Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Fractured fairy tales

When Princess Elisabeth of Hesse married the Hereditary Prince of Anhalt at Philippsruhe on May 26, 1884, she expected that in the distant future she would be the consort of the Duke of Anhalt. Her husband, Leopold, was the heir apparent to the Anhalt duchy. It was a very good match, as Elisabeth was the eldest daughter of Landgrave Friedrich II of Hesse and his second wife, Princess Anna of Prussia. Leopold was the eldest child of Duke Friedrich I and Duchess Antoinette (nee Princess of Saxe-Altenberg.

Queen Victoria wrote to her daughter, Crown Princess Victoria on January 5, 1884: "I also omitted in my last letter saying I was very glad to hear that Princess Elizabeth of Hesse is going to make a good marriage as the poor thing is not happy, but I regret that you have not got him en réserve for Vicky if her fond hopes cannot be realised. Perhaps they may."
On March 3, 1885, the Hereditary Princess gave birth to a daughter, Antoinette Anna Alexandra Marie Luise Elisabeth Auguste Friederike at Schloss Georgium, near Dessau. The joy of the first child, albeit a daughter who could not succeed to the throne, was, sadly, tempered by the news that the Hereditary Prince was ill with tuberculosis. He sought comfort in a warmer climate and died at Cannes on February 2, 1886.

Elisabeth remained in Anhalt, but did not remarry. Her official title remained Hereditary Princess Leopold, but the new heir was her brother-in-law, Friedrich, who was married to the former Princess Marie of Baden. Their marriage was childless, which meant that Friedrich's heir was his younger brother, Eduard, who was married to Princess Luise of Saxe-Altenberg.

There were two more siblings: Prince Aribert, the youngest son, who married Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein in 1891. The marriage was dissolved in 1900, which was not a surprise as Aribert was homosexual and sought companionship outside the marital bed, and Princess Alexandra who married Prince Sizzo of Schwarzenberg.
In May 1891, the Hereditary Princess Leopold visited Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle.

Not much is known about Elisabeth's life post-1918. Her only child, Princess Antoinette Anna, married, as his second wife, Prince Friedrich of Schaumburg-Lippe, at Dessau in May 1909. Friedrich's mother was Princess Bathildis of Anhalt.
(Friedrich's first wife was Princess Louise of Denmark, daughter of Frederik VIII.)

Antoinette Anna and Friedrich were the parents of two sons, Leopold (1910-2006) and Wilhelm (1912-1938.) Friedrich died at Kudowa, Silesia on December 12, 1945. Bad Kudowa is located in what is now southwest Poland, and is known as Kudowa-Zdroj. It is across the border from Nachod in the the Czech Republic. The Schaumburg-Lippe owned estates in the area, primarily the castle in Nachod, which they maintained until 1945, when the then Czechoslovakia fell into Soviet control.

Princess Elisabeth and her daughter, Antoinette, both died at Dessau, in 1955, and 1963, respectively. One wonders why the two princesses were unable to flee to the west, as other family members did. Elisabeth was 84 years old in 1945. Perhaps she was too infirm to be able to travel, and her daughter, remained with her at Dessau.

Prince Eduard of Anhalt became the heir apparent in 1904 when his brother, Friedrich, succeeded to the Duchy as Friedrich II. Friedrich reigned until April 21, 1918. Eduard married Princess Luise of Saxe-Altenburg at Altenburg on February 6, 1895. Princess Luise was the second daughter of Prince Moritz of Saxe-Altenburg. She gave birth to the couple's first child. a daughter, Friederike Margarete on January 11, 1896. The little princess lived for eleven months and died on November 18, 1896. Luise was pregnant with her second child when her daughter died. She gave birth to a son, Leopold Friedrich on February 10, 1897. Again, tragedy would strike the family, and Leopold died on December 26, 1898.

On June 10, 1898, Luise gave birth to a daughter, who was given the names Marie Auguste Antoinette Friederike Alexandra Hilda Luise. A second son, Joachim Ernst, was born January 11, 1901, and he was followed by Eugen (April 17, 1903) and Wolfgang, who was born on July 12, 1912.

Eduard and Luise were largely estranged for several years, and shortly after he succeeded his brother as duke, Eduard divorced Luise. She resumed her maiden name and eventually returned to Altenburg. It is unclear how close she was to her daughter, Marie Auguste, and if she provided emotional support to Marie Auguste during the latter's brief marriage to Prince Joachim of Prussia. Eduard died on September 13, 1918, just two months before the fall of the Germany and the establishment of a republic. Prince Joachim Ernst was only 17 when his father died. Eduard's younger brother, Prince Aribert, was named as regent, and it was he who abdicated for his nephew in November 1918. Prince Joachim Ernst, who was married twice, and had children by his second wife, Edda, died at Buchenwald as a Russian prisoner of war in 1948.

Princess Luise died on April 14, 1953 at Altenburg. She, too, died in East Germany, unable or unwilling to flee in 1945 to West Germany.


Eurohistory said...

Wonderful little story...a series could be done about so many of these...

JimBob said...

Thank you for sharing this story. I enjoy your blog very much. Thank you.

jason said...

The story of the Anhalts, like that of the Saxe Altennbergs that they were so entwined with, show how fragile a family line can be. the Anhalts will be extinct in the male line in the next generation, despite there being many sons born to the family in the generations before the first world war.