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  #1  
Old 05-28-2018, 07:29 AM
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What is higher? A Fürst (Prince) or a Herzog (Duke) ?

In 1815 the House of Nassau, once with many branches, had just two branches left:

- Nassau-Weilburg (Friedrich Wilhelm Fürst von Nassau-Weilburg)
- Nassau-Diez (Willem I King of the Netherlands, Prince of Orange, Fürst von Nassau-Diez)

On May 31st 1815 King Willem I of the Netherlands (including today's Belgium) decided to hand over his German lands to Prussia: he was compensated with the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg. On the same day Prussia handed over the German lands to the newly created Dukedom of Nassau. Effectively a merger of the German lands of all Nassau branches.

Now my question. The Fürst von Nassau-Weilburg became the new Duke of Nassau. Why Herzog? And not Fürst?

Does this mean that a Herzog has a higher rank than a Fürst? (In German Prince Albert is styled as Fürst von Monaco).
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Old 05-28-2018, 10:05 AM
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Does this mean that a Herzog has a higher rank than a Fürst?
Yes. An article published by the Sacramento German Genealogy Society gives the ranks of the German high nobility as:


Quote:
Ranks of the High Nobility

Within this division of the nobility the highest title is Emperor, or Kaiser, deriving from Caesar in Latin.

[…]

Next we come to König and Königin, or King and Queen, which was carried by the rulers of the larger German states (Bavaria, Hanover, Prussia, Saxony, Württemberg, ).

[…]

After these came the Grossherzog, or Grand Duke, who were styled royal highness, and were rulers of somewhat smaller states, such as the two Mecklenburgs or Luxemburg (which until 1918 was considered a German state).

[…]

The next level is that of Herzog, or Duke, who was normally styled Highness.

Kurfürst, or Elector in English, ranked with a Duke.

[…]

Landgraf (Landgrave), Markgraf (Margrave), and Pfalzgraf (Palsgrave or Count Palatine) ranked somewhat with a Duke and are usually considered higher than a Fürst.

[…]

Next follows Fürst (for which there is no good translation in English, but which is confusingly called Prince).

[…]

The last category of the high nobility still in existence is that of Graf, or Count. The last sovereigns of this rank ceased ruling after the Congress of Vienna in 1815.
When the Fürstin von Hohenberg (the morganatic wife of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Este) received the title Herzogin von Hohenberg, she was considered to have been elevated.

As a sidenote, the Dutch branch was listed as the House of Orange-Nassau in the treaty of 1815.
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Old 05-28-2018, 10:12 AM
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Uff, that is surprising news to me. I expected Fürst being higher ranked than Duke....
So I learned something new today, many thanks
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Old 05-28-2018, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Duc_et_Pair View Post
In 1815 the House of Nassau, once with many branches, had just two branches left:

- Nassau-Weilburg (Friedrich Wilhelm Fürst von Nassau-Weilburg)
- Nassau-Diez (Willem I King of the Netherlands, Prince of Orange, Fürst von Nassau-Diez)

On May 31st 1815 King Willem I of the Netherlands (including today's Belgium) decided to hand over his German lands to Prussia: he was compensated with the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg. On the same day Prussia handed over the German lands to the newly created Dukedom of Nassau. Effectively a merger of the German lands of all Nassau branches.

Now my question. The Fürst von Nassau-Weilburg became the new Duke of Nassau. Why Herzog? And not Fürst?

Does this mean that a Herzog has a higher rank than a Fürst? (In German Prince Albert is styled as Fürst von Monaco).

In the German Empire, a sovereign Herzog had the style of "Highness", whereas a Fürst had the style only of "Serene Highness". So, I think the answer is yes: a sovereign Herzog outranks a Fürst, and they are both outranked in turn by a sovereign Grand Duke (Großherzog), who is styled "Royal Highness".
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Old 05-29-2018, 07:58 AM
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In the German Empire, a sovereign Herzog had the style of "Highness", whereas a Fürst had the style only of "Serene Highness". So, I think the answer is yes: a sovereign Herzog outranks a Fürst, and they are both outranked in turn by a sovereign Grand Duke (Großherzog), who is styled "Royal Highness".
Thanks for the insightful answers. That means that (apart from the Luxembourg title) a Duke of Nassau is equal to a Duke of Parma or a Duke of Calabria.

