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HESSE (Lat. Hessia, Ger. Hessen)

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Originally appearing in Volume V13, Page 411 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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HESSE (Lat. Hessia, Ger. Hessen), a grand duchy forming a state of the German empire. It was known until 1866 as Hesse-Darmstadt, the history of which is given under a separate heading below. It consists of two main parts, separated from each other by a narrow strip of Prussian territory. The northern part is the province of Oberhessen; the southern consists of the contiguous provinces of Starkenburg and Rheinhessen. There are also eleven very small exclaves, mostly grouped about Homburg to the south-west of Oberhessen; but the largest is Wimpfen on the north-west frontier of Wurttemberg. Oberhessen is hilly; though of no great elevation it extends over the water-parting between the basins of the Rhine and the Weser, and in the Vogelsberg it has as its culminating point the Taufstein (2533 ft.). In the north-west it includes spurs of the Taunus. Between these two systems of hills lies the fertile undulating tract known as the Wetterau, watered by the Wetter, a tributary of the Main. Starkenburg occupies the angle between the Main and the Rhine, and in its south-eastern part includes some of the ranges of the Odenwald, the highest part being the Seidenbucher Hohe (1965 ft.). Rheinhessen is separated from Starkenburg by the Rhine, and has that river as its northern as well as its eastern frontier, though it extends across it at the north-east corner, where the Rhine, on receiving the Main, changes its course abruptly from south to west. The territory consists of a fertile tract of low hills, rising towards the south-west into the northern extremity of the Hardt range, but at no point reaching a height of more than 1050 ft. The area and population of the three provinces of Hesse are as follow: Area. Population. sq. m. 1895. 1905. Oberhessen . 1267 271,524 296,755 Starkenburg . 1169 444,562 542,996 Rheinhessen . 530 322,934 369,424 Total . 2966 1,039,020 1, 209,175 The chief towns of the grand duchy are Darmstadt (the capital) and Offenbach in Starkenburg, Mainz and Worms hi Rheinhessen and Giessen in Oberhessen. More than two-thirds of the inhabitants are Protestants; the majority of the remainder are Roman Catholics, and there are about 25,000 Jews. The grand duke is head of the Protestant church. Education is compulsory, the elementary schools being communal, assisted by state grants. There are a university at Giessen and a technical high school at Darmstadt. Agriculture is important, more than three-fifths of the total area being under cultivation. The largest grain crops are rye and barley, and nearly 40,000 acres are under vines. Minerals, in which Oberhessen is much richer than the two other provinces, include iron, manganese, salt and some coal. The constitution dates from 1820, but was modified in 1856, 1862, 1872 and 1900. There are two legislative chambers. The upper consists of princes of the grand-ducal family, heads of mediatized 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 consists of ten deputies from large towns and forty from small towns and rural districts. They are indirectly elected, by deputy electors (Wahlmanner) nominated by the electors, who must be Hessians over twenty-five years old, paying direct taxes. The executive ministry of state is divided into the departments of the interior, justice and finance. The three provinces are divided for local administration into 18 circles and 989 communes. The ordinary revenue and expenditure amount each to about £4,000,000 annually, the chief taxes being an income-tax, succession duties and stamp tax. The public debt, practically the whole of which is on railways, amounted to £19,097,468 in 1907. History.—The name of Hesse, now used principally for the grand duchy formerly known as Hesse-Darmstadt, refers to a country which has had different boundaries and areas at different times. The name is derived from that of a Frankish tribe, the Hessi. The earliest known inhabitants of the country were the Chatti, who lived here during the 1st century A.D. (Tacitus, Germania, c. 30), and whose capital, Mattium on the Eder, was burned by the Romans about A.D. 15. " Alike both in race and language," says Walther Schultze, " the Chatti and the Hessi are identical." During the period of the Volkerwanderung many of these people moved westward, but some remained behind to give their name to the country, although it was not until the 8th century that the word Hesse came into use. Early Hesse was the district around the Fulda, the Werra, the Eder and the Lahn, and was part of the Frankish kingdom both during Merovingian and during Carolingian times. Soon Hessegau is mentioned, and this district was the headquarters of Charlemagne during his campaigns against the Saxons. By the treaty of Verdun in 843 it fell to Louis the German, and later it seems