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Frederick William, Elector of Hesse

Frederick William, Elector of Hesse

Last Elector of Hesse-Kassel
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Last Elector of Hesse-Kassel
A.K.A. Friedrich Wilhelm I
Gender male
Birth 20 August 1802 (Hanau)
Death 6 January 1875 (Prague)
Mother: Princess Augusta of Prussia
Father: William IIElector of Hesse
Spouse: Gertrude Falkenstein
Children: Maria of Hanau-HořowitzAugusta Marie Gertrude von HanauAlexandrine Friedrike Wilhelmine von HanauFriedrich Wilhelm von HanauMoritz von Hanau-HořoviceWilhelm von Hanau-HořoviceKarl von Hanau-HořoviceHeinrich HanauPhilipp von Hanau-Hořovice
Education University of Marburg
The details

Frederick William I (20 August 1802 – 6 January 1875) was, between 1847 and 1866, the last Prince-elector of Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel).


He was born at Hanau, the son of Prince William, later William II, Elector of Hesse, and Princess Augusta of Prussia, daughter of Frederick William II of Prussia.

During the French occupation of Hesse-Kassel (1806–1813) he stayed with his mother in Berlin. The relationship with his father was bad, because of his father's affair with Emilie Ortlöpp.

Frederick was educated at Marburg and Leipzig. He became co-regent on 30 September 1831, and Prince-elector in 1847. Under influence of his minister Hans Daniel Ludwig Friedrich Hassenpflug he conducted a reactionary policy, which made him very unpopular. He was forced to give in to the demands of the March Revolution, but reinstated Hassenpflug in 1850 after the revolution had been crushed.

In the Austro-Prussian War (1866) he chose the side of Austria. His capital Kassel was occupied by Prussia, and, as a consequence of his refusal to negotiate, he was transferred as a prisoner to Stettin on 23 June. Hessen-Kassel was annexed by Prussia in the same year.

Frederick William never accepted the Prussian dominance over his territory. Even after the creation of the unified German Empire (1871), he tried to regain his throne. He died at Prague in 1875.

Because of his morganatic marriage, his sons were excluded from succession. He was succeeded, as titular Prince-elector of Hesse, by Prince Frederick William of Hesse, from the house of Hesse-Rumpenheim.


Coat of arms of the House of Hanau-Schaumburg, Frederick William`s morganatic descendants

Frederick William morganatically married on 26 June 1831 to Gertrude Falkenstein (Bonn, 18 May 1803 – Prague 9 July 1882), daughter of Johann Gottfried Falkenstein (son of Nicolaus Falkenstein and wife Margarethe Heyss) and wife Magdalena Schulz (daughter of Johann Ludwig Albert Schulz and wife Sophie Krupps).

Gertrude Falkenstein was the former wife (m. Graven-Rheindorf, 30 November 1822) of Lt Karl Michael Lehmann (Bischofswerder, 16 June 1787 – Wandsbek, 1882), whom his father made Her Illustrious Highness Countess of Schaumburg in (1831), and whom he made Princess (Fürstin) of Hanau and to Horowitz in (1853).

They had nine children, some born before marriage, who were also made princes (Prinzen) of Hanau, and granted the style of Serene Highness in 1862. Subsequently, the Prince-elector divorced Gertrud.

  • Augusta Marie Gertrude (1829–1887), married 1849 Ferdinand Maximilian III Prince (Fürst) zu Isenburg-Büdingen in Wächtersbach (1824–1903). They were the grandparents of Princess Sophie of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach.
  • Alexandrine (1830–1871), married 1851 Prince Felix zu Hohenlohe-Oehringen (1818–1900)
  • Frederich Wilhelm (1832–1889), married morganatically twice: 1856 Auguste Birnbaum; and in 1875, Ludowika Gloede; their children were Counts von Schaumburg, but post-1918 descendants bear the title Prince/ss von Hanau.
  • Moritz (1834–1889), married morganatically 1875 Anne von Lossberg; no children
  • Wilhelm (1836–1902), married 1stly 1868 (divorced 1870) Princess Elisabeth, daughter of George William, Prince of Schaumburg-Lippe; 2ndly 1890 Countess Elisabeth zur Lippe-Weissenfeld (1868–1952); no children
  • Maria (1839–1917), married 1857 (divorced 1872) Prince William of Hesse-Philippsthal-Barchfeld (1831–1890): she and her children were granted the titles HSH Prince/ss of Ardeck after her divorce.
  • Karl (1840–1905), married 1882 Countess Hermine Grote; no children.
  • Heinrich (1842–1917), married morganatically Martha Riegel
  • Philipp (1844–1914), married morganatically Albertine Hubatschek-Stauber; countly descendants, but post-monarchy bear the princely Hanau title.


Notes and references

Frederick William, Elector of Hesse
House of Hesse-Kassel
Cadet branch of the House of Hesse
Born: 20 August 1802 Died: 6 January 1875
Regnal titles
Preceded by
William II
Elector of Hesse
Monarchy abolished
Electorate annexed by Prussia
Political offices
Preceded by
William II
as Elector of Hesse
Head of State of Hesse-Kassel
Succeeded by
William I of Prussia
as German Emperor
Titles in pretence
Loss of title
Electorate annexed to Prussia
Elector of Hesse
Succeeded by
Frederick William II

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