I can see why King Willem I (with a territory covering today's Netherlands and Belgium) was willing to give up his ancestral German lands as Fürst von Nassau-Oranien to his cousin, the Fürst von Nassau-Weilburg. With Luxembourg (today's Grand-Duchy and today's Belgian province) he got the whole Benelux as one coherent territory under one crown ánd he became a King-Grand Duke. At the same time his cousin made "promotion" as wel: from a Fürst to a Herzog.
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Old 05-29-2018, 08:43 AM
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At one point Willem I's ambition was to get a coherent territory that would include the the Northern & Southern Netherlands and the Nassau lands (& what is in between). If the dice of history had roled a bit differently he could have gotten his way.

They tried to get the former Grand Duchy of Berg (roughly today's Ruhrgebiet) for Prince Frederik (younger son of Willem I). Joined with reinstated Nassau-lands (supposedly also joining Frederik's territories of Berg) there would be a coherent Orange-Nassau-area from Texel to Wiesbaden with enough citizens to be a player of some importance in Europe (in other words: to serve as a buffer to future French ambitions).

However that plan got ruined at the congres of Vienna when Prussia's claims on Saxony were unacceptable for the Austrians. So instead the Prussians were compensated with territories in Western Germany. Among these were the Rhineland and Nassau-lands, part of which they immidiately gave away to a newly created duchy of Nassau.

The Dutch Nassau's were livid, especially at Lord Castlereagh who forced the crisis (& who complained that Willem I was far too greedy). They were however compensated with Luxembourg (twice the size of the present Grand Duchy btw) a then poor and sparely populated rural area.

The Nassau lands wended up with the Nassau-Weilburgs & Nassau-Usingens instead. The Grand Duchy of Berg went to the Prussians and prince Frederik was not interested in claiming the "dry fields" of Luxembourg, which was nothing compared to the 'lavish greens' of the Nassau lands. The prince received a financial compensation for renouncing claims on Luxembourg: the Domain law of 1816 decided that he would receive income from several domains, which were estimated at 190.000 guilders per year. After Willem I's death he (& not his brother the king) would inherit all these domains. This was the basis of the fabulous wealth of the prince.

There were intitially two dukes of Nassau, who shared the Duchy: one from the Weilburg and one from the Usingen branches of the Walram-line. The duke from the Usingen branch conveniently died without male heirs in 1816 already, after which all went to the Weilburgs.

Subsequent Dutch governments and kings was never terribly interested in Luxembourg. It was a poor area at the time, far away and geopolitically located in an inconvenient area for the neutral Netherlands: between France and Germany. Willem III even tried to sell it to the French, which almost led to a war between France and Prussia. Only Prince Hendrik and his wife Amalia did spend time in the Grand Duchy, the prince was even created stadholder in 1850, which he stayed until his death in Luxembourg in 1879. He died in his palace in Walferdange, now part of the University of Luxembourg. The present grand duke is named after the prince. His grand-daughter is named for the princess.
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  #7  
Old 05-29-2018, 10:22 AM
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The question about what "Fürst" means in German is difficult because we are talking about different meanings in different times whioch are both in use till today.



Fürst is derived from old German "Furisto" which means "The First, the Leader" - similar to "Prinz" which derives from Latin princeps (same meaning: the First, The Leader).


So even before the Middle Ages, the term meant anyone who was a leading noble, who ruled and owned a territory. So the emperor, his son the king and heir, his dukes, his reigning bishops were regarded as "Fürsten".


We have the word "Kirchenfürst" (prince of the church aka higher rank of bishop) or Fürstabt (prince abbot of a higher ranked Abbey with their own terrintory and juristinction) or Kurfürst (prince-elector, who often held other titles as well, eg in Bavaria the reigning duke was prince elector for a time, the reigning duke of Saxony was a prince-elector, too).


Only much later, around the 1650ties, the emperor started to create the title of Fürst to either create a rank of nobility for his best servants that was higher than Count for those who did not rule their own territories, but worked in the imperial bureaucracy/army as ministers or generals and called them "Reichsfürsten" (princes of the Empire) or created princes out of the counts who reigned their own territory.



In Britain, the "prince of Wales" and in France the "prince of Monaco" were different kind of "Fürsten" - for them the old meaning of "souverain ruler" applied, their title was considered higher than a duke's title. When England took over Wales in 1301, the last Welsh prince of Wales was killed and it became the most noble title in the UK behind the souverain, meant as an honour to be granted to the heir apparent of the throne. While the Grimaldis of Monaco and the Liechtensteins managed their independance from France (Monaco) and Austria (Liechtenstein). As their ownership of their territory was never in doubt, there was no change of ownership, so no need to negociate a higher title from the king of France or the emperor, they were and stayed independent "princes" - meaning most noble rulers of their principalities.



