Prince Heinrich XV. Reuss zu Greiz – Passport 1814

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Passport to travel from Venice to Bologna, for Anna Maria Bugratti. Venice, 28 November 1814. 34 x 42 cm. In Italian. Red wax seal. The passport description states: Age 27, blonde hair, blue eyes, of beautiful face color. She must have been a beautiful woman. But more important is the issuer and signer of the passport, a most significant figure.

Prince Heinrich XV. Reuss zu Greiz  - Passport 1814

Prince Heinrich XV. Reuss zu Greiz Passport 1814Prince Heinrich XV of Reuss-Plauen, Viceroy of Lombardy-Venetia (22 February 1751 – 30 August 1825) was the fourth of six sons born into a high-ranking noble family. At the age of fifteen he joined the army of Habsburg Austria and later fought against Ottoman Turkey. During the French Revolutionary Wars he became a general officer and saw extensive service. He commanded a corps during the Napoleonic Wars. From 1801 until his death, he was Proprietor (Inhaber) of an Austrian infantry regiment.

Prince Reuss came to the attention of the Austrian emperor in his thirties. After distinguishing himself in battle against the Turks, the emperor promoted him to command an infantry regiment. He served against the French First Republic in the Flanders Campaign and received promotion to general. The year 1796 found him leading Austrian troops against the army of Napoleon Bonaparte. In the following year he commanded a division.

In 1799 Prince Reuss fought against France in Germany and Switzerland. He led a division in northern Italy during the 1805 war. In the Danube campaign of 1809, he started out leading a division and ended the war in command of a corps. In 1813, he led a successful diplomatic effort to cause the Kingdom of Bavaria to change sides and join the Allies against Napoleon. Into his seventies he served Austria in various military and civil positions.

Heinrich XV was born into the House of Reuss at Greiz Castle on 22 February 1751. His parents Graf (later Prince) Heinrich XI Reuss von Ober-Greiz (1722–1800) and Grafin Konradine Reuss zu Köstritz (1719–1770) carried on the family tradition of naming all their male children Heinrich and numbering them consecutively. They duly named their six sons Heinrich XII through Heinrich XVII, while their five daughters were christened Amalie, Frederike, Isabella, Marie, and Ernestine. Belonging to the Reuss Elder Line, Heinrich XV was entitled to be called Prince (Fürst), but he was not the reigning prince. That dignity was held by his surviving elder brother Heinrich XIII from 1800 to 1817.

Prince Heinrich XV. Reuss zu Greiz  - Passport 1814

Heinrich XV enlisted in the Austrian Macquire Infantry Regiment # 35 in 1766. He, his father, and brothers became princes in 1778. When Maria Theresa died in 1780, and Joseph II of Austria became emperor in fact as well as name, Joseph favored the young prince, promoting him to Major in 1784. During the Austro-Turkish War (1787–91), the emperor appointed Reuss to his staff. For notable service at the storming of Šabac in 1788, the emperor promoted the prince to Oberst (Colonel) of the Wenzel Colloredo Infantry Regiment # 56. Reuss fought at the Siege of Belgrade in the fall of 1789. Read more about his impressive military career – French Revolutionary Wars  or here (in German)

Prince Heinrich XV. Reuss zu Greiz  - Passport 1814

In 1813, he commanded the Army of the Danube, a corps of observation on the Bavarian frontier. On 8 October, he signed the Treaty of Ried with Karl Philipp von Wrede, which resulted in the Kingdom of Bavaria switching sides and joining the allies against Napoleon. This act earned him the Order of Leopold from Austria and the Military Order of Max Joseph from Bavaria. Russia honored him with the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky. He was Governor of the Duchy of Milan and Viceroy of Lombardy–Venetia in 1814–15, earning the Gold Medal for civilian service and the Order of the Iron Crown. Later he served as Governor of Galicia. He was promoted Feldmarschall when he retired from the army on 10 September 1824. He died on 30 August 1825 at Greiz Castle, having never married.

Prince Heinrich XV. Reuss zu Greiz  - Passport 1814


Prince Heinrich XV. Reuss zu Greiz Passport 1814

FAQ Passport History
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1. What are the earliest known examples of passports, and how have they evolved?

The word "passport" came up only in the mid 15th Century. Before that, such documents were safe conducts, recommendations or protection letters. On a practical aspect, the earliest passport I have seen was from the mid 16th Century. Read more...

2. Are there any notable historical figures or personalities whose passports are highly sought after by collectors?

Every collector is doing well to define his collection focus, and yes, there are collectors looking for Celebrity passports and travel documents of historical figures like Winston Churchill, Brothers Grimm, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Read more...

3. How did passport designs and security features change throughout different periods in history, and what impact did these changes have on forgery prevention?

"Passports" before the 18th Century had a pure functional character. Security features were, in the best case, a watermark and a wax seal. Forgery, back then, was not an issue like it is nowadays. Only from the 1980s on, security features became a thing. A state-of-the-art passport nowadays has dozens of security features - visible and invisible. Some are known only by the security document printer itself. Read more...

4. What are some of the rarest and most valuable historical passports that have ever been sold or auctioned?

Lou Gehrig, Victor Tsoi, Marilyn Monroe, James Joyce, and Albert Einstein when it comes to the most expensive ones. Read more...

5. How do diplomatic passports differ from regular passports, and what makes them significant to collectors?

Such documents were often held by officials in high ranks, like ambassadors, consuls or special envoys. Furthermore, these travel documents are often frequently traveled. Hence, they hold a tapestry of stamps or visas. Partly from unusual places.

6. Can you provide insights into the stories behind specific historical passports that offer unique insights into past travel and migration trends?

A passport tells the story of its bearer and these stories can be everything - surprising, sad, vivid. Isabella Bird and her travels (1831-1904) or Mary Kingsley, a fearless Lady explorer.

7. What role did passports play during significant historical events, such as wartime travel restrictions or international treaties?

During war, a passport could have been a matter of life or death. Especially, when we are looking into WWII and the Holocaust. And yes, during that time, passports and similar documents were often forged to escape and save lives. Example...

8. How has the emergence of digital passports and biometric identification impacted the world of passport collecting?

Current modern passports having now often a sparkling, flashy design. This has mainly two reasons. 1. Improved security and 2. Displaying a countries' heritage, icons, and important figures or achievements. I can fully understand that those modern documents are wanted, especially by younger collectors.

9. Are there any specialized collections of passports, such as those from a specific country, era, or distinguished individuals?

Yes, the University of Western Sidney Library has e.g. a passport collection of the former prime minister Hon Edward Gough Whitlam and his wife Margaret. They are all diplomatic passports and I had the pleasure to apprise them. I hold e.g. a collection of almost all types of the German Empire passports (only 2 types are still missing). Also, my East German passport collection is quite extensive with pretty rare passport types.

10. Where can passport collectors find reliable resources and reputable sellers to expand their collection and learn more about passport history?

A good start is eBay, Delcampe, flea markets, garage or estate sales. The more significant travel documents you probably find at the classic auction houses. Sometimes I also offer documents from my archive/collection. See offers... As you are already here, you surely found a great source on the topic 😉

Other great sources are: Scottish Passports, The Nansen passport, The secret lives of diplomatic couriers

11. Is vintage passport collecting legal? What are the regulations and considerations collectors should know when acquiring historical passports?

First, it's important to stress that each country has its own laws when it comes to passports. Collecting old vintage passports for historical or educational reasons is safe and legal, or at least tolerated. More details on the legal aspects are here...

Does this article spark your curiosity about passport collecting and the history of passports? With this valuable information, you have a good basis to start your own passport collection.

Question? Contact me...