Brandenburg Navy

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Brandenburg fleet , oil painting by Lieve Verschuier , 1684

The Kurbrandenburg Navy was the Navy of Brandenburg-Prussia . It began in 1657. As a result of the coronation of Frederick III. of Brandenburg in 1701, the Kurbrandenburg Navy became the Royal Prussian Navy .


Early naval forces (1618–1674)

The Duchy of Prussia had its own naval forces in the Baltic Sea as early as 1618. The Margraviate of Brandenburg had no access to the sea at the beginning of the 17th century, but the Brandenburg Hohenzollern had ruled the Duchy of Prussia from 1605, which became their property through inheritance in 1618. As a fiefdom of the Polish king, the duchy had to provide ships with ships in several wars.

When the Duchy of Pomerania fell to the Elector of Brandenburg through the Treaty of Grimnitz during the Thirty Years War, the Elector of Brandenburg was unable to inherit his legacy in 1638 against the will of the militarily superior Swedish occupiers. In the Peace of Westphalia , Brandenburg had to be content with Western Pomerania , which gave the Brandenburg heartland access to the Baltic Sea. The only important port was Kolberg , which the Swedes did not vacate until 1653. Sweden kept the Oder estuary near Stettin , the old Hanseatic cities of Stralsund and Greifswald and thus the most important other lake accesses to the Brandenburg area under its control.

The Second Northern War from 1655 to 1660 showed Elector Friedrich Wilhelm the importance of having his own naval force when he had to open the ports of Pillau and Memel to enemy Swedes in 1656 for lack of his own navy . During this war he gained full sovereignty over the Duchy of Prussia in the Treaty of Wehlau in 1657 . In the same year, a flotilla of initially three ships ( Clevischer Lindenbaum , Elector of Brandenburg , Lübische Schute ) with a total of 34 cannons under the command of the Reiter - Colonel Johann von Hille (* around 1609 Hildesheim , † 1684) was established in Pillau for the first time under the Brandenburg flag. . Over time, the number of ships expanded to include seven larger warships, three cannon barges and twenty armed boats, which were successfully used against Swedish ships and fortifications in the Fresh Lagoon in alliance with Poland. After the end of the war, however, the fleet was downsized due to lack of money, as early as 1662 there were only eight units, until around 1670 only the Elector's personal yacht (large yacht) still existed. In order to improve his income and contacts, the elector took part in international sea trade from then on. To this end, he had two ships built in Holland: the Duchy of Cleve and the County of Mark , but they were confiscated by England.

Pirate Wars and Building of the Navy (1675–1683)

Maat (right) and sailor of the Brandenburg Navy around 1675

After the Swedes invaded Brandenburg again, the victory over the Swedish army at the Battle of Fehrbellin in June 1675 gave the final impetus to build up their own fleet. Since 1675 sea- worthy orlog ships (warships) were built. The Dutch shipowner, entrepreneur and businessman Benjamin Raule (1634–1707) was at the center of the shipbuilding project in Brandenburg . The Great Elector approached the shipowner in 1675 and offered him to issue letters of piracy for the naval war against Sweden. Raule, who had run into financial difficulties, agreed and for the next few years rented between four and six ships to the Brandenburgers, who were successfully waging pirate warfare against Swedish merchant shipping. The pirates succeeded in landing 21 Swedish merchant ships on the Baltic Sea in just four weeks. Raule was then persecuted by his own compatriots for piracy and had to flee to Berlin. On May 14, 1675 he was appointed "Marinerath" there, on February 20, 1676 "Ship Director" and "Chief Director of our Maritime Affairs" on August 17, 1677. On February 20, 1681 Raule finally became "General Director de Marine" in Rank of colonel appointed.

Landing of the Great Elector on Rügen, 1678

This rented fleet (altogether 502 guns) took part in many enterprises under the command of the elector, such as the siege of Stettin (December 27, 1677), the siege of Stralsund (October 25, 1678), the conquest of Rügen (September 26 1678) and the capture of Greifswald (November 16, 1678).

1678: Conquest of Rügen with the entire Brandenburg fleet. History painting by marine painter Alexander Kircher

In 1676 a maritime court was founded in Kolberg to judge the legality of the prizes raised.

On January 16, 1679, Raule contractually agreed to rent five frigates and six sloops to Brandenburg-Prussia for a fixed salary for six years . As early as July 1679, he won a pirate war against Hamburg to collect outstanding payments. In 1680 the Brandenburg fleet had grown to 28 warships . In the same year, during the Brandenburg Pirate War , the Navy was deployed against Spain with the aim of collecting backward Spanish subsidy payments from the Northern War, which had recently ended. A small formation of eight ships with 160 cannons, under the command of Claus von Bevern , ran from Pillau into the English Channel , captured the Spanish ship Carolus Secundus off Ostend and sent it as a prize to Pillau, where it was the flagship as Margrave of Brandenburg of the Brandenburg Navy. Then part of Bevern's squadron sailed to the Caribbean, where it hijacked two Spanish ships that were sold in Jamaica before returning in the fall of May. On September 30, 1681, a Brandenburg squadron under Thomas Alders fought unsuccessfully against a Spanish squadron in a naval battle at Cape St. Vincent (1681) - the first naval battle of a German association on the high seas.

