During the nineteenth century, many of Germany’s ruling dynasties handed over control of their domains to the state in return for fixed annual payments and other financial benefits. This arrangement collapsed alongside the monarchy in November 1918, forcing royal families to engage in complex negotiations with the now-republican authorities over compensation for the loss of their land and income. The issues under debate (which have recently resurfaced) dominated the domestic political scene for the next decade and formed the most public and contentious legacy of monarchy in interwar Germany. Focusing on the southern states of Hesse, Bavaria, and Württemberg, this talk examines the financial agreements and how they were reached. It then considers their impact on the economic circumstances of the individual royal dynasties before concluding with some thoughts on the role of the “property question” in republican state-building and Germany’s engagement with monarchy after 1918.
Dr Jonathan Triffitt is a political and cultural historian of modern Germany, with particular research interests in 19th and 20th century monarchy. His PhD thesis, entitled Twilight of the princes: The fall and afterlife of monarchy in southern Germany, 1918-1934, was awarded the 2021 PhD Dissertation Prize of the German Historical Institute in London.