William IV, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel

William IV, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel

Infobox Person
name = William IV, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel

image_size = 200px
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birth_date = 24 June 1532
birth_place = Kassel, Germany
death_date = 25 August 1592
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William IV (24 June 1532 – 25 August 1592), also called "William the Wise", was the first Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel). He was the founder of the oldest line, which also survives unto this day.


William was born at Kassel, the eldest son of Landgrave Philip the Magnanimous and Christine of Saxony. After his father's death in 1567, the territory of Hesse was divided between the four sons out of the late landgrave's first marriage and William received the portion around the capital Kassel.

William took a leading part in safeguarding the Lutheran Reformation and was indefatigable in his endeavours to unite the different sections of Protestantism against Catholicism. However, he was reluctant to use military force in these conflict.

As an administrator he displayed rare energy, issuing numerous ordinances, appointing expert officials, and in particular ordering his slender finanances. By a law of primogeniture he secured his land against such testamentary divisions as had diminished his father's estate.

Astronomical work

William is most notable for his patronage of the arts and sciences. As a youth he had cultivated close connections with scholars and as a ruler he kept up this connection. William was a pioneer in astronomical research and perhaps owes his most lasting fame to his discoveries in this branch of study. Most of the mechanical contrivances which made Tycho Brahe's instruments so superior to those of his contemporaries were adopted at Kassel about 1584, and from that time the observations made there seem to have been about as accurate as Tycho's; but the resulting longitudes were 6' too great in consequence of the adopted solar parallax of 3'.

The principal fruit of the observations was a catalogue of about a thousand stars, the places of which were determined by the methods usually employed in the 16th century, connecting a fundamental star by means of Venus with the sun, and thus finding its longitude and latitude, while other stars could at any time be referred to the fundamental star. It should be noticed that clocks, on which Tycho depended very little, were used at Kassel for finding the difference of right ascension between Venus and the sun before sunset; Tycho preferred observing the angular distance between the sun and Venus when the latter was visible in the daytime.

The Hessian star catalogue was published in Lucius Barettus's "Historia coelestis" (Augsburg, 1668), and a number of other observations are to be found in "Coeli et siderum in eo errantium observationes Hassiacae" (Leiden, 1618), edited by Willebrord Snell. R. Wolf, in his "Astronomische Mittheilungen," No. 45 (Vierteljahrsschrift der naturforschenden Gesellschaft in Zurich, 1878), has given a resume of the manuscripts still preserved at Kassel, which throw much light on the methods adopted in the observations and reductions.

Family and children

William was married to Sabine of Württemberg, daughter of Christoph, Duke of Württemberg. They had the following children:
# Anna Marie (27 January 1567 – 21 November 1626), married on 8 June 1589 to Count Louis II of Nassau-Saarbrücken
# Hedwig (30 June 1569 – 7 July 1644), married on 11 September 1597 to Count Ernst of Holstein-Schauenburg
# Agnes (30 June 1569 – 5 September 1569)
# Sofie (10 June 1571 – 18 January 1616)
# Maurice, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel (25 May 1572 – 15 March 1632)
# Sabine (12 May 1573 – 29 November 1573)
# Sidonie (29 June 1574 – 4 April 1575)
# Christian (14 October 1575 – 9 November 1578)
# Elisabeth (11 May 1577 – 25 November 1578)
# Christine (19 October 1578 – 19 August 1658), married on 14 May 1598 to Duke John Ernst of Saxe-Eisenach
# Juliane, born and died 9 February 1581

In addition he had a few natural children. Most significant and favored among these was Philipp von Cornberg (1553-1616), Wilhelm's son by Elisabeth Wallenstein. Philipp was ennobled by his father and became the ancestor of the current Barons von Cornberg as well as genealogist Gilbert von Studnitz.

He died in 1592 and was succeeded by his son Maurice, who would introduce Calvinism into Hesse-Kassel.



External links

* [http://galileo.rice.edu/Catalog/NewFiles/wilhelm.html Biographical data and references at The Galileo Project]

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