The Sovereign Prince House of Reuß
The Princely family of Reuß (Reuss) was started by Erkenbert, the Vogt of Weida who saved the life of the Holy Roman Emperor and German Kaiser Heinrich VI on the field of battle. Since the Kaiser ennobled Erkenbert, all male descendants have always been named Heinrich. Vogts or bailiffs (advocati imperii) were appointed by imperial decree.
Erkenbert as the Vogt of Weida (laying on the eastern boundary of Thüringia), this territory became known as Vogtland (Terra advocatorum) a designation that has remained to this day a geographical summary for Reuss, especially that part which boarders on Saxony. Soon the position of vogt became hereditary. The princes of Reuß are descended from the vogts of Weida. Erkenbert’s successors acquired almost the whole Vogtland by feuds or marriage settlements. The chief rivers are the Weiße and the Saale. It was occupied by forests (35%), very fertile land under tillage (40%) and meadow and pastures (19%). Later, Gera became a second vogt under the family control. Family members distinguished themselves within the ranks of the Teutonic Order and the Order of Saint John (Knights of Malta), holding hereditary ranks within both orders.
At the time of the Protestant Reformation, the Principality of Reuß became evangelical (Lutheran); however, it did not place any undo burdens upon its Catholic peoples. The Catholics of this principality enjoyed the full rights of citizenship just as in the neighboring Kingdom of Saxony. The Catholic population was placed under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Prague, then under the Vicar Apostolic of Saxony. Priests from Bavaria and Saxony were permitted to exercise their ministry freely in the Principality of the Elder Line of Reuß-Greiz.
The government did not interfere with its subjects in regard to the change of religion, establishment of orders, mixed marriages, and the education of their children of the children of such marriages in either principality.
Prince (Fürst) Heinrich XXII Reuß-Greiz (elder line) within the last German Empire was an outspoken critic of Chancellor Count (later Prince) Bismark. He was the most outspoken of all of the German princes and remained so until his death in 1902, an implacable enemy of Prince Bismark and the conditions created in Germany by the foundations of the empire. The daughter of Prince Heinrich XXII was Princess Hermine Reuß who married the widowed Kaiser Wilhelm II in exile, in 1922.
Upon the death of Prince Heinrich XXII, a regent was appointed from the younger line (Reuss-Schleiz) to govern for his son Prince Heinrich XXIV. At the end of World War I, the regent was not legally able to abdicate for Prince Heinrich XXIV not did Prince Heinrich XXIV ever abdicated. Hence, the fons honorum (the font of honours) remained with this branch of the Prince House of Reuß. On the 27th May 1915, Prince Heinrich XXIV and Her Royal Highness, Princess Maria Obrenovic-Brankovic were married in the Serbian Orthodox Church in Beograd, Jugoslavia by His Grace, Bishop Sava. On the 25th of February 1918, His Serene Highness, Prince Heinrich XXV Reuß-Obrenovic-Brankovic was born and was solemnly baptized and chrismated on the 28th day of February 1918. On this special date of his baptism and chrismation, H.S.H. Fürst (Sovereign Prince) Heinrich XXIV Reuß declared his only son to be his lawful successor and issued his “Right of Succession.” H.S.H. (Fürst) Prince Heinrich XXIV Reuß died 13 October 1927 in Greiz.
On the 7th of August 1939 in a Civil ceremony and on the 8th of August 1939 in the Church ceremonies, H.S.H. Sovereign Prince (Fürst) Heinrich XXV Reuß-Obrenovic-Brankovic married a fourth cousin, Her Serene Highness, Princess Marie (Laverne Anne) Obrenovic (the Roman Catholic branch living in exile in Luxembourg) in the Serbian Orthodox Church just prior to his own ordination as an Orthodox deacon and priest. On the 3rd of February 1942, their son, H.S.H. Prince Heinrich XXVI Reuß-Obrenovic-Brankovic was born, who is now the Fürst Reuß.**
The present Fürst Reuß is also the Fourth Metropolitan and Primate (Chief Hierarch of the Eastern Catholic Metropolia (Chaldean-Syrian).
During World War II, Prince Heinrich XXXVII Reuß (zu Köstritz) as a Nazi Wehrmacht general, attempted to have the heir of Prince Heinrich XXIV Reuß-Greiz (Prince Heinrich XXV, his wife and son, Prince Heinrich XXVI) sent to the concentration camps in order to secure the fons for his family and/or his own personal usage.**
Listed below are the hereditary family titles and honours acquired throughout the centuries:
Family Titles: Fürst (Sovereign Prince) Reuß zu Greiz (1778)
Count Reuß zu Greiz, Untergreiz, und Obergreiz
Count and Lord of Plauen (1673)
Lord of Greiz, Kranichfield, Gera, Jena, and
Lobenstein Prince of Brankovic, Prince of Serbia
Older Historic Titles: Prince of the German Empire (1778)
Count of the German Empire
Burgraf zu Meißen (Elector within the College of
Princes within the Empire)
Count of Hartensteinin Bohemia
Lord of Newhartenstein
Kurfürst zu Sachen
Landgraf of Thüringen
Lord of Königswarth, and Petschau
House Order: Fürstlich Reußisches Ehren Kreuz (The Reuss
Cross of Honour)
of the Family: The Order of the Black Eagle (Order vom
Schwarzen Alder (Highest AwardWithin Imperial
The Order of the Crown of Rue of Saxony
(Orden der Rautenkrone)
The Royal Order of Saint Sava of Serbia
** On the 4th December 1987, the German General Consul of San Francisco was presented with a complete file of certified documents to be sent to the German Archives of Nobility (Deutsches Adelsarchiv) via Diplomatic Courier. The documents were both in Serbian and in German with certified translations. The German General Consul had been in contact with the Director of the Archives, who stated, “their records appeared to be incomplete concerning the zu Greiz family line.” The German Consul General included with these documents was a letter from the Bürgermeister (Mayor) of Greiz that “documented that in 1942, the attempts of Prince-General Heinrich XXVII Reuß (zu Köstritz) j.l. to remove your father’s and your own birth records from the registers, in order to seize your title and rights.” This same Nazi General was dismissed from the Army after the failed attempt upon Hitler’s life by Count-Lt. Colonel Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg on the 20th July 1944, when a purge of the Germany Army of the old titled nobility occurred.