John Dietrich Bredbeck’s Germany

In trying to create the map that showed where the Bredbeck’s came from, I also wrote down a few facts about the area as it was when John Dietrich Bredbeck and his siblings were alive

During John Dietrich’s life in Hanover and Bremen there was no single country of Germany. Instead there were a group of separate Kingdoms and Independent Cities which were united under the title of the German Federation (or Confederation of German States). The German Federation lasted from 1815-1866.

The area that became the Kindgom of Hanover under the German Federation was once known as the Principality of Calenberg (it was also known as Hanover after 1636). The Principality of Calenberg was in existence from 1432-1803 and was a subdivision of the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg. The Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg and the Archbishopric of Bremen were both parts of the Lower Saxon Circle, a division of the Holy Roman Empire. When the French gained control of the area most of Hanover became a part of Westphalia (not the area north of Bremen I don’t think), but after the defeat of Napoleon it was made an independent Kingdom (including the area north of Bremen) and remained that way until 1866. The area where Osterholz is, which was a part of Bremen until 1803, was a part of the Kingdom of Hanover by 1817. That means that if indeed our John Dietrich Bredbeck and his siblings were born in Meyenburg, Osterholz, it was in the Kingdom of Hanover. Hanover was ruled by the English Kings: Georg III, Georg IV, and Wilhelm. When Queen Victoria took the throne in England the shared rule ended, because there was a law in Hanover that only the male line was eligible for the throne. So in 1837, King Ernst August became the King of Hanover.

King Ernst August ruled until 1851 and was very unpopular. In the mid-1840s the number of people emigrating from Hanover to the US rose dramatically and peaked during the French Revolution in 1848 when liberals were also inspired to revolt against the practices of censorship and control that Ernst August was using in Hanover. King Ernst August supported the aristocracy and Hanover is mostly agricultural which meant that there were a lot of disatisfied farmers struggling to make ends meet. As I understand it, there was a lot of reform needed in the farm system in the early 1800s because many of the laws were left over from a feudal system, and as change started to take place it sometimes made things worse instead of better. (If someone wants to correct me here…go ahead…I was confused by everything I read