german Houses: The Ducal House of Saxe-Meiningen

The Ducal House of Saxe-Meiningen

House of Wettin

When in 1680 the 7 sons of the late Duke Ernst I. of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg divided their from their father inherited Country the third oldest son Bernhard .I got ithe former Henneberg offices Meiningen, Maßfeld, Wasungen, Sand and Frauenbreitungen, as well as the Saxon-Wettin offices Salzungen and Altenstein awarded the court Liebenstein. This formed the new Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen. As with the older brothers, Duke Friedrich of Saxe-Gotha and Duke Albrecht of Saxe-Coburg, Saxe-Meiningen received full sovereignty in the Empire.
Due to the extinction of the lines Saxe-Coburg 1699 and Saxony-Römhild 1710, the territory of the Duchy after each long and sometimes warlike building conflicts  was significantly increased. In 1735 the office Neuhaus and the court Sonneberg of Saxe-Coburg and in 1753 two-thirds of the rule Römhild were awarded to Saxe.Meiningen. The country called itself now in the time of 1735-1826 Saxe-Meiningen-Coburg. Saxe-Meiningen had already acquired in 1723 half of Saxony-Hildburghausen and 1729 also the Schaumberg half of the Office Schalkau and 1732 the Schaumberg court district Rauenstein. 1742 was created until 1826 from the court Sonneberg an office Sonneberg, which was spatially separated from the core area around Meiningen by the Duchy of Saxe -Hildburghausen together with the offices Schalkau and Neuhaus and the court Rauenstein. For this area, the name “Meininger Oberland” became known. The core area around the residential city Meiningen was now called “Meininger Unterland”. Until 1806 the offices Meiningen, Maßfeld, Wasungen, Sand, Frauenbreitungen and Amt Salzungen belonged to the Franconian imperial circle.
After the death of Duke Bernhard in 1706 his oldest son Ernst Ludwig I. reigned together with his brother Friedrich Wilhelm and his half-brother Anton Ulrich, as Bernhard I had set the indivisibility of the country, but also the communal government of his sons in his will. As the oldest the brothers Ernst Ludwig, contrary to the paternal will, sought for sole rule for himself and his descendants. Immediately after the death of his father Ernst Ludwig reached in a contract also that his brothers left him the government, which led to a break with his half-brother Anton Ulrich. However, the introduction of primogeniture failed, which is why his brothers reigned after the death of Ernst Ludwig in guardianship of his sons. The country experienced a decline due to the continuing disputes within the Ducal Family.

The last reorganization and territorial change of the Ernestine duchies took place after the extinction of the line Saxe-Gotha Altenburg in the year 1826 by the partitioning contract to Hildburghausen. Except for the offices Königsberg and Sonnefeld Saxe-Meiningen received all of Saxe-Hildburghausen, the offices Saalfeld, Gräfenthal and Themar (which had previously belonged to Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld), Camburg with 15 locations of the district office Eisenberg, Kranichfeld and 1/3 of the office Römhild (previously attributed to Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg).
Since 1815 the Duchy was a member of the German Confederation. The Duchy  received its own constitution in 1829 and the Meininger Landtag, which was made up of country estates and consisted of 24 parliamentary deputies. In 1833 the Duchy became a member of the German Customs Union in the Customs and Trade Association of the Thuringian States.
In the German War of 1866, Saxe-Meiningen was on the side of Austria, so that a Prussian declaration of war took place on 11.07. After the defeat of Austria and the later resignation on 26.07. from the German Confederation, Duke Bernhard II asked for admission to the North German Confederation. This was promised to him only on the condition of abdication in favor of his then Prussian-friendly son Georg. After lengthy negotiations over a contract of agreement with his son, Duke Bernhard II. finally abdicated on 20.09, after the intervention of a Prussian infantry regiment in Meiningen in favor of his son Georg. Thus, on 08.10., a peace treaty was concluded, which only against assignment of the village Abtlöbnitz near Camburg, without further war indemnities, allowed the inclusion in the North German Confederation.
In 1871, the Duchy became a member of the German Reich, which replaced the North German Confederation. In the Federal Council in Berlin, it was represented by the Kingdom of Bavaria and not like most other Thuringian states by the Grand Duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach.
Because the liberal and humanistic principles of Duke George II. did not agree with the conservative, chauvinist policy of the Hohenzollern Emperor. Georg II. advocated a liberal, parliamentary and pro-British monarchy, which included the integration of the newly formed Social Democratic Party in state politics. Under the reign of Duke Georg II.  a liberalization policy took place, the legal system and society, and reforms in the school system there were still carried out (primary school law and school health care from 1875), the electoral system and in administration (Municipalities Act 1897). George II also was for the equality of women in educational and academic professions a. His work as reigning Duke is thus as high as assess his achievements in culture and art. Famous is Georg II. for his work for the theater and in particular with the reorganization of the Meiningen Court Theatre and the Meininger Theater group. He introduced himself directed, designed costumes and went with his reforms of director’s theater, the so-called Meininger principles in the culture history. Together with his third wife, the actress Ellen Franz, later Baroness Helene von Heldburg and director Ludwig Chronegk he led the Meininger” to international fame with performances in Berlin, Vienna, Moscow, London and in many other European cities. Through these tours, which were carried out until 1890, his ideas of the modern director’s theater spread quickly on the stages of Europe. Meiningen is still regarded as a theater town.  Under Georg II., the Meininger Court Orchestra became world-famous.
Duke Georg II. died in 1914 short before the outbreak of the first World Wwar. His son and successor Duke Bernhard III. was unpopular in his libertal country due to his  conservative Prussian ethos.  After the start of World War Duke  Bernhard III.  gave over  the affairs of government to his wife Charlotte, a sister of Emperor Wilhelm II- who now as Duchess led the country, and went to the front to visit Meiningen troops and military installations. After his brother-in-law abdicated as German Emperor and King of Prussia in the wake of the November Revolution on 09.11.1918, Bernhard did the next day to pressure the Meininger Workers ‘and Soldiers’ Council equal. After Bernhard’s brother Ernst on 12.11.1918 waived the government, in Meiningen, the monarchy was ended and the Duchy of SaxeMeiningen went on in the Free State of SaxeMeiningen.

