HESSE-DARMSTADT, a grand-duchy in Germany, the history of which begins with the partition of Hesse in 1567. George I. (1547-1597), the youngest son of the landgrave Philip, received the upper county of Katzenelnbogen, and, selecting Darmstadt as his residence, became the founder of the Hesse-Darmstadt line. Additions to the landgraviate were made both in the reigns of George and of his son and successor, Louis V. (1577- 1626), but in 1622 Hesse-Homburg was cut off to form an apanage for George's youngest son, Frederick (d. 1638). Although Louis V., who founded the university of Giessen in 1607, was a Lutheran, he and his son, George II. (1605-1661), sided with the imperialists in the Thirty Years' War, during which Hesse- Darmstadt suffered very severely from the ravages of the Swedes. In this struggle Hesse-Cassel took the other side, and the rivalry between the two landgraviates was increased by a dispute over Hesse-Marburg, the ruling family of which had become extinct in 1604. This quarrel was interwoven with the general thread of the Thirty Years' War, and was not finally settled until 1648, when the disputed territory was divided between the two claimants. Louis VI. (d. 1678), a careful and patriotic prince, followed the policy of the three previous landgraves, but the anxiety of his son, Ernest Louis (d. 1739), to emulate the French court under Louis XIV. led his country into debt. Under Ernest Louis and his son and successor, Louis VIII. (d. 1768), another dispute occurred between Darmstadt and Cassel; this time it was over the succession to the county of Hanau, which was eventually divided, Hesse-Darmstadt receiving Lichtenberg. During the 18th century the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years' War dealt heavy blows at the prosperity of the landgraviate, which was always loyal to the house of Austria. Louis IX. (1719-1790). who served in the Prussian army under Frederick the Great, is chiefly famous as the husband of Caroline (1721-1774), " the great landgravine," who counted Goethe, Herder and Grimm among her friends and was described by Frederick the Great as femina sexu, ingenio vir. In April 1790, just after the outbreak of the French Revolution, Louis X. (1753-1830), an educated prince who shared the tastes and friendships of his mother, Caroline, became landgrave. In 1792 he joined the allies against France, but in 1799 he was compelled to sign a treaty of neutrality. In 1803, having formally surrendered the part of Hesse on the left bank of the Rhine which had been taken from him in the early days of the Revolution, Louis received in return a much larger district which had formerly belonged to the duchy of Westphalia, the electorate of Mainz and the bishopric of Worms. In 1806, being a member of the confederation of the Rhine, he took the title of Louis I., grandduke of Hesse; he supported Napoleon with troops from 1805 to 1813, but after the battle of Leipzig he joined the allies. In 1815 the congress of Vienna made another change in the area and boundaries of Hesse-Darmstadt. Louis secured again a district on the left bank of the Rhine, including the cities of Mainz and Worms, but he made cessions of territory to Prussia and to Bavaria and he recognized the independence of HesseHomburg, which had recently been incorporated with his lands. However, his title of grand-duke was confirmed, and as grandduke of Hesse and of the Rhine he entered the Germanic confederation. Soon the growing desire for liberty made itself felt in Hesse, and in 1820 Louis gave a constitution to the land; various forms were carried through; the system of government was reorganized, and in 1828 Hesse-Darmstadt joined the Prussian Zolherein. Louis I., who did a great deal for the welfare of his country, died on the 6th of April 1830, and was followed on the throne by his son, Louis II. (1777-1848). This grand-duke had some trouble with his Landtag, but, dying on the 16th of June 1848, he left his son, Louis III. (1806-1877), to meet the fury of the revolutionary year 1848. Many concessions were made to the popular will, but during the subsequent reaction these were withdrawn, and the period between 1850 and 1871, when Karl Friedrich Reinhard, Freiherr von Dalwigk (1802-1880), was chiefly responsible for the government of HesseDarmstadt, was one of repression, although some benefits were conferred upon the people. Dalwigk was one of Prussia's enemies, and during the war of 1866 the grand-duke fought on the Austrian side, the result being that he was compelled to pay a heavy indemnity and to cede certain districts, including Hesse-Homburg, which he had only just acquired, to Prussia. In 1867 Louis entered the North German Confederation, but only for his lands north of the Main, and in 1871 Hesse-Darmstadt became one of the states of the new German empire. After the withdrawal of Dalwigk from public life at this time a more liberal policy was adopted in Hesse. Many reforms in ecclesiastical, educational, financial and administrative matters were introduced, and in general the grand-duchy may be said to have passed largely under the influence of Prussia, which, by an arrangement made in 1896, controls the Hessian railway system. The constitution of 1820, subject to four subsequent modifications, is still the law of the land, the legislative power being vested in two chambers and the executive power being exercised by the three departments of the ministry of state. Since the annexation of Hesse-Cassel by Prussia in 1866 the grand-duchy has been known simply as Hesse. Louis III. died on the 13th of June 1877, and was succeeded by his nephew, Louis IV. (1837-1892), a son-in-law of Queen Victoria; he died on the 13th of March 1892, and was succeeded by his son, Ernest Louis (b. 1868). This grand-duke's marriage with Victoria (b. 1876), daughter of Alfred, duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, was dissolved in 1901. The union was childless, and consequently in 1902 a law regulating the succession was passed. By this the landgrave Alexander Frederick (b. 1863), the representative of the family which ruled Hesse-Cassel until 1866, was declared the heir to Hesse in case the grand-duke died without sons. However, in 1905 Ernest Louis married Elenore, princess of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich (b. 1871), by whom he had a son George (b. 1906).
See L. Baur, Urkunden zur hessischen Land.es-, Orts- und Familiengeschichte (Darmstadt, 1846-1873); Steiner, Geschichte des Grossherzogtums Hessen (Darmstadt, 1833-1834); Klein, Das Grussherzogtum Hessen (Mainz, 1861); Ewald, Historische Ubersicht der Territoriaherdnderungen der Landgrafschaft Hessen und des Grossherzogtums Hessen (Darmstadt, 1872); F. Soldan, Geschichte des Grossherzogtums Hessen (Giessen, 1896); H. Heppe, Kirchengeschichte beider Hessen (Marburg, 1876-1878); C. Hessler, Geschichte von Hessen (Cassel, 1891), and Hessische Landes- und Volkskunde (Marburg, 1904-1906) ; F. Kuchler, A. E. Braun and A. K. Weber, Verfassungs-und Verwaltungsrecht des Grossherzogtums Hessen ( Darmstadt, 1894-1897); H. Kunzel, Grossherzogtum Hessen (Giessen, 1893); and W. Zeller, Handbuch der Verfassung und Verwaltung im Grossherzogtum Hessen (Darmstadt, 1885-1893). See also Archil! fur hessische Geschichte und Altertumskunde (Darmstadt, 1894 fol.) and Hessisches Urkundenbuch (Leipzig, 1879 fol.).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)