The name Gotha was once nothing more than a small and little-known city in Northern Germany, seat of the princes of Saxe-Coburg, one of the many branches of the very old House of Saxe.
But since 1763, with the publishing of a little yearly almanac registering the present state of all Royal Houses of Europe, the city’s name ended up crossing its borders. This small registry was first published by Justus Perthes, who named it “Almanach de Gotha”. It was published in French, the world language of the time.
This international recognition was reinforced when, in the early 19th century, two members of the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha family — Leopold and Victoria — married in England, to Crown Princess Charlotte and the Duke of Kent, brother of King George IV, respectively. The first marriage produced no surviving issue, once the princess died at childbirth a year after her wedding. But from the latter was born the famous Queen Victoria, herself married to a cousin, Albert, also a prince of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. The widowed Leopold was offered, a few years later, the crown of the newly-founded Kingdom of Belgium and would reign as Leopold I. Around the same time, his nephew Ferdinand would marry Queen Maria II of Portugal.
In just one go, the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha family was reigning in England, Belgium and Portugal. Some years later, another prince of the House would be King of Bulgaria.
All this time, the Almanach went on being published every year, without exception, until the dawn of World War II. At the end of the war, the division of Germany would left the city in the wrong side of the world and the Almanach ceased being published. It would reborn from the ashes in 1998, when the heirs of Justus Perthes sold the rights to an English publishers.
And so Gotha earned a new meaning: it’s not only a German city nor the family of the princes of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and not even the Almanach. Today, Gotha is a symbol of European nobility. Of all European nobility.