When speaking about royal babies, everyone’s looking at Denmark these days, but wasn’t there a very pregnant Princess Nathalie of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg at Victoria’s wedding?

Indeed. Nathalie is a very successful dressage competitor btw. Anyway, the little boy is born now, his name is Konstantin Gustav Heinrich Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg.

And the proud parents (Princess Nathalie with her husband Alexander Johannsmann).

(See Mary, that’s how a healthy mother looks.)

I don’t know if little Konstantin is a prince, dynastically speaking. While he carries the name “zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg”, the House of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg inherits according to Salic Law (meaning strictly agnatic, only to males in the male line). While Nathalie has a brother, currently heir apparent to the headship of the house, he remains unmarried and childless at the age of 41. Should he, as the last agnate, die childless the headship will fall to Bernhard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein, his cousin. Thereby, the line of S-W-B will die out. As Nathalie and her sister can’t inherit the house, I’m not sure they can inherit the titles to their children.

This is speaking strictly in a dynastic context, judicially speaking, titles of nobility in Germany are treated as last names and Konstantin is as much a part of the family as his mother.

It’s high time I do that dynastic power post… Or maybe a whole series of it *sigh*.

But Nathalie isn’t the only new mother.

Hereditary Prince and Princess Maximilian of Bentheim-Tecklenburg had their fourth child only a couple of days ago. The little one’s name is Carl-Emil Maximilian Moritz Casmir of Bentheim-Tecklenburg (no good pictures available, sorry).

The House of Bentheim-Tecklenburg is an old family of counts in the area of Bentheim and Rheda-Wiedenbrück in Germany. They’re counts in their own right, not the morganatic line of some other, higher house. The family has been around since before the 16th century, although it is only known as Bentheim-Tecklenburg since the late 16th century, prior to that it was simply Bentheim. The addition of Tecklenburg stems from what was common practice for the German nobility until the 19th century. While all other areas inherited their name and holdings to the oldest son only (Salic Law, agnatic succession), a lot of the German nobility split their holdings between all their sons, simply adding the name of the ‘new’ area to the old one. That’s also why it is Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg for Nathalie and her family. The holdings of Sayn were split up so much that after a few generations, there were a lot of cadet branches.

This practice changed with primogeniture, first Salic, later semi-Salic, cognatic or male-preference or what have you. When going back through the times, you’re in for a few surprises there, as names have often changed so much that you can’t recognize the original House anymore. That’s how German nobility has given the European royal houses quite a boost over time, as for example the House of Windsor is descended, these days, from two major royal houses of German: Hanover and Wettin. As many will know, Queen Victoria was a princess of the House of Hanover, and she would have inherited the kingdom of Hanover if they didn’t inherit according to Salic law. As the Brits didn’t do that, but simply practised male-preference primogeniture, she was it. Prince Albert on the other hand came from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, which was a cadet branch descended originally from the House of Wettin. As for the Windsors of today, the male agnates carry the last name (when they need a last name) Mountbatton-Windsor or Windsor-Mountbatton, depending on who you ask. Mountbatton is just a translation of the former county of Battenberg, a German holding of the family of Prince Philip’s mother (a morganatic line, in this case).

Windsor is only Windsor because the Brits needed to get rid of their German name after WWI btw.

Now, the lines are dying out, but why can’t the Head of House simply change the rules and inherit to his daughters when he knows there are no sons? That’s the crux of the matter. A couple of centuries back, when Germany of today was only a mass of patches, they managed to get their shit together and created the Holy Roman Empire, with an Emperor and everything. Unfortunately, laws of inheritance were set in stone at that point, and can only be changed when a Holy Roman Emperor witnesses it and gives his okay. The HRR was dissolved though and the current inheritor of the HRE title would, at the same time, be the Austrian Emperor.

So the consequence is, we’ll be seeing a lot of formally noble or even royal Houses die out in the next generation or two, even if their names will be carried on due to German civil law, dynastically speaking, they are nil and void.