With the Napoleonic wars and with the Congress of Vienna, most former "principalities" in Germany lost their souverainity, but depending of the former situation, their ruling Houses were considered equal or not to the reigning Houses, even though their territories were included in the new German kingdoms or other larger states with new and higher titles (like the Margrave of Baden became the Grand-Duke, the Duke of Württemberg became King).


I hope this is clearer now. Depending on when the principality was created and how it ended up after 1815/1918, the title of "Prince" is higher or lower than that of a duke. Depends on the principality.
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Old 05-30-2018, 03:10 AM
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Thanks Kataryn. I think it is indeed a mix of anciennity and how it ended up after the Napoleontic wars / the unification of Germany / the fall of the monarchy.

When we think about famous Fürsten as Von Bülow or Von Bismarck: they belong to the Hochadel but have never been a Sovereign Prince. So even amongst the Fürsten there is a difference. After all I assume that a Fürst zu Bentheim and Steinfurt or a Fürst von Reuß ranks "higher" than a Fürst von Bismarck.

Am I right that a Fürst von Reuß or a Fürst von Hohenzollern outrank a younger son of a Duke, despite his title of Herzog?

With other words: today the Fürst von Hohenzollern has precedence over Alexander Herzog zu Mecklenburg (the son of the current Duke of Mecklenburg)?
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Old 05-30-2018, 06:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Duc_et_Pair View Post
Thanks Kataryn. I think it is indeed a mix of anciennity and how it ended up after the Napoleontic wars / the unification of Germany / the fall of the monarchy.

When we think about famous Fürsten as Von Bülow or Von Bismarck: they belong to the Hochadel but have never been a Sovereign Prince. So even amongst the Fürsten there is a difference. After all I assume that a Fürst zu Bentheim and Steinfurt or a Fürst von Reuß ranks "higher" than a Fürst von Bismarck.

Am I right that a Fürst von Reuß or a Fürst von Hohenzollern outrank a younger son of a Duke, despite his title of Herzog?

With other words: today the Fürst von Hohenzollern has precedence over Alexander Herzog zu Mecklenburg (the son of the current Duke of Mecklenburg)?

Apart from the fact that all German citizen are equal and that there are no differences in rank between them apart from the rank accorded to them through being the holders of posts which are in service of society like ministers or mayors. Like: an ambassador or the ruler of a Federal state has a higher ranke when it comes to placing at a state dinner than probably you and the rest of the "plebs". But there are many cases where former nobles are accorded higher rankings, especially those who are Heads of former ruling Houses.



Like "The" Prince and Princess of Prussia or, as in your example, "The" Fürst vom Hohenzollern. But a younger son of any House who appears in other parts of Germany, not near the family seat, will be trated like a citizen with the name of "Herzog".



Another example: The Duke of Bavaria is accorded near Royal rank when in Munich. But Anna Prinzessin von Bayern is just a member of the media when she attends an event in her job as a journalist.



So it's a case by case thing, if and when on official occasions the former rank of a family is taken into account out of politeness.



Or to answer your question in another way: it doesn't matter where your family stands in the nobility register if you are not representing it at that moment. It used to be different, pre 1918, but even then it depended on more things than just the ranking of the family that person was a member of.



Hope this helps. Please ask, if you want to know more, for I look it up then.
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Old 05-30-2018, 04:28 PM
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So: It is complex...

Thank you, @Kataryn, for your explanations! This seems to be a really complex matter!

The following might be a bit vulgar, but today I'd say, the highest german noble person is a prince - Prince Albert of Thurn and Taxis... Because I think, he is the richest noble man in Germany.

That is the way life goes: From simple post men to the highest nobility - the Thurn and Taxis!
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Old 05-30-2018, 05:52 PM
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Thank you, @Kataryn, for your explanations! This seems to be a really complex matter!

The following might be a bit vulgar, but today I'd say, the highest german noble person is a prince - Prince Albert of Thurn and Taxis... Because I think, he is the richest noble man in Germany.

That is the way life goes: From simple post men to the highest nobility - the Thurn and Taxis!
To paraphrase Queen Margrethe: "We count in centuries, not in carats". The fact that the Thurn und Taxis family is wealthy does not make them the highest nobles in Germany.

