Frederick VIII, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein


Frederick VIII, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein

Duke Frederick VIII ( _de. Friedrich Herzog von Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg; July 6, 1829 - January 14, 1880), claimed to be the Duke of Schleswig-Holstein from 1863, though almost nominally, as Prussia actually took overlordship and real administrative power.

He was the eldest son of Christian, Duke of Augustenburg and Louise Sophie, Countess Danneskiold-Samsøe. He was the ethnically perhaps most Danish prince of Danish royal dynasty in his generation (which was the generation when Denmark came to its most recent succession crisis, ch details accounted at his cousin's article: Louise of Hesse). His family, of course, belonged to the House of Oldenburg, the royal house which has all medieval Scandinavian royal dynasties among its distant forefathers - this was something that was shared with his rivals and relatives, other claimants of Denmark. Frederik's paternal grandfather happened to have both grandfathers who were "royal" dukes from the oldenburg dynasty. What was different compared with ancestries of Frederick's rival relatives, was Frederick's specific ancestry among current Danish high nobility. His mother was from an ancient Danish family (Danneskiold-Samsøe), and his paternal grandmother Louise Auguste of Denmark was its royal princess. His paternal grandfather Frederik Christian II, Duke of Augustenborg numbered two ladies of Danish high nobility as his grandmothers (Danneskiold-Samsøe and Reventlow), and one Danish countess as paternal great-grandmother (Ahlefeldt-Langeland). Frederick's family had high hopes that in the then rising era of nationalism, this ancestry would be viewed with favor by necessary supporters when Danish succession comes to be solved. The family groomed Frederick to become a king, that of Denmark of course.

Otherwise would however happen: A Danish prince with more ethnically Danish ancestry was to become the symbol of German nationalism. Insider circles in and around Danish royal government, for reasons or others, were not favorable to the Augustenborg. Instead, Princess of Hesse and Prince of Glucksburg, closer relatives of the then royal family's core, were preferred. Prince Frederick's father became the pretender of 1848-50 German-nationalist coup in Schleswig-Holstein, an event abhorred by Danish-nationalists.

Prince Frederick's inherited claims were strongest to the Duchy of Holstein, an almost totally German-speaking province, as his rights as the heir-male of the House of Oldenburg were really difficult to overcome, and Holstein, an originally HRE fief, had the Salic Law as leading principle in its fundamental succession law. Schleswig and Denmark, much more Scandinavian in legal history, had used elective and female succession also earlier. Frederick, and his father, how Danish they actually were, realized that and leaned towards German interests.

Young Frederick's father resigned his rights to the two duchies on March 31, 1852 in return for a financial compensation, as a result of the untenable position he had been left after the collapse of Prussian support and defeat of his own government in the end of First War of Schleswig in 1851.

Young duke Frederick became the symbol of the nationalist German independence-movement in Schleswig-Holstein, after his father had (as above explained) renounced his claims as first in line to inherit the twin duchies. his father's renunciation that was made in favor of the king of Denmark and his successors on that throne, was a hurdle which was explained away by the Augustenborg dynasty and the German nationalists as not having any effect to Frederick who had not personally renounced anything and on whose behalf no one, including the father, was not powered to make renunciations nor contracts. Frederick's marriage in 1856 was one of signals to appease German nationalism. (However, his younger brother married a daughter of Queen Victoria.)

In November 1863 Frederick claimed the twin-duchies in succession after King Frederick VII of Denmark, who also was the Duke of Schleswig and Holstein, and who just had died without a male heir. As Holstein was inherited after the salic law among descendants of Helwig of Schauenburg, the independence-movement had long nourished hopes that the king's death would lead to their goal. The Kingdom of Denmark was also under so-called Semi-Salic Law, but its male line ended with Frederick VII and Danish law contained a Semi-Salic provision which resulted in the election of Christian of Glücksburg as new monarch. German nationalists claimed that Schleswig was also inherited according to the unmodified Salic Law, but this claim was refused by Danish nationalists, arguing that this province was subject to Danish law.

Otto von Bismarck used the turbulence to invade the duchies in a Second War of Schleswig, and in the end both the independence-movement, Duke Frederick and all other interested powers were put aside, and the duchies incorporated into Prussia. Frederick and his heirs continued to use the title, which after the next generation passed to the Glucksburg branch, to heirs of an elder brother of Christian IX of Denmark.

Marriage and children

On September 11, 1856 Frederick married Adelheid, Princess of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, a German. She was the second daughter of Ernst Christian Carl IV, Duke of Hohenlohe-Langenburg and Princess Feodora of Leiningen, older half-sister of Queen Victoria. They were parents to seven children:

*Friedrich, Prince of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (August 3, 1857 - October 29, 1858).
*Augusta Viktoria of Schleswig-Holstein (October 22, 1858 - April 11, 1921). Married Wilhelm II of Germany.
*Princess Karoline Mathilde of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (January 25, 1860 - February 20, 1932). Married Friedrich Ferdinand, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg. He was a son of Friedrich, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, second son of Friedrich Wilhelm, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg and Louise Caroline of Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel).
*Gerhard , Prince of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (January 20 - April 11, 1862).
*Ernst Gunther, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein (August 11, 1863 - February 21, 1921).
*Louise, Princess of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (April 8, 1866 - April 28, 1952). Married Prince Friedrich Leopold of Prussia. He was a male-line great-grandson of Frederick William III of Prussia.
*Feodora Adelheid, Princess of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (July 3, 1874 - June 21, 1910).


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