to have been partly in the duchy of Saxony and partly in that of Franconia. The Hessians were converted to Christianity mainly through the efforts of St Boniface; their land was included in the arch-bishopric of Mainz; and religion and culture were kept alive among them largely owing to the foundation of the Benedictine abbeys of Fulda and Hersfeld. Like other parts of Germany during the gth century Hesse felt the absence of a strong central power, and, before the time of the emperor Otto the Great, several counts, among whom were Giso and Werner, had made themselves practically independent; but after the accession of Otto in 936 the land quietly accepted the yoke of the medieval emperors. About 1120 another Giso, count of Gudensberg, secured possession of the lands of the Werners; on his death in 1137 his daughter and heiress, Hedwig, married Louis, land-grave of Thuringia; and from this date until 1247, when the Thuringian ruling family became extinct, Hesse formed part of Thuringia. The death of Henry Raspe, the last landgrave of Thuringia, in 1247, caused a long war over the disposal of his lands, and this dispute was not settled until 1264 when Hesse, separated again from Thuringia, was secured by his niece Sophia (d. 1284), widow of Henry II., duke of Brabant. In the following year Sophia handed over Hesse to her son Henry (1244-1308), who, remembering the connexion of Hesse and Thuringia, took the title of landgrave, and is the ancestor of all the subsequent rulers of the country. In 1292 Henry was made a prince of the Empire, and with him the history of Hesse properly begins. For nearly 300 years the history of Hesse is comparatively uneventful. The land, which fell into two main portions, upper Hesse round Marburg, and lower Hesse round Cassel, was twice divided between two members of the ruling family, but no permanent partition took place before the Reformation. A Landtag was first called together in 1387, and the landgraves were constantly at variance with the electors of Mainz, who had large temporal possessions in the country. They found time, however, to increase the area of Hesse. Giessen, part of Schmalkalden, Ziegenhain, Nidda and, after a long struggle, Katzenelnbogen were acquired, while in 1432 the abbey of Hersfeld placed itself under the protection of Hesse. The most noteworthy of the landgraves were perhaps Louis I. (d. 1458), a candidate for the German throne in 1440, and William II. (d. 1509), a comrade of the German king, Maximilian I. In 1509 William's young son, Philip (q.v.), became landgrave, and by his vigorous personality brought his country into prominence during the religious troubles of the 16th century. Following the example of his ancestors Philip cared for education and the general welfare of his land, and the Protestant university of Marburg, founded in 1527, owes to him its origin. When he died in 1567 Hesse was divided between his four sons into Hesse-Cassel, Hesse-Darmstadt, Hesse-Marburg and Hesse-Rheinfels. The lines ruling in Hesse-Rheinfels and Hesse-Marburg, or upper Hesse, became extinct in 1583 and 1604 respectively, and these lands passed to the two remaining branches of the family. The small landgraviate of Hesse-Homburg was formed in 1622 from 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 generally receives the common name. Hesse-Philippsthal is an offshoot of Hesse-Cassel, and was founded in 1685 by Philip (d. 1721), son of the Landgrave William VI. In 1909 the representative of this family was the Landgrave Ernest (b. 1846). Hesse-Barchfeld was founded in 1721 by Philip's son, William (d. 1761), and in 1909 its representative was the Landgrave Clovis (b. 1876). The lands of both these princes are now mediatized. Hesse-Nassau is a province of Prussia formed in 1866 from part of Hesse-Cassel and part of the duchy of Nassau. See H. B. Wenck, Hessische L4ndesgeschichte. (Frankfort, 1783-18o3); C. von Rommel, Geschichte von Hesse (Cassel 182o-1858) ; F. Munscher, Geschichte von Hesse (Marburg, 1894); F. Gundlach, Hesse and die Mainzer Stiftsfehde (Marburg, 1899); Walther, Literarisches Handbuch fur Geschichte and Landeskunde von Hesse ((Darmstadt, 1841; Supplement, 1850-1869) ; K. Ackermann, Bibliotheca Hessiaca (Cassel, 1884-1899) ; Hoffmeister, Historischgenealogisches Handbuch fiber alle Linien des Regentenhauses Hesse (Marburg, 1874), and the Zeitschrift des Vereins fur hessische Geschichte (1837-1904). HESSE-CASSEL (in German Kurhessen, i.e. Electoral Hesse), now the government district of Cassel in the Prussian province of Hesse-Nassau. It was till 1866 a landgraviate and electorate of Germany, consisting of several detached masses of territory, to the N.E. of Frankfort-on-the-Main. It contained a superficial area of 3699 sq. m., and its population in 1864 was 745,o63. History.