Tuesday, July 8, 2014

June 25: Two German Anniversaries

Having been preoccupied last month as far as European history was concerned with the centennial of Sarajevo on June 28, as well as my orchestra's annual residency in Vail, Colorado, I neglected to mention two interesting round-numbered anniversaries on June 25, which was both the 150th anniversary of the death of King Wilhelm I of W├╝rttemberg and the accession of his son King Karl I in 1864, and the 100th anniversary of the death of Duke Georg II of Saxe-Meiningen and the accession of his son Duke Bernhard III (the last Duke) in 1914.

When Wilhelm I (1781-1864) died after a reign of 48 years, the last monarch to have been born before the French Revolution, he had been Europe's senior monarch for some time; wondering exactly how much time that was (it turned out to be 24 years) led me to create this chart on the seniority of European monarchs, indicating who held the position of longest-reigning monarch at every point in European history over the past 500+ years.

Georg II (1826-1914), the "Theater Duke," was one of the most fascinating and admirable local rulers of the German Empire, celebrated for his active and gifted involvement with theater and music. When he died, Wilhelm II, German Emperor and King of Prussia, became the longest-reigning of all the rulers of the German Empire. In the wake of the events in Sarajevo three days later, the clouds of war gathered in Europe. It is often forgotten that the war would mean the abdication less than five years later of not only the Kaiser but all the local dynastic rulers, whose families had reigned there for centuries and had nothing to do with the outbreak of the war.

1 comment:

Flambeaux said...

We spent a lot of time in our undergrad theater history classes examining the work and influence of Georg II.

I didn't realize he died in 1914.

Thank you for mentioning this, Theodore.