander of Lippe, the 'Lippe-Detmold Question' is first raised. Its significance lies not so much in the relatively obscure successional conflict that is triggered in Lippe but in the way it highlights certain weaknesses within the administrative structure of the German empire.

1896 - 1910


Brother. 'Count' succeeding Egmont.


With Prince Alexander of Lippe remaining childless, his eventual death as the senior member of the House of Lippe means that the Lippe-Detmold branch of the family will become extinct. The future Count Leopold of Lippe-Biesterfeld is due to succeed as prince and the head of the house, and is also in line to gain the first physical territory for his branch of the family, but the neighbouring principality of Schaumburg-Lippe disputes the assumed succession. As Schaumburg-Lippe is junior not only to the Lippe-Biesterfeld line, but also the Lippe-Weissenfeld line, a ruling goes in favour of Ernest of Lippe-Biesterfeld. Adolphus of Schaumburg-Lippe steps down as regent in favour of the victorious Ernest.

1899 - ?


Dau of Armin. Born 1852. Countess.


The imperial court is forced to rule on the decision of 1897 that had upheld the claim by Ernest of Lippe-Biesterfeld to be the rightful successor to Prince Alexander of Lippe. As Alexander is the last of the Lippe-Detmold line, and the only other claimant, Count to-be Adolphus of Schaumburg-Lippe, is a junior member of the Lippe princely house, Ernest's claim is upheld. Lippe-Biesterfeld merges back into Lippe and all further details for that branch are listed in the main Lippe line of hereditary descent.

1910 - ?


Dau of Alfred. 'Count' during her cousin's lifetime.


The German empire (which includes Lippe-Detmold, Lippe-Biesterfeld, Lippe-Weissenfeld, and Schaumburg-Lippe) moves swiftly to support its ally, Austria-Hungary, in a long-anticipated Great War (later more readily known as the First World War, or World War I). At the start it is successful against the Russian invasion of Prussia, routing their army at the Battle of Tannenberg, and in the west its armies reach the northern outskirts of Paris before they are stopped by the armies of Britain and France, together with the small Belgian army. Turkey joins the German cause on 31 October, but Afghanistan remains neutral, refusing to attempt an attack on British India.

Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1914
Kaiser Wilhelm II of Prussia and the German empire inspects his troops on the eve of war in 1914, a war that Lippe had no chance of escaping


The title of count of Lippe-Biesterfeld has already merged with the principality of Lippe in 1905, when Leopold had succeeded the now extinct princely line. However, on 24 February 1916, Leopold upgrades various titles, with that of 'Count of Lippe-Biesterfeld' becoming 'His Serene Highness, Prince'. The same honour is bestowed on the same day upon the counts of Lippe-Weissenfeld, while other members of the family receive upgraded titles on 9 November 1918.


Emperor William II, at the Western Front with his troops from 29 October following riots in Berlin, is forced to abdicate on 9 November, signalling the end of the House of Hohenzollern in power. The next day he flees to neutral Holland, and the First World War officially ends on 11 November. The princes of Lippe and Schaumburg-Lippe are forced to abdicate as part of the creation of the Weimar republic, ending seven hundred and ninety-five years of princely rule of Lippe. Lippe becomes a free state.

Following collapse at the end of the First World War, Germany becomes a republic with a new government, proclaimed on 9 November 1918, but without a president until 1919. All the princely states in Germany are abolished and, locally, Detmold served as the capital of the Free State of Lippe. This is an autonomous region which retains a level of independence in local affairs until January 1947, when the occupying forces of the British sector merge Lippe into the newly-formed state of North Rhine-Westphalia. After being forced to abdicate as prince of Lippe on 12 November 1018, Leopold retreats to the residential palace, the Residenzschloss Detmold, which remains in the possession of the prince and his family. The hereditary princes of Lippe still live there today as their primary residence.


Germany adopts the democratic 'Weimar constitution' following the abolition of the German empire. This new Germany consists of the former German kingdoms and duchies, all of which have now been abolished, which include Baden, Bavaria, Hesse, Lippe, Saxony and Württemberg.


The three sons of Prince Leopold of Lippe by his first wife sign up to the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP). The eldest, Prince Ernst, is reputedly the first German prince to do so.


Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld, son of Leopold's brother, Bernard, marries Princess Juliana of the Netherlands.

Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld and Princess Juliana of the Netherlands
The marriage between Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld and Princess Juliana of the Netherlands was a major social event in 1937

1945 - 1949

Following the Nazi surrender, Germany is occupied by the forces of Soviet Russia, the United States, Britain, and France until 1949. The victorious Russians take East Prussia and annexe it directly to the state. The German population either flees or is expelled and is replaced by an imported Russian population. In 1947, Lippe is merged into the state of North Rhine-Westphalia by the regional British authorities.


Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands abdicates to make way for her daughter, Juliana. With the latter having married Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld in 1937, their children are technically members of the House of Lippe, but officially they remain part of the House of Orange-Nassau.


Both of Prince Leopold's eldest two sons had contracted unequal marriages, so Leopold writes them out of his will, making his youngest son, Armin, by his second wife his heir. When Leopold dies on 30 December 1949, Armin becomes the head of the House of Lippe and possessor of Schloss Detmold.

Prince Ernst of Lippe comes to regret his decision of 1958, in which he had declared that the eldest of all of Lippe's princes still alive in Germany would henceforth be head of the House of Lippe. He now qualifies his statement by announcing that all princes of Lippe should be considered for the role of head of the house, and not just those living in Germany. At a point between 1958 and 1990 he re-assumes his former role as head of the house (possibly at the death of Prince Simon Casimir in 1980), although this seems not to be with universal agreement. Many still apparently view Armin as the head of the house, and his son Stephan as his heir.


With the death of Prince Ernst, his son, Friedrich Wilhelm continues his claim to be head of the House of Lippe, while the acknowledged head seems to be Armin, perhaps restored following the death of the elderly Prince Simon Casimir. However, Friedrich Wilhelm's offspring are all girls, so his claim is likely to end with him, leaving Armin and his heir, Stephan, as undisputed heads of the house.

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