Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse

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Louis IV
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; ann. 1884)
  • German: Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig Karl
  • Frederick William Louis Charles
FatherPrince Charles of Hesse and by Rhine
MotherPrincess Elisabeth of Prussia

Louis IV (German: Ludwig IV. Großherzog von Hessen und bei Rhein; 12 September 1837 – 13 March 1892) was the Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine from 13 June 1877 until his death in 1892. Through his marriage to Queen Victoria's second daughter Alice, he was connected to the British royal family. Two of his daughters married into the House of Romanov.

Early life[edit]

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 future 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 third-in-line to the grand ducal throne, after his uncle and father.

First marriage[edit]

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 this was 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]

Military career[edit]

During the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, Louis commanded the Hessian cavalry in support of the Austrian side.[2]

The Austrians were defeated in the 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). Hesse-Darmstadt appears to have been spared this fate 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 Prince Louis fought on the side of Prussia and the North German Confederation; commanding the 25th Division. He 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, Crown Prince Frederick William of Prussia. He had good relationship with Frederick William and his wife Victoria, the Princess Royal, all of his lifetime. He also visited him on his deathbed in 1888.

Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine[edit]

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]

A year and a half later, however, 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] From then on, he reigned and raised his five surviving children alone. His daughter Alix married Tsar Nicholas II two years after his death in 1894.

Second marriage[edit]

Countess Alexandrine von Hutten-Czapska

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 von Hutten-Czapska (3 September 1854 – 8 May 1941), daughter of Count Adam von Hutten-Czapski (1819–1884) and his wife, Countess Marianna Rzewuska (1827–1897).[3][4] 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.


Grand Duke Ludwig IV died of a heart attack in the New Palace in Darmstadt on 13 March 1892. He was succeeded by his son, Ernest Louis.

The Equestrian statue of Ludwig IV on the Friedensplatz in Darmstadt


German orders and decorations[5]
Foreign orders and decorations[5]


Issue (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 and Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma).
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 haemophilia 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); two sons.
Frederick 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 haemophilia.
Marie Victoria Feodore Leopoldine 24 May 1874 16 November 1878 Died of diphtheria at age four.



  1. ^ a b c d e f 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. ^ "Kolemin, Alexandrine von".
  4. ^ "Aleksandra von Hutten-Czapska (1854-1941)".
  5. ^ a b Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Großherzogtum Hessen (1892), Genealogy pp. 1-2
  6. ^ Hof- und Staats ... Hessen (1855), "Großherzogliche Orden und Ehrenzeichen" p. 8
  7. ^ Hof- und Staats- ... Hessen (1855), "Großherzogliche Orden und Ehrenzeichen" p. 37
  8. ^ Hof- und Staats- ... Hessen (1855), "Großherzogliche Orden und Ehrenzeichen" p. 130
  9. ^ Kurfürstlich Hessisches Hof- und Staatshandbuch: 1859. Waisenhaus. 1859. p. 16.
  10. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Großherzogtum Baden (1888), "Großherzogliche Orden" p. 61
  11. ^ Hof- und Staatshandbuch des Königreichs Bayern: 1870. Landesamt. 1870. p. 10.
  12. ^ Staatshandbücher für das Herzogtum Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha (1884), "Herzogliche Sachsen-Ernestinischer Hausorden" p. 31
  13. ^ Staats- und Adreß-Handbuch des Herzogthums Nassau (1866), "Herzogliche Orden" p. 9
  14. ^ Hof- und Staatshandbuch des Großherzogtums Oldenburg0: 1878. Schulze. 1878. p. 34.
  15. ^ a b c "Königlich Preussische Ordensliste", Preussische Ordens-Liste (in German), 1, Berlin: 6, 14, 935, 1886
  16. ^ Staatshandbuch für den Freistaat Sachsen (1878) (in German), "Königliche Ritter-Orden", p. 3
  17. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Königreich Württemberg (1873), "Königliche Orden" p. 32
  18. ^ A Szent István Rend tagjai
  19. ^ "Liste des Membres de l'Ordre de Léopold", Almanach Royal Officiel (in French), 1863, p. 52 – via Archives de Bruxelles
  20. ^ Jørgen Pedersen (2009). Riddere af Elefantordenen, 1559–2009 (in Danish). Syddansk Universitetsforlag. p. 465. ISBN 978-87-7674-434-2.
  21. ^ Militaire Willems-Orde: Hessen-Darmstadt, Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig IV. Karl Grossherzog von (in Dutch)
  22. ^ "Real y Distinguida Orden de Carlos III", Guía Oficial de España (in Spanish), 1887, p. 149, retrieved 21 March 2019
  23. ^ Sveriges statskalender (PDF) (in Swedish), 1884, p. 380, retrieved 8 March 2021 – via gupea.ub.gu.se
  24. ^ Shaw, Wm. A. (1906) The Knights of England, I, London, p. 61

External links[edit]

Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse
Born: 12 September 1837 Died: 13 March 1892
German royalty
Preceded by Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine
Succeeded by