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House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Wappen Sachsen Coburg Gotha.png
Country Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Kingdom of Belgium
Kingdom of Portugal
Kingdom of Bulgaria
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Empire of India
Parent house House of Wettin
Titles Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1826-1918)
King of the Belgians (1831-present)
King of Portugal and the Algarves (1837-1910)
Prince of Bulgaria (1887-1908)
Tsar of Bulgaria (1908-1946)
King of Great Britain and Ireland (1901-1917)
Founded 1826
Founder Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Current head Andreas, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Dissolution 1918
Ethnicity Germans
Cadet branches House of Windsor
House of Braganza-Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Bulgarian Royal Family
Belgian Royal Family
Ducal Family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Wappen Deutsches Reich - Herzogtum Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha (Grosses).png
  • HH The Prince
    HH The Princess
  • HH Princess Claudia, Mrs. Schäfer
  • HH Princess Beatrice Charlotte of Saxe-Meiningen

House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (German: Haus Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha) is a German dynasty, the line of the Saxon House of Wettin that ruled the Ernestine duchies including the duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

Founded by Ernest Anton, the sixth duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, it is the royal house of several European monarchies, and branches currently reign in Belgium through the descendants of Leopold I, and in the Commonwealth realms through the descendants of Prince Albert. Due to anti-German sentiment in the United Kingdom during World War I, George V of the United Kingdom changed the name of his branch from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to Windsor in 1917. The same happened in Belgium where it was changed to "van België" (Dutch) or "de Belgique" (French).

History[edit]

The first duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was Ernest I, who reigned from 1826 until his death in 1844. He had previously been Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (as Ernest III) from 1806 until the duchy was reorganized in 1826. Ernst's younger brother Leopold became King of the Belgians in 1831, and his descendants continue to serve as Belgian head of state. Léopold's only daughter, Princess Charlotte of Belgium, was the consort of Maximilian I of Mexico, known as the Empress Carlota of Mexico, in the 1860s. Ernst's nephew Ferdinand married Queen Maria II of Portugal, and his descendants continued to rule Portugal until that country became a republic in 1910.

Ernst I's second son, Prince Albert (1819–1861), married Queen Victoria in 1840, and thus is the progenitor of the United Kingdom's current royal family, called Windsor since 1917. In 1826, a cadet branch of the house inherited the Hungarian princely estate of Koháry, and converted to Roman Catholicism. Its members managed to marry an imperial princess of Brazil, an archduchess of Austria, a royal princess of "the French", a royal princess of Belgium and a royal princess of Saxony. A scion of this branch, also named Ferdinand, became Prince, and then Tsar, of Bulgaria, and his descendants continued to rule there until 1946. The current head of the House of Bulgaria, the former Tsar Simeon II who was deposed and exiled during World War II, goes by the name Simeon Sakskoburggotski and served as Bulgaria's prime minister from 2001 to 2005.

The ducal house consisted of all male-line descendents of John Ernest IV, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld legitimately born of an equal marriage, males and females (the latter until their marriage), their wives in equal and authorised marriages, and their widows until remarriage. According to the House law of the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha the full title of the Duke was:

Wir, Ernst, Herzog zu Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, Jülich, Cleve und Berg, auch Engern und Westphalen, Landgraf in Thüringen, Markgraf zu Meißen, gefürsteter Graf zu Henneberg, Graf zu der Mark und Ravensberg, Herr zu Ravenstein und Tonna usw.
We, Ernst, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Jülich, Cleves and Berg, also Angria and Westphalia, Landgrave in Thuringia, Margrave of Meissen, Princely Count of Henneberg, Count of the Mark and Ravensberg, Lord of Ravenstein and Tonna, et cetera.

There were two official residences, in Gotha and Coburg. Therefore the whole ducal court, including the Court Theater, had to move twice a year: from Gotha to Coburg for the summer and from Coburg to Gotha for the winter.[1] For the Court Theater, two almost identical buildings had to built in 1840 in Gotha (destroyed in the Second World War) and Coburg (now the Coburg State Theater) and thereafter maintained at the same time. In addition to the residential castles, Friedenstein in Gotha and Ehrenburg in Coburg, the Ducal family also used the Schloss Reinhardsbrunn in Gotha as well as the Rosenau and Callenberg Castles in Coburg and the hunting lodges Greinburg Castle, Grein, Austria and Walterskirchen Castle in Lower Austria (the latter three still today owned by the ducal branch of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha).

