William I, Elector of Hesse

William I, Elector of Hesse

William I, Elector of Hesse ( _de. Wilhelm I., Kurfürst von Hessen; June 3 1743February 27 1821) was the eldest surviving son of Frederick II, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel) and Princess Mary of Great Britain, the daughter of George II.

William was born in Kassel, Hesse. His father, landgrave Frederick II (who died in 1785) had in 1747 left the family and soon converted Catholicism, and in 1755 formally ended the marriage. The young prince William, together with his two younger brothers, were with their mother the landgravine Mary and became since 1747 fostered by Protestant relatives and soon moved to Denmark, to the care of her sister Louise of Great Britain who however died in 1751.

William married, on 1 September 1764 at Christiansborg Palace, his first cousin Wilhelmina Caroline of Denmark and Norway (1747-1820), the second surviving daughter of king Frederick V of Denmark and Norway. They remained mostly in Denmark, until 1785 to return to Kassel when he succeeded in the landgraviate. William however received the Principality of Hanau south of the Hessian territories, near Frankfurt, as successor of its newly extinct princes, already in the lifetime of his father, since the last Hanau did not want to leave his lands in hands of a Catholic.

William's younger brother Charles followed suit and in 1766 married another of their Danish first cousins.

Upon the death of his father on October 31 1785 he became William IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel and as such, is said to have inherited one of the largest fortunes in Europe at the time.

Due in part to the wealth of his estate, William is especially notable for his role in affording Mayer Amschel Rothschild both the relationship, and situational means, by assigning some of the care of his properties and tax-gathering, for founding the Rothschild family dynasty. Also, though acquainted since 1775, William IX didn't formally designate Rothschild as overseer until 1801.

In 1803 he was created Elector of Hesse but in 1806 his electorate was annexed by the Kingdom of Westphalia, ruled by Jérôme Bonaparte. William escaped to Denmark with his family and lived there in exile until the French were repulsed from Germany. Following the defeat of the Napoleonic armies in the Battle of Leipzig, he was restored in 1813, and ruled until his death in 1821.

He was succeeded by his son William.


With his wife Wilhelmina Caroline of Denmark and Norway he had four children;

* Marie Friederike (14 September 1768-17 April 1839)
* Karoline Amelie (11 July 1771-22 February 1848)
* Friedrich (8 August 1772-20 July 1784)
* Wilhelm (28 July 1777-20 November 1847)

He had several mistresses, and sired over twenty recognized illegitimate children, providing some financial means to each of those.

With his mistress Charlotte Christine Buissine;
* Wilhelm of Heimrod (1775-1811)
* Karl of Heimrod (1776-1827)
* Friedrich of Heimrod (b. & d. 1777)
* Friedrich of Heimrod (1778-1813)

With his mistress Rosa Dorothea Ritter (1759-1833);
* Wilhelm Karl of Hanau (1779-1856)
* George Wilhelm of Hanau (1781-1813)
* Philipp Ludway of Hanau (1782-1843)
* Wilhelmine of Hanau (1783-1866)
* Moritz of Hanau (1784-1812)
* Marie Sophie of Hanau (1785-1865)
* Julius Heinrich of Hanau (1786-1853)
* Otto of Hanau (1788-1791)

With his mistress Karoline von Schlotheim (1766-1847)
* Wilhelm Friedrich of Hessenstein (1789-1790)
* Wilhelm Karl of Hessenstein (1790-1867)
* Ferdinand of Hessenstein (1791-1794)
* Karoline of Hessenstein (1792-1797)
* Auguste of Hessenstein (1793-1795)
* Ludwig Karl of Hessenstein (1794-1857)
* Friederike of Hessenstein (1795-1855)
* Wilhelm Ludwig (1800-1836)
* Friedrich Ludwig (1803-1805)
* Karoline of Hessenstein (1804-1891)

See also

*Rulers of Hesse

External links

* [http://mdz.bib-bvb.de/digbib/lexika/adb/images/adb043/@ebt-link?target=idmatch(entityref,adb0430066) Article in the ADB]
* [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=445&letter=R#1254 The Jewish Encyclopedia]

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