Monday, August 2, 2010

Duke of Schleswig-Holstein marries against family's wish

August 2, 1898

Ernst Gunther, the Duke of Schleswig-Holstein, was married today at the Court church in Coburg to Princess Dorothea of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The Wedding breakfast took place "in the throne room of the palace," according to the New York Times report.
The Duke is the brother of Empress Augusta Viktoria of Germany, and, thus, the Kaiser's brother-in-law.
Ernst Gunther's family has been "actively engaged" in trying to prevent this marriage from taking place. This is largely due to the "scandal that has been connected with the bride's mother, Princess Louise," who is the eldest daughter of King Leopold II of the Belgians. Louise married Prince Philipp of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1875.
The couple's religious differences have also proved difficult. The Duke is a Major in the Prussian Army. He is a Lutheran and his wife is Roman Catholic. According to the Roman Catholic church's canon law, the children of mixed marriages must be brought up in the Catholic church. But due to a Prussian Order in Council, Prussian officers "pledge themselves to bring up their children in any faith save the Evangelical on penalty of being dismissed from the service."

In Germany, the Lutheran Church is known as the Evangelische Kirche.


Joe said...

"But due to a Prussian Order in Council, Prussian officers "pledge themselves to bring up their children in any faith save the Evangelical on penalty of being dismissed from the service.""


I was not aware of this so thank you. Isn't there something wrong with the statement though? Doesn't this say that this order prevented him from raising the children as Lutheran?? I would love to see this order and how it was followed–totally new to me so thank you very very much!

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

In Germany, the term Lutheran is not usually used -- it is the Evangelische Kirche.

Joe said...


My real question is about the comment “save the Evangelical” doesn't that mean that he could not raise them as evangelical?

Thank you for the link! That may indeed be the case today and was often used in English language sources. Here is a slightly different point of view.

The situation in the Kingdom of Prussia, however, was rather more complex. King Frederick William III forced a union between the Reformed (Calvinist) and the Lutheran churches in 1817. This new church was called Evangelische Kirche in Preußen, later renamed Evangelische Landeskirche in Preußen and finally known as Evangelische Landeskirche der älteren Provinzen Preußens. The King of Prussia was head of both the Reformed and the Lutheran churches in his country and referred to as “Summus episcopus" (Latin) meaning highest bishop. In the Kingdom of Prussia, the Kaiser was not only the sovereign of the State but was also a supreme bishop for the protestant faith. Until 1918, their respective monarchs headed the different Landeskirchen of all protestant Imperial German princedoms. Even today, for example, the Queen of England still holds the position of the head of the Church of
101 (Dürr 1985) pg. 8-9
England. But this union in Prussia was more an administrative in nature. In questions of theology, parishes stayed Lutheran, Reformed, or found a united position. That was different in South Germany, where in the Palatinate and Baden they made real theological unions. The urban bourgeoisie fell away from faith and church attendance. Church attendance fell in the proletariat areas to between one and three percent. Nonetheless, there was a middle class feeling of “cultural Protestantism” that surrounded the entire state. The German throne and the German ethos was protestant.102

This quote is from the Handbook of Imperial Germany–the original sourcing was from: Dürr, Volker. "The Fatal Symbiosis: Prussia and Imperial Germany." In Imperial Germany, by Harms, Hayes Dürr, 3 -- 16. Madison, Wisconsin: University Of Wisconsin Press, 1985.

Thank you for your help and this wonderful website!

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

The children had to be raised as Lutherans - remember, the style of words in 1898 was different than today.

Joe said...

"remember, the style of words in 1898 was different than today. "

Learn something every day! That is quite a switch for such a little word, I just came across one in German that has just ceased to exist. Thank you.

Jorge said...

Princess Louise of Belgium claimed in her memories that Dorothea was invited by Ernst Gunther to Germany and, while there, she was convinced by him to get married, without informing her parents. He wanted her hypothetical fortune, considering her grandfather was one of the richest men in the world. It seems that Empress Augusta Viktoria was not opposed to the match.