Emmanuel Lebrecht, Prince of Anhalt-Köthen

Emmanuel Lebrecht, Prince of Anhalt-Köthen (b. Köthen, 20 May 1671 - d. Köthen, 30 May 1704), was a German prince member of the House of Ascania and ruler of the Principality of Anhalt-Köthen.

He was the only child of Emmanuel, Prince of Anhalt-Köthen by his wife Anna Eleonore, daughter of Henry Volrad, Count of Stolberg-Wernigerode.


He was born posthumously, six months after the death of his father (8 November 1670) and for this inmediately after his birth was declared ruler of Anhalt-Köthen under the regency of his mother. The Dowager Princess Anna Eleonore ruled over Köthen for almost twenty years until her death in 1690. Two years later (January 1692), Emmanuel Lebrecht was formally proclamed adult and took the government of his lands.

Marriage and Issue

When Emmanuel Lebrecht was still a young prince, he fell in love with Gisela Agnes of Rath (b. Klein-Wülknitz near Köthen, 9 October 1669 - d. Nienburg, 12 March 1740), of an old nobility of Anhalt. The Dowager Princess Anna Eleonore was totally against this relationship and tried to separated both, send Gisela Agnes to Stadthagen with her sister.

After the death of the Dowager Princess and his formally proclamation as adult, Emmanuel Lebrecht sent for Gisela Agnes and they finally married in a secret ceremony in Nienburg on 22 May (30 September according other sources) 1692. They had six children:

  1. Augustus Lebrecht (b. Köthen, 24 May 1693 - d. Köthen, 25 October 1693).
  2. Leopold, Prince of Anhalt-Köthen (b. Köthen, 29 November 1694 - d. Köthen, 29 September 1728).
  3. Eleonore Wilhelmine (b. Köthen, 7 May 1696 - d. Weimar, 30 August 1726), married firstly on 15 February 1714 to Frederick Erdmann of Saxe-Merseburg, and secondly on 24 January 1716 to Ernest Augustus I, Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach.
  4. Augustus Louis, Prince of Anhalt-Köthen (b. Köthen, 9 June 1697 - d. Köthen, 6 August 1755).
  5. Gisela Auguste (b. Köthen, 24 July 1698 - d. Köthen, 3 September 1698).
  6. Christiane Charlotte (b. Köthen, 12 January 1702 - d. Köthen, 27 January 1745).

The morganatic marriage of a Reformist prince with a Lutheran low-noble woman received vehements protest of the Reformer Church and the other agnates of the Anhalt principalities. Nevertless, Gisela Agnes was created Imperial Countess of Nienburg (German: Reichsgräfin von Nienburg) on 23 July 1694.

The agnates refused to accept the marriage as dynastically valid and Emmanuel Lebrecht sued them before the Reichshofrat for libel in 1696; but finally, by treaty of 28 June 1698, the Princes of Anhalt-Bernburg, Anhalt-Harzgerode, Anhalt-Zerbst and Anhalt-Dessau recognized the issue of the marriage as lawful heirs and all descendants as princes and princesses of Anhalt with all appertaining rights, without however creating any precedent against the prescriptions of the law of the House of Ascania. The Imperial confirmation of the treaty was granted on 12 March 1699.

On 3 August of that year Emmanuel Lebrecht assigned his wife the castle, city and bailiwick of Nienburg as dowage per life and made her tutrix and regent in case of minority of his successor, with the full approval of the agnates. In 1702, he made a testament in were was introduced the Primogenitur in Köthen; later, these originated a dispute between his two surviving sons Leopold and Augustus Louis. Emmanuel Lebrecht died two years later leaving an infant successor, Leopold, who reigned until 1715 under the regency of his mother.


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