Duke’s of Saxe-Meiningen
1680-1706 Bernhard I.
married first to Princess Maria Hedwig of Hesse-Darmstadt
married second to Princess Elisabeth Eleonore of Brunswick-Wolffenbüttel
1706-1724 Ernst Ludwig I.
married first to Princess Dorothea Maria of Saxe-Gotha
married second to Princess Elisabeth Sophie of Brandenburg
1724-1729 Ernst Ludwig II.
1729-1743 Karl Friedrich
1746-1746 Friedrich Wilhelm
1746-1763 Anton Ulrich
married first (morganatic) Philippine Elisabeth Cäsar
married second to Princess Charlotte Amalie of Hesse-Philippsthal
1763-1782 Karl
married to Princess Luise zu Stolberg-Gedern
1782-1803 Georg I.
married to Princess Louise Eleonore zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg
1803-1866 Bernhard II.
married to Princess Marie of Hesse
1866-1914 Georg II.
married first to Princess Charlotte of Prussie
married second to Princess Feodora zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg
married third (morganatic) to Helene Franz, created Baroness of Heldburg
1914-1918 Bernhard III.
married to Princess Charlote of Prussia



The Ducal House since the End of the Monarchy

After the abdication of Duke Bernhard III. Duchy of SaxeMeiningen went on in the Free State of SaxeMeiningen. After the death of his wife Charlotte on 01.10.1919 at the Age of 59 during  a cure in BadenBaden,  Duke Bernhard lived  withdrawn in Altenstein Castle in Bad Liebenstein  and in Meiningen.where he died in 1928. As Duke Bernhard III. had no male issue the Headship of the Ducal House went to his half-brother Ernst. Prince Ernst was a painter and artist. He had a career as an artist and had his own I studio in Munich and in 1888 he created his first portraits. He frequented artistic circles in Munich and  On 20.09.1892, he married Katharina Jensen, daughter of the writer Wilhelm Jensen who was raised by Duke and Georg II. to the status of a Baroness von Saalfeld“, and then moved with her to Florence in the vicinity of his mentor Adolf von Hildebrandt to.   After his brother Bernhard III. had abdicated on 10.11.1918 as the reigning Duke Ernst also signed as heir to the throne on 12.11.1918 the renuciation to the Throne  provided by the Meininger Diet. Prince Ernst settled yet in 1918 with his family from the troubled Munich soviet republic after Haubinda in the local school camp of his friend Hermann Lietz order. Together with Adolf von Hildebrand and the architect Karl Behlert he designed in 1920 the Burial Place for the Duke George II., and Baroness Helene of Heldburg  on the Park Cemetery in Meiningen. In 1921 he moved into his own newly built house in Haubinda. Initially he worked as an art teacher at the school camp, he began again in 1922 with the painting. Next he was only a substitute, in place of his ailing brother, entirely responsible after his death for the management and disposal of the ducal estate, for inheritance matters and as a representative of the House of SaxeMeiningen. Prince Ernst died in 1941 at Schloss Altenstein which his widow sold the following year to the State of Thuringia. As his children had no sccession rights nephew Georg became the new Head of the Ducal House. . Georg had broken up his studes to serve in the First Wold War and had seen Action as a Captain in a cavaltry Regiment.  After the war he resumed his law studies and for a time served as a substitute judge for the town of Hildburghausen in the Free State of Thuringia. On 01.05.1933 he joined the Nazis, becoming NSDAP member  2.594.794. He and his family were expropriated without compensation in 1945, he died in 1946 in Soviet captivity in North West Russia. His wife and his children flow to West-Germany.
After the death of his Duke  Georg in 1946 his only surviing son Prince Friedrich Alfred renounced his succession rights and so Georg’s brother Bernhard succeeded to the Headship of the house of Saxe-Meiningen and the nominal title of Duke of Saxe-Meiningen.
Bernhard made in 1931 a not equal marriage to Margot Grössler. This Union ended in divorce in 1947. Bernhard and his first wife were declared guilty of a Nazi conspiracy against Austria in 1933; he was sentenced to six weeks in prison, while she was placed under house arrest.After intervention of the German envoy, he was released from prison, upon which they escaped to Italy . Three weeks later he was arrested while trying to return to his castle of
As his first marriage was not equal after the death of Prince Bernhard on 04.10.1984 his second son Prince  Konrad succeeded him as head of the Ducal House. In 1996, Prince Konrad began legal proceedings against the Russian government seeking the
rehabilitation of property that had been expropriated after World War II by the Soviet Union. Professionally, Prince Konrad is a qualified banker who has worked for various banks as an analyst. Since 1998, he has been an independent advisor specialising in the restructuring of companies, and has also spent time working in the air and car industries. Currently, Prince Konrad is a partner in the Rudolf Döring Law Firm;and since 2007, he has been Managing Director of GWP German Wind Power GmbH.