With Raule's help, the Great Elector planned to found a trading company based on the Dutch model. For this purpose, from 1680 the port of Pillau was expanded into a base with a shipyard.

Raule equipped the First Africa Expedition 1680/81 with his own resources , which concluded a friendship and trade treaty with Africans in what is now Ghana . The second Africa expedition in 1682/83 founded Fort Groß Friedrichsburg .

In 1681 the "General-Kommerz-Kollegium" was renamed in Berlin to Admiralty . So-called colleges were set up in various ports. On January 1, 1682, the Brandenburg-African Company was officially founded with its headquarters in Pillau. From 1682, a shipyard for ship shell structures without masts was built in Berlin (area of ​​today's Dorotheenstrasse in Dorotheenstadt ), which were only completed seaworthy downstream in Hamburg.

The emerging Kurbrandenburg Navy also needed a suitable port on the North Sea as a basis for their operations. Friedrich Wilhelm managed to gain a foothold in East Frisia in 1682 and initially secure a base in Greetsiel . On the basis of a contract concluded on May 2, 1683 with the estates of the city of Emden , Emden became the new port of the Navy. At the same time, the headquarters of the trading company was relocated from Pillau to Emden.

Company ships brought discarded small arms with ammunition, simple iron tools and ruby ​​glass to the West African colony of Groß Friedrichsburg for barter . They were given the task of bringing ivory, gold and slaves from Guinea. The slaves were later brought to the Caribbean on the island of Saint Thomas ( Virgin Islands ), which then belonged to Denmark (base contract November 24, 1685).

Brandenburg Navy (1684–1701)

The Brandenburg-Prussian Navy was officially founded by the Great Elector on October 1, 1684, when the Elector also bought Raule's fleet in addition to his own ships (nine ships with 176 cannons). This cost Brandenburg-Prussia 109,340 thalers and led to the permanent establishment of the Brandenburg State Navy. Five years later, his son and successor, Elector Friedrich III. (later King Friedrich I), organizational regulations and set up admiralty offices in Berlin, Emden and Pillau. In 1687 a shipyard was also built in Havelberg (Havel). Only the hulls were erected at this shipyard, after which they were brought on floating bodies, so-called camels , down the Havel and Elbe to Hamburg, where they were rigged and equipped. One of these ships was the heavy frigate "Friedrich III.", Which was expressly highlighted as the "Havelberger Bau". In addition to ships, officers and sailors, the navy also had its own marine corps .

The elector Friedrich Wilhelm I died in 1688. His successor was the later King Friedrich I , who continued the fleet and the trading company out of piety for his deceased father, but was unable to show any real interest in it. Accordingly, the fleet quickly fell into disrepair, and in 1701 only eleven warships sailed under the Brandenburg flag (out of 34 ships in 1684).

Prussian Navy from 1701 and dissolution

The Havelberg shipyard, shipbuilding for the Navy

After it was not possible to finance the Prussian Navy from 1701 through foreign trade profits, and after ships were repeatedly lost (e.g. as a result of being captured by privateers or pirates, confiscation by other seafaring nations, etc.), it became king in 1711 Friedrich I. dissolved together with the Brandenburg-African Company. The remaining colonial property in Africa ( Groß Friedrichsburg colony ) was sold to the Netherlands in 1717 for 7,200 ducats (around € 125,000 today) and twelve young Africans (" Kammermohren ") .

With the sale of the Brandenburg possessions in Africa, the Sea power efforts of the Kingdom of Prussia ended for the time being. During the reign of the Soldier King (1713-1740) all available resources were invested in building up the land forces , and Prussia remained a pure land power for the next hundred years.

Ships of the Kurbrandenburg Navy

The information on armament in various historical sources often differ considerably from one another, as the equipment of many ships has not remained unchanged during their service life. Quite a few ships were built "to grow", so to speak; they had more gun hatches than the guns actually on board when they were commissioned. So are z. B. in an inventory list of the heavy frigate "Friedrich III." from 1702 only 32 guns listed, the heavy guns on the lower deck are missing in the list. A lack of money may also have played a role: the frigate "Schloss Oranienburg" was set up for forty cannons, only about half of the artillery originally intended came on board.

