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The Province of Hanover ( ) was at various times a principality within the Holy Roman Empire, an Electorate within the same, an independent Kingdom, and a subordinate province within the Kingdom of Prussiamarker. The territory was named after its capital, the city of Hanovermarker, which was the principal town of the region from 1636. In contemporary usage, the name is only used for the city; most of the historical territory of Hanover forms the greater part of the German Land of Lower Saxonymarker.


Hanover was formed by the union of several dynastic divisions of the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg, with the sole exception of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. From 1714 to 1837, it was joined in a personal union with the United Kingdommarker, which terminated upon the accession in Britain of Queen Victoria as under the terms of Salic Law, a woman could not rule Hanover. Until 1803, when it was occupied by French and Prussian troops, Hanover was a constituent state of the Holy Roman Empire; when it regained independence in 1814, Hanover was raised to a kingdom, which lasted until 1866.

Dukes of Brunswick and Lüneburg

The title "Duke of Brunswick and Lüneburg" ( ) was held, from 1235, by various members of the Welf family who ruled several small territories in northwest Germany. These holdings did not have all of the formal characteristics of a state, being neither compact nor indivisible. When several sons of a Duke competed for power, the lands were often divided between them; when a branch of the family lost power or became extinct, the lands were reallocated among surviving members of the family; different dukes might also exchange territories. The territories were named after notable towns where the dukes had (or had had at one time) their residences, e.g. Calenberg, Cellemarker, Göttingenmarker, Grubenhagen, Lüneburgmarker, Wolfenbüttelmarker. The unifying element of all these territories was that they were ruled by male-line descendants of Duke Otto I, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, nephew of the Holy Roman Emperor Otto IV.


The line that would lead to the House of Hanover was that of Bernard, one of the three sons of Duke Magnus II who had jointly ruled a united Duchy of Brunswick since 1388, but who partitioned the territory in 1428 and 1432. Bernard received the territory of Lüneburg, whose principal town was Cellemarker.

In 1569, Lüneburg was divided between Henry III (line of Dannenberg) and William VI (line of Lüneburg-Celle), the sons of Ernest the Confessor, Bernard's great-great-grandson.

A distant cousin of the line of Lüneburg, Frederick Ulrich, who ruled the territories of Wolfenbüttel and Calenberg, died in 1634. After some dispute, his territories were divided in 1635 between the Dannenberg and Celle branches of the Lüneburg line. Henry III's son Augustus became Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel and his descendants eventually ruled the Duchy of Brunswick.

William's first four sons ruled Lüneburg-Celle in sequence from their father's death in 1592 to 1648. The fifth son, George received the territories of Calenberg and Göttingen in 1635. In 1636 he moved the seat of the Dukes of Calenberg from Pattensenmarker to the town of Hannovermarker in the Calenberg territory. This was the nucleus of the state of Hannover, though the territory would have to wait until 1814 before receiving "Hannover" as its official name.

In 1648, the Duke of Calenberg inherited Celle from his uncle Frederick, the last survivor of William's five sons. From 1648 to 1705, Celle (the larger territory) was held by the senior of the Celle line, and Calenberg by the next junior.

In 1692, the Emperor promised to raise the Duke of Calenberg, Ernest Augustus, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg to the rank of Elector. This promotion did not become effective until it was recognized by the Imperial Diet in 1708, ten years after Ernest Augustus' death.

In the meantime, his son, George Louis, inherited Celle from his uncle in 1705, doubling Hanover's size.


Dukes of Brunswick and Lüneburg in Lüneburg-Celle and Calenberg
Image Name Date Notes
William 1559-1592 Ruled with his brother Henry to 1569, and alone in Lüneburg-Celle thereafter.
Ernest II 1592-1611 Eldest son of William, ruled in Celle.
Christian 1611-1633 Second son of William, ruled in Celle.
Augustus 1633-1636 Third son of William, ruled in Celle
Frederick 1636-1648 Fourth son of William, ruled in Celle.
George 1635–1641 Fifth son of William. Ruled in Calenberg and Göttingen, moved his ducal seat to Hannover in 1636.
Christian Louis 1641–1665 Son of preceding. Ruled in Calenberg to 1648, when he inherited Celle from his uncle Frederick and ruled there thereafter.
George William 1648–1705 Brother of preceding. Ruled in Calenberg to 1665, and in Celle thereafter. Acquired the Duchy of Saxe-Lauenburg in 1689.
John Frederick 1665–1679 Brother of preceding. Ruled in Calenberg only.
Ernest Augustus 1679–1698 Brother of preceding. Ruled in Calenberg. Awarded the rank of Elector in 1692.
George Louis 1698-1708 Son of preceding. Inherited the territory of Lüneburg and the duchy of Saxe-Lauenburg from his uncle George William in 1705. Installed as Elector in 1708.

