[recommended screen size: 800x600 pixels]

(with many other maps of Germany)

If there ever was a place with changing names and borders, it is Germany. And at the heart of Germany is the modern federal state of Hessen, which is no exception. What follows is an attempt to "lay it all out" for the benefit of family tree researchers around the world. I'll do it with as little text as possible. I want the maps to explain it all, rather than burdening the site with cold narrative. After you have studied this presentation please bring errors to my attention at once, if not sooner! Allow me to express my appreciation up front to two very special people: Karl Schien, who lives in Hessen, and who provided the original black and white maps, and Dona Ritchie, a former Hessen living in the USA, who added color and enhanced fonts. With folks like these in our midst, we have a lot going for us. Thanks, Karl! Thanks, Dona! Awesome!

The modern state of Hessen in Germany was officially created on 16 October 1945 by decree of the occupying U.S. forces of war-torn Germany. The new Hessen incorporated the provinces of Kurhessen and Nassau, Hessen-Kassel, and Hessen-Darmstadt, but left out Oberwesterwald, Unterwesterwald, Unterlahn and St. Goarshausen, which were given to the French occupying forces in Rheinland-Pfalz, along with Rheinhessen, Bingen, Mainz, Alzey, and Worms. Only the Christian Church in Germany retained the old geographic boundaries of Kurhessen, Nassau, Waldeck, Wetzlar, and others in existence before 1945.

Kurhessen (the "electorate" of Hessen under the Holy Roman Empire) included these districts and provinces in the 1840s:

Niederhessen, with the towns of Kassel, Eschwege, Fritzlar, Hofgeismar, Homberg, Melsungen, Rotenburg, Schaumburg, Witzenhausen, and Wolfhagen.

Oberhessen, with the towns of Marburg, Frankenberg, Kirchain, and Ziegenhain.

Fulda, with the towns of Fulda, Hersfeld, Hünfeld, and Schmalkalden.

Hanau, with the towns of Hanau, Gelnhausen, and Schlüchtern.

Today, Kurhessen is known as Hessen-Kassel, although the boundaries are not exactly the same.

In the 19th Century Wiesbaden, the modern capital of the state of Hessen, was the capital of the Duchy of Nassau. The Nassau family originated the so-called "Orange Territory" in France, The Netherlands, Luxemburg, and the King of England was at one time William of Orange. The Duchy of Nassau lay northeast of the town of Nassau, along the Rhein River. In 1866 the Duchy of Nassau became known as Hessen-Nassau. Following World War II, it disappeared, with the allies determining where borders lay. Hessen-Nassau became partly in the state of Hessen and part ly in the state of Rheinland-Pfalz. It continues today only as a designation for the church boundaries in that region, which have been maintained, much to the confusion of non-German researchers.

One thing is certain: You must know the name of the village, town, or city in order to make progress with German research. AND you must realize that many, many villages, towns, and cities in Germany have the same name, AND that many older villages and towns have been absorbed by the cities, disappearing forever, except in the hearts and minds of the locals. Remember that unless you establish that the ancestor you are seeking is in your direct line, you will probably not survive German privacy laws. CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE to read more about Hessen. REMEMBER: DON'T GET LOST! Your back button is your friend!


Historical (Ancient) Maps with Translations

Pre-German Maps
(Maps before Germany became one Nation. Clickable!)

European Maps

Ancestry.com Maps

GERMANY 1871-1918

Evangelical Church Districts today follow the original jurisdictional boundaries prior to 1866, making this modern church boundary map useful for earlier regional evaluation. This is not a modern political boundary map.

Another View of Evangelical (non-Catholic) church boundaries in Germany as organized after 1945

Catholic Church boundaries after 1945

Select from these Maps:

Historical History / Maps
for German Speakers

Historical Maps of Pre-State Germany

Bavaria, Austria, Italy, and the Electorate of Hesse in 1806

Southern "Germany" 1801-1819

German "States" until 1918
and much, much more!

Map List

Miscellaneous German Maps

Historical Maps

Maps of the Past!
(World-Wide, not just Germany)

Germany 1871-1918
Includes description of kingdoms, grand duchies
and other configurations in 1914


An example of Modern Districts (or counties; Landkreisen); Darmstadt area.
Click on the map for the State Museum of Hessen
located in Darmstadt.

Various Germany Maps

Eastern Europe Maps

Hessen & Bordering Entities 18th Century

Hessen-Darmstadt 1567-1866      Hessen-Kassel 1567-1866

Hessen-Nassau and essential German Resources
(don't miss this one!)

Hessen, 1815-1866

Hessen, after 1866

Atlas des Deutschen Reichs
(Downloadable Maps, Adobe Format)

Until 1803 "Germany" was a collection of principalities, dukedoms, tiny states, church-states, and independent villages, towns, and cities. In 1803 Napoleon Bonaparte decided how "Germany" should be configured. He drew the maps, abolished the church-states, and decided how "Germany" would function. In 1815 Napoleon met his "Waterloo," and the reassembly of "Germany" began. There were the duchies of Hessen-Kassel, Hessen-Darmstadt, and the Herzogtum of Nassau. The latter had Wiesbaden for a capitol. In the war between Austria and Prussia in 1866, Hessen-Kassel and Herzogtum Nassau sided with Austria, and lost. They reappear under Prussian rule as one entity, Hessen-Nassau, which also incorporated the free city of Frankfurt am Main. The duchy of Hessen-Darmstadt retained its identity. After World War II the allies created the Federal German State of Hessen, which incorporated the former Herzogtum Nassau and Hessen-Darmstadt, along with Hessen-Kassel. RheinHessen and The Westerwald, formerly part of Hessen, were left out of the mix, becoming part of Rheinland-Pfalz. Hessen-Giessen was created in Hessen in 1990.

Hessen during the 1848-49 Revolution

Hessen in 1933    

Use your Back Button to return to this page after visiting each of the following sites:

Country/City Maps

MAPS - Germany

MAPS II - Germany

Hessen (German Language)

Hessen History

The Wonderful Odenwald (Modern - German Language)

Germany Through The Ages

Prussian Maps

German Empire 1882 - East
German Empire 1882 - East & West

Modern German States (Location)

Federal German States (List)

Hessen Counties (after 1974)

World Maps

The David Rumsey Map Collection
(Intended for highspeed computers with maximum capabilities, on cable or DSL. Awesome 3-dimensional maps
with overlay possibilities, the dream of every intensely involved historical researcher.)

Alternate Link

Southeastern Europe, 1700
Southeastern Europe, 1892

Map Choices

Historical Maps with Descriptions

Historical German Maps

Germany 1618

The Pfalz Divisions (Maps)

Town Maps, Rheinland-Pfalz

Index to FEEFHS Historical Maps

Germany 1801-1819 Historical Map

The Territory of Niedersachsen in the 19th Century


Imperial Ecclesiastic States

Medieval Maps of Europe

Free Map Links

East Prussia

Prussia Online

Map Access, Regions

Whence cometh the Englisch?

Polish Roots

30-Years War
1. Bohemian Wars

2. Denmark Intervenes

3. Sweden Intervenes

4. France Enters the Fray

Description of Thüringen and the many Sachsens, Courtesy Dieter Taube

I notice, that many american fellow searchers are confused of the historical geography of Thuringia and the lot of "Saxonies" in German history. Let me give a short explanation. You must distinguish:

1. The former Kingdom of Saxony (today: Freistaat Sachsen). The most important towns are Dresden, Leipzig and Chemnitz.

2. The former Province of Saxony. It was a part of Prussia with the big cities of Magdeburg  and Halle. Since 1945 it is united with the former duchy of Anhalt to the federal state of Sachsen-Anhalt.

3. Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen). Today a German federal state it has less political or   historical roots (it was founded 1946, former states were Hanover, Brunswick, Oldenburg,   Schaumburg- Lippe and parts of Anhalt and Hessen) but more linguistic and tribal togetherness:   All people speak nearly the same Nether German dialect. These kind of Saxons in the ancient days were going to conquer England, America and so on ...

4. Some of the Thuringian principalities also weared the name of Saxony, but they did not belong   to one of the upper listed Saxon territories. The origin of these names is of dynastic traditions. One country - this is yet more curious - was even called Russia. Prince Heinrich, who dared a long journey to Russia around 1300, was as delighted of what he must have seen there, that he thenceforth named his kingdom "Reuß", that's the poetic name for Russia.

Since1860...70 the Thuringian countries were: Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach, grand duchy Sachsen-Koburg-Gotha (Saxe-Coburg-Gotha), duchy Schwarzburg-Sondershausen, principality Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, principality Sachsen-Meiningen, duchy  Sachsen-Altenburg, duchy Reuß jüngere Linie, principality Reuß ältere Linie, principality Some central an northern parts of Thuringia belonged to Prussia (Province of Saxony, Regierungsbezirk Erfurt).