Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse

Louis IV (German: Ludwig IV; 12 September 1837 – 13 March 1892) was the Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine, reigning from 13 June 1877 until his death. Through his own and his children's marriages he was connected to the British Royal Family, to the House of Romanov in Russia, House of Hohenzollern in Germany, to many other grand duchies in German empire and to other reigning dynasties of Europe.

Louis IV
Grand Duke Ludwig IV of He-1.jpg
Ludwig IV, 1878
Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine
Reign13 June 1877 – 13 March 1892
PredecessorLouis III
SuccessorErnest Louis
Born(1837-09-12)12 September 1837
Prinz-Carl-Palais, Darmstadt, Grand Duchy of Hesse, German Confederation
Died13 March 1892(1892-03-13) (aged 54)
New Palace, Darmstadt, Grand Duchy of Hesse, German Empire
Burial17 March 1892
Rosenhöhe, Darmstadt, Grand Duchy of Hesse, German Empire
(m. 1862; died 1878)

Countess Alexandrina Hutten-Czapska
(m. 1884; annulled 1884)
German: Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig Karl
English: Frederick William Louis Charles
FatherPrince Charles of Hesse and by Rhine
MotherPrincess Elisabeth of Prussia

Early life and familyEdit

Louis was born at the Prinz-Karl-Palais in Darmstadt, the capital of the Grand Duchy of Hesse and by Rhine in the German Confederation, the first son and child of Prince Charles of Hesse and by Rhine (23 April 1809 – 20 March 1877) and Princess Elisabeth of Prussia (18 June 1815 – 21 March 1885), granddaughter of King Frederick William II of Prussia. As his father's elder brother Louis III (1806-1877), the reigning Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine, had been married to his first wife since 1833 without legitimate children and from 1868 was married Morganatically,[1] Prince Louis was from birth second-in-line to the grand ducal throne, after his father. His sister princess Anna of Hesse and by Rhine married grand duke Frederick Francis II of Mecklenburg-Schwerin ,who was maternal first cousin to Tsar Alexander II of Russia ,Queen Louise of Netherlands and Paternal first cousin to Louise ,grand duchess of Baden and to Kaiser Frederick III of Prussia who was also Louis's brother-in-law by his marriage to princess Alice of United Kingdom

First marriageEdit

On 1 July 1862, Louis married Princess Alice, a daughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.[1] On the day of the wedding, the Queen issued a royal warrant granting her new son-in-law the style of Royal Highness in the United Kingdom. The Queen also subsequently made Prince Louis a knight of the Order of the Garter.

Although an arranged marriage orchestrated by the bride's father Albert, Prince Consort, the couple did have a brief period of courtship before betrothal and wed willingly, even after the death of the Prince Consort left Queen Victoria in a protracted state of grief that cast a pall over the nuptials.[2] Becoming parents in less than a year following their marriage, the young royal couple found themselves strapped financially to maintain the lifestyle expected of their rank.[2] Princess Alice's interest in social services, scientific development, hands-on child-rearing, charity and intellectual stimulation were not shared by Louis who, although dutiful and benevolent, was bluff in manner and conventional in his pursuits.[2] The death of the younger of their two sons, Frittie, who was afflicted with hemophilia and suffered a fatal fall from a palace window before his third birthday in 1873, combined with the wearying war relief duties Alice had undertaken in 1870, evoked a crisis of spiritual faith for the princess in which her husband does not appear to have shared.[2]

In 1866 the Austrians suffered defeat in the Austro-Prussian War and the Hessian grand duchy was in jeopardy of being awarded as the spoils of war to victorious Prussia, which annexed some of Austria's other allies (Hanover, Hesse-Cassel, Nassau), a fate from which Hesse-Darmstadt appears to have been spared only by a cession of territory and the close dynastic kinship between its ruler and the Emperor of Russia (Alexander II's consort, Empress Maria Alexandrovna, was the sister of Hesse's Grand Duke Louis III and of Prince Charles).[2]

In the Franco-Prussian War provoked by Bismarck's manipulation of the Ems telegram in 1870, Hesse and by Rhine this time found itself a winning ally of Prussia's, and Prince Louis was credited with courageous military service, especially at the Battle of Gravelotte,[2] which also afforded him the opportunity of mending the previous war's grievances with the House of Hohenzollern by fighting on the same side as his brother-in-law and future emperor, Prince Frederick of Prussia. He had good relationship with Prince Frederick of Prussia and his wife Victoria, Princess Royal all of his lifetime. He also visited the Kaiser on his deathbed in 1888. He was the favorite uncle of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, son of Frederick III ,emperor of Germany.

