- Ernest Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse
Infobox_Monarch | name =Ernst Louis I
title =Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine
13 March, 1892-1918
predecessor =Louis IV
successor =Grand Duchy abolished
Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Eleonore of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich
issue =Princess Elisabeth
Prince Georg Donatus
royal house =
House of Hesse-Darmstadt
royal anthem =
father =Louis IV
Princess Alice of the United Kingdom
date of birth =birth date|1868|11|25|df=y
place of birth =
date of death =death date and age|1937|10|9|1868|11|25|df=y
place of death =Langen
Ernest Louis Charles Albert William (de: "Ernst Ludwig Karl Albert Wilhelm"), (
25 November, 1868- 9 October, 1937) was the last "Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine" from 1892 until 1918. His nickname was Ernie.
Ernest Louis was the fourth child and eldest son of Grand Duke Louis IV and
Princess Alice of the United Kingdom, daughter of Victoria of the United Kingdomand Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. He was an older brother to Alexandra of Hesse, Empress Consort of Nicholas II of Russia.
Ernest Louis's early life was shrouded with death. When he was five, his younger brother Friedrich died. The two boys had been playing a game in their mother's bedroom when the younger boy fell through an unlatched window onto the balcony twenty feet below. It was not a great distance, and at first, Friedrich seemed only shaken. However, he suffered from
hemophilia, and had begun bleeding on the brain. He lapsed into unconsciousness that afternoon and died. Ernest Louis was inconsolable. "When I die, you must die too, and all the others. Why can't we all die together? I don't want to die alone, like Frittie." He told his nurse. To his mother he said, "I dreamt that I was dead and was gone up to Heaven, and there I asked God to let me have Frittie again and he came to me and took my hand." The younger child's grave became a place of regular pilgrimage for the family, causing Ernest Louis to become obsessed with thoughts of death and dying alone.
In 1878, an epidemic of
diphtheriaswept through Darmstadt. All of the children (except Princess Elisabeth, who was sent to stay with their paternal grandmother) and their father fell ill. Princess Alice cared for her sick husband and children, but on November 16, the youngest of them, Princess May, died. Alice kept the news from her family for several weeks, until Ernest Louis, who was devoted to little May, asked for his sister. Ernest Louis was overcome with grief when his mother revealed May's death. In an effort to comfort her grieving son, Alice kissed him, and within a week, fell ill and soon died, on December 14. Her death was a burden that Ernest Louis bore for the rest of his life.
Even after his death, however, his childhood wish to not die alone echoed into the next generation. Shortly after his father's death, Prince Louis was to marry the Hon. Margaret Campbell-Geddes in England. His older brother, the Hereditary Grand Duke George Donatus, and the rest of the family planned to take a plane from Hesse to England. However, the plane never reached its destination. George Donatus, along with his wife,
Princess Cecilie of Greece and Denmark, their two young sons, Louis and Alexander, his mother Grand Duchess Eleonore, the children's nurse and a family friend died in an accident when their plane crashed near Ostendon their way to his brother's marriage. Cecilie was pregnant with her fourth child at the time of the crash and the stillborn infant was found among the remains. Their youngest child, Johanna, who was not on the plane, was adopted by her uncle Louis, who was to remain childless. The little girl survived her parents and brothers by eighteen months, dying in 1939 of meningitis.
April 19 1894Ernest Louis married his first cousin, Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, ("Ducky") in Coburg, on the encouragement of their mutual grandmother, Queen Victoria. The marriage was not a happy one. They had two children, a daughter, Elisabeth, born in 1895, who died of typhoid feverat age eight, and a stillborn son, on 25 May 1900. The couple became estranged and the two were divorced December 21, 1901, on the grounds of "invincible mutual antipathy" by a special verdict of the Supreme Court of Hesse. Victoria Melita later told others that she was tired of Ernest Louis's constant homosexual affairs.Fact|date=August 2008
Ernest Louis remarried, in
Darmstadton 2 February 1905, to Princess Eleonore of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich ( September 17 1871- November 16 1937), with whom he had two sons:
*Georg Donatus, Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine (1906-1937), who married Princess Cecilie of
Greece(sister of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh), and had issue.
Prince Louis of Hesse and by Rhine(1908-1968). Married Margaret Campbell Geddes, no issue. He adopted Moritz, Landgrave of Hesseas heir.
Grand Duke of Hesse
In 1892 Ernest Louis succeeded his father as Grand Duke.
Throughout his life, Ernest Louis was a patron of the arts, founding the
Darmstadt Artists' Colony, and was himself an author of poems, plays, essays, and piano compositions. Ernest Louis served in the German military during World War I, and was asked to abdicateduring the revolution of 1918 but never did. He lost his throne as it was simply abolished.
In October 1937, Ernest Louis died at
Schloß Wolfsgarten, near Darmstadtin Hesse. Although he had not reigned in Hesse for nearly twenty years he received what amounted to a State funeral on November 16 1937. He was buried in the Rosenhohe, the traditional burial place of the Hesse family.
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1= 1. Ernest Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse
Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse
Princess Alice of the United Kingdom
Prince Karl of Hesse and by Rhine
5= 5. Princess Elizabeth of Prussia
Albert, Prince Consort
Victoria of the United Kingdom
Louis II, Grand Duke of Hesse
Princess Wilhelmine of Baden
Prince Wilhelm of Prussia
11= 11. Landgravine Maria Anna of Hesse-Homburg
Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent and Strathearn
Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
Louis I, Grand Duke of Hesse
17= 17. Landgravine Louise of Hesse-Darmstadt
Charles Louis, Hereditary Prince of Baden
Landgravine Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt
Frederick William II of Prussia
Frederika Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt
22= 22. Frederick V, Landgrave of Hesse-Homburg
23= 23. Landgravine Caroline of Hesse-Darmstadt
Francis, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
25= 25. Princess Augusta Reuss of Ebersdorf
Augustus, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
Duchess Louise Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
George III of the United Kingdom
Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Francis, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld(= 24)
31= 31. Princess Augusta Reuss of Ebersdorf (= 25)
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