Duchy of Anhalt: Leopold IV Friedrich, the first Duke of Anhalt inherited three duchies: the Duchy of Anhalt-Dessau from his grandfather, the Duchy of Anhalt-Köthen from a distant cousin, and the Duchy of Anhalt-Bernburg from another distant cousin. The three duchies were united as the Duchy of Anhalt on August 30, 1863.
Joachim Ernst was the last Duke of Anhalt. He came to the throne in September 1918 when he was 17-years-old. As he was underage, his father’s brother Prince Aribert of Anhalt served as Regent. With the German Empire crumbling at the end of World War I, Aribert abdicated on Joachim Ernst’s behalf on November 12, 1918. Today the territory that encompassed the Duchy of Anhalt is in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt.
Friedrich II, Duke of Anhalt
Friedrich II, Duke of Anhalt, was born in DessauDuchy of Anhalt, now in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, on August 19, 1856. He was the son of Friedrich I, Duke of Anhalt and Princess Antoinette of Saxe-Altenburg, and had five siblings:
- Leopold, Hereditary Prince of Anhalt (1855-1886) – married Princess Elisabeth of Hesse-Kassel
- Princess Elisabeth (1857-1933) – married Adolf Friedrich V, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
- Eduard, Duke of Anhalt (1861-1918) – married Princess Luise of Saxe-Altenburg
- Prince Aribert of Anhalt (1866-1933) – married Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein
- Princess Alexandra (1868-1958) – married Sizzo, Prince of Schwarzburg
After studying together in Bonn, Geneva, and Munich, Friedrich and his elder brother Leopold both joined the German Army, where they served until 1883. When Leopold died in 1886, Friedrich became Hereditary Prince and heir to the throne of Anhalt. Three years later, he married Princess Marie of Baden on July 2, 1889, in Karlsruhe, Grand Duchy of Baden, no in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. Marie was the daughter of Prince Wilhelm of Baden and Princess Maria of Leuchtenberg. They had no children.
Friedrich became the reigning Duke of Anhalt upon his father’s death in January 1904. While a competent ruler, he focused much more on cultural pursuits. He established a Court Theatre which would become very well-known throughout Europe and would attract some of the leading singers and musicians from around the world.
Friedrich II died at Ballenstedt Castle in the Duchy of Anhalt, now in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany on April 21, 1918, and was buried in the Ducal Mausoleum (link in German) in Dessau, Duchy of Anhalt, now in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt. In 1958, the remains of members of the House of Anhalt were removed from the Ducal Mausoleum secretly by night for political reasons (Dessau was then in Communist East Germany) and reburied in the Ziebigker Cemetery in Dessau in a common grave, marked only by a simple wooden cross. In 2019, Friedrich’s remains were moved a second time and reinterred in the Marienkirche (link in German) in Dessau, the traditional burial site of the Dukes of Anhalt-Dessau dating back to the 15th century. The Marienkirche was destroyed during World War II and has since been rebuilt.