Änder was the eldest son of Nikolaus Nassau-Weilburg and Annelies da Kastelnow. Nikolaus was the brother of Aedul, Duke of Nassau and Grand Duke of Luxemburg. Annelies was the heiress to the Princely County of Kastelnow, a Helvetian house that had been disposessed in the French Revolution and never restored. Their lands had been seized by Republicans and then by stronger nobility in the aristocratic counter-revolution of 1804.
Annelies cuts a romantic figure in the history of the Nassau family. An artist and a poet, she spent her time with the riviera set of idle nobility-in-pretense in Xliponia and Istria, then called the Austrian Littoral. Shortly after the two met, the bachelor Nikolaus cut short a love affair with no less than Natalia Pushkina, the (apparently) slightly less charming daughter of Russian novelist Alexandr Pushkin. They were married in 1868 and bought a fine property in Istria, settling down with the province's German elite. Born in 1870, Andreas was their first son and the only one to survive to adulthood.
Andreas married Juliana, daughter of a Germanic princely family in Dalmatia, in 1898. Their son Nikolaus was born in 1905. Such domestic concerns did not stop Andreas from acquiring a somewhat deserved reputation as a playboy aristocrat throughout Austro-Dalmatia.
In 1912, Wëllem II of Luxemburg died with six daughters and no sons. Andreas' parents were by then deceased, making Andreas the heir to the Grand Ducal throne under the terms of the Salic Law and the 18th-century Nassau Family Pact. He and Juliana moved into the Groussherzogleche Plädse and began their reign in Luxemburg. Änder, as he was now known in Lëtzebuergesch, was a male-line first cousin of the last monarch, but he instisted on using a different family name, Nassau-Weilburg-Kastelnow, to reflect his mother's inheritence. As a nod to his late cousin, he awarded the title Countess of Arel to Wëllem's eldest daughter, the beautiful young Maeradlaede. Maeradlaede would be a visible presence in Luxemburg for years, nursing wounded soldiers during the Great War and donating money to the poor. She played the role of the benevolent royal far better, it was said, than the Grand Duke himself.
Luxemburg was full of Prussian soldiers during this period, and there was little Änder could do to get rid of them. Indeed, he did not seem particularly disposed to get rid of them, since they brought in Prussian money and were even reasonably popular with many of the people, who still remembered Prussia's role in winning Luxemburg's independence from France in 1871.
Änder was not long on the throne when the First Great War broke out. He was ambivalent about the war, neither objecting to it nor very fervently supporting it. Luxemburg was the major starting point for the invasion of northern France, so this meant even tighter control was exerted from Berlin. Executive authority was transferred to a three-man "wartime tribunal" consisting of Änder, Chancellor Peter Eyschen, and Colonel Klaus von Tessmar, commander of the Fortress.
Änder sent representatives to the Versailles Conference and spent some time there himself. Like the leaders of other German states, he was present but not listened to. During the conference a new nationalist movement, strongly anti-Prussian, first formed in Luxemburg. Its motto was "Mir wëlle bleiwe wat mir sinn" - "We wish to remain as we are". The nationalists wanted the new treaty to uphold Luxemburg's status from the 1871 treaty as fully independent and neutral, and hopefully force the Prussians to leave. Instead, Prussia won a resolution acknowledging Luxemburg as a Prussian military outpost and integrating what was left of its military into the Prussian Army. The compensation granted to Änder, a slight reduction in the customs receipts that it would owe to the Imperial treasury, did not serve to placate anyone.
In his later years Änder withdrew from public life and took seemingly no interest in his government, which by this time had little power to operate independently from the Empire anyway. In 1934 he abdicated after being struck with an illness, passing the Grand Dukedom to his son. He died a year later at the age of 65.
Since Änder thought of himself as the founder of a new ruling house in Luxemburg, he changed the arms used by his two predecessors. He impaled the arms of Nassau and Kastelnow and put them on a small escucheon over the red lion of Luxemburg. He kept the same supporters and mantling for the great arms (a red and gold lion; a red mantle covered in bees). These remain the personal arms of the Grand Duchess today.
|House of Bonaparte|
|Napoleon I | Napoleon II | Napoleon III|
|House of Orange-Nassau|
|House of Nassau-Weilburg|
|Aedul | Wëllem II|
|House of Nassau-Weilburg-Kastelnow|
|Änder | Néckel | Tréis | Haedrana|