Heads of the Ducal House since the End of the Monarchy
1918-1928 Duke Bernhard III.
married to Pricness Charlotte of Prussia
1928-1941 Prince Ernst
married (morgnatic) to Katharine Jense, created Baroness of Saalfeld
1941-1946 Prine Georg
married to Cuntess Klarie-Marie of Korff, gen. Schmissing-Kerssenbrock
1946-1984 Prince Bernhard
married first (divorced) to Margot Grössler
married secnd to Baroness Vera Schöffer von Bernstein
since 1984 Prince Konrad


The present member of the Ducal Family

The members of the Ducal Family bear the Titles Prince/Princess of Saxe-Meingen, Duke/Duchess zu Saxony and if in accordance with the House Laws the style of Highness (HH)

  • Georg II. Duke of Saxe-Meiningen
    married first to Princess Charlotte of Prussia
    marrie second to Princess Feodora zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg
    married third to Helene Franz, created Baroness of Heldburg

    • Bernhard III. Duke of Saxe-Meeiningen
      married to Princess Charlotte of Prussia

      • Feodora
        married to Prince Heinrich XXX. Reuß
    • Georg Albrecht
    • Maria Elisabeth
    • Ernst
      married (morgantic) to Katharina Jensen, created Baroness of Saalfeld

      • Descendants
    • Friedrich
      married to Countess Adelheid zur Lippe-Biesterfeld

      • Feodora
        married to Grand Duke Wilhelm Ernst of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
      • Adelheid
        married to Prince Adalbert of Prussia
      • Georg
        married to Countess Klara-Maire of Korff, gen. Schmissing-Kerssenbrock

        • Anton-Ulrich
        • Friedrich-Alfred, renounced his rights and became a monk
        • Marie Elisabeth
        • Regina
          married to Archduke Otto of Austrria, former Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary
      • Ernst
      • Luise
        married to Baron Götz of Wangenheim
      • Bernhard
        married first (divorced) to Margot Grössler
        married second to Baroness Vera Schäffer von Bernstein

        • Feodora
          married to Bernhard Kippenberg
        • Friedrich-Ernst
          married to Princess Beatrice of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

          • Maria-Alexandra
            married (divorced) to Benno Beat Christian Widmer
          • Constantin
            • Michael
        • Marie Eleonore
          married to Peter Eric Rosden
        • Konrad
        • Almut
          married to Eberhard von Braunschweig
    • Viktor

One thought on “german Houses: The Ducal House of Saxe-Meiningen

  1. I’m writing from Genoa (Italy), I am interested in ancient history of my city and especially everything related to the existing relationships, in the eighteenth and twentieth centuries, between the Foreign communities and the Genoese. I am currently doing a research on the people buried in the cemetery of Staglieno at Genoa.
    I have uncovered the grave of Princess Charlotte of Saxe-Meiningen a week ago in the Protestant’s field.
    The field where are these graves is in bad conditions and I I’m trying, with a few of friends, (Associazione “Per Staglieno” onlus – Genova ) to clean it. I cut the weeds and I removed the dirt that covered the graves and I found the Charlotte’s grave. In attached my blog (sorry it is in italian language).

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