Electors of Hanover 1708-1814

In 1692, the Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold I, elevated George's son, Duke Ernest Augustus to the rank of Elector of the Empire as a reward for aid given in the War of the Grand Alliance. There were protests against the addition of a new Elector, and the elevation did not become official (with the approval of the Imperial Diet) until 1708, in the person of Ernest Augustus' son, George Louis. Though the Elector's titles were properly Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Elector of the Holy Roman Empire, he is commonly referred to as the Elector of Hanover after his residence.

Sketch map of Hanover, c.1720, showing the relative locations of Hanover, Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, and the Prince-Bishopric of Osnabrück.
Hanover acquired Bremen-Verden in 1719.

The Electorate was legally bound to be indivisible: it could add to its territory, but not alienate territory or be split up among several heirs; and its succession was to follow male primogeniture. The territory assigned to the Electorate included the Brunswick-Lüneburg duchies of Calenberg, Grubenhagen, and Celle (even though at the time Celle was ruled by Ernest Augustus' older brother) and the counties of Diepholzmarker and Hoya.

George Louis became king of Great Britainmarker in 1714 (see House of Hanover). The influence of the electors in Germany grew also: they inherited the formerly Swedishmarker territories of Bremen and Verdenmarker in 1719. As part of the German Mediatisation of 1803, the Electorate received the Prince-Bishopric of Osnabrück.

In 1803, the Electorate of Hanover was occupied by Francemarker after the Convention of Artlenburg. From 1807 to 1813, the Hanoverian territory was part of the Kingdom of Westphaliamarker. However, the government of George III did not recognize the French annexation (being at war continuously with France through the entire period) and Hanoverian ministers continued to operate out of London. The Hanoverian government maintained its own separate diplomatic service, which maintained links to countries such as Austriamarker and Prussia, with whom the United Kingdom itself was technically at war. The Hanoverian army was dissolved, but many of the officers and soldiers went to England, where they formed the King's German Legion. The KGL was the only German army to fight continually during the whole Napoleonic wars against the French. They played an important part in the Battle of Waterloomarker in 1815.

Although the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved in 1806, George III's government did not consider the dissolution to be final, and he continued to be styled "Elector of Hanover" down to 1814.

Electors of Hanover
Image Name Date Notes
George I 1708–1727 George Louis, son of Ernest Augustus. Became King of Great Britain in 1714. Acquired Bremen and Verden in 1719.
George II 1727–1760 Son of preceding.
George III 1760–1814 Grandson of preceding. Became King of the United Kingdommarker (including Ireland) in 1801. Abandoned Electoral title and became King of Hanover in 1814.

Kings of Hanover 1814–1866

In 1813, George III was restored to his Hanoverian territories, and in October of 1814 they were erected into the independent Kingdom of Hanover at the Congress of Vienna. The Congress of Vienna instituted a territorial exchange between Hanover and Prussia, in which Hanover increased its area substantially, gaining the Bishopric of Hildesheim, East Frisia, the Lower County of Lingenmarker and the northern part of the Bishopric of Münster. It lost those parts of the Duchy of Lauenburg to the right of the Elbe, and several small exclaves in the east.

The personal union with the United Kingdom ended in 1837 on the accession of Queen Victoria because the succession laws (Salic Law) in Hanover prevented a female inheriting the title if there was any surviving male heir (in the United Kingdom, a male takes precedence over only his own sisters). In the Austro-Prussian Warmarker of 1866, Hanover was annexed by Prussiamarker and became the Province of Hanover.

Kings of Hanover
Image Name Date Notes
George III 1814-1820 George III was mentally unfit during these years, and power was exercised by a regency.
George IV 1820–1830 Son of preceding. Regent 1811-1820.
William 1830-1837 Brother of preceding. Last monarch to rule both Hanover and the United Kingdom.
Ernest Augustus 1837–1851 Brother of preceding. His accession separated the crowns of Hanover and the United Kingdom, as the latter passed to Queen Victoria.
George V 1851–1866 Son of preceding. Lost his territories to Prussiamarker in the Austro-Prussian warmarker.

Coat of arms

After the personal union with Britain ended in 1837, Hanover kept the British royal arms and standards, only introducing a new crown (after the British model).

Coat of arms of the monarchs of Hanover .
Monarch's Standard.

Presidents of the Province of Hanover

See also

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