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Historical Flags (Hanover, Germany)


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[Hanover (Germany)] 2:3
by Željko Heimer and Marcus Schmöger

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Hanover is not a Land of the Federal Republic of Germany anymore. It is now part of the Land of Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen). The flag of the former kingdom and the flag of this former Land were all yellow-white horizontally. This flag can still be used in the former Hanoverian part of Lower Saxony.

Pascal Vagnat (?)

Hanover and Brunswick

The two lines of the House of Brunswick

The house of Brunswick originated in Othbert, margrave of Este in Italy. This family acquired the inheritance of the Guelph [also spelt Welf] family by marriage —around the year 1000— of Azzo II with Kunigunde, daughter of Welf II. In 1106 the family acquired (Lower) Saxony by marriage of Henry the Black to Wulfhild (died 1126), last of the Billungs, who had been dukes of Saxony for the last ages. A generation later they acquired also by marriage the duchy of Brunswick. They were made lords of Brunswick and Lüneburg in 1181 and dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg 12th August 1235.

The Guelph family divided in branches and was reunited more than once. In the 12th century they started using the Saxon horse to claim their rights to (Lower) Saxony. An important division took place in the house of Brauschweig-Lüneburg in 1546:

  • Henry duke of Dannenberg, founded the senior line that was later called Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel and ruled over the duchy of Brunswick, becoming extinct in 1884.
  • William, duke of Lüneburg, founded the younger line which ruled over the principality (later electorate, later kingdom) of Hanover. The line was later called Calenberg (Braunschweig-Lüneburg-Calenberg) or more simply 'Hanover' after the bestowing of the electorate on Ernst August in 1692. He was married to Sophie of the Palatinate, granddaughter of King James I of Scotland and England. His son inherited the British throne after the death of Queen Anne in 1714. In 1837 Great Britain passed to the nearest heir, the daughter of the last king's brother (Queen Victoria), while Hanover passed to the nearest male heir, the last king's youngest brother — according to the Salic Law.
Both branches used in their arms the two lions of Brunswick (said to be granted by the English king to his son in law, the duke of Brunswick in the thirteenth century), the blue lion of Lüneburg and the white horse [on red] of (Lower) Saxony.

The Hanoverians reigned in Hanover until 1866 and in Brunswick after that from 1913 to 1918. The heir to the throne is currently Prince Ernst August (Ernst August V). To this day the princes of Hanover also bear the title of prince of Great Britain and Ireland, duke of Brunswick and Lüneburg.

Theo van der Zalm, 4 September 2000 and 3 July 2001

Ernst August I, who succeeded to the throne of Hanover in 1837 at the death of William IV (of Great Britain and Hanover), was the Duke of Cumberland and his successors through Ernst August II continued using the title. It seems that starting with Ernst August III, they did not. I do not know why. The family name of the Hanover kings was Welf (sometimes the Italian form Guelph is used in English).

Norman Martin, 6 October 2000