|Pesky Protestant Provinces
|Meanwhile, Duke Friedrich I of Württemberg had a long-cherished dream: to build a city in the
middle of his Duchy at the northern extremity of the Black Forest. Persecuted Protestants, mainly
from Carinthia, needed a place to go after the edict of Emperor Ferdinand in 1598. The host country
offered by the Duke looked perfect. Each new settler was offered free land for their own homes and
promised enough well-paid work in the Duke's new city and the surrounding mines. In addition,
there was good timber and fields for their own needs. They were granted freedom and a future of
peace and prosperity. The Duke's land had silver mines, an occupation familiar to most of the
emigrants, and this is how the town of Freudenstädt in the Black Forest got its start.
Friedrich I, Duke of Württemberg, the son of Georg Mömpelgard, is alluded to in Shakespeare's
'The Merry Wives of Windsor'. As heir apparent to the dukedom of Württemberg, Friedrich visited
Windsor and other English cities in 1592, and he yearned to be made a Knight of the Garter and
repeatedly solicited Queen Elizabeth for the honor. After he inherited the dukedom and became
more prominent, she admitted him to the order, but intentionally did not inform him in time for
him to attend the spring investiture in 1597, the ceremony for which 'The Merry Wives of Windsor'
was written. Thus Shakespeare's references to the one German duke who would not be present in
Windsor were jokes, and they appeared in the First Folio edition of the play.
In 1599, the first Exulanten from Carinthia arrived in what was still wilderness and they had to first
clear the forests and build the necessary infrastructure. Only a remote road leading toward Strasbourg
was in place in the wild countryside.
The Duke hired Renaissance architect Heinrich Schick Hardt to design a town plan and he
commanded him to build a castle "in the middle of the market" larger than the Stuttgart Castle. The
foundation stone of a new church for the Exulanten was laid in 1601, but the Duke unfortunately
died in 1608 before his dream was completed: he never saw his castle built. However, because it was
planned to contain a castle, the market place in Freudenstädt was and still is the largest in Germany.
The new residents initially lived in simple wooden huts, but by 1602, four sides of the market place
were constructed with a total of 80 buildings completed.
The population grew steadily and more and more refugees arrived. By 1603, 250 settlers had grown
to 1000 people (Berlin at the time had 6000 residents). By 1609, the number had risen to 2000.
Among the immigrants from Carinthia were some from Styria and also some Protestant Slavs. It
might be mentioned that in 1628, after 300 Protestant nobles back home in Carinthia were expelled,
the Protestant religion still clung to the local peasantry there for decades to come.
Napoleon took his armies through Württemberg on his way to attack the eastern countries and
Russia, and these marches ravaged and plundered Germany. The French troops demanded free
quartering and food all along the way from peasants and dukes alike, resulting in severe food
shortages. The smaller hamlets of the Württemberg area were also becoming over-populated, and
the younger generation had no land of their own. Many people left the area at this time. Some were
invited to settle in the vast empire of Russia from about 1763 to 1862.
German workers and traders were already living there, having settled in the 16th century at the
invitation first of Ivan the Terrible (1553-1584), then by Peter the Great (1672-1725), who had
invited Germans to Russia to help him "westernize" rural Russia, and then by Catharine the Great
who enticed settlers to sparsely populated regions, especially in the Volga valley. Württembergers
also moved to the area of today's Ukraine. Friedrich the Great of Prussia offered Württembergers
land in Prussian Poland if they would come teach the local people modern farming methods,
especially in areas recently reclaimed by clearing brush and draining marshes. Even young
America beckoned. By the year 1765, there were an estimated 7500-8000 Germans and German-
Swiss who had come to the province of South Carolina, many Wuerttembergers among them.
The town of Freudenstädt, including the old church, was heavily bombed by the USA and then
burned by French at the tail end of World War Two in April of 1945. It was 85% destroyed and had
to be completely rebuilt.
|There was also strong early Exulanten presence in the Rhineland city of Neuwied. Devastated by the
Thirty Years War, the regional nobility tried a new tactic to increase their population. To appeal to
newcomers, in 1662 a new municipal law guaranteed numerous liberties, above all, freedom of
religion, beginning a tradition of religious tolerance. The Exulanten brought several new branches of
industry and talents to Neuwied, which fostered an economical boom for the city. By the 18th
century, there were seven religious communities in Neuwied at work making furniture and clocks or
working in metallurgy or in mills, the Exulanten having led the way.
Early Exulanten also fled to areas such as Friedrichstadt, Glückstadt, Herrnhut, Johanngeorgenstadt,
Karlshafen, Klingenthal im Vogtland, Markneukirchen, Neu-Isenburg, Babelsberg and Potsdam
where they substantially contributed to the regional prosperity. An example are the musical
instrument makers in Vogtland and Bohemia and wooden toy makers in Johanngeorgenstadt.
