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From the Emperor’s Desk: In response to the post on the Birth of Adolph-Friedrich V, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, I was asked if the Schwerin and Strelitz line of the House of Mecklenburg intermarried. So starting with today’s post I will examine this question in a short series. Today we begin with some back ground information.

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Like many German territories, Mecklenburg was sometimes partitioned and re-partitioned among different members of the ruling dynasty. In 1621 Mecklenburg was divided into the two duchies of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Güstrow.

Prior to the Duchy being divided in 1621 Mecklenburg was ruled by Johann VII of Mecklenburg (March 7, 1558 – March 22, 1592) (sometimes called Johann V, that will take another post to explain). Johann VII was the son of Johann-Albert I, Duke of Mecklenburg-Güstrow and Schwerin (1525–1576), and his wife Duchess Anna Sophia of Prussia (1527–1591). Johann was eighteen years old when his father died and he succeeded as the Duke of Mecklenburg. A regency council was appointed that ruled in his name for the next nine years.

The regency handed over the actual rule of his territories to him in 1585. He immediately faced problems that he was ill-equipped to deal with, including massive debt and his uncle Christopher’s demands for territorial concessions. After an especially harsh argument with his uncle, he committed suicide.

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Johann VII, Duke of Mecklenburg.

On February 17, 1588 Johann married Sophia (1569 – 1634), a daughter of Adolf, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp, and his wife Christine of Hesse. They had three children:
* Adolf Frederick I (1588 – 1658). Through Adolf-Friedrich I would spring both the Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz lines of the family.
* Johann-Albert II (1590 – 1636). From Johann-Albert II came the short lived Duke of Mecklenburg-Güstrow line.
* Anna Sophia (1591 – 1648)

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Johann-Albert II, Duke of Mecklenburg-Güstrow

After the suicide of Duke Johann VII, Adolf-Friedrich I and his brother Johann-Albert II reigned jointly under the guardianship of Duke Ulrich III of Mecklenburg-Güstrow and Charles I of Mecklenburg (their father’s uncles). The two brothers took over governance of Mecklenburg-Schwerin beginning on April 16, 1608, after the death of Duke Ulrich III and after the death of Duke Charles I on July 22, 1610 they also governed in the Duchy of Mecklenburg-Güstrow.

Division of Mecklenburg and Thirty Years’ War

In 1621 the Duchy of Mecklenburg was formally divided between the two brothers, with Adolf-Friedrich I ruling in Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Johann-Albert II ruling in Mecklenburg-Güstrow.

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Adolf-Friedrich I, Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

During the Thirty Years’ War, Albrecht von Wallenstein ousted both of the dukes after they secretly sided with King Christian IV of Denmark against Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II. Wallenstein ruled the duchies from 1627 until 1631, when the dukes were restored by the Swedes under King Gustaf II Adolph. In 1634 Adolf-Friedrich I succeeded Ulrik of Denmark as last Administrator of the Prince-Bishopric of Schwerin before its secularisation.

Duke Adolf-Friedrich I died on February 27, 1658 (aged 69) and his eldest son, Christian-Ludwig I, (December 1, 1623 in Schwerin – June 21, 1692 in The Hague) became the reigning Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Christian-Ludwig I’s mother was Anna-Maria (1601–1634), the daughter of Count Enno III of East Frisia.

The next post will examine the descendants of Duke Adolf-Friedrich I and the Mecklenburg-Schwerin family line.

The post after that will focus on Johann-Albert II of Mecklenburg-Güstrow which lead to further division of the Duchy.