Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Hesse, formerly a district of Central Germany. in Roman times the home of the Teutonic tribe of Catti, whose chief town, Mattium, was destroyed by Germanicus. Under the Frankish kings it was governed by counts, and in the Middle Ages it formed part of Thuringia, belonging in 1263 to Sophia, wife of Henry of Brabant. With her son Henry began the dynasty of Hesse, which later split into four branches, which by failure of issue diminished to two in the early part of the 17th century. From these two came the divisions Hesse-Cassel and Hesse-Darmstadt. The former, now almost absorbed into the Prussian province of Hesse-Nassau, was founded in the 16th century by the Margrave William IV. It sided with Austria in 1866, and was annexed. Hesse-Darmstadt is a Grand Duchy, partly drained by the Eder and Fulda into the Weser. Much of it is cold and unproductive, but the climate of the river-valleys is mild and pleasant, and the vine is extensively cultivated, together with much fruit, corn, hemp, flax, potatoes, rape-seed, tobacco, and hops. There is also much forest land. Agriculture and cattle-rearing are the chief industries, and horses, cattle, sheep, and swine are abundant. Linen is manufactured, and salt, basalt, whetstones, lime and sandstone are quarried. The chief towns are Darmstadt (capital), Mainz, Giessen, Bingen, and Worms.