This pompous equestrian statue of King Ernst August I, who ruled the Kingdom of Hannover from 1837 until his death in 1851, is located directly in front of the main railway station. People often agree to meet “under the tail”, meaning at the rear end of Ernst August’s horse.
The inscription on the base of the statue reads: “To the father of the nation from his loyal people.” (Uh-huh.)
When Ernst August I became King of Hannover, one of the first things he did was to revoke the kingdom’s relatively liberal constitution. Seven professors at the University of Göttingen (which at that time belonged to the Kingdom of Hannover) issued a public protest and refused to pledge allegiance to the new king.
The seven professors, who soon became known as “The Göttingen Seven”, were well aware that they were risking their jobs by defying the king, and in fact they were all fired by the University of Göttingen. Two of them also had their visas revoked and were given three days to leave the kingdom.
The two who were expelled from the kingdom were Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm, who were already becoming famous not only as professors of linguistics and German literature, but especially as the collectors and editors of a large number of folk tales that are now commonly known as Grimms’ Fairy Tales, including such classics as Hänsel and Gretel, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, Rumpelstiltskin, Little Red Riding Hood and many others.
Ernst August I was the first King of Hannover since 1714 who was not also the King of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland). For over a century Hannover and the UK were joined in ‘personal union’ by having the same king. The only reason this ended in 1837 was that Britain and Hannover had different rules about who could be the monarch. In Britain it was possible for a woman to be on the throne, but in Hannover it had to be a man. So when Victoria became Queen of England she was not allowed inherit the Kingdom of Hannover. Next in line was her uncle Ernst August, so he got the job.
Apparently he was well known in the UK as a reactionary grouch, and the English were glad to be rid of him.
My photos in this post are from 2011. I revised the text in 2018.
See more posts on Hannover, Germany.
3 thoughts on “Ernst-August-Platz in Hannover”
Wie schön! Meine wunderbare alte Heimat! Schade, dass ich nun in Hamburg lebe, sonst hätten wir uns gerne in Hannover treffen können. Aber wennn Du mal nach Hamburg kommst, dann melde Dich mal!
Lots of history that is new to me – the expulsion of the Brothers Grimm, and the reason why we got Vctoria as queen but Hanover did not. Sounds like we got the better deal!
Thanks, Sarah. The Brothers Grimm are a big deal in this part of Germany, mainly because of their fairy tale collections (many of their informants were the descendants of Huguenot immigrants, which they seem not to have realized), but I find them more interesting for their political stance and their linguistic and lexical work: they started writing THE unabridged dictionary of the German language, which is now 30-some volumes although they only completed four or five in their lifetimes. Their childhood home in Steinau is now a museum (I used to have some tips on it in VT) and a friend of mine is the museum director.