In old precedence the Fürst von Thurn und Taxis had to make way for the Duke of Bavaria, the Duke of Mecklenburg or the Duke of Sachsen, no matter their bank accounts.
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Old 05-30-2018, 06:49 PM
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I suppose both the Saxony's and the Mecklenburg families could be considered somewhat problematic these days, with the Saxony-Gesaphe's claiming the headship of the first and a morgonaut branch of the Strelitz-branch claiming the second and both doing so by adoption. But your point is valid of course.
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Old 05-30-2018, 07:44 PM
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I suppose both the Saxony's and the Mecklenburg families could be considered somewhat problematic these days, with the Saxony-Gesaphe's claiming the headship of the first and a morgonaut branch of the Strelitz-branch claiming the second and both doing so by adoption. But your point is valid of course.
At least when it comes to the House of Mecklenburg it doesn't matter. Once the issue of an unequal marriage has been recognised as dynasts they're equal to other dynasts both in their own house and from other houses. The heads of the houses of Lippe, Baden, Wittelsbach are also descendants of unequal marriages that were later recognised as dynastic.
This also shows that the expectation of Georg of Merenberg to be recognised as a Nassau dynast to save that house from extinction wasn't without precedence.
My theory is that he could've succeeded in having his claim approved had it not had repercussions on the succession to the throne of Luxemburg.

Regarding the Sachsen-Gesaphe I feel that the Wettins could end up with a Romanov situation on their hands. Neither the Deutscher Adelsrettsausschuss recognises Alexander of Sachsen-Gesaphe as a member of the Royal house since they consider that house extinct nor does any of the three heads of the remaining Ernestine houses including Michael of Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach who is the senior male agnate of the entire House of Wettin.
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Old 05-31-2018, 01:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Duc_et_Pair View Post
To paraphrase Queen Margrethe: "We count in centuries, not in carats". The fact that the Thurn und Taxis family is wealthy does not make them the highest nobles in Germany.

In old precedence the Fürst von Thurn und Taxis had to make way for the Duke of Bavaria, the Duke of Mecklenburg or the Duke of Sachsen, no matter their bank accounts.

The Thurn and Taxis never were souverain princes, it's only their wealth that allowed them Bavarian or Luxembourg-princesses as brides. But I am not aware that any prince of a reigning house married a Thurn&Taxis-princess?
And if the current Dowager Princess wasn't so very, very catholic, she would not be received like Royality in Bavaria. IMHO, of course.
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Old 05-31-2018, 01:39 AM
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At least when it comes to the House of Mecklenburg it doesn't matter. Once the issue of an unequal marriage has been recognised as dynasts they're equal to other dynasts both in their own house and from other houses. The heads of the houses of Lippe, Baden, Wittelsbach are also descendants of unequal marriages that were later recognised as dynastic.
This also shows that the expectation of Georg of Merenberg to be recognised as a Nassau dynast to save that house from extinction wasn't without precedence.
My theory is that he could've succeeded in having his claim approved had it not had repercussions on the succession to the throne of Luxemburg.

Regarding the Sachsen-Gesaphe I feel that the Wettins could end up with a Romanov situation on their hands. Neither the Deutscher Adelsrettsausschuss recognises Alexander of Sachsen-Gesaphe as a member of the Royal house since they consider that house extinct nor does any of the three heads of the remaining Ernestine houses including Michael of Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach who is the senior male agnate of the entire House of Wettin.

Though Eduard von (Sachsen-)Anhalt might be tempted to agree with the Sachsen-Gesaphe situation, because in his case, the inheritance and the Headship of his House will go either to his daughter Katharina or the House becomes extinct.


As for the Sachsens: I am not sure how to feel about that. If they had accepted Timo's marriage, they could have had an able Head of the House, even though his mother was just a butcher's daughter. But then Alexander von Gesaphe was the closer relative as nephew of the late Margrave of Meissen.
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Old 05-31-2018, 06:53 AM
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Though Eduard von (Sachsen-)Anhalt might be tempted to agree with the Sachsen-Gesaphe situation, because in his case, the inheritance and the Headship of his House will go either to his daughter Katharina or the House becomes extinct.


As for the Sachsens: I am not sure how to feel about that. If they had accepted Timo's marriage, they could have had an able Head of the House, even though his mother was just a butcher's daughter. But then Alexander von Gesaphe was the closer relative as nephew of the late Margrave of Meissen.
Eduard of Anhalt has declared that the house will continue through his daughter and grandson but they're members of the House of Ascania not of the House of Wettin. Hmm, doesn't he carry the title of Duke of Saxony though?

Yes, it's a pity about Timo who seems very passionate about his heritage. He did get some property back didn't he?
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Old 05-31-2018, 10:15 AM
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Eduard of Anhalt has declared that the house will continue through his daughter and grandson but they're members of the House of Ascania not of the House of Wettin. Hmm, doesn't he carry the title of Duke of Saxony though?

