Landgraviate Hessen-Kassel, 1568-1648

A.) Territorial Development, Foreign Policy, Wars

In 1568, Hessen was partitioned among Landgrave Philipp's four sons, creating the lines of Hessen-Kassel, Hessen-Darmstadt, Hessen-Marburg and Hessen-Rheinfels. Landgrave Wilhelm inherited Hessen Kassel and about half of the territory of the old Langraviate, while his brethren had to split the remainder.
In 1571 the County of Plesse was acquired, in 1582 the districts of Uchte, Freudenberg (Hoya), in 1585 the districts of Auburg and Wagenfeld (Diepholz), in 1583 the second half of the County of Schmalkalden.
When brother Philipp of Hessen-Rothenfels died childless in 1583, Hessen-Kassel acquired the County of Katzenellenbogen, but had to make territorial concessions to Hessen-Darmstadt.
Count Ludwig of Hessen-Marburg died childless in 1604; a conflict arose between Hessen-Kassel and Hessen-Darmstadt over the partition of his territory. In 1623 the Imperial Council decided to grant the northern half of Hessen-Marburg (partitioned in 1604) to H.-Darmstadt.
In 1622 Hessen-Kassel mobilized a force of 8.500; the fiscal burden caused dissent. In 1622 a Leaguist force invaded. Kassel at that time was believed an impregnavle fortress. After the Battle of Stadtlohn, Count Moritz left the country to procure subsidies. Tilly's army temporarily lodged in Hessen Kassel territory. Tilly invaded again in 1626, massacred the population of Münden May 30th. Count Moritz abdicated in 1627; he was succeeded by his son Wilhelm. Children of a second marriage were given a quarter of the territory (the Rotenburg Quart) which was not ruled as a separate state, but economically damaged the state (-1837).
In 1627 a treaty was concluded with Hessen-Darmstadt (the Ausgleich. After the Edict of Restitution 1629, the Kassel garrison was strengthened. In 1631, Hessen-Kassel signed a treaty of alliance with Sweden; Kassel troops occupied cities in Westphalia. Landgrave Wilhelm died in 1637.

B.) Domestic Policies

Wilhelm established his residence at Kassel in northern Hessen; hence the name of the state. He strove to establish a uniform law; he rejected the introduction of the Gregorian Calendar (1582). To end the circle of partitions, in 1576 Hessen-Kassel introduced primogeniture.
In 1628, Dr. Wolfgang Günther, councillor ox ex-Landgrave Moritz, was executed; he was hated by the Ritterschaft (nobility), which had been alienated by Moritz' policy.
In 1633-1634 the administration of Hessen-Kassel was modernized; the Secret Council was split into a War Chancellery, a Land Chancellery a Tenure Chancellery (Rentkammerkanzlei). After the loss of Marburg (1623), the high school in Kassel was elevated to the status of a university (1633), but already in 1635 closed down.
In 1647-1652 mandatory instruction for the Kassel Jews with the intention to make them convert to Lutheranism.

C.) The Economy

In 1568, Hessen-Kassel had c. 175,000 inhabitants; in 1604, Hessen Kassel had c. 200,000 inhabitants.
Until the 16th century, Kassel's main industry was textile industry, based ob flax and wool. Early in the 17th century, it suffered from Dutch competition. Landgrave Moritz promoted the immigration of weavers, tanners and carpet weavers (1604-1615). A glass industry had emerged in the 15th century, coal mining begun in 1571. In Kassel, glass for the first time was made wiyj coal as fuel. However, experiments with the production of crystal glass (since 1583) were unprofitable and discontinued. Landgrave Moritz established a Gewerbeschule (vocational school) in Kassel. In the war year of 1626, the city of Kassel gad 6,329 inhabitants.
1638 the black death affected Kassel; 1643 it suffered from inundation.

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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
Karl E. Demandt, Geschichte des Landes Hessen (History of the Land of Hessen), Kassel : Bärenreiter 1959; in German
Hugo Brunner, Geschichte der Stadt Cassel (History of Kassel), Kassel : Pillardy & Augustin 1913; in German

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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