  • Berlin (as frigate designated pinnace ; 15-18 guns)
  • Bracke ( yacht ; 3 cannons)
  • Brandenburg Dragoons (frigate; 20 cannons)
  • Electoral body hunt (10 cannons)
  • Elector of Brandenburg (7 cannons)
  • Chur Prince (1)
  • Churprinz (2) (also Kurprinz , Churprinz by Brandenburg or Kurprinz of Brandenburg ; frigate; 12-40 guns)
  • Cleve ( Galiot ; 4-6 cannons)
  • Clevish Linden Tree (10 cannons)
  • Derfflinger ( Fleute ; 6-16 cannons)
  • Dorothea (2) (until 1681 Friedrich Wilhelm , until 1681/82 coat of arms of Brandenburg ; frigate; 22-44 cannons)
  • Eichhorn (ex Swedish Ekorre ; Galiot; 12-16 cannons)
  • Falcon ( Schnau ; 4-6 cannons)
  • Fortuna (frigate; 20 cannons)
  • Peace (Fleute; 10 cannons)
  • Friedrich Wilhelm, Elector of Brandenburg (frigate; 24 cannons)
  • Friedrich Wilhelm on horseback (frigate; 50–54 cannons)
  • Fox (20 cannons)
  • Goldener Löwe (also Gülden Löwe , from 1682 Dorothea (1) ; frigate, 32–40 cannons))
  • Big yacht (yacht; 10 guns)
  • King of Spain (frigate; 18 cannons)
  • Elector Prince (3) (also called Great African ; frigate; 20–36 cannons)
  • Leopard (ex Swedish leopards ; 20–28 cannons)
  • Lithuanian farmer (Schnau; 6-14 cannons)
  • Maria (also Marie ; ex Swedish Maria ; Galiot; 4–6 cannons)
  • Margrave of Brandenburg (ex Spanish Carolus Secundus ; frigate; 28–50 cannons)
  • Morian (frigate; 12-16 cannons)
  • Philipp (also Prince Philipp ; speed sailor; 6 cannons)
  • Potsdam (Galiot; 4-6 cannons)
  • Princess Maria (also Princess Marie; 12-16 cannons)
  • Prince Ludwig (10 cannons)
  • Rother Löwe (frigate; 20–22 cannons)
  • Rummelpot (Schnau; 8 cannons)
  • Salamander ( Brander ; 6 cannons)
  • Spandau (4-6 cannons)
  • Stern (yacht, 6 cannons)
  • St. Johann Baptist (Schnau; 4 cannons)
  • St. Joseph (10 cannons)
  • St. Peter (Brander; 6 cannons)
  • Water Dog (10 Cannons)

Shipbuilding by the Havelberg shipyard for the Kurbrandenburg Navy

Even if numerous ships of the Kurbrandenburg Navy were bought, rented or captured abroad, there was still a not inconsiderable construction activity at the Electoral Havelberg shipyard mentioned above . Fifteen ships were built there for the Kurbrandenburg Navy, some of which, however, did not come into the service of the Navy, but had to be resold directly due to lack of money. The ships of the Havelberger Werft were considered to be very successful, but the financial success did not materialize, half of the units laid on keel had to be sold below their value. Benjamin Raule had a number of other ships built for his private purposes, but there is no exact evidence for this in the shipyard documents that have been handed down, even if the ships were in use for the Kurbrandenburg Navy.

(in order of keel laying) :

  • Castell Friedrichsburg (Brigantine; 6 cannons, keel laid in 1688, in service in 1689, booked as lost in 1694)
  • Margarete (Galiot, also called Makarele; 8 cannons, keel laid in 1688, in service in 1689)
  • Friedrich III. (Frigate; 50–56 cannons, keel laid in 1688, launched in 1689, equipped in Hamburg until 1692, auctioned below value in Hamburg in 1725)
  • Fliegender Drache (frigate; 16 cannons, keel laid in 1688, launched in 1689, equipped in Hamburg until 1692, booked as lost in 1698)
  • Oranienburg Palace (frigate; 26–40 cannons, unfinished in Hamburg, auctioned after 1711)
  • Electoral galley (no name, often with the addition: "for Berlin"; 4–6 cannons)
  • Charlotte-Louise (boat; 12 cannons, keel laid in 1692, launched in 1693, lost to piracy in 1698)
  • Seven brothers (Fleute or stern boat; 16–18 cannons, sold in Hamburg in 1705)
  • Postillion and Jäger (barges; 10–12 cannons, keel-laying in 1693, 1694 to 1695 both ships for equipment in Hamburg, then sold for lack of money)
  • Churprinz and Greyhound (frigates; 18–20 cannons, keel-laying in 1693, both ships for equipment in Hamburg from 1695 to 1699; probably sold)
  • Sloop (no name, no cannons; keel laid in 1694, sold in Hamburg in 1702 or 1705)
  • Frigate (no name, 18–20 cannons, keel laid in 1694, sold immediately after completion)
  • Yacht (no name, 6 cannons, keel laid in 1694, 1696 or 1698 sold lying in Hamburg)

