|Others:||Low Saxon, East Frisian|
|Population:||ca. 1 million inhabitants|
|Organizations:||Commonwealth of the Scandinavian Realm, Holy Roman Empire, Deutscher Bund|
The Duchy of Oldenburg is known mostly as the homeland of the robust Oldenburg workhorses, and the dynasty that has been on the Scandinavian throne for hundreds of years. It is not only a state in the Commonwealth of the Scandinavian Realm, but also a fief of the Holy Roman Empire.
Oldenburg was once a small county. The successor of Count Dietrich the Fortunate (d. 1440) was his son Christian who, in 1448, was chosen King of Denmark as Christian I. In 1450, he became King of Norway and, in 1457, King of Sweden. This last royal crown Christian I lost again in 1471. In 1460, he inherited the Duchy of Schleswig and the County of Holstein.
In 1454, Christian I handed over Oldenburg to his brother Gerhard the Valiant (1430-1499), a turbulent Count, who was constantly at war with the Bishop of Bremen and other neighbors. In 1483, Gerhard was compelled to abdicate in favor of his sons.
Lutheranism was introduced into the county by Count Anton I (1505-1573), who also suppressed the monasteries; however, he remained loyal to Emperor Charles V and was able thus to increase his territories, obtaining Delmenhorst in 1547. His son, Anton II (1550-1619), inherited, in 1575, the Lordship of Jever.(*)
Count Anton Gunther (1583-1667), who succeeded in 1603, is considered the wisest count ever to have ruled Oldenburg. In 1624, he added Kniphausen and Varel (an enclave within Jever) to his lands. He also obtained from the emperor the right to levy tolls on vessels passing along the Weser, a lucrative grant which soon formed a material addition to his resources.
When Count Anton Gunther died in 1667, Oldenburg, Delmenhorst, Jever, and Kniphausen and Varel were inherited by virtue of a compact made in 1649 by Frederick III, King of Denmark, and Christian Albert, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp. Some difficulties, however, arose from this joint ownership, but eventually these were satisfactorily settled, and, from 1702, the counties were ruled by the kings of Denmark-Norway only.
In 1777, Oldenburg, Delmenhorst, Jever, and Kniphausen and Varel were officially united and raised by the emperor to the rank of duchy as the Duchy of Oldenburg. In 1786, the world's first savings bank was established in the city of Oldenburg. In 1803, Oldenburg agreed to the abolition of the Weser Levy Toll. The Duchy was compensated by territorial acquisitions: the districts of Vechta and Cloppenburg (which were Catholic and belonged to the Prince-bishopric of Münster), and Wildeshausen (which was since 1719 part of Hannover). In 1853, the imperial government wished to have a naval port city by the North Sea. Duke Frederik VII (Monarch of the Scandinavian Realm) offered to build one in the Jade Busen and, in 1869, it was innaugurated and christened Friedrichshaven.
Being a part of both the Scandinavian Realm and the Holy Roman Empire has not been easy for Oldenburg since the two Great Wars. It gets caught in between the ambitions of the German emperor and the neutrality of the Scandinavian Realm. In 1947, when Germany invaded Rygen (a part of the Scandinavian Realm), Oldenburg, together with the rest of the Scandinavian Realm, opposed Germany. In the Battle of Friederichshaven, Germany lost her entire North Sea fleet to Oldenburg and Scandinavia.
Despite the potential difficulties with being part of the Holy Roman Empire and the Scandinavian Realm at the same time, Oldenburg continues to maintain close connections with both.
(*) Lady Maria's father, Chief Edo Wiemken of Jever, was married to Hedwig of Oldenburg, sister of the Count of Oldenburg. When Chief Edo died in 1511, his son, Junker Christoph, inherited the Chiefdom of Jever. Chief Junker Christoph then had to face the aggressive Count Enno II of Friesland, who tried to incorporate Jeverland into his domain. In 1517, Count Enno occuppied Jeverland, killed Chief Junker Christoph, leaving his three sisters, Dorothea, Anna, and Maria, as joint hieresses of Jever. However, Count Eno imprisoned the three sisters in the castle where Dorothea died shortly after. In 1531, Oldenburg sided with the two sisters and secured the land for them. In 1536, Anna died, and Maria became the sole ruler of Jeverland. She also became the beloved Fräulein Maria von Jever, who consolidated the territory with support from the emperor and from Oldenburg. She developed the Frisian village and surrounding lands into a modern territorial state. She never married and after her death the territory was inherited by her mother's family, the counts of Oldenburg.
Oldenburg is bounded on the North by the North Sea, in the Northwest by the Batavian Kingdom, and on all other sides by Hannover, with the exception of a small strip on the east, where it is conterminous with the territory of the Free City of Bremen. It forms part of the north-western German plain lying between the Weser and the Ems, and, except on the south, where the Dammergebirge attain a height of 478 ft., it is almost entirely flat, with a slight inclination towards the sea. The inland Geest consists of sandy plains intermixed with extensive heaths and moors, and the coastlands consists of marsh and swamps. The latter, which compose about one-fifth of the duchy, are protected against the inroads of the sea by dikes as in the Batavian Kingdom. The Jade Busen, a deep gulf affording good accommodation for shipping, is also found in the north.
Oldenburg's economy has an agricultural base. About 30% of the area of the duchy is under cultivation and 17% under pasture and meadows, while the rest consists mainly of marsh, moor and heath. Forests occupy a very small proportion of the whole, but there are some fine old oaks. The Geest and the marshlands produce all of Oldenburg's crops. Large tracts of moorland, however, are useful only as producing peat for fuel, or as affording pasture to the flocks of small coarse-woolled Oldenburg sheep. The rich soil of the marsh lands produces good crops of wheat, oats, rye, hemp and rape, but is especially adapted for grazing. The cattle and horses raised on it are highly esteemed throughout Germany, and the former are exported in large numbers. Bee-keeping is much in vogue on the moors. The livestock of Oldenburg forms a great part of its wealth, and the ratio of cattle, sheep and horses to the population is one of the highest in the Holy Roman Empire. There are few large estates, and the ground is mostly in the hands of small farmers, who enjoy the right of fishing and shooting on their holdings. Game is scarce, but fishing is fairly productive. Trade is of relatively importance, chiefly owing to the proximity of Bremen.
|Denmark | Sweden | Norway | Finland | Rygen | Samme | Schleswig-Holstein | Oldenburg | Lybæk | Faeroe Islands | Iceland | Greenland | New Sweden | New Iceland | Gadangmeland | Gebaland | Pepper Coast | Cruzan Islands | Tranquebar | Frederiksnagore | Nicobar Islands | Andaman Islands | Monland | Tenasserim | Tsingdav|
|North Atlantic Dependency | South Atlantic Dependency | Antarctic Dependency|
|Realm Capital Territory|
|Anhalt | Baden | Bavaria | Bremen | Brunswick | Hamborg | Hannover | Hesse | Lippe | Luebeck | Luxemburg | Mecklenburg | Oldenburg | Premaria | Prussia | Rhineland-Palatinate | Saarland | Saxony | Schleswig-Holstein | Thuringia | Waldeck-Pyrmont | Westphalia | Wuerttemberg|