—The line of Hesse-Cassel was founded by William IV., surnamed the Wise, eldest son of Philip the Magnanimous. On his father's death in 1567 he received one half of Hesse, with Cassel as his capital; and this formed the landgraviate of Hesse-Cassel. Additions were made to it by inheritance from his brother's possessions. His son, Maurice the Learned (1592-1627), turned Protestant in 16o5, became involved later in the Thirty Years' War, and, after being forced to cede some of his territories to the Darmstadt line, abdicated in favour of his son William V. (1627-1637), his younger sons receiving apanages which created several cadet lines of the house, of which that of Hesse-Rheinfels-Rotenburg survived till 1834. On the death of William V., whose territories had been conquered by the Imperialists, his widow Amalie Elizabeth, as regent for her son William VI. (1637-1663), reconquered the country and, with the aid of the French and Swedes, held it, together with part of Westphalia. At the peace of Westphalia (1648), accordingly, Hesse-Cassel was augmented by the larger part of the countship of Schaumburg and by the abbey of Hersfeld, secularized as a principality of the Empire. The Landgravine Amalie Elizabeth introduced the rule of primogeniture. William VI., who came of age in 1650, was an enlightened patron of learning and the arts. He was succeeded by his son William VII., an infant, who died in 167o, and was succeeded by his brother Charles (1670-1730). Charles's chief claim to remembrance is that he was the first ruler to adopt the system of hiring his soldiers out to foreign powers as mercenaries, as a means of improving the national finances. Frederick I., the next landgrave (1730-1751), had become by marriage king of Sweden, and on his death was succeeded in the landgraviate by his brother William VIII. (1751-1760), who fought as an ally of England during the Seven Years! War. From his successor Frederick II. (1760-1785), who had become a Roman Catholic, 2 2,000 Hessian troops were hired by England for about k3,191,000, to assist in the war against the North American colonies. This action, often bitterly criticized, has of late years found apologists (cf. v. Werthern, Die hessischen Hilfstruppen im nordamerikanischen Unabhangigkeitskriege, Cassel, 1895). It is argued that the troops were in any case mercenaries, and that the practice was quite common. Whatever opinion may be held as to this, it is certain that Frederick spent the money well: he did much for the development of the economic and intellectual improvement of the country. The reign of the next landgrave, William IX. (1785-1821), was an important epoch in the history of Hesse-Cassel. Ascending the throne in 1785, he took part in the war against France a few years later, but in 1795 peace was arranged by the treaty of Basel. For the loss in 18ox of his possessions on the left bank of the Rhine he was in 1803 compensated by some of the former French territory round Mainz, and at the same time was raised to the dignity of Elector (Kurfurst) as William I. In 1806 he made a treaty of neutrality with Napoleon, but after the battle of Jena the latter, suspecting William's designs, occupied his country, and expelled him. Hesse-Cassel was then added to Jerome Bonaparte's new kingdom of Westphalia; but after the battle of Leipzig in 1813 the French were driven out and on the 21st of November the elector returned in triumph to his capital. A treaty concluded by him with the Allies (Dec. 2) stipulated that he was to receive back all his former territories, or their equivalent, and at the same time to restore the ancient constitution of his country. This treaty, so far as the territories were concerned, was carried out by the powers at the congress of Vienna. They refused, however, the elector's request to be recognized as " King of the Chatti " (Kong der Katten), a request which was again rejected at the conference of Aix-la-Chapelle (1818). He therefore retained the now meaningless title of elector, with the predicate of " royal highness." The elector had signalized his restoration by abolishing with a stroke of the pen all the reforms introduced under the French regime, repudiating the Westphalian debt and declaring null and void the sale of the crown domains. Everything was set back to its condition on the 1st of November 1806; even the officials had to descend to their former rank, and the army to revert to the old uniforms and powdered pigtails. The estates, indeed, were summoned in March 1815, but the attempt to devise a constitution broke down; their appeal to the federal diet at Frankfort to call the elector to order in the matter of the debt and the domains came to nothing owing to the intervention of Metternich; and in May 1816 they were dissolved, never to meet again. William I. died on the 27th of February 1821, and was succeeded by his son, William II. Under him the constitutional crisis in Hesse-Cassel came to a head. He was arbitrary and avaricious like his father, and moreover shocked public sentiment by his treatment of his wife, a popular Prussian princess, and his relations with his mistress, one Emilie Ortlopp, created countess of Reichenbach, whom he loaded with wealth. The July revolution in Paris gave the signal for disturbances; the elector was forced to summon the estates; and on the 5th of January 1831 a constitution on the ordinary Liberal basis was signed. The elector now retired to Hanau, appointed his son Frederick William regent, and took no further part in public affairs. The regent, without his father's coarseness, had a full share of his arbitary and avaricious temper. Constitutional restrictions were intolerable to him; and the consequent friction with the diet was aggravated when, in 1832, Hassenpflug (q.v.) was placed at the head of the administration. The whole efforts of the elector and his minister were directed to nullifying theconstitutional control vested in the diet; and the Opposition was fought by manipulating the elections, packing the judicial bench, and a vexatious and petty persecution of political " suspects," and this policy continued after the retirement of Hassenpflug in 1837. The situation that resulted issued in the revolutionary year 1848 in a general manifestation of public discontent; and Frederick William, who had become elector on his father's death (November 20, 1847), was forced to dismiss his reactionary ministry and to agree to a comprehensive pro-gramme of democratic reform. This, however, was but short-lived. After the breakdown of the Frankfort National Parliament, Frederick William joined the Prussian Northern Union, and deputies from Hesse-Cassel were sent to the Erfurt parliament. But as Austria recovered strength, the elector's policy changed. On the 23rd of February 185o Hassenpflug was again placed at the head of the administration and • threw himself with renewed zeal into the struggle against the constitution and into opposition to Prussia. On the 2nd of September the diet was dissolved; the taxes were continued by electoral ordinance; and the country was placed under martial law. It was at once clear, however, that the elector could not depend on his officers or troops, who remained faithful to their oath to the constitution. Hassenpflug persuaded the elector to leave Cassel secretly with him, and on the 15th of October appealed for aid to the reconstituted federal diet, which willingly passed a decree of " intervention. " On the 1st of November an Austrian and Bavarian force marched into the electorate. This was a direct challenge to Prussia, which under conventions with the elector had the right to the use of the military roads through Hesse that were her sole means of communication with her Rhine provinces. War seemed imminent; Prussian troops also entered the country, and shots were actually exchanged between the outposts. But Prussia was in no condition to take up the challenge; and the diplomatic contest that followed issued in the Austrian triumph at Olmutz (1851). Hesse was surrendered to the federal diet; the taxes were collected by the federal forces, and all officials who refused to recognize the new order were dismissed. In March 1852 the federal diet abolished the constitution of 1831, together with the reforms of 1848, and in April issued a new provisional constitution. The new diet had, under this, very narrow powers; and the elector was free to carry out his policy of amassing money, forbidding the construction of railways and manufactories, and imposing strict orthodoxy on churches and schools. In 1855, however, Hassenpflug—who had returned with the elector—was dismissed; and five years later, after a period of growing agitation, a new constitution was granted with the consent of the federal diet (May 30, x86o). The new chambers, however, demanded the constitution of 1831; and, after several dissolutions which always resulted in the return of the same members, the federal diet decided to restore the constitution of 1831 (May. 24, 1862). This had been due to a threat of Prussian occupation; and it needed another such threat to persuade the elector to reassemble the chambers, which he had dismissed at the first sign of opposition; and he revenged himself by refusing to transact any public business. In 1866 the end came. The elector, full of grievances against Prussia, threw in his lot with Austria; the electorate was at once overrun with Prussian troops; Cassel was occupied (June 20); and the elector was carried a prisoner to Stettin. By the treaty of Prague Hesse-Cassel was annexed to Prussia. The elector Frederick William (d. 1875) had been, by the terms of the treaty of cession, guaranteed the entailed property of his house. This was, however, sequestered in 1868 owing to his intrigues against Prussia; part of the income was paid, however, to the eldest agnate, the landgrave Frederick (d. 1884), and part, together with certain castles and palaces, was assigned to the cadet lines of Philippsthal and Philippsthal-Barchfeld. See K. W. Wippermann, Kurhessen seit den Freiheitskriegen (Cassel, 1850); Roth, Geschichte von Hessen-Kassel (Cassel, 1856; 2nd ed. continued by Stamford, 1883–1885); H. Grafe, Der Verfassungskampf in Kurhessen (Leipzig, 1851) and works under
End of Article: HESSE (Lat. Hessia, Ger. Hessen)
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