1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Schwarzburg-Sondershausen

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SCHWARZBURG-SONDERSHAUSEN, a principality of Germany, and constituent state of the German empire. It shares the old Schwarzburg lands with Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt. In general it may be said that while Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt forms the southern, Schwarzburg-Sondershausen occupies the northern portion of the lands once divided between them. The total area of the principality is 333 sq. m., of which 133 are in the upper and 200 in the lower barony. The chief towns are Arnstadt (pop. 16,275 in 1905) which at one time gave name to a line of counts, in the southern, and Sondershausen (7425), the capital, in the northern (or upper) barony. The general description of the nature and resources of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt applies also to this principality, except that 62% of the whole is devoted to agriculture and pasture and 30% to forests, only about two-fifths of which are coniferous trees. The chief crops are oats, barley, wheat and rye, but by far the most land is planted with potatoes. About 15% of the population are supported by agriculture and forestry, and about 18% by mining and cognate industries. The industries are varied, and in some branches, notably gloves (at Arnstadt), glass, sausages and sugar-refining, considerable. In 1905 the population was 85,152, or about 245 to the square mile. Almost all of these were Protestants.

Schwarzburg-Sondershausen is a limited hereditary monarchy, its constitution resting on a law of 1857. The diet consists of five representatives elected by the highest taxpayers, five by general election, and five nominated for life by the prince. The first ten members are elected for four years, which is also the financial period. There is a ministry with five departments for the prince's household, domestic affairs, finance, churches and schools, and justice. The budget for the years 1908-1911 estimates the income at £164,440 and the expenditure at the same. The state debt in 1909 was £167,970. The troops of Schwarzburg-Sondershausen have been incorporated with the Prussian army by convention since 1867. The principality has one vote in the Reichstag and one in the federal council.

The house of Schwarzburg is one of the oldest and noblest in Germany; and tradition traces its descent from Widukind and the kings of the Franks. Its historical ancestors were the counts of Käfernburg, from whom the counts of Schwarzburg sprang about the beginning of the 13th century. The name Günther became the distinctive name for the members of this house (corresponding to Heinrich in the Reuss family), the various Günthers being at first distinguished by numbers and afterwards by prefixed names. Various subdivisions and collateral lines were formed, but by 1599 all were extinct but the present two. Count Günther XL., who died in 1552, was the last common ancestor of both lines. Schwarzburg-Sondershausen is the senior line, although its possessions are the smaller. In 1697 the count was raised to the dignity of imperial prince by the emperor Leopold I. The prince had to pay 7000 thalers to the elector of Saxony and 3500 to the duke of Saxe-Weimar, and numerous disputes arose in connexion with the superiorities thus indicated. In 1807 Schwarzburg-Sondershausen entered the Confederation of the Rhine and became a sovereign state. In 1816 it joined the German League, and redeemed with portions of its territory all rights of superiority claimed by Prussia. Its domestic government has gradually, though not very quickly, improved since that time — the oppressive game-laws in particular having been abolished. A treaty of mutual succession was made between the two families in 1713. Prince Charles Günther succeeded on the 17th of July 1880, his father having on account of eye disease renounced the throne in favour of his son. By a law, promulgated in 1896, Sizzo, prince of Leutenberg, was recognized as the heir-presumptive to this principality and, by treaty with Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, to that principality also.

See Apfelstedt, Heimatskunde des Fürstentums Schwarzburg-Sondershausen (Sondersh., 1854-1857); Irmisch, Beiträge zur schwarzburgischen Heimatskunde (Sondersh., 1905-1906).