Page:The Hessians and the other German auxiliaries of Great Britain in the revolutionary war.djvu/15

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3
THE PRINCES.

Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel; William, his son, the independent Count of Hesse-Hanau; Charles I., Duke of Brunswick; Frederick, Prince of Waldeck; Charles Alexander, Margrave of Anspach-Bayreuth; and Frederick Augustus, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst. The action of these princes was opposed to the policy of the empire and to the moral sense of the age: but the emperor had no power to prevent it, for the subjection of those parts of Germany which were outside of his hereditary dominions was little more than nominal.

The map of Germany in the last century presents the most extraordinary patchwork. Across the northern part of the country, from its eastern to its western side, but not in an unbroken line, stretch the territories of the King of Prussia. The Austrian hereditary dominions, in a comparatively compact mass, occupy the southeastern corner. Beyond the boundaries of these two great powers, all is confusion. Electorates, duchies, bishoprics, the dominions of margraves, landgraves, princes, and free cities are inextricably jumbled together. There were nearly three hundred sovereignties in Germany, besides over fourteen hundred estates of Imperial Knights, holding immediately of the empire, and having many rights of sovereignty. Some of these three hundred states were not larger than townships in New England, many of them not larger than American counties. Nor was each of them compact in itself, for one dominion was often composed of several detached parcels of territory. Yet every little princedom had to maintain its petty prince, with his court and his army. The princes were practically despotic. The remnants of what had once