The Grand Duchy of Hesse Darmstadt was a German state since 1567. It was a member state of the Germanic Confederation between 1815 and 1866. She sided with Austria during the war in 1866.  After the Prussian-Austrian War it became a member state of the North German Confederation. It was known until 1866 as Hesse-Darmstadt. After the annexation of Hesse-Cassel and Hesse-Homburg by Prussia in 1866 Hesse-Darmstadt remained the only independent part of Hesse, and it became known as Hesse.  Not only where the inhabitants known as Hessians, but so were inhabitants of the former states of Hesse and the new Prussian province of Hesse Nassau.  Hesse Darmstadt became a member state of the German Empire in 1871. It consisted of two main parts, separated from each other by a narrow strip of Prussian territory. The northern part was the province of Oberhessen; the southern consisted of the contiguous provinces of Starkenburg and Rheinhessen.  There were 1,333,000 inhabitants in 1914. It is a common misconception that there was no land lost by Hesse Darmstadt as a result of royal connections post the war of 1866.  While doing far better than many of its neighbors, she still lost a great deal of land north of Wexlar.

The Hessian military became a contingent of the Prussian Army on April 7, 1867.  Even though only the northern part of Hesse joined the North German Confederation the entire military was integrated into the Prussian Army.  There were some significant variances with other conventions and there even was a separate War Minister for Hesse.  A further convention was signed in June of 1871 with the maintaining a little bit more control over uniforms and other functions that most of the other small states.  The Grand Duke retained the right to order any changes in the uniform which can be observed in later imperial orders.

The Landgraf of Hessen-Darmstadt became the Grand Duke of Hesse (Großherzöge von Hessen) in 1806 after being forced to join Napoleon I’s Rhine Alliance. After Napoleon’s army had been defeated in 1815 Hesse Darmstadt’s territory was enlarged to include cities near the Rhine River, such as Mainz. The official title was changed from Hesse Darmstadt "Hesse and the Rhine" (Hessen und bei Rhein).  The form of government was a hereditary constitutional monarchy. There were two legislative chambers in the parliament both called Kammer. The upper consisted of princes of the grand-ducal family, heads of noble houses, the head of the Roman Catholic and the superintendent of the Protestant church, the chancellor of the university, two elected representatives of the land-owning nobility, and twelve members nominated by the Grand Duke. The lower chamber consisted of 50 members that were indirectly elected by deputy electors (Wahlmanner).  The voting right was offered to all taxpayers, and was secret and direct.

ERNST LUDWIG Karl Albrecht Wilhelm, Grand Duke of Hesse and the Rhine, lost his throne 9 Nov 1918 (Darmstadt 25 Nov 1868-Schloß Wolfsgarten 9 Oct 1937); m.1st Coburg 19 Apr 1894 (div 1901) Victoria Melita Pss of Great Britain, Ireland and Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, etc (Malta 25 Nov 1876-Amorbach 2 Mar 1936); m.2d Darmstadt 2 Feb 1905 Eleonore Pss zu Solms-Hohensolms-Lich (Lich 17 Sep 1871-Steene, nr Ostende 16 Nov 1937)

Victoria Melita (Ducky)

In 1894 the Grand Duke married Victoria Melita of Great Britain.  Despite the birth of a daughter this was not a happy marriage. Victoria Melita's (Ducky’s) fights with the passive Ernst were legendary and included much china and glassware being thrown and broken.  They were divorced in 1901. There is controversy today whether the Grand Duke was gay or bisexual or if Victoria Melita created this rumor maliciously.  He married again in 1905.





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