Principality of Lichtenberg

Principality of Lichtenberg
Fürstentum Lichtenberg
Flag Coat of arms
Principality of Lichtenberg (in green)
Capital Sankt Wendel
Languages German
Government Monarchy
   1815-1834 Ernst
   Congress of Vienna 1815
   sold to Prussia 1834
   1815-1834 537 km² (207 sq mi)
   1815-1834 est. 25,000 
     Density 46.6 /km²  (120.6 /sq mi)
Preceded by
Succeeded by

The Principality of Lichtenberg (German: Fürstentum Lichtenberg) on the Nahe River was a secluded enclave of the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld from 1816 to 1826 and the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha from 1826 to 1834, when it was sold to the Kingdom of Prussia.[1] Today the area lies in two States of GermanySaarland in the District of St. Wendel and Rhineland-Palatinate in the District of Birkenfeld.


Before the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars, most of the future Principality of Lichtenberg was held by the Dukes of Palatinate-Zweibrücken. The area of St. Wendel was held by the Prince-Bishops of Trier while the Reichsfürsten [Imperial Princes] von Salm, as the Rheingrafen [Counts of the Rhine], had Grumbach and the lands west of it. The rest of the Principality belonged to the Margraves of Baden (as the Counts of Sponheim), the Reichsgrafen [Imperial Counts] von den Leyen, and the Princes of Nassau-Usingen.[2] But Napoleon and his Grande Armée overran all the Lichtenberger lands, added them to the First French Empire and turned them into the Département de la Sarre. The new Département lasted for 16 years, from 1798 to 1814, until the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo.

Then, at the Congress of Vienna (1815), the left bank of the Rhine went to Bavaria, Hesse and Prussia. Here, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, Ernest III, received as the reward for his services as an Army general and corps commander in the battles against Napoleon in 1816, a large estate of 8.25 square miles and approximately 22,000 residents of St. Wendel and Baumholder, first under the name of Herrschaft Baumholder. On 11 September 1816 the possession was made official.

By the decree of Ernest III, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, on 6 March 1819, the area between Baumholder and Kusel would be known henceforth as the Principality of Lichtenberg after the Lichtenberg Castle.

St. Wendel was the seat of government. It was also the residence of Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (Duchess of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld), who lived there from 1824 until her death in 1831. Divorced in 1826, she was the mother of Prince Ernest, the future Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and Prince Albert, the future husband of Queen Victoria, who both spent some of their childhood in St. Wendel.

In 1817, the territories were divided into three cantons and 15 Burgermeistereien [mayoralties].

In 1826, the Principality of Lichtenberg went from one duchy to another, during the extensive rearrangement of the Ernestine duchies and Ernest III, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfield, became Ernest I, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

But, because of the political unrest on 31 May 1834 in St. Wendel and the great distance from the rest of the Duchy, the Duke, Ernest I, sold the Principality to Prussia on 15 August 1834 for the annuity of 80,000 talers. Most of the proceeds were used for the expansion of the ducal possessions in Grein (Upper Austria). The Kingdom of Prussia annexed the lands as Kreis [District of] St. Wendel in the Regierungsbezirk [Administrative Division of] Trier of the Rheinprovinz [Province of the Rhineland].


Today the territories are in the following States of Germany:

In the Saarland

In Rhineland-Palatinate:



  1.  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Lichtenberg". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  2. Thomas Höckmann, “Historical Map of Rhenania-Palatinate 1789”, Historical Maps – Germany at the end of the 18th century. The future Principality is in the middle of the bottom of the map, in the light green lands of “Hztm. Pfalz-Zweibrücken” and the brown lands of “Rheingraftschaft”.
  3. (German) Names of the municipalities from: Gemeindeverzeichnis Deutschland 1900 [Directories of the Communities of Germany] - Königreich [Kingdom of] Preußen - Rheinprovinz - Regierungsbezirk Trier - Landkreis Sankt Wendel, from:; Locations of the same municipalities from: Planungsatlas Rheinland-Pfalz [Planning Atlas of Rhineland-Palatinate] (Deutscher Planungsatlas Band VII [German Planning Atlases, Volume VII]), edited by the Akademie für Raumforschung und Landespflege [Academy of Regional Research and Preservation], Hanover, in cooperation with the Staatskanzlei Rheinland-Pfalz [State Chancellery of Rhineland-Palatinate] (Hanover: Gebruder [The Brothers] Jänecke, 1965), Karte [Map] IX-2


Coordinates: 49°36′N 7°17′E / 49.600°N 7.283°E / 49.600; 7.283

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