Landgraviate Hessen 1500-1568

In 1448 the Landgraviate of Hessen was partitioned into two lines, Upper and Lower Hessen. In 1500, Count Wilhelm III. of Upper Hessen died childless, and Hessen was reunited under Landgrave Wilhelm II. The County of Katzenellenbogen had been acquired in 1479.
The laws of 1455, 1491, 1497 of Upper Hessen were extended all over Hessen when the country was reunified in 1500. A Central Court was established at Marburg in 1500.
The Landgraviate of Hessen joined the Rhenish Coinage Union in 1509; in the new Imperial organization of 1512, Hessen was allocated to the Upper Rhenish Circle. Since 1508, the Hessian nobility was in revolt (-1523).
In a 1518 feud, Franz von Sickingen conquered Darmstadt; during the Trier Stift Feud 1522-1523, Landgrave Philipp of Hessen sided with Sickingen's enemy and contributed to his defeat.
The Hessian cities of Kassel (1523-1546), Giessen (1530-1533), Ziegenhain (1537-1548), Rüsselsheim were fortified.
Landgrave Philipp, during the Peasants War of 1524-1525, interfered in Hersfeld and Fulda. He was one of the foremost promoters of the Lutheran Reformation, hosted the Marburg Colloquy 1529. In 1527 the Hessian Estates approved the dissolution of the monasteries, the establishment of Marburg University.
In 1534, Landgrave Philipp, with 4000 cavalry and 20,000 mercenary infantry, imvaded Württemberg, defeated the Austrian force of occupation in the Battle of Lauffen (May 12/13 1534) and reinstated Duke Ulrich, who went on to introduce the Lutheran Reformation to W. King Ferdinand recognized the new situation in the Peace of Kaaden June 1534.
From now on, Landgrave Philipp was regarded by both Emperor and by King Ferdinand as a troublemaker. Philipp not only joined, but became a leading figure in the Schmalkaldic League (1531). When he, with Luther's approval entered into a second, morganatic marriage, he exposed himself to public criticism. In the course of the Schmalkaldic War, Landgrave Philipp was arrested (1547) and not released until 1552.
In 1568, Hessen was partitioned among his four sons, creating the lines of Hessen-Kassel, Hessen-Darmstadt, Hessen-Marburg and Hessen-Rheinfels.

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Hessia (-Kassel). Short info about Hessia, from Franken
Vom "populus Hassiorum" zu "Greater Hesse", from Hesseninformationen in German
Geschichte der Stadt Kassel, from kassel.de, in German
Article Hesse, from Catholic Encyclopedia 1910 edition
REFERENCE Territorien-Ploetz : Geschichte der Deutschen Länder, Vol.1, Würzburg 1964, pp.207-208
Walter Heinemeyer, Das Zeitalter der Reformation (Reformation Era), pp.225-266 in : W. Heinemeyer (ed.), Das Werden Hessens (The Genesis of Hessen), Marburg 1986 (a publication with excellent maps)
Karl E. Demandt, Geschichte des Landes Hessen (History of the Land of Hessen), Kassel : Bärenreiter 1959

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on July 27th 2003, last revised on January 15th 2007

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