Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Last Duke of Nassau (Wiesbaden)

It's not a piece of history that most Wiesbaden residents really remember.  There was probably a couple of mentions in grade school, and most of it was why remember?

The last duke of Wiesbaden.....was Duke Adolph of Nassau.  So, lies a story that weaves through a number of events.

Nassau was the accepted name of the region up until 1866.  The duke was the figure of authority in the region, and respected for changes that occurred.

The young duke ended up marrying a Russian gal who had the title of "Grand Duchess of Russia" there was this brief period of fame.  Then, as the wife of the duke.....the new wife passes away after giving birth.  This, in the mid 1840s.....brings a graving duke to bring a Russian Orthodox chapel in the hills above Wiesbaden....near the Neoberg a monument of sorts for his wife.  Thousands trudge up the hillside view the chapel which is one of the top ten things in the region to see.

The railway structure?  The duke led the way, and probably had the best infrastructure of any German municipality there in the 1850s.

The local banking structure?  The duke helped to push it, and establish it as a credible institution.
The duke then goes through a chaotic period in the mid 1850s.....where demands of the locals grows to the point where rights are finally given.  For those in's the beginning of civil rights.

By 1865, a war is brewing, and Nassau is to put their weight behind the Habsburg Empire (not Prussia). The Duke will watch the conflict end....with the Habsburg Empire losing, and Prussia annexing Nassau into itself.

The original negotiation of how it'd all fold together....probably didn't go that well.  Eventually, the Prussians came to agree that the duke would simply exist with a title, some property, and some limited funds that would come out of the Prussian pot of revenue.  The properties?  Locally, there was the Schloss Biebrich (down near the river and easily found today in the Wiesbaden local area), the Weilburg Castle (where he is buried), a hunting lodge, and the Luxembourg Palace in Konigstein.

What generally can be said is that the duke had a vision for Wiesbaden as a resort spa center.  Whatever occurred after 1865....was mostly from that vision.

The local folks wanted to put a monument up for him in the 1880s as success finally came big-time for the city.  The duke didn't want the statue, but came to agree....after he passed on....if they wanted to build it...fine.

So, in 1905 as he died....within two years....the memorial was complete.  Duke Adolph of Nassau....was the last royal figure of Wiesbaden, and probably the only significant reason why the city has significance today.....and was the guy who didn't want statues made over himself.

Location?  If you travel from the train station of Wiesbaden toward the Rhine River.....half way is the Henkel factory on the left.  Opposite of it is the Duke Adolph Memorial (Landesdenkmal) and a small park.  The lion figure?  On the rear of the state, facing east.  You won't see the lion unless you walk around the statue.

Part II?  The Russian Orthodox Church, and a Queen-versus-King child custody case out of Wiesbaden (after the Duke leaves power).

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