Prussian House of Lords

The Prussian House of Lords (German: Preußisches Herrenhaus) was the first chamber of the Parliament of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1850-1918. The second chamber was the Prussian House of Representatives (Preußisches Haus der Abgeordneten, also called the Abgeordnetenhaus).

The House of Lords was created on January 31, 1850 with the adoption of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Prussia. Its seat was on Leipziger Straße at a building rebuilt by the architect Friedrich Schulze in 1904.

A member of the House of Lords was known as a pair (see also pairie), or officially as a member of the Prussian House of Lords (Mitglieder des preußischen Herrenhauses, or MdH).

The House consisted of hereditary peers, life peers appointed by the King of Prussia, peers by virtue of position, representatives of cities and universities, etc. The majority of members were nobles, although the House also had commoners as members, especially among the representatives of cities and universities.

The breakdown was as follows:

  • Princes of the royal house of Hohenzollern who had reached their majority
  • Members with hereditary right:
    • The head of the princely house of Hohenzollern
    • The heads of the former German states of the Holy Roman Empire in royal Prussian lands - These were primarily mediatized princely houses, such as Arenberg, Bentheim-Steinfurt, Fürstenberg, Isenburg (also Ysenburg), Salm-Horstmar, Salm-Salm, Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein, Solms-Hohensolms-Lich, Solms-Rödelheim-Assenheim, Stolberg-Wernigerode, and Wied.
    • Other members with hereditary right - These were primarily princes and counts from lands absorbed by Prussia over the centuries, such as the duke of Schleswig-Holstein, the count of Westphalia, and the landgrave of Hessen-Philippsthal.
  • Life members:
    • Holders of the four great court appointments (große Hofämter) of the kingdom - These were the state steward (Landhofmeister), the chancellor (Kanzler), the lord marshal (Obermarschall), and the lord burgrave (Oberburggraf).
    • Members entrusted by the king - These were both nobles and commoners, and included select generals and admirals, senior government officials, business leaders, and philanthropists.
    • Members called by presentation - These were primarily holders of noble estates, the university representatives, and the lord mayors of cities given the right of presentation.

With the German Revolution and the fall of the Hohenzollern monarchy resulting from World War I, the Prussian House of Lords was dissolved in 1918 and replaced by the Staatsrat (state council) of the Free State of Prussia. Its members were representatives of the Provinces of Prussia. Konrad Adenauer used to be its long serving president.

The Federal Council or Bundesrat of Germany has its seat in the former Prussian House of Lords.

Cultural references

One of the characters in Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment references the Prussian Upper House when they are talking about the main character's sister.

Building Activity

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