Branches[edit]

Ducal branch[edit]

Dukes, 1826–1918[edit]

Heads of the house since 1918[edit]

Although the ducal branch is eponymous with the dynasty, its head is not the genealogically or agnatically senior member of the family. In 1893, the reigning duke died childless, whereupon the throne would have devolved, by male primogeniture, upon the British branch descended from Prince Albert. However, as heirs to the British throne, Albert's descendants consented and the law of the duchy ratified that the ducal throne would not be inherited by the British monarch or heir apparent. Therefore, the German duchy became a secundogeniture, hereditary among the younger princes of the British royal family who belonged to the House of Wettin, and their male-line descendants.

Instead of the future Edward VII of the United Kingdom inheriting the duchy, it was diverted to his next brother, Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and, upon the latter's death without surviving sons, to the youngest grandson of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, Prince Charles Edward, Duke of Albany (bypassing his uncle Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and his male line who, although senior by birth, preferred to remain on British soil).

The current head of the ducal branch is Andreas, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

Kings of the Belgians[edit]

Belgian royal house[edit]

Because of the First World War, the family name was changed in 1921 to van België, de Belgique or von Belgien ("of Belgium") in the country's three official languages (Dutch, French and German) – this family name is used on the identity cards and in all official documents. The armorial bearings of Saxony were removed from the Belgian royal coat of arms (see here). Other Coburgers from the many-branched Saxe-Coburg family have also changed their name. For example, Britain's King George V adopted the family name of Windsor, after the Royal Family's place of residence.[3]

Kingdom of Portugal[edit]

In Portugal the former royal house is usually not distinguished from the House of Braganza.

Manuel II died childless in 1932. He recognised as his successor his distant cousin Duarte Nuno, Duke of Braganza, who is not a descendant of Ferdinand II, or the house of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Duarte Nuno and his successors are members of the House of Braganza.

Kingdom of Bulgaria[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]

From King Edward VII, who reigned from 1901 to 1910, until 1917 when King George V replaced the German-sounding title with the name of Windsor during the First World War, British monarchs belonged to the House of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha. The name Saxe-Coburg-Gotha survived the Belgian royal family until 1920 and in the Bulgarian royal family. [8]

Genealogy[edit]

Patrilineality, descent as reckoned from father to son, has historically been the principle determining membership in reigning families, thus the dynasty to which the monarchs of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha belonged genealogically through the 20th century is the House of Wettin, despite the official use of varying names by different branches of the patriline.

Saxe-Coburg Dynasty Family Tree since the end of the 18th Century, showing their inheritance of the thrones of Great Britain, Belgium, Portugal, and Bulgaria.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Janet Robinson and Joe Robinson, Handbook of Imperial Germany (Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse, 2009), page 87
  2. ^ Official family website
  3. ^ Balfoort, et al., Brigitte. "journalist" (pdf). The Belgian Monarchy. Olivier Alsteens, Director-General of the FPS Chancellery of the Prime Minister, Wetstraat 16, 1000 Brussels. Retrieved 18 July 2012. 
  4. ^ Bulgaria: Timeline, BBC News Online, 27 June 2007. Retrieved on 28 July 2007.
  5. ^ Former king marks first year as Bulgarian Prime Minister, Radio Free Europe, 26 July 2002. Retrieved on 28 July 2007.
  6. ^ Bulgarian (or Spanish) Prime Minister?, Bulgaria Development Gateway, 24 July 2003. Retrieved on 28 July 2007.
  7. ^ Lord Alderdice speaking in the House of Lords on 19 May 2005, Hansard. Retrieved on 28 July 2007.
  8. ^ Saxe-Coburg-Gotha on the official website of the British monarchy

External links[edit]

House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Cadet branch of the House of Wettin
New title Ruling House of the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
1826–1918
Duchy Abolished
Ruling House of the Kingdom of Belgium
1831–present
Incumbent
Preceded by
House of Braganza
Ruling House of the Kingdom of Portugal
(Ruled under the name House of Braganza)
1853–1910
Monarchy Abolished
Preceded by
House of Battenberg
Ruling house of the Kingdom of Bulgaria
1887–1946
Preceded by
House of Hanover
Ruling house of the United Kingdom
(Renamed House of Windsor
by Royal Proclamation 17 July 1917)

1901–1917
Succeeded by
House of Windsor
  

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