However, one can only imagine the ordeal some early Protestant exiles endured. The small German
town of Obertsrot in Baden-Baden was originally a Catholic community, but turned to Protestantism
during the Reformation. This delighted some of its older inhabitants who were exiled Austrian
Protestants. When they had first arrived in Obertsrot, they had grudgingly reconverted to Catholicism
because the Bishop of Speyer and the Counts of Eberstein would not accept Protestant immigrants,
and they did not want to be expelled again. So later, when the Count of Eberstein and the Margrave
of Baden converted to Protestantism, these old Salzburgers were finally free to practise their religion
around 1579, and Protestant baptisms were immediately recognized.
But, alas, the situation reversed itself again by the Thirty Years War! Unlike the events in Neuwied,
here, Count Johann von Eberstein signed a treaty in 1622 which ended religious freedom in the area.
The Protestant preachers were dismissed and those Protestants who would not recant were expelled.
One village leader spent nine years in exile and died faithful to his Lutheran beliefs. He was not
allowed burial in Obertsrot and was buried in a neighboring Protestant cemetery. His colleagues, also
Protestants, were ordered to recant or to resign, and they also chose exile. By 1625, there were no
more Protestant baptisms, and despite an occasional crypto-Protestant cropping up, the town
remained Catholic from then on.
Some Obertsrot, Hilpertsau and Gaggenau Emigrant Surnames: Götz, Hasenohr, Jankowitsch,
Müller, Nees, Schiel, Siebert, Stramm, Strobel. Bandalion, Fritz, Gerstner, Hoch, Kalmbacher,
Krieg, Schill, Sieb, Strobel, Weiler, Wörner, Wunsch. Adam, Ball, Black, Corneli, Eckert, Ehleiter,
Eisenmann, Fritsch, Fritz, Fütterer, Götzmann, Graf, Hartmann, Henkele, Herm, Heß, Hilzinger,
Himmel, Hirth, Hoffer, von Holl, Hornung, Hurrle, Jäger, Kleehammer, Klingele, Köhler,
Kohlbecker, Kohm, Lang, Little, Maisch, Mark, Mayer, Melcher, Merkel, Müller, Rauenbühler,
Rettig, Reutenberger, Scheuermann, Schiffmacher, Schindler, Schmadel, Schmitt, Seeholzer, Seitz,
Siebert, Simon, Sprenger, Stösser, Stricker, Strobel, Traub, Vogt, Wagner, Wittmann, Zapf
|Martin Brenner, Bishop of Seckau (a.k.a. "Hammer of the Heretics" or the "Apostle of Styria) was
in charge of almost all of the reformatory commissions of Ferdinand II from 1599 to 1604 in the
duchies of Kärnten (Carinthia) and in Styria. Since 1571, the Jesuits pushed for re-catholization in
the predominantly Protestant city of Graz according to the wishes of the Archduke Karl II of Austria.
For that reason, a Jesuit college with a school and a library were founded next to the cathedral in
1573. In 1585, this school was confirmed by Pope Gregory XIII. as a Jesuit University and its
driving force was the re-catholization of its lost sheep.
Brenner, as part of the "Reformation Commission", moved through out all of Carinthia for seventy
days with 300 armed musketeers searching the houses of citizens and peasants for Lutheran literature
which was collected and burned. In addition, he ordered that all residents of the surrounding villages
attend a 3 1/2 hour ceremony at the castle Spittal Porcia then swear an oath to the Catholic faith and
promise to drive the evangelical preachers and teachers out of the country. Protestant prayer houses,
meeting places and even cemeteries and graves were burned or desecrated. The entire Commission,
with its officials, clergy and soldiers, caused fear and hardship.
They, for instance, remained in Gmünd for eight days, almost driving the city into bankruptcy. Going
back awhile, Protestants in the land we know today as Austria historically had immense problems
and were turned into criminals for merely exercising their basic freedoms and human rights.
16th and 17th century Carinthia Protestants worshipped in secret in the forest. As early as 1583,
symbols were scratched into rocks at the “dog church” named for Dutch Jesuit Peter Canisius, hired
by the Emperor to flush out Protestants and called "de Hondt" after the Latin “Canis” or dog.
“Fredinand. Thus makes (us) goeth into the world” is inscribed. Below, Left to Right: Canisius, The
Hundskirche, Martin Brenner
|Enter the Merry Duke of Württemberg
|From Mountains to the Forests and Cities
|EARLY RELIGIOUS EXILES FROM AUSTRIA
Secret religious services