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Adolphe (July 24, 1817 – November 17, 1905) Grand Duke of Luxembourg.

Adolphe was a son of Wilhelm, Duke of Nassau (1792–1839), and his first wife, Princess Louise of Saxe-Hildburghausen. Adolphe’s half-sister, Sophia of Nassau, was the wife of King Oscar II of Sweden.

Adolphe became Duke of Nassau in August 1839 at the age of 22, after the death of his father. Wiesbaden had by this time become the capital of the Duchy and Adolphe took up residence in the newly constructed Stadtschloss in 1841.

On March 4, 1848 he consented to the population of Nassau’s nine “Demands of the Nassauers”. A few years later, however, he revoked his liberal views and took a strongly conservative and reactionary course. In general, though, he was seen as a popular ruler.

He supported the Austrian Empire in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866. After Austria’s defeat, Nassau was annexed to the Kingdom of Prussia and he lost his throne on September 20, 1866.

From 1815 to 1839, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg was ruled by the kings of the Netherlands as a province of the Netherlands. Following the Treaty of London (1839), the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg became independent but remained in personal union with the Netherlands with the Dutch King as the Head of State.

Grand Duke of Luxembourg

In 1879, Adolphe’s niece Emma of Waldeck and Pyrmont, the daughter of another of his half-sisters, married Willem III, King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg. In 1890, their only daughter Wilhelmina succeeded on his death without surviving male issue to the Dutch throne, but was excluded from the succession to Luxembourg by Salic Law.

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg passed to Adolphe in accordance with the Nassau Family Pact. Adolphe was King-Grand Duke Willem III’s 17th cousin once removed through a male-only line, but was also his 3rd cousin as they both descended from Willem IV, Prince of Orange (he being the paternal great-grandson of William IV’s eldest daughter Princess Carolina of Orange-Nassau.)

Marriage and family

On January 31, 1844, Adolphe married firstly in St. Petersburg Grand Duchess Elizabeth Mikhailovna of Russia, who was the second child and daughter of Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich of Russia and Princess Charlotte of Württemberg who took the name Elena Pavlovna upon her conversion to the Orthodox faith. Through her father, Elizabeth was a granddaughter of Emperor Paul I of Russia, and a niece of both Russian Emperors Alexander I and Nicholas I.

She died less than a year afterwards giving birth to a stillborn daughter. Adolphe built the Russian Orthodox Church of Saint Elizabeth 1847 to 1855 as her funeral church.

On April 23, 1851, he remarried Princess Adelheid-Marie of Anhalt-Dessau. She was the daughter of to Prince Friedrich August of Anhalt-Dessau and Princess Marie Luise Charlotte of Hesse-Kassel.

They had five children, of whom only two lived to the age of eighteen and became prince and princess of Luxembourg

Grand Duke Adolphe was already 73 years old when he assumed the throne and knew little of Luxembourgish politics, he left his hands off the day-to-day governing.

The prime minister Paul Eyschen, in office since 1888, took care of the affairs of state, and this created a tradition that the ruler would remain absent from the politics of the day.

In 1902 Adolphe appointed his son Prince Gullaume as Lieutenant-Representative. Adolphe died in 1905 at his summer home, Schloss Hohenburg in Lenggries, and was succeeded by his eldest son as Grand Duke Guillaume IV of Luxembourg. In 1953 Adolphe was buried in the crypt of the church of Schloss Weilburg.

Luxembourg is a French speaking country and therefore the Dutch Monarchs of Luxembourg were known as Grand Duke Guillaume I, Guillaume II and Guillaume III of Luxembourg respectively.