History of Lower Lusatia

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In the silver field on green ground, a red ox going right , that's for Niederlausitz

The history of Niederlausitz is shaped by its Sorbian and German settlement.

The prehistory and early history of Niederlausitz

Research history

Reports of prehistoric, probably Bronze Age burial fields and burial mounds with urns in the vicinity of Pritzen, Klein Jauer and Groß Jauer come from the middle of the 19th century . Such places were starting points for excavations. The first traditional "excavation" in the Altdöbern region was undertaken around 1847 by the Senftenberg citizen Friedrich Roch at the so-called sacrificial stone of Muckwar (also known as the "slaughter stone").

Especially in the last third of the 19th century, the excavation activity increased strongly, favored by the economic development. During the construction of the Senftenberg-Lübbenau railway line in 1873, grave fields were cut near Neudöbern and Buchwäldchen. The report of a railway engineer about the Neudöbern grave finds appeared in the same year in the "Negotiations of the Berlin Society for Anthropology, Ethnology and Prehistory ", the organ of the society founded in 1869 by Rudolf Virchow . In 1884 the three members of the Berlin Society Robert Behla (Luckau), Hugo Jentsch (Guben) and Ewald See (Calau) founded the Niederlausitzer Society for Anthropology, Ethnology and Prehistory (today Niederlausitzer Society for History and Regional Studies eV ) as a "subsidiary" . The members of these societies have done research on the prehistory of Lower Lusatia, but also the prehistory of man himself. During this time the transition from the antiquities collection to archaeological research takes place, typological-chronological orders replace mere descriptions of the finds and at the same time mark the beginnings of the protection of historical monuments.

In addition to the construction-accompanying archaeological investigations, mainly in the urban areas, the archeology of Niederlausitz is today very much characterized by open-cast lignite mining, which requires the investigation of large areas in advance of the pits. As destructive as open-cast mines are for nature, it is a unique opportunity for archeology.

Prehistory and early history

Since the spread of humans in prehistory is very closely linked to the climatic conditions of the respective regions and the Lower Lusatia is shaped by the glacier movements of the cold ages, it is not surprising that hardly any archaeological artifacts from the Paleolithic are known for this region. Only after the glaciers had melted was it possible for nomadic people ( Homo sapiens ) in the Mesolithic to sporadically visit Niederlausitz as a “hunting ground” and then to settle it permanently during the Neolithic .

The funnel beaker culture , bell beaker culture and the spherical amphora culture have been proven for the Neolithic of Lower Lusatia . With the beginning of the Bronze Age , strong cultural influences of the southern Aunjetitz culture became apparent , followed by the time of the tumulus culture , the foreign group time and the Lusatian culture leading into the Iron Age . In the established Iron Age, the Billendorfer culture is formative. The Germanic tribes and the Roman imperial era followed , until large population movements took place during the migration period and the territorial situation was completely changed. The Latin (and now also English) name for Lausitz is Lusatia .

The many different cultural names should not be understood to mean that each time a new group of people repopulated the area. Rather, the names are derived from the changed shapes and decorations of the found objects observed at certain sites. In most cases, due to the large amount of finds, this is ceramics, which, through the shape of the vessels and the attached decorations, enable the creation of typological chronologies and thus the dating of the sites and objects. But also shapes and decorations of jewelry, needles, axes, hatchets, daggers and swords can offer this possibility.

After 600 the area of ​​Lower Lusatia was settled by Western Slavs , the Lusitzi tribe, who found a land that was almost completely cleared by the Germanic pre-population during the migration period . From the 9th century onwards, they built around 30 low-rise castles in the transition zone between the Spreewald and Lusatian border wall , thus creating the settlement core of today's Lower Lusatia.

middle Ages

The emergence of the Lausitz mark in the 10th century

The Lausitz mark (light red) in the 13th century

The Mark Lausitz , also Margraviate Lausitz (in the 12th century sometimes also Ostmark ) was formed in 965 as an eastern border mark in the Roman-German Empire after the division of the previous Saxon Ostmark . It reached from what would later become Anhalt in the west to the Spree in the north, the Bober in the east and the border of the Mark Bautzen in the south. The first margrave was Hodo , who administered it until 993. The Mark Lausitz was settled by Slavic inhabitants, but remained under German rule even after the Slav uprising of 983. Under canon law the area belonged to the diocese of Meissen .

Under the Wettin rule in the 12th and 13th centuries

Hardly any news has survived from the first two centuries; it was not until the 12th century that the Wettin margraves began to settle according to plan, especially in the peripheral areas (Beeskow, Storkow, Sorau) and in the emerging cities. Villages were created according to plan and populated mainly with Germans. The inner areas around the Spreewald were initially excluded from this colonization. Important castle towns at this time were Cottbus , Sorau and Lübben .

Until the 12th century, the Polish kings also claimed the area for their empire and they were able to actually rule the eastern part of the country for a time. In the 13th century, the Mark Landsberg and the County of Brehna split off from the Mark Lausitz, and other dynasties also claimed areas of the Mark Lausitz for their house, such as the County of Anhalt and the Duchy of Saxony .

Changing feudal lords in the 14th century

At the beginning of the 14th century, the Lausitz region was fought over between the Wettins, from the Meissen region and the Ascanians of the Saxony-Wittenberger and Brandenburg lines . Margrave Dietrich IV. Sold the Lausitz mark in 1303 to the Brandenburg line of the Ascanians.

After their extinction in 1319, parts of the Lausitz region fell to Duke Rudolf von Sachsen-Wittenberg and others to the Silesian Duke Heinrich I von Jauer (Sorau, Triebel, Senftenberg, Priebus). The main part was pledged to the Wettins from 1323-1328 by the Wittelsbachers , who together with Ludwig the Bavarian from 1314 made the Roman-German Emperor and were thus the real feudal lords of the Lausitz region under imperial law. A new Wettin pledge from 1353 ended in 1364, after which Elector Otto von Wittelsbach sold the Lausitz region in 1367 to the Kingdom of Bohemia .

The margraviate of Lausitz as part of the crown of Bohemia under the Luxembourgers, Georg von Podiebrad, Matthias Corvinus and the Jagiellonians (1367–1526)

The Mark Lausitz at the time of the Luxembourg rule (1367-1437) as a sub-country of the Bohemian Crown, next to the Mark Brandenburg, the Duchy of Silesia, the Mark Moravia and the later Upper Lusatia, then called Land Budissin, from which the Görlitzer Land was split off in 1268

The Roman-German Emperor and Bohemian King Charles IV incorporated the Lausitz region into the Bohemian crown in 1367 , the neighboring country of which remained the margravate until the Peace of Prague of 1635. Even the Bohemian kings were unable to establish strong sovereignty in the remote area, because Lusatia largely regulated its internal affairs itself.

Memorial inscription to Hans von Polenz at the gallery in Senftenberg

From 1413 to 1437 Hans von Polenz was bailiff of Lower Lusatia, possibly even serving in this office in 1406/1408. Lower Lusatia was pledged by Emperor Sigismund to the wealthy bailiff in 1422 for a loan of 7854 shock Bohemian groschen . In the late Middle Ages , the Lausitz region experienced considerable losses of territorial substance. In 1413 the Priebus rule was attached to the Duchy of Sagan and in 1429 to Silesia. Teupitz fell to the Hohenzollern Mark Brandenburg from 1415 , Cottbus 1445/55, Zossen 1490, Beeskow and Storkow 1556/1575 and the Wettin Electorate of Saxony (the former Mark Meißen, which was so named by dynastic name migration from 1425), the cities Finsterwalde 1425, Senftenberg 1448 and Sonnewalde 1477.

In the course of the military conflict over the acquisition of the lands of the Bohemian crown between the Jagiellonian Vladislav II and the Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus , Lower Lusatia came under the rule of the Hungarian king together with Upper Lusatia, the Margraviate of Moravia , Silesia and the Duchy of Schweidnitz-Jauer . In 1478, after lengthy negotiations in February / March in Ofen and in September / October in Brno , Vladislav II and Matthias were named together as kings of Bohemia and hereditary lords of the empire. After the death of one of the two gentlemen, the neighboring countries were to be reunited with Bohemia under one lord. This happened in 1490 with the death of King Matthias. The agreement signed on November 7th, 1478 was solemnly confirmed at a Princely Congress in Olomouc on July 21, 1479.

Lusatia becomes Lower Lusatia

Until the end of the 15th century, the name "Lausitz" (lat. Lusatia) applied entirely to Niederlausitz. For the southern Upper Lusatia several country names were in use at the time . In 1474 the so - called six-city country was subtitled for the first time in the chancellery of the Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus in Latin as "Lusatia superior", meaning Upper Lusatia. In the middle of the following century, this country name gradually came into common usage. From then on - to distinguish it from Upper Lusatia - the name Lower Lusatia became common.

Early modern age

The Margraviate of Lower Lusatia as part of the crown of Bohemia under the Habsburgs (1526–1635)

The Margraviate of Niederlausitz, especially in the 15th century, had to struggle with heavy territorial losses on all fronts, on the map a clear distinction between Niederlausitz and Oberlausitz

In the 15th century in particular, but also in the 16th century, significant parts of Niederlausitz were lost through sale and pledging to the neighboring electorates of Saxony and Brandenburg . In the 15th century, several armies of the Bohemian Hussites had devastated large parts of both Lusatia. The Lower Lusatian Landtag was also established at that time . The assembly of the estates, which was divided into four curiae, which met in Lübben, was the most important political force in the country. In addition, the governor took care of the Bohemian king.

The Reformation spread across the country between 1520 and 1540 . Niederlausitz was the only country in the Habsburg sphere of influence (to which Niederlausitz belonged since 1526 with the other Bohemian crown lands) in which the evangelical estates succeeded in founding a consistory and thus got church sovereignty nationwide in their hands. Except for the Neuzelle monastery , all other monasteries were closed.

In the Schmalkaldic War of 1546/47, the Niederlausitzers held on to the Catholic, Bohemian King and Margrave of Niederlausitz Ferdinand I. The royal bailiff Albrecht von Schlick was able to recapture the area of ​​the Dobrilugk monastery , which had been occupied by the Saxon Elector Johann Friedrich in 1541 .

When the anti-Habsburg riots began in Bohemia in 1618, the Lower Lusatian estates were initially passive. They ignored the urgent calls from the Bohemians to support them in the war against the Habsburgs . Only after the death of Emperor Matthias in March 1619 did they change their policy. They joined the Bohemian Confederation and were involved in the deposition of Ferdinand II and the election of the so-called Winter King Frederick V of the Palatinate as King of Bohemia. Even under the Habsburgs, a district division had developed in Lower Lusatia, which lasted until 1816 (named after Blaschke and Jäschke).

The Margraviate of Niederlausitz under the Wettins (1635–1815)

The Mark Lausitz, together with the Upper Lusatia as part of Electoral Saxony from 1635
Otto Hieronymus von Stutterheim (1625–1702), senior official government president and consistorial director of Niederlausitz

According to the specifications in Traditionsrezess the Prague peace 1635 was Albertine line of the house Wettin with the Markgraf shrines Upper and Lower Lusatia belehnt which remained however territorial independently, said elector of Saxony in personal union at the same time the Oberlausitz was Margrave and Markgraf Niederlausitz. This condition remained valid until the peace treaty between Prussia and Saxony of May 18, 1815 as a result of the Congress of Vienna , with which Lower Lusatia and the north and east of Upper Lusatia fell to Prussia. The special legal status of the remaining Upper Lusatia that remained with Saxony was abolished in 1835 when the Saxon constitution of September 4, 1831, which declared Saxony an indivisible state of the German Confederation, also applied in the Saxon Upper Lusatia.

From 1657 to 1738 the respective Duke of Saxony-Merseburg , an Albertine secondary school , was the Margrave of Lower Lusatia.

In 1790, as a reaction to the French Revolution , peasant revolts broke out in both Lusatia.

Lower Lusatia as part of Prussia (1815–1945)

By resolution of the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Lower Lusatia became Prussian , the Margraviate was dissolved and the area of ​​Lower Lusatia was attached to the Province of Brandenburg , and Lübben lost its function as the capital of the region that had been autonomous for centuries. The autonomy rights of the estates were then gradually revoked. The reorganization of the territorial administration began around 1816 by introducing seven districts ( Cottbus , Sorau , Spremberg , Calau , Luckau , Lübben and Guben ).

The planned suppression of the Sorbs began under Prussian rule , in particular administrative measures were taken to reduce the use of the Lower Sorbian language , and the Evangelical Church in Prussia also participated . In the middle of the 19th century, lignite mining began .

Under National Socialist rule, numerous place names of Sorbian origin were replaced by German ones . Most of these renaming were reversed after the war.

Lower Lusatia since the end of the Second World War

After the Second World War , Niederlausitz belonged to the GDR and initially to the state of Brandenburg. The parts of Lusatia east of the Neisse fell to Poland in 1945 . In the course of the territorial reform of 1952 , most of Niederlausitz was combined to form the Cottbus district, which inadvertently promoted Niederlausitz regional awareness and at the same time established Cottbus as the regional center of Niederlausitz. This created a Lusatian awareness even beyond the actual expansion of Niederlausitz (districts of Herzberg , Bad Liebenwerda and Jessen : all three originally Electoral Saxony ), which in some cases continues to this day. On the other hand, with the spin-off of the Fürstenberg district (later Eisenhüttenstadt, city and district) from the Guben district and its assignment to the Frankfurt district, historical areas of Niederlausitz were separated.

Even after the re-establishment of the state of Brandenburg and the elimination of the districts, Niederlausitz does not exist as an administrative unit due to the formation of large circles beyond the borders of the Niederlausitz region in 1993. That concerns

Population development

The Slavic tribe of the Lusizi have settled in Lower Lusatia since the 7th century .

Since the late 12th century, more and more German settlers came into the country who founded their own villages and soon formed the majority in the cities. The rest of the country remained Slavic.

Since the 16th century, the Sorbian language and culture were increasingly pushed back, discriminated against and temporarily banned by the German rulers.

In the 19th century, more and more Germans immigrated in the course of industrialization, including Poles (in 1900 5.5% in the Calau district!). In 1900 there was still over 50% Wendish population in the Cottbus district, in all other areas only very few people gave Wendish as their mother tongue.

Today Niederlausitz is almost exclusively inhabited by Germans, there are still a few Wends / Lower Sorbs in the area around Cottbus. There are hardly any people of other origins in Niederlausitz; some foreign students and immigrants live in Cottbus.



middle Ages

There is hardly any news about attempts to christianize the native Slavic population through the new German rule in the 10th century. In 1165 the Cistercian monastery Dobrilugk was founded by the Wettin margrave, who made the land arable and also had a Christianizing effect. Parish churches emerged in the important castle towns such as Lübben, Cottbus and Sorau, and around 1200 there was a parish structure for Lower Lusatia, most of which belonged to the diocese of Meißen. The Cistercian monastery Neuzelle was founded in 1268 . Franciscan monasteries were established in Sorau (1274) and Cottbus (around 1300) , a Dominican monastery in Luckau and a Benedictine monastery in Guben (origin unknown). In 1495, nine sedes (parish districts) for Lower Lusatia were named in the Meißner diocese register, which also reflected the state of 1346 .

Sorbian clergymen and chapels for Lübben, Cottbus and Sorau were mentioned for the first time in the 15th century.

Modern times

Evangelical preaching began in the cities in the 1520s, and in 1540 the Reformation was introduced in Cottbus , which belonged to Brandenburg . In the rest of Lower Lusatia, the individual rulers turned to the Protestant faith, tolerated by the Bohemian crown, which remained Catholic. The preaching was in German and Sorbian, and in some towns separate parish churches were set up for the Wendish population.

Even after Saxony came to power in 1635 and Prussia in 1815, Niederlausitz remained largely Protestant.

With the influx of Polish and Silesian workers in the course of industrialization, Catholic parishes also emerged in individual cities since the 19th century . In the decades that followed, congregations of evangelical free churches such as Methodists, Regional Church Fellowship, New Apostolic Church, also Jehovah's Witnesses were formed.

After 1945 membership of a Christian church also decreased significantly in Niederlausitz. Today only a few people count themselves to a Christian church.


Since the 13./14. In the 19th century, Jewish merchants were mentioned in individual towns in Niederlausitz. In Cottbus and other areas they had to leave the country in the 14th century after the alleged host sacrilege of garlic.

Jewish residents were not mentioned again until the 18th century, and synagogues were built in Cottbus and Sorau in the 19th century. In 1945 there were hardly any Jews left in Niederlausitz after the extermination by the National Socialists.

Since 2012 there has been a synagogue in Cottbus again, but it only has members of Russian origin.

See also



  • Rudolf Lehmann : History of Niederlausitz (= publications of the Berlin Historical Commission, Volume 5). 2 volumes. Böhlau 1963. (Before: History of the Margraviate of Niederlausitz. Wilhelm and Bertha v. Baensch Foundation, Dresden 1937).
  • Rudolf Lehmann: Historical local lexicon for Niederlausitz. 2 volumes, Hessisches Landesamt für Geschichtliche Landeskunde, Marburg 1979, ISBN 3-921254-96-5 ; Reprint: Becker, Potsdam 2011, ISBN 978-3-941919-89-1 and ISBN 978-3-941919-90-7 .
  • Klaus Neitmann (ed.): In the shadow of powerful neighbors. Politics, economy and culture of Niederlausitz (= Klaus Neitmann on behalf of the Brandenburg Historical Commission (Hrsg.): Brandenburgische Historische Studien . Volume IV; Klaus Neitmann: (Hrsg.): Individual publications of the Brandenburg State Main Archives . Volume III). Be.Bra Wissenschaft Verlag, Berlin 2006, ISBN 978-3-937233-23-9 .
  • Theodor Scheltz: Total history of the Upper and Lower Lusatia edited according to old chronicles and documents .
  • Heinrich Berghaus : Land book of the Mark Brandenburg and the Markgrafthum Nieder-Lausitz , Volume 3, Brandenburg 1856, P. 512–729 ( books.google.de ).

Early history

  • Eberhard Bönisch: The prehistoric settlement on the Lower Lusatian ridge. Investigations on the upper reaches of the Kzschischoka. Potsdam 1996.
  • Jiří Neustupný: Prehistory of the Lausitz. Berlin / Leipzig 1951.

middle Ages

  • Heinz-Dieter Heimann , Klaus Neitmann, Uwe Tresp (eds.): The Lower and Upper Lusatia - Contours of an Integration Landscape, Vol. 1: Middle Ages (= studies on Brandenburg and comparative regional history. Volume 11). Lukas Verlag, Berlin 2013.

Modern times

Encyclopedic Articles

  • Lausitz , encyclopedia entry, in: Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon . 6th edition, Volume 12, Leipzig / Vienna 1908, pp. 254-257 ( Zeno.org ).
  • Lausitz , encyclopedia entry, in: Pierer's Universal Lexikon , Volume 10. Altenburg 1860. pp. 170-172 ( Zeno.org ).
  • Lausitz , encyclopedia entry, in: Brockhaus Bilder-Conversations-Lexikon , Volume 2, Leipzig 1838, pp. 705-706 ( Zeno.org ).

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Anton Leipelt: History of the city and the Duchy of Sagan. Rauert, Sorau 1853 ( online at Google Books )
  2. ^ Karlheinz Blaschke , Uwe Ulrich Jäschke: Kursächsischer Ämteratlas 1790 , Verlag Klaus Gumnior, Chemnitz 2009.
  3. http://www.bauernkriege.de/Lausitz.html
  4. Foreign-language minorities in the German Reich 1900 Administrative history (1.2.12. Polish)
  5. ^ Rudolf Lehmann : History of Niederlausitz (= publications of the Berlin Historical Commission, Volume 5). Volume 1. 1963, p. 170
  6. ^ Reformation in the Niederlausitz Association for Berlin-Brandenburg Church History