Jonathan Triffitt

 Jonathan Triffitt

History, University of St Andrews

Tenure since 2017

The German Princes and the People after the Fall of Monarchy, 1918-1934JonathanTriffitt13

Jonathan’s research concerns the fall of dynastic monarchy, and its legacy, in inter-war Germany. In November 1918, almost two dozen kings, princes, and dukes were forced to abdicate as revolution swept aside a millennium of monarchical rule. Such a mass dethronement was unique, as was the fate of its victims; unlike their predecessors of centuries past, the monarchs did not flee into exile, but continued to live and work amongst their former subjects. Existing literature on the Weimar Republic is incredibly dense, but the post-revolutionary lives of Imperial Germany’s monarchs – and the profound significance of their sudden disappearance – form a striking lacuna. With a focus on the Kingdoms of Bavaria and Württemberg and the Grand Duchy of Hesse, Jonathan’s project will mark the centenary of the 1918 Revolution by examining princely and popular reactions to this dramatic caesura, and the consequences of ‘de-monarchification’ for the identity, culture, and politics of each state. Amongst other questions, it will ask: what did the new citizen-princes do next, and how did they interact with their former subjects and territories? Did the people regret the fall of monarchy, or celebrate it as an opportunity for reform? How were the princes replaced as symbolic figureheads, cultural patrons, religious leaders, and wielders of power? What implications does this have for our understanding of continuity in German history, and the course it subsequently took?


Jonathan is originally from Skipton in North Yorkshire and read German and modern history at the University of St Andrews, spending his third year at the University of Bonn in Germany. As an undergraduate he appeared on the Deans' List in each year of his degree and was awarded a Principal's Scholarship for Academic Excellence. He then took a master's degree in history at the University of Edinburgh before returning to St Andrews to begin his doctorate. 

Jonathan's project investigates the regional implications of the collapse of the German monarchical system at the end of the First World War. In little over a fortnight in November 1918, centuries of royal rule and tradition were overthrown by revolution; with a focus on the territories and dynasties of Hesse, Bavaria, and Württemberg, Jonathan will determine princely, popular, and political responses to this dramatic upheaval and the consequences it had for the first German republic.

Jonathan's thoughts on receiving the Robertson Medal for the academic year 2017-18: 

"It was a great surprise and delight to be awarded the Robertson Medal by the Carnegie Trust. I had the fortune last month to meet with other scholars supported by the Trust and was struck by the incredible diversity and ingenuity of their research; to have been chosen from such an impressive cohort is a great honour. I am very grateful for the Trust's encouragement of my project and hope its mission to further research and education continues long into the future."