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Prince George Louis of Hesse-Darmstadt
1669 – September 13, 1705 (aged 36)
Source: Stadtarchiv Darmstadt)
Place of birth Darmstadt, Hesse, Germany
Place of death Barcelona, Spain
Allegiance Austria, Great Britain

Prince George Louis of Hesse-Darmstadt (1669 – September 13, 1705) was a Field Marshal in the Austrian army. He is known for his career in Habsburg Spain, as Viceroy of Catalonia (1698–1701), head of the Austrian army in the War of Spanish Succession (1701–1705) and conqueror of Gibraltar in 1704. He was known in Spanish as Jorge de Darmstadt and in Catalan as Jordi Darmstadt.


Early life

Born in Darmstadt, Hesse, Germany in 1669,[1] George Louis of Hesse-Darmstadt was the third son of Louis VI, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt. After the early death of his father, he was raised by his mother Elisabeth Dorothea of Sachsen-Gotha. In 1686 he undertook a "Grand Tour" through France and Switzerland.

As youngest son, he had little chance of becoming Landgrave, and therefore he was destined for a military career.

Military career

First he fought against the Turks under Prince Eugene of Savoy. He was present at the Battle of Mohacs. Then he joined William III of Orange in the Irish campaign. After his return he converted to Catholicism and became Generalfeldwachtmeister (Major-General)in the Austrian Army in 1692, at the age of 23.[1]

Then he fought against the French in the Nine Years' War. In 1695 he was sent by the Emperor to Spain at the head of an army-unit of 2,000 German soldiers to help defend Catalonia against superior French army and navy forces.[1]

In 1697 he defended Barcelona which was under siege by Vendôme by land and admiral D’Estrées by sea.[1] Finally the city surrendered after a siege of 52 days.[1] This was ordered from Madrid and against the will of prince George Louis.

Later life

After the war he was honoured in Spain and made a knight in 1697 of the Order of the Golden Fleece.[1] After the withdrawal of the French, he became Viceroy of Catalonia, being recorded in the Spanish official records as Jorge de Darmstadt. He learned some Catalan and initiated some reforms, making him quite popular in the region. In 1699 he was appointed General der Kavallerie (General of Cavalry).[1]

But in 1700 King Carlos II died and was succeeded as King by the French Philip V. Prince George Louis was replaced in 1701 by a pro-Bourbon Viceroy: Luis Antonio Tomás Fernández de Portocarrero, and he returned to Austria. There, he was ordered by the Emperor Leopold to negotiate an alliance with Great Britain and Portugal to support the claims to the Spanish throne of Leopold's son, the Archduke Charles.

After the start of the War of Spanish Succession he was appointed the head of the Austrian troops supporting Archduke Charles's cause in Spain. In 1704, under his command, 1,800 Dutch and British Marines were landed near Gibraltar, took the fortress and defended it successfully against a Spanish-French siege, holding off repeated attacks.[1] When the siege was abandoned in 1705, he left Gibraltar (still nominally under Archduke Charles but de facto beginning a period of British rule in that city) and took command of the conquest on Barcelona. He was killed on September 13, storming the citadel of Montjuich.[1]

His body was embalmed and buried in the Església dels Josepets de Gràcia. His heart was sent in 1711 to Darmstadt, where it remains in the Stadtkirche until today. He is known by the Catalans as Príncep Jordi (Prince George). A street In Barcelona was named after him: Carrer del Príncep Jordi.

See also


External links

Government offices
Preceded by
Sir George Rooke
Governor of Gibraltar
4 August 1704 — 6 August 1704
Succeeded by
John Nugent


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