Shipbuilding in Pillau and Kolberg

Ships for the Kurbrandenburg Navy were built not only inland, but also on the Baltic coast. However, this resulted in considerable difficulties: originally the elector had claimed all of Pomerania after the Thirty Years' War and had thus gained access to the ports and shipyards of Stralsund, Greifswald and Stettin. However, Western Pomerania went to Sweden, with whom Kurbrandenburg was often at war. So only the small ports of Kolberg and Pillau remained for the Kurbrandenburg Navy to set up new bases. Nevertheless, there was considerable construction activity there between 1675 and 1685 under the direction of master shipbuilder Gillis C. Peckelhering, around ten ships were built first in Pillau, then in Kolberg for the Kurbrandenburg Navy. In addition, there were a number of conversions and repairs that, of course, could not be done inland. The number of private buildings can no longer be traced, not least due to the questionable business conduct of the shipyard management. The known ships are listed below, if possible with the year:

  • Frigate "Dorothea" 1678 (until 1681), Kolberg
  • Frigate "Dorothea" 1682, Kolberg
  • Flagship: Frigate "Friedrich Wilhelm on Horses", 1684, Pillau
  • "Golden Yacht", 1678, Kolberg
  • Frigate "Fuchs", 1678 Kolberg
  • Frigate "Fuchs II", 1683 Pillau
  • Frigate "Mohrian", also Mooriaan, Moriaen, Morian, Mohr, Moor, (reconstruction), 1679, Kolberg
  • Frigate "water dog"
  • "Big Yacht"
  • Small yacht "Maria Catharina"
  • Small yacht "White Lion"

The exact assignment of the ships of the Kurbrandenburg Navy to the ship types often causes problems. The smaller units in particular are not always clearly labeled, sometimes according to their type, sometimes according to their current purpose. The barges, in particular, have been managed just as well as snows and small / light frigates. The inadequate expertise of the secretary plays just as much a role as the aforementioned business conduct à la Benjamin Raule. Another thing is the variability of the names, exemplified using the "Mohrian"; The “Big Yacht” can also be found under several names.

See also


Web links

  • The painting by Lieve Verschuier is viewed in detail on a private homepage and information from the archival sources is given for each vehicle: online at:
  • The painting also includes a poem in praise of the Great Elector. (PDF; 5.3 MB)
  • Louis Erhardt: An electoral Brandenburg fleet demonstration in front of Königsberg in 1605. In: Hohenzollern-Jahrbuch 1898. (PDF; 2.4 MB)
  • Hans Bohrdt: pleasure yachts of the Hohenzollern. In: Hohenzollern yearbook 1899 (PDF; 8.2 MB)

Individual evidence

  1. In the background left the Berlin , front left the Friedrich Wilhelm on horseback , in the center front the yacht of the Elector, in the right foreground the Margrave of Brandenburg , between the Friedrich Wilhelm on horseback and the electoral yacht are the stern of the Dorothea and the Red lion can be seen, and on the far right the Prince Elector .
  2. Gemäldegalerie Berlin (depot): O. de Vrij, dated 1665: "Three-master on slightly agitated water."
  3. Bernhard Erdmannsdörffer (ed.): Documents and acts on the history of the Elector Friedrich Wilhelm of Brandenburg. Volume 4: Political Negotiations. Part 2: V Brandenburg and England 1664–1669. 1867, p. 614ff.
  4. In the 17th and first half of the 18th century, the term "frigate" was used for a number of different types of ships, so that many ships from very small "single decks" to relatively large "double deckers" could be called this.
  5. Literae, ad Serenissimum ac Potentissimum Hispaniarum Regem, a Serenissimo Electore Brandenburgico, Ob Navem Hispanicam, haud procul Ostenda nuper abductam, conscriptae / A letter / Which to your royal. Maytt. in Hispania / From your Churfürstl. Permeability to Brandenburg / Because of the ship recently removed from Ostend has been drained , Elector Friedrich Wilhelm , 1680 German / Latin
  6. Under the Brandenburg flag from 1661 to 1664, Ulf Morgenstern declares : A ship will come ... ( Memento of the original from April 29, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. on: @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  7. 1674 to 1685 under the Brandenburg flag Ulf Morgenstern: A ship will come ... ( Memento of the original from April 29, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. on: @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  8. often as Einhorn called
  9. 1684 to 1694 under the Brandenburg flag Ulf Morgenstern: A ship will come ... ( Memento of the original from April 29, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. on: @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /