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The Grand Duchy of Hesse and by Rhine (German: Großherzogtum Hessen und bei Rhein), or, between 1806 and 1816, Grand Duchy of Hesse ( ) -as it was in shorthand known also after 1816- was a member state of the German Confederationmarker from 1806, when the Landgraviate of Hesse-Darmstadtmarker was elevated to a Grand Duchy, until 1918, when all the German monarchies were overthrown. Before 1866, its northern neighbour was its former sister Landgraviate, since 1803 an Electorate, of Hessen-Kassel – for this reason, this state was sometimes colloquially known as Hesse-Darmstadt.


Due to Hesse-Darmstadt's membership of Napoleon's Confederation of the Rhinemarker, it was forced to cede a considerable amount of territory at the 1815 Congress of Vienna. The territory of the Duchy of Westphalia, which Hesse-Darmstadt received from the 1803 German Mediatisation, was ceded to the Kingdom of Prussiamarker. However, it received some territory on the western bank of the Rhinemarker, including the important federal fortress at Mainzmarker.
Residenzschloss (city palace) of the Grand Dukes in Darmstadt

The Grand Duchy changed its name to the Grand Duchy of Hesse and by Rhine ( ) in 1816.

In 1867, the northern half of the Grand Duchy (Upper Hesse) became a part of the North German Confederationmarker, while the half of the Grand Duchy south of the Main (Starkenburg and Rhenish Hesse) remained outside. In 1871, it became a constituent state of the German Empire. The last Grand Duke, Ernst Ludwig (a grandson of Queen Victoria and brother to Empress Alexandra of Russiamarker), was forced from his throne at the end of World War I, and the state was renamed the Volksstaat Hessenmarker (People's State of Hesse).

The majority of the state combined with Frankfurt am Mainmarker, the Waldeck area (Rhine-Province) and the former Prussian province of Hesse-Nassau to form the new state of Hessemarker following the Second World War. Excepted was the Montabaur district from Hessen-Nassau and that part of Hessen-Darmstadt on the left bank of the Rhine (Rhenish Hesse) became part of the Rhineland-Palatinatemarker state. (Bad) Wimpfen - an exclave of Hessen-Darmstadt - became part of Baden-Württemberg, district of Sinsheim.


Because of the disjointed nature of the state, it did not develop its own state railway to begin with, but set up joint railway projects with its neighbouring states:These were the:
  • Main-Neckar Railway with Frankfurtmarker and Baden
  • Main-Weser line with Frankfurt and Kurhessen
  • Frankfurt-Offenbach Railway with the Free City of Frankfurt

In addition the state encouraged numerous other projects by the privately-owned Hessian Ludwig Railway Company. Finally, in 1876 the state founded its own company, the Grand Duchy of Hesse State Railways, which continued to expand the network until it was finally merged into the Prussian-Hessian Railway Company in 1897.

Subdivisions of Hesse

The three provinces of the Grand Duchy of Hesse: Upper Hesse, Starkenburg and Rhenish Hesse
The Grand Duchy of Hesse was divided into three provinces:

See also

External links


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