Jonathan Triffitt

 Jonathan Triffitt

History, University of St Andrews

Tenure since 2017

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

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. Marking the centenary of the 1918 Revolution, Jonathan’s project will address a series of critical questions. With a focus on the Grand Duchies of Hessen-Darmstadt, Oldenburg, and Mecklenburg-Schwerin, it will examine 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: how did the new citizen-princes interact with their former subjects and territories? Did the people regret their downfall, or celebrate the opportunity for reform? How were they replaced as symbolic figureheads, cultural patrons, religious leaders, and constitutional entities? What implications does this have for our understanding of continuity in German history, and the course it subsequently took?


In June 2016, Jonathan graduated from the University of St Andrews with a First-Class MA (Hons) in German and Modern History, having spent his third year studying history, linguistics, and philosophy at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität in Bonn. Jonathan appeared on the Deans’ List in each of his four years and was awarded the Oglesby-Wellings Memorial Prize and First Level Modern History Medal (for the best performance in first year modern history), the First Level German Prize and German Consulate-General’s Book Prize (for the highest ranked student in first year German), and a Principal’s Scholarship for Academic Excellence. His final year dissertation examined monarchism in the Weimar Republic and was overseen by Professor Frank Lorenz Müller, who is now supervising the doctoral project it inspired alongside Professor Riccardo Bavaj.

Thereafter, Jonathan took an MSc in History at the University of Edinburgh, studying fields from the history of science, to diplomatic history, to the history of political thought. His thesis, supervised by Dr Vikram Visana, analysed Anglo-Canadian fin-de-siècle attempts to reconcile Dominion nationalism and the need for imperial unity in the British Empire.