30 years war
the first Huguenot wars the Protestant German countries were already safe places
for the refugees. Particularly as in the Netherlands, after 1567 the restoration
under the Duke of Alba, governor for the Spanish king, was accomplished with large
hardness, many families fled to Germany. They founded some Walloon
settlings such as Frankenthal, Mannheim, Heidelberg and Hanau, to name
only some, from which families later moved on into the Uckermark. But also in
the German Empire a war raved from 1618 to 1648. The opponents were the
Protestant sovereigns supported by Denmark and Sweden against the Catholic house
of Habsburg, which reigned Austria, Spain, the Spanish Netherlands and the
largest part of Germany and Italy. Since France was interested in weakening the
Habsburgerian, it supported the Protestant sovereigns abroad while suppressing
the Protestant movement in it’s own country. By the movements of the different
armies whole regions in Germany were devastated. Far more than half of the
German population died (of 18 million 7 million survived). In northern
Brandenburg the population loss amounted to over 70%. There had been 250
fire places (i.e. about 2000 inhabitants) in Strasburg/Uckermark in 1618, in
1648 after the war only 9 citizens (with families and servants thus about 100
persons) lived in the ruins of the city. Mannheim was also nearly completely
destroyed. In this devastating war many records and church books, if kept
at all, were lost. The 30 years war therefore is for most family researchers in
Germany the termination point of their research.
Westfalian peace of 1648 terminated the war on German soil, the Empire became a
confederation of states of practically sovereign princes, and the religious confessions became legally equal. North and Central Germany, as well as the
Pfalz and Wuerttemberg remained Protestant, while the Austrian hereditary
countries, Bavaria, and the large religious principalities in the Rhine Main
area and the Danube area remained catholic. The peace treaty also made an end to
the political power of the Pope.
map of the German Empire after 1648 (745Kb click for enlargement) shows
clearly how torn apart it was. Thus not only Brandenburg in the east and
the north of Berlin did belong to the Hohenzollern, but also scattered marks
such as Cleve on the Rhine (and some parts further east not on this map).
population of Brandenburg was Lutheran Protestant (the Luther city
Wittenberg is located in Brandenburg), the Hohenzollern sovereign of the
country was however of Calvinist-Reformed confession.
Palatinate succession war
the end of the 30 year war again many refugees came from France and settled in
the “Kurpfalz”, an area around today's Ludwigshafen on the Rhine. So did my
ancestors Guillaume FOUQUET and Susanne FIERET, which married 1653 in
Frankenthal. Guillaume originated from the small place Jeantes in the Thierache,
his wife was from Cuiry les Iviers near Jeantes. Together with many other
refugees from north France and Flanders they rebuilt the destroyed villages and
cities and lived there for about 30 years in relative security. Still near the
border to France, probably they hoped to be able to return to their homeland one
at the same time as the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 another war
with France broke out in this area. The palatinate sovereign Kurfuerst Karl
Ludwig had married his daughter Elizabeth Charlotte in 1671 (better known as
Liselotte of the Pfalz) with the duke Philipp of Orléans, the brother of Ludwig
XIV. He had wanted to secure his territory by family relations with the strong
neighbor. However in vain, parts of the Pfalz were devastated 1674 during the Dutch war
by French troops under marshal Turenne. In the consequence France claimed
different areas at the west border of the German Empire. The French annexations
achieved their temporary culmination during the regency of Kurfuerst Karl II.
(1680 - 1685), the successor of Karl Ludwig, with the fall of the city of
Strasbourg on September 30, 1681. As Karl II. 1685 died childless after short
government the French king Louis XIV. claimed hereditary rights on parts of the
Pfalz in the name of his sister-in-law Liselotte (the sister of the deceased
Kurfuerst). The Palatinate succession war (1688-1697) developed, which was
fought with so far unknown brutality, according to the principle "burned
earth". Systematically cities, villages and castles were destroyed and
burnt to ashes, the country devastated worse than in 30 the year war. Thus the
Palatinate Huguenot settlements were endangered again and numerous "Pfaelzer"
fled after 1685. Some went eastward to Hessen others as far as to America. In
1689 the Walloon parish of the rebuilt Mannheim fled as a whole group to
Magdeburg, taking their church books with them.
Edict of Potsdam
Louis XIV. revoked the Edict of Nantes at the 18.Oktober 1685 and thus forbade
the reformed faith, the Friedrich Wilhelm “the great elector” issued already
ten days later at the 29.Oktober 1685 the Edict of Potsdam. He invited
the"Evangelist-Reformed of French nation", to settle in his lands. In
this edict quiet concrete information was given, how to bring the refugees on
ships or roads into Brandenburg.
the Edict of Potsdam the new settlers received among other
Hugo Vogel, 1885:
Friedrich Wilhelm of Brandenburg, the "Great Elector"
Huguenot refuges from France in his castle in Potsdam
from taxes (except for the Akzise, a kind of value added tax) for the first
ten years completely and for the second ten years to the half.
assignments and building material for houses and agricultural buildings.
of military service and bondage for "all times".
right to own jurisdiction for controversies within the colony.
own minister and room for the service.
of trade and free entrance to the guilds.
these privileges were assured to refugees also which fled France before the publication
of the Edict, excluded were only French Catholics.
||Huguenot history general
Strasburg in 17th century