In March 1877, Louis became heir presumptive to the Hessian throne when his father died and, less than three months later, found himself reigning grand duke upon the demise of his uncle, Louis III.[1]

In late 1878, Grand Duke Louis was stricken with diphtheria along with most of his immediate family. He recovered; but his four-year-old daughter Marie succumbed, along with his wife of 16 years.[2] After her death, it was speculated that he would marry his sister-in-law Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom; but she married his paternal first cousin Prince Henry of Battenberg. From then on, he reigned and raised his five surviving children alone.

He was godfather to princess Alice of Albany, daughter of his youngest brother-in-law prince Leopold of Albany in 1883. His daughter princess Elizabeth married grand duke Sergei Alexandrovich of Russia ,a son of Tsar Alexander II of Russia and his another daughter Alix married Tsar Nicholas II after two years after his death in 1894.

Military careerEdit

During the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, Louis commanded the Hessian cavalry in support of the Austrian side.[2] In the 1870–71 Franco-Prussian War, Louis led the Hessian contingent of the armies of the North German Confederation.

Grand Duke of Hesse and by RhineEdit

On 13 June 1877, he succeeded his uncle as Grand Duke of Hesse, taking the name "Ludwig IV".[1] He built many official buildings and parks in the capital of Hesse.

Second marriageEdit

Grand Duchess Alice having died in 1878, Louis IV contracted a morganatic marriage on 30 April 1884 in Darmstadt (on the eve of the wedding of his eldest daughter, for which Queen Victoria and other relatives of his first wife were gathered in the Hessian capital) with Countess Alexandrine Hutten-Czapski (3 September 1854 – 8 May 1941), daughter of Count Adam Hutten-Czapski and Countess Marianna Rzewuska. She was the former wife of Aleksander von Kolemin, the Russian chargé d'affaires in Darmstadt.[1] But the couple, facing objections from the Grand Duke's in-laws, separated within a week and the marriage was annulled within three months.[1] As a compensation, she received the title Countess von Romrod on 31 May 1884 and a financial compensation. Alexandrine later married for the third time to Basil von Bacheracht. This marriage was not welcomed by his sister -in -law princess of wales


Grand Duke Ludwig IV died on 13 March 1892, of a heart attack in the New Palace in Darmstadt and was succeeded by his son, Ernest Louis. After his second marriage, he was largely excluded from his first wife's British royal family, but his funeral was attended by Victoria, the Empress Dowager of Germany, Dowager Duchess of Albany, and by Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, by Duke and Duchess of Connaught, by Duke of Schleswig-Holstein and by Duke and Duchess of Argyll. It was not attended by his other two surviving sister- in-laws, Prince and Princess of Wales and by Queen Victoria due to her poor health. His remains are buried at Rosenhöhe, the mausoleum for the Grand Ducal House outside of Darmstadt.[citation needed]

The Equestrian statue of Ludwig IV on the Friedensplace in Darmstadt


By Princess Alice:[1]
Image Name Birth Death Notes
Victoria Alberta Elisabeth Mathilde Marie 5 April 1863 24 September 1950 m. 30 April 1884 Prince Louis of Battenberg, later Marquess of Milford-Haven (24 May 1854-11 September 1921); 2 sons, 2 daughters (including Queen Louise of Sweden). She was the maternal grandmother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, consort of Queen Elizabeth II.
Elisabeth Alexandra Louise Alice 1 November 1864 18 July 1918 Took the name Yelisaveta Fyodorovna on her baptism into the Russian Orthodox Church; m. 15 June 1884 Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich of Russia (11 May 1857-17 February 1905), the seventh child and fifth son of Tsar Alexander II of Russia; had no issue
Irene Louise Marie Anne 11 July 1866 11 November 1953 m. 24 May 1888 Prince Henry of Prussia (14 August 1862-20 April 1929), son of Frederick III, German Emperor; had 3 sons. Irene passed hemophilia on to two of her three sons: Prince Waldemar of Prussia and Prince Henry of Prussia.
Ernest Louis Charles Albert William 25 November 1868 9 October 1937 Succeeded as Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine, 13 March 1892  abdicated 9 November 1918; m. (1), 9 April 1894 his first cousin Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (25 November 1876-2 March 1936); 1 son (stillborn) and 1 daughter, div. 21 December 1901. m. (2), 2 February 1905, Princess Eleonore of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich (17 September 1871-16 November 1937); 2 sons.
Friedrich William Augustus Victor Leopold Louis 7 October 1870 29 May 1873 Suffered from haemophilia and died from internal bleeding after a fall from a window at age two and a half.
Alix Victoria Helena Louise Beatrice 6 June 1872 17 July 1918 Took the name Alexandra Feodorovna on her baptism into the Russian Orthodox Church; m. 26 November 1894 Tsar Nicholas II of Russia (18 May 1868-17 July 1918); 1 son and 4 daughters. Their only son, Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich of Russia, suffered from hemophilia.
Marie Victoria Feodore Leopoldine 24 May 1874 16 November 1878 Died of diphtheria at age four.


