Battenberg (Eder) is a town of 5000 inhabitants in Northern Hesse, Germany. It is situated in the upper Eder valley, 380m above sea level. It was first mentioned in a document of 1232. The early-Gothic church dates from 1249.
Battenberg was also the surname and title given to the wife of Prince Alexander of Hesse and by Rhine, Countess Julia von Hauke. Prince Alexander (1823 - 1888) was the third son of Grand Duke Ludwig II of Hesse and the Rhine and his wife Wilhelmina of Baden
Although the orphaned daughter of a Russian Minister of War, Julia von Hauke was considered to be of insufficient rank to marry the son of a Grand Duke of Hesse, hence the marriage was considered morganatic. Julia was given the title Countess of Battenberg by her brother-in-law, Grand Duke Ludwig III of Hesse and the Rhine, in 1851, and was elevated to 'non royal' Princess of Battenberg in 1858. As a result of this final elevation, the children of this union were also elevated to Prince or Princess, and addressed as 'Serene Highness'.
Thus Battenberg became the name of a cadet branch of the Grand Ducal family of Hesse.
The couple had five children:-
- Prince Louis of Battenberg 1854 - 1921
- Princess Marie of Battenberg 1852 - 1923
- Prince Alexander of Battenberg, 1857 - 1893
- Prince Henry of Battenberg 1858 - 1896
- Prince Francis Joseph of Battenberg 1861 - 1924
One son of this marriage, Prince Henry of Battenberg, married Princess Beatrice, the youngest daughter of Queen Victoria; their daughter, Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, became Queen Consort of Spain. In order for this to be possible, her uncle Edward VII had to elevate her to 'Royal Highness', in order for her to have the necessary royal status to marry into the Spanish royal house.
Another son, Alexander, was made Sovereign Prince of Bulgaria; he was later kidnapped and forced to abdicate.
Alexander and Julia's eldest son Prince Louis of Battenberg, became a British Subject, and during World War I, due to anti-German feelings prevalent at the time, anglicised his name to Mountbatten (a literal translation of the German Battenberg), as did his cousins, the sons of Prince Henry and Princess Beatrice. This branch of the family also renounced all German titles, and were granted peerages by their cousin King George V - Prince Louis became Marquess of Milford Haven, while Prince Alexander, Prince Henry's eldest son, became Marquess of Carisbrooke