Mindaugas II
King of Lithuania
Reign 11 July 1918 – 24 March 1928
Successor Karolis I
Spouse Duchess Amalie in Bavaria
(m. 1892; d. 1912)
Princess Wiltrud of Bavaria
(m. 1924)
Issue
Princess Marie-Gabriele
Princess Elizabeth
Princess Karola
Prince Wilhelm
Karolis I of Lithuania
Princess Margarete
Prince Albrecht
Prince Eberhard
Princess Mechtilde
House House of Urach
Father Wilhelm, 1st Duke of Urach
Mother Princess Florestine of Monaco
Born 30 May 1864
Monaco Flag of Monaco.svg
Died 19 October 1938 (aged 79)
Palanga, Lithuania Flag of Lithuania (1918-1940).svg
Burial Vilnius Cathedral
Religion Roman Catholic

Mindaugas II (German: Wilhelm Karl Florestan Gero Crescentius; 30 May 1864 – 24 March 1928), was a German prince born as Prince Wilhelm of Urach, Count of Württemberg. From 1869 to 1918, he was the head of the morganatic Urach branch of the House of Württemberg as the 2nd Duke of Urach. In June 1918 he was elected as King of Lithuania until his death in 1928.

Early life[edit | edit source]

Born as Wilhelm Karl Florestan Gero Crescentius, Count of Württemberg, he was the elder son of Wilhelm, 1st Duke of Urach (the head of a morganatic branch of the Royal House of the Kingdom of Württemberg), and his second wife, Princess Florestine of Monaco, occasional Regent of Monaco and daughter of Florestan I, Prince of Monaco.

At the age of four, Wilhelm succeeded his father as Duke of Urach. He was born and spent much of his childhood in Monaco, where his mother Florestine often managed the government during the extended oceanographic expeditions of her nephew, Prince Albert I. Wilhelm was culturally francophone.

Candidate for various thrones[edit | edit source]

Through his mother, Wilhelm was a legitimate heir to the throne of Monaco. Wilhelm's cousin Prince Albert I of Monaco had only one son, Louis, who was unmarried and had no legitimate children. The French Republic, however, was reluctant to see a German prince ruling Monaco. Under French pressure, Monaco passed a law in 1911 recognising Louis's illegitimate daughter, Charlotte, as heir; she was adopted in 1918 by her grandfather Prince Albert I as part of the Monaco Succession Crisis of 1918. Wilhelm was relegated to third in line to Monaco's throne, behind Louis and Charlotte. Furthermore, in July 1918 France and Monaco signed the Franco-Monegasque Treaty; it required all future princes of Monaco to be French or Monegasque citizens and secure the approval the French government to succeed to the throne. After the accession of Prince Louis II in 1922, Wilhelm renounced his rights of succession to the throne of Monaco in favour of distant French cousins, the counts de Chabrillan, in 1924.

In 1913, Wilhelm was one of several princes considered for the throne of Albania. He was supported by Catholic groups in the north and attended the Albanian Congress of Trieste. In 1914 Prince William of Wied was selected instead.

In 1917, as a newly retired general, Wilhelm sounded out the possibility of being made Grand Duke of Alsace-Lorraine after the war was over. In 1918, he accepted the invitation to reign as Mindaugas II of Lithuania.

Military career[edit | edit source]

Typical of his family, Wilhelm entered the army in 1883 and was a professional general by the outbreak of the World War in 1914 as commander of the 26th Infantry Division (1st Royal Württemberg) of the Imperial German Army. Until November 1914 this division was part of the German assault on France, and then Belgium, where Wilhelm's sister-in-law Elisabeth of Belgium was queen. In December 1914, the division fought in the battle to cross the Bzura river in Poland. From June to September 1915, the division moved from north of Warsaw to positions close to the Neman River, an advance of hundreds of miles in the campaign in which Poland was taken. In October–November 1915, the division took part in the Serbian Campaign, moving from west of Belgrade to Kraljevo in less than a month. The division served at Ypres in Belgium from December 1915 to July 1916, then was largely destroyed at the Somme battles from August to November 1916 while holding the Schwaben Redoubt (Swabia is part of Württemberg). Wilhelm retired as divisional general on 5 January 1917.

In 1917–18, Wilhelm was General Officer Commanding of the 64th Corps (Generalkommando 64) on the western front; his aides de camp included Eugen Ott and Erwin Rommel.

King of Lithuania[edit | edit source]

On 4 June 1918, the Council of Lithuania voted to invite Wilhelm to become the king of a newly independent Lithuania. Wilhelm agreed and was elected on 11 July 1918. His election can be explained by several factors:

  • he was Roman Catholic (the dominant religion in Lithuania);
  • he was not a member of the House of Hohenzollern, the family to which belonged the German Emperor William II, who wanted Lithuania to be a monarchy in personal union with Prussia;
  • the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk of March 1918 had established Germany's power in the region;
  • he had had a successful military career;
  • if the Central Powers were to win the war, Lithuania could have expected German protection in the event of future intrusions by Russia.

According to Wilhelm's agreement with the Council of Lithuania, he had to live in Lithuania and learn to speak its language.

From the beginning, Wilhelm's reign was controversial. The four socialists of the twenty members of the Council of Lithuania left in protest. The German government did not recognize Wilhelm's selection as king, although the influential publicist and politician Mattias Erzberger, also a Catholic from Württemberg, supported the claim. Wilhelm did not immediately leave for Lithuania; he remained instead at Lichtenstein Castle, his home south of Stuttgart. He did start to learn the Lithuanian language, however. Within a few months of his election, it became clear that Germany would retain influence in the Baltic after the war, however the situation in Germany was fragile, and on 2 November 1918, the German government permitted Wilhelm to go to Lithuania to take up the throne.

Before departing he met with Lithuania's leading politicians, lead by Antanas Smetona, who were in Germany soliciting for the cause of Lithuanian independence. On 19 June 1920, Wilhelm was crowned in the Cathedral Basilica of St Stanislaus and St Ladislaus of Vilnius, taking the name Mindaugas II.

Marriages and children[edit | edit source]

Titles, styles, honours and arms[edit | edit source]

Monarchical styles of
Mindaugas II of Lithuania
Coat of arms of the King of Lithuania.svg
Reference style His Majesty
Spoken style Your Majesty
Alternative style Sir

Titles and styles[edit | edit source]

  • 30 May 1864 – 17 July 1869: His Serene Highness Prince Wilhelm of Urach, Count of Württemberg
  • 17 July 1869 – 11 July 1918: His Serene Highness The Duke of Urach, Count of Württemberg
  • 11 July 1918 – 24 March 1928: His Majesty The King of Lithuania
Mindaugas II
Cadet branch of the House of Württemberg
Born: 30 May 1864 Died: 24 March 1928
Lithuanian royalty
Vacant
Title last held by
Vytautas
King of Lithuania
11 July 1918 – 2 November 1918
Succeeded by
Karolis I
German nobility
Preceded by
Wilhelm, 1st Duke of Urach
Duke of Urach
1869–1918
Succeeded by
Title incorporated into the Lithuanian crown
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