Leopold IV Friedrich, Duke of Anhalt

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.

Leopold IV Friedrich, Duke of Anhalt

Leopold IV Friedrich was the first Duke of Anhalt, reigning from 1863 until 1871. He was born Prince Leopold Friedrich of Anhalt-Dessau on October 1, 1794, in Dessau, Duchy of Anhalt-Dessau, now in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt, the eldest son of Friedrich, Hereditary Prince of Anhalt-Dessau and Landgravine Amalie of Hesse-Homburg. Leopold Friedrich had six siblings:

  • Amalie Auguste (1793-1854) – married Friedrich Günther, Prince of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, had issue
  • Georg Bernhard (1796-1865) – married (1) Princess Karoline Auguste of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, had issue; (2) Therese Emma von Erdmannsdorf, had issue
  • Paul Christian (born and died 1797) – died in infancy
  • Luise Friederike (1798-1858) – married Gustav, Landgrave of Hesse-Homburg, had issue
  • Friedrich August (1799-1864) – married Princess Marie Luise of Hesse-Kassel, had issue
  • Wilhelm Waldemar (1807-1864) – married Emilie Klausnitzer, no issue

At the time of his birth, his grandfather was the reigning Duke of Anhalt-Dessau. Leopold Friedrich became heir-apparent upon his father’s death in 1814, and became the reigning Duke of Anhalt-Dessau upon his grandfather’s death three years later, on August 9, 1817.

Friederike Wilhelmine of Prussia

The following year, on April 18, 1818, Leopold Friedrich married Princess Friederike of Prussia. She was the daughter of Prince Friedrich Ludwig Karl of Prussia and Duchess Friederike of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Leopold Friedrich and Friederike had been engaged since May 17, 1816, when their engagement was arranged by the Prussian court. The couple had four children:

  • Princess Auguste (1819-1822) – died in childhood
  • Princess Agnes (1824-1897) – married Ernst I, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg, had issue
  • Friedrich I, Duke of Anhalt (1831-1904) – married Princess Antoinette of Saxe-Altenburg, had issue
  • Princess Maria Anna (1837-1906) – married Prince Friedrich Karl of Prussia, had issue

On November 27, 1847, Leopold IV Friedrich inherited the Duchy of Anhalt-Köthen upon the death of a distant cousin. After nearly six years as the reigning Duke of two separate duchies, they were united in May 1853 as the Duchy of Anhalt-Dessau-Köthen. Ten years later, he also inherited the Duchy of Anhalt-Bernburg from another distant cousin. Now, with all of the Anhalt duchies back under one ruler, they were united as the Duchy of Anhalt on August 30, 1863.

The Marienkirche, before World War II. photo: Von Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R98992 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5368827

Leopold IV Friedrich, Duke of Anhalt, died in Dessau, Duchy of Anhalt, now in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt, on May 22, 1871, and was buried in the Marienkirche (link in German) in Dessau. When the church was destroyed by bombing during World War II, the Duke’s remains were moved to the Berenhorst crypt in the Historical Cemetery in Dessau.

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