German orders and decorations[3]
Foreign orders and decorations[3]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g Willis, Daniel A., ‘’The Descendants of King George I of Great Britain’’, Clearfield Company, 2002, p. 717. ISBN 0-8063-5172-1
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Eilers, Marlene. Queen Victoria's Descendants. Rosvall Royal Books, Falkoping, Sweden, 1997. pp. 49-50. 141, 175. ISBN 91-630-5964-9
  3. ^ a b Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Großherzogtum Hessen (1892), Genealogy pp. 1-2
  4. ^ Hof- und Staats ... Hessen (1855), "Großherzogliche Orden und Ehrenzeichen" p. 8
  5. ^ Hof- und Staats- ... Hessen (1855), "Großherzogliche Orden und Ehrenzeichen" p. 37
  6. ^ Hof- und Staats- ... Hessen (1855), "Großherzogliche Orden und Ehrenzeichen" p. 130
  7. ^ Kurfürstlich Hessisches Hof- und Staatshandbuch: 1859. Waisenhaus. 1859. p. 16.
  8. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Großherzogtum Baden (1888), "Großherzogliche Orden" p. 61
  9. ^ Hof- und Staatshandbuch des Königreichs Bayern: 1870. Landesamt. 1870. p. 10.
  10. ^ Staatshandbücher für das Herzogtum Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha (1884), "Herzogliche Sachsen-Ernestinischer Hausorden" p. 31
  11. ^ Staats- und Adreß-Handbuch des Herzogthums Nassau (1866), "Herzogliche Orden" p. 9
  12. ^ Hof- und Staatshandbuch des Großherzogtums Oldenburg0: 1878. Schulze. 1878. p. 34.
  13. ^ Lehmann, Gustaf (1913). Die Ritter des Ordens pour le mérite 1812–1913 [The Knights of the Order of the Pour le Mérite] (in German). 2. Berlin: Ernst Siegfried Mittler & Sohn. p. 522.
  14. ^ Staatshandbuch für den Freistaat Sachsen (1878) (in German), "Königliche Ritter-Orden", p. 3
  15. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Königreich Württemberg (1873), "Königliche Orden" p. 32
  16. ^ A Szent István Rend tagjai
  17. ^ "Liste des Membres de l'Ordre de Léopold", Almanach Royal Officiel (in French), 1863, p. 52 – via Archives de Bruxelles
  18. ^ Jørgen Pedersen (2009). Riddere af Elefantordenen, 1559–2009 (in Danish). Syddansk Universitetsforlag. p. 465. ISBN 978-87-7674-434-2.
  19. ^ Militaire Willems-Orde: Hessen-Darmstadt, Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig IV. Karl Grossherzog von (in Dutch)
  20. ^ "Real y Distinguida Orden de Carlos III", Guía Oficial de España (in Spanish), 1887, p. 149, retrieved 21 March 2019
  21. ^ Sveriges statskalender (PDF) (in Swedish), 1884, p. 380, retrieved 8 March 2021 – via gupea.ub.gu.se
  22. ^ Shaw, Wm. A. (1906) The Knights of England, I, London, p. 61
Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse
Born: 12 September 1837 Died: 13 March 1892
German royalty
Preceded by
Louis III
Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine
Succeeded by
Ernest Louis