The German families von der Lippe descending from landlords on the river Lippe are mentioned as Noble Lords von der Lippe, a title the Princes and Counts of this family yet bear, as early as the beginning of the 12th century; the House being one of the most ancient in Germany. History first mentions a Hermann von der Lippe and his brother Bernhard von der Lippe in 1129, from whom the families can be traced in unbroken lines to the present day. Bernhard II, Noble Lord von der Lippe, who lived about 1184, by Royal privilege built villages and castles upon his extensive domains. The title of count was first taken by the family in the 16th century and from this time belonged to the counts of the Holy Roman Empire.
The real progenitor of the princely and countly families now existing, was Count Simon VI von der Lippe, who died in 1613, leaving four sons, Simon VII, Otto, Hermann and Philipp. According to a will of 1597 Count Simon VII was to take charge of the Government, the brothers to inherit in order after him, etc., they receiving various shires and lands, which, if the male line of descent died out, were to be divided equally between the reigning family and the other heirs.
Hermann died in 1620, Simon VII and Otto becoming his heirs; a son Rudolph, born after the death of Simon VII, receiving yearly rents. Simon VII became ruler and founded the older or Detmoldske (main) line, possessing the main property and as heir after Hermann the districts Schwalenberg and Oldenburg. Otto founded the Bracken branch in whose possession belonged the shires of Brake, Blomberg and Barntrup, and as Hermann's heir inherited the district of Schieder. Philipp to whose possessions belonged the districts of Lipperode and Alverdissen founded the Schaumburg or younger family line.
The Bracken branch died out with Ludwig Ferdinand in 1709 and the estate was divided equally between both main families, these then becoming as prosperous as the Detmold family, the older, and the Schaumburg family, the younger. From the first sprang a line with two branches: Lippe Biesterfeld and Lippe Weiszenfeld.
The Schaumburg-Lippe's main line separated into two lines: Lippe Brickeburg, the older line, and Lippe Alverdissen, the younger line. The elder line dying out with William Frederick Ernst in 1777, both lines were united under Fredrik Christian, and the Detmold line laid claim to the possession of the districts Blomberg and Schieder. By a decision of the King's Bench in 1789 the district Schieder was given to Lippe-Detmold, the district Blomberg being given to Lippe-Brickeburg. Lippe-Schaumburg took its rise in 1640, caused by the marriage of Elizabeth, sister of Philipp, above mentioned, to the Count of Holsten-Schaumburg; the family dying out on the male side with her son, Count Otto, as only heir, took the county Schaumburg for himself and her brother Philipp. As a consequence, a strife arose with Hesse-Cassel, ending in an agreement in 1647, whereby Hesse-Cassel retained half of the county Schaumburg, the other half falling to Count Philipp von der Lippe for himself and his posterity.
Both main lines belonging in Parliament and counted first took the title of Prince; the older line (Detmold) in 1789 for Prince Frederick William Leopold and for his brother, Casimir August, who renewed and confirmed the princely dignity already conferred on this line in 1720, the younger line (the Buckeburg line) first raised to princely dignity on April 18th, 1807, the day both reigning princely families entered the Rhine Covenant, retaining thereafter the prefixes, Noble Lords, as well as the title of Count, both Princes entering, at this time as members of the German Confederation.
The lines Lippe-Sternberg and Lippe-Schwalenberg united by the title of Count belonged to the older Detmold main line, and formed, as before mentioned, two branches, the older Lippe Biesterfeld and the younger Lippe-Weiszenfeld. The line Sternberg Schwalenberg was founded by Jobst Hermann the youngest son of Simon VII by his second marriage, who, by agreement of 1667 obtained more possessions in the counties of Schwalenberg, Oldenburg and Stapelburg; his posterity, however, claiming greater privileges, after long legal contest, made a settlement in 1762 in such a manner that the House of Counts received an annuity from the House of Princes. Two sons of Count Rudolph Ferdinand, died 1726, thereupon founded the said families of Counts, in such a way, that Frederick Carl August, died 1791, became head of the elder line and Ferdinand Ludwig, died 1791, of the younger. This family uses also the prefix Noble Lords. The Princely as well as the Countly families called themselves "zur Lippe".
Leopold II, Prince of Lippe-Detmold, born Sept. 1, 1821, the son of Prince Leopold, and of Princess Emilie of Schwarzburg-Sondershausen; succeeded to the throne at the death of his father, Jan. 1, 1851; married, April 17, 1852, to Princess Elizabeth, born Oct. 1, 1833, daughter of Prince Albert of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt.
The house of Lippe-Detmold is a younger branch of the family of Lippe, the ancestor of the line being Count Simon VII., who flourished in the latter part of the sixteenth century. A third line, Lippe-Brake, became extinct in 1709, and its territorial possessions, after a long struggle of arms, and a suit before the Imperial Aulic Council extending over a century, were divided between the two remaining houses, the greater share falling to Detmold. The Prince of Lippe-Detmold had a civil list amounting to about 10,000�, which was stated to be insufficient for the expenses of the court. Owing to financial distress, the late Prince, on May 17, 1850, sold a part of his territory, the Lippstadt, to Prussia, for a life-rent of 9,000 thaler, or about 1,300�.
A charter was granted to Lippe-Detmold by decree of July 6, 1836. It includes a representative organisation; but nearly the whole legislative as well as executive power remains in the hands of the Prince. The Chamber of Deputies consists of twenty-one members, seven of which are elected by the territorial nobility, and the other fourteen by the inhabitants of towns and rural districts. The discussions are kept secret. To the Chamber belonged the right of voting, in part, the supplies; otherwise its functions were consultative. The Prince governed through one irresponsible minister.
The public revenue for the year 1866 amounted to 299,271 thaler, or 44,890�, and the expenditure to 277,818 thaler, or 41,673l., leaving a surplus of 21,453 thaler, or 3,217�. The public debt, on December 31, 1866, was 347,755 thaler, or 52,063�. The population, at the census of December 1, 1871, numbered 111,153 souls, living on an area of 445 English square miles. At the preceding census of Dec. 3, 1867, the inhabitants numbered 111,909, so that there was a decrease of 756, or 0.68 per cent, in the four years.
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