Yes, it's a pity about Timo who seems very passionate about his heritage. He did get some property back didn't he?

Timo is dead, it's his son Ruediger who has been given back a bit of land and rented other properites near Moritzburg, where he works as a farmer and nature conserver.
The only thing standing between Rüdiger's line is the fact that neither his father nor he were married equal. Though seeing as no one is doing that anymore and these marriages are declared dynastic nowadays eg by the Habsburg-Lorraine or the Wittelbachs, the Welfs or the reigning Royal families of other countries, it shouldn't count as much as the law of the Wettins which does not allow adoptions at all. Because the descendants of unequal marriages at least are blood members of the family in the salic line, while Alexander von Sachsen-Gessaphe is only a blood member through his mother.


The Heads of the three remaining lines of the House of Wettin declared AvS-G's adoption as void and that he is no member of the former Royal House for them (apart from being his mother's son, so a family member).
Wiki says there is still the final judgment out there...
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Old 05-31-2018, 10:22 AM
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Eduard of Anhalt has declared that the house will continue through his daughter and grandson but they're members of the House of Ascania not of the House of Wettin. Hmm, doesn't he carry the title of Duke of Saxony though?

Thank you for reminding me of that - somehow because of the political naming of the Federal Stae of today I put the Prince of Anhalt in the wrong box. I'm sorry. But you are right, at one point in their history the Anhalts held the title of a sub-dukedom of Saxony.

I found it interesting that while Eduard of Anhalt is the last of the Askanians in the purely male line, he is recognized as the first Head of a House to introduce the female inheritance successfully. Not sure though if he chose semi-salic or equal inheritance. But it seems Katharina and her son will find no problems to claim the family's titles once her father dies. Not sure though if that counts for the officially democratic Federal Republic, though (meaning: name in passport).
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Old 05-31-2018, 01:18 PM
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Thank you for reminding me of that - somehow because of the political naming of the Federal Stae of today I put the Prince of Anhalt in the wrong box. I'm sorry. But you are right, at one point in their history the Anhalts held the title of a sub-dukedom of Saxony.

I found it interesting that while Eduard of Anhalt is the last of the Askanians in the purely male line, he is recognized as the first Head of a House to introduce the female inheritance successfully. Not sure though if he chose semi-salic or equal inheritance. But it seems Katharina and her son will find no problems to claim the family's titles once her father dies. Not sure though if that counts for the officially democratic Federal Republic, though (meaning: name in passport).
Yes, it is their official name for the federal republic. Germany permits family names, as which titles are legally acknowledged, to be inherited maternally.

https://www.familienrecht.net/familiennamen/

Eduard chose equal inheritance, and the children of his firstborn daughter have always borne their mother's title (name). He indeed claims the title Duke of Saxony.

Aktualisierung des Hausgesetzes der Familie Anhalt-Askanien | Anhalt-Askanien

Quote:
Aktualisierung des Hausgesetzes der Familie Anhalt-Askanien

In January 2010 HH Prince Eduard Duke of Anhalt, Duke of Saxony, Head of the Ducal House and Master of the Order Albrecht the Bear, added and modernized the “Hausgesetz der Familie Anhalt-Askanien für das 21. Jahrhundert” (Family Laws of the Ducal House of Anhalt-Ascania for the 21rst Century).

[…]

- The Salic or Semi-Salic laws are no longer valid and no longer executed by the Ducal House of Ascania.

[…]

- With her succession – either at the date of the death of her father, his written abdication or a mental health problem – Princess Julia Katharina will become Duchess of Anhalt, Head of the Ducal House of Ascania and Master of the Order Albrecht der Bär.

- Successor to Princess Julia Katharina, future Duchess of Anhalt will be, at present, her eldest child Prince Julius MAXIME Lazllo b at Munich 21 Dec 2010 as future Duke of Anhalt and his lineage of children according to earlier birth, not to gender.

[…]

- Accepted family members and successors as Head of the Ducal House of Anhalt-Ascania can only be male and female decendants in the direct lineage from the late Duke Joachim Ernst of Anhalt, Duke of Saxony, Count of Ascania etc. (1901 – 47).

[…]

Given in Berlin January 1st 2010
Julius Eduard Duke of Anhalt
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Old 05-31-2018, 01:35 PM
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Eduard chose equal inheritance, and the children of his firstborn daughter have always borne their mother's title (name). He indeed claims the title Duke of Saxony.

Thank you!
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