Maurice (Moritz) von Hesse-Kassel (May 25, 1572 –March, 15, 1632), also called Maurice the Learned, was the Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel) in the Holy Roman Empire from 1592 to 1627, as well as a musician and composer. Maurice was born on May 25, 1572, in Kassel, Hesse-Kassel, Germany, as the son of William IV, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel, and his wife Sabine of Württemberg. On September 23, 1593, Maurice married Agnes of Solms-Laubach (1578 -1602). They had six children. Their oldest son, Otto, Hereditary Prince of Hesse-Kassel, born in 1594, died in 1617. Their second son, William V, born in 1602, became the next Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel. After the death of his first wife, on May 22, 1603, Maurice married Countess Juliane of Nassau-Dillenburg (1587 –1643). They had fourteen children.
Although Maurice had been raised in the Lutheran faith, he converted to Calvinism in 1605. On the principle Cuius regio eius religio, Maurice’s subjects were also required to convert to Calvinism. Maurice’s conversion was controversial since the Peace of Augsburg had settled religious matters only betweens Roman Catholics and Lutherans and had not considered Calvinists. Maurice tried to introduce Calvinism to the lands which he had inherited from the extinct Hesse-Marburg branch of his family. Such a change of faith was contrary to the inheritance rules, and resulted in an ongoing conflict with the Hesse-Darmstadt branch. It also brought him into conflict with the Holy Roman Emperor, Matthias.
English strolling players (‘Die Englische Comoedianten’) were frequent visitors to, and performers in, towns and cities in Germany and other European countries, including Kassel, during the 16th and 17th centuries. Landgraf Moritz (to use his German nomenclature) was a great supporter of the performing arts and even built the first permanent theatre in Germany, named the Ottoneum, in 1605. This building still exists today but as a Natural History Museum. He himself was not only a serious musician but an expert composer. A Pavane of his for the lute has several times been recorded by both lutenists and guitarists. The leading musical figures whom he supported included Heinrich Schütz and John Dowland. Maurice’s actions (though not necessarily the Ottoneum) ruined Hesse-Kassel financially. In 1627 he abdicated in favor of his son William V. Five years later he died on March 15, 1632, aged 59, in Eschwege, Hesse-Kassel, Germany.
The following work by Maurice von Hesse-Kassel is contained in my collection:
Bruder Conrads Tantzmass.