County of East Friesland

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Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor with haloes (1400-1806) .svg
Territory in the Holy Roman Empire
County of East Friesland
coat of arms
Ostfriesland CoA.svg
Frisiae, about 1600, by Ubbo Emmius.jpg
East Frisia around 1600, drawn by Ubbo Emmius

Ruler / government Graf , from 1667: Prince
Today's region / s DE-NI , smaller parts NL-GR
Parliament Reichsfürstenrat , Secular Bank: Part of a 1 curiate vote of the Lower Rhine-Westphalian Counts College
from 1667: 1 virile vote
Reich register 8 horsemen, 45 foot soldiers, 138 guilders (1522)
Reichskreis Lower Rhine-Westphalian
Capitals / residences Emden , city ​​of Leer , Aurich
Dynasties Cirksena
1744: Prussia
Denomination / Religions Calvinist in the western, Lutheran in the eastern part of the country
Language / n German , Low German Frisian
surface 1,800 km² (around 1800)
Residents 110,000 (around 1800)
Incorporated into 1806: Kgr Holland
1810: France
1813: Prussia
1815: Hanover

The county of Ostfriesland was a territory of the Holy Roman Empire . It existed from December 23, 1464 to 1806. The counts came from the House of Cirksena until May 25, 1744 . After the death of the last local ruler, Carl Edzard , East Friesland fell to King Friedrich II of Prussia in accordance with the provisions of the Emden Convention .


At the beginning of the 15th century, East Frisia was not a “predetermined territorial unit”. Rather, the region consisted of original and diverse independence in settlement contexts and rural communities, to which the chiefs joined in the course of the 14th century . In the years that followed, the chiefs competed for influence in the country. Reluctantly, they developed the idea of ​​establishing a coherent rulership structure in East Frisia. The tom Brok family and after them Focko Ukena failed.

A closed territorial rule was formed in East Friesland on October 1, 1464, when Emperor Friedrich III. Ulrich Cirksenas the monastery Faldern in the imperial counts rose and belehnte with Ostfriesland as Imperial County. In the feudal letter it is said literally that the imperial county includes

"Wonung, wesen und sloss Norden, Emeden, Emesgonien, with the slossen Gretzil, Berum, Aurike, Lerort and Stickhusen, who come across us from the Westeremse easterwards bit to the Weser, from the sea zuwert bis to the german pals."

This means: “Apartment, property and castle in Norden , Emden , Emsgau , with the castles Greetsiel , Berum , Aurich , Leerort and Stickhausen , which extend from the Westerems eastward to the Weser, from the sea to the German border ".

In fact, the Cirksena could never fully enforce the documented claim to power. For example, the Harlingerland belonged to East Friesland only since 1600 and the Butjadinger - and the Jeverland were lost to Oldenburg in 1529 and finally in 1575 .

Even in the country itself, the Cirksena were never able to absolutely enforce their rule, as the deed of mortgage guaranteed the defeated chiefs their rights if the Cirksena were recognized as supreme. They continued to rule in their territories, which have now become offices of the county. The role of the estates was regulated in a similar way. They were given a wide say in all decisions. This subsequently led to constant conflicts between the count's house and the estates. The climax of these conflicts was the Emden Revolution , in the course of which the residents of the city drove the Count's House from its former residence, Emden Castle . With the mediation of the Dutch States General , representatives of the estates and Count Enno III signed. on May 21, 1611 the Osterhusischen accord . He established the sovereignty of the estates in legislation, tax collection and jurisdiction. Its provisions regulated the relationship between the count and the estates (and especially the city of Emden ).

The Cirksena tried to respond by obtaining the dignity of imperial prince . Enno Ludwig succeeded in doing this in 1654 with the help of the East Frisian scholar Hermann Conring at a price of 15,000 guilders, but only for himself and without a seat on the prince's bench in the Reichstag. His brother Georg Christian only achieved the hereditary prince title in 1662. However, according to historian Walter Deeters , East Frisia remained a county under imperial law until the end of the Holy Roman Empire .

The estates then turned to Emperor Leopold I. He recognized the extensive rights of the estates in East Friesland and granted them in a process unique in the Holy Roman Empire on January 14 ( Julian calendar ) and January 24, 1678 ( Gregorian calendar , this was only introduced in the Protestant parts of the country in 1700) its own coat of arms. The conflicts between the Cirksena and the estates intensified. Again and again there were serious disputes, which culminated in the so-called roll call war in 1726/27 , from which the Cirksena prince Georg Albrecht emerged victorious. Even the city of Emden, which was at the head of the "unruly" estates, submitted.

At this time the course was set for Prussia's takeover of power in East Frisia. The city of Emden played an important role in this, as it was politically isolated and economically very weak after the War of Appeal. The aim of the Emden city center was to regain its position as the capital and trading metropolis. She relied on the help of the Prussians and negotiated the Emden Convention with them , in which the annexation of East Frisia by Prussia was regulated after the local dynasty of the Cirksena died out. In this approach, Prussia also relied on the expectance issued by Emperor Leopold I in 1694 , which ensured the right to enfeoff the Principality of East Frisia in the event of a lack of male heirs. After the death of the last East Frisian prince from the house of Cirksena, Carl Edzard , on May 25, 1744, King Friedrich II of Prussia asserted his right of succession. He let East Frisia, starting from Emden, occupied without resistance, whereupon the country paid homage to the crown on June 23. Friedrich thus became Prince of East Frisia. The state capital Aurich remained the seat of the state authorities, received a war and domain chamber and became the government capital of the Prussian province of East Frisia. From now on connected with Prussia, the country remained a corporate state. The institution of the East Frisian landscape continued to exist. Since she had supported the Prussians' entitlement to East Frisia in the event of the extinction of the house of Cirksena, she retained her rights in legislation, tax collection and jurisdiction.

Individual evidence

  1. a b Gerhard Köbler: Historical Lexicon of the German Lands. The German territories from the Middle Ages to the present. Munich 1995, pp. 451/52.
  2. ^ Heinrich Schmidt: Political history of East Frisia. Self-published, Leer 1975, p. 82.
  3. History of the Regions: Ostfriesland. ( Memento of the original from February 1, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. ^ Heinrich Schmidt: Political history of East Frisia. In: Ostfriesland under the protection of the dike. Vol. 5, Leer 1975, p. 63
  5. ^ Christoph Ohlig: Ostfriesland and the state of Oldenburg in the protection of the dykes and other water-historical contributions. 2005, ISBN 3-8334-1503-7 , p. 3
  6. ^ Walter Deeters: Small place and province. In: Karl-Ernst Behre, Hajo van Lengen : Ostfriesland. History and shape of a cultural landscape. Aurich 1995, ISBN 3-925365-85-0 , p. 149.
  7. a b HISTORY OF THE LANDSCAPE - East Frisian landscape. Retrieved June 18, 2019 .