TWO LINES IN CULMBACH OR BAIREUTH-ANSPACH: THE GERA BOND OF 1598.
Culmbach the Elector left, at his death, to his Second Son,-- properly to two sons, but one of them soon died, and the other became sole possessor;--Friedrich by name; who, as founder of the Elder Line of Brandenburg-Culmbach Princes, must not be forgotten by us. Founder of the First or Elder Line, for there are two Lines; this of Friedrich's having gone out in about a hundred years; and the Anspach-Baireuth territories having fallen home again to Brandenburg;--where, however, they continued only during the then Kurfurst's life.;ohann George (1525-1598), Seventh Kurfurst, was he to whom Brandenburg-Culmbach fell home,--nay, strictly speaking, it was but the sure prospect of it that fell home, the thing itself did not quite fall in his time, though the disposal of it did, ["Disposal," 1598; thing itself, 1603, in his Son's time.]--to be conjoined again with Brandenburg-Proper. Conjoined for the short potential remainder of his own life; and then to be disposed of as an apanage again;--which latter operation, as Johann George had three-and-twenty children, could be no difficult one.
Johann George, accordingly (Year 1598), split the Territory in two; Brandenburg-Baireuth was for his second son, Brandenburg- Anspach for his third: hereby again were two new progenitors of Culmbach Princes introduced, and a New Line, Second or "Younger Line" they call it (Line mostly split in two, as heretofore); which--after complex adventures in its split condition, Baireuth under one head, Anspach under another--continues active down to our little Fritz's time and farther. As will become but too apparent to us in the course of this History!--
From of old these Territories had been frequently divided: each has its own little capital, Town of Anspach, Town of Baireuth, [Populations about the same; 16,000 to 17,000 in our time.] suitable for such arrangement. Frequently divided; though always under the closest cousinship, and ready for reuniting, if possible. Generally under the Elder Line too, under Friedrich's posterity, which was rather numerous and often in need of apanages, they had been in separate hands. But the understood practice was not to divide farther; Baireuth by itself, Anspach by itself (or still luckier if one hand could get hold of both),--and especially Brandenburg by itself, uncut by any apanage: this, I observe, was the received practice. But Johann George, wise Kurfurst as he was, wished now to make it surer; and did so by a famed Deed, called the Gera Bond (GERAISCHE VERTRAG), dated 1598, [Michaelis, i. 345.] the last year of Johann George's life.
Hereby, in a Family Conclave held at that Gera, a little town in Thuringen, it was settled and indissolubly fixed, That their Electorate, unlike all others in Germany, shall continue indivisible; Law of Primogeniture, here if nowhere else, is to be in full force; and only the Culmbach Territory (if otherwise unoccupied) can be split off for younger sons. Culmbach can be split off; and this again withal can be split, if need be, into two (Baireuth and Anspach); but not in any case farther. Which Household-Law was strictly obeyed henceforth. Date of it 1598; principal author, Johann George, Seventh Elector. This "Gera Bond" the reader can note for himself as an excellent piece of Hohenzollern thrift, and important in the Brandenburg annals. On the whole, Brandenburg keeps continually growing under these Twelve Hohenzollerns, we perceive; slower or faster, just as the Burggrafdom had done, and by similar methods. A lucky outlay of money (as in the case of Friedrich Ironteeth in the Neumark) brings them one Province, lucky inheritance another:--good management is always there, which is the mother of good luck.
And so there goes on again, from Johann George downwards, a new stream of Culmbach Princes, called the Younger or New Line,-- properly two contemporary Lines, of Baireuthers and Anspachers;-- always in close affinity to Brandenburg, and with ultimate reversion to Brandenburg, should both Lines fail; but with mutual inheritance if only one. They had intricate fortunes, service in foreign armies, much wandering about, sometimes considerable scarcity of cash: but, for a hundred and fifty years to come, neither Line by any means failed,--rather the contrary, in fact.
Of this latter or New Culmbach Line, or split Line, especially of the Baireuth part of it, our little Wilhelmina, little Fritz's Sister, who became Margravine there, has given all the world notice. From the Anspach part of it (at that time in sore scarcity of cash) came Queen Caroline, famed in our George the Second's time. [See a Synoptic Diagram of these Genealogies, infra, p. 388a.] From it too came an unmomentous Margraf, who married a little Sister of Wilhelmina's and Fritz's; of whom we shall hear. There is lastly a still more unmomentous Margraf, only son of said Unmomentous and his said Spouse; who again combined the two Territories, Baireuth having failed of heirs; and who, himself without heirs, and with a frail Lady Craven as Margravine,--died at Hammersmith, close by us, in 1806; and so ended the troublesome affair. He had already, in 1791, sold off to Prussia all temporary claims of his; and let Prussia have the Heritage at once without waiting farther. Prussia, as we noticed, did not keep it long; and it is now part of the Bavarian Dominion;--for the sake of editors and readers, long may it so continue!
Of this Younger Line, intrinsically rather insignificant to mankind, we shall have enough to write in time and place; we must at present direct our attention to the Elder Line.