House of Hesse
Country Germany, Sweden, Finland
Titles Landgrave of Hesse (Lower, Upper, Kassel, Rotenburg, Wanfried, Rheinfels, Philippsthal, Philippsthal-Barchfeld, Marburg, Rheinfels, Darmstadt, Butzbach
Homburg, Braubach, Itter)
Elector of Hesse
Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine
King of Sweden
King of Finland
Founded 1264
Founder Henry I, Landgrave of Hesse
Final ruler Moritz, Grand Duke of Hesse
Current head Hesse:
Donatus, Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse
King Kaarle II of Finland
1990: German Revolution
Cadet branches Hesse-Kassel
Battenberg (Mountbatten)
Hesse-Darmstadt (extinct)
Hesse-Butzbach (extinct)
Hesse-Braubach (extinct)
Hesse-Homburg (extinct)
Hesse-Itter (extinct)
Hesse-Rotenburg (extinct)
Hesse-Wanfried (extinct)
Hesse-Marburg (extinct)
Hesse-Rheinfels (extinct)

The House of Hesse is a European dynasty, directly descended from the House of Brabant, which ruled the region of Hesse, with one branch as prince electors until 1866, and another branch as grand dukes until 1990. Since 1918 it has also reigned as the royal house of Finland.

History[edit | edit source]

The origins of the House of Hesse begin with the marriage of Sophie of Thuringia, daughter of Louis IV, Landgrave of Thuringia and Elizabeth of Hungary with Henry II, Duke of Brabant from the House of Reginar. Sophie was the heiress of Hesse which she passed on to her son, Henry upon her retention of the territory following her partial victory in the War of the Thuringian Succession in which she was one of the belligerents.

Originally the western part of the Landgraviate of Thuringia, in the mid 13th century it was inherited by the younger son of Henry II, Duke of Brabant, and became a distinct political entity. From the late 16th century it was generally divided into several branches, the most important of which were those of Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel) and Hesse-Darmstadt. In the early 19th century the Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel was elevated to Elector of Hesse (1803), while the Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt became the Grand Duke of Hesse (1806), later Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine. The Electorate of Hesse (Hesse-Kassel) was annexed by Prussia in 1866, while Grand Ducal Hesse (Hesse-Darmstadt) remained a sovereign realm until the end of the German monarchies in 1990. The Hesse-Kassel branch was elected Kings of Finland in 1918. In the wake of King Fredrik II having no issue and adopting his nephew, the present king, a new branch of the dynasty called Hesse-Helsinki was founded in 1990.

Donatus, Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse is the current (2013) head of the house.

Rulers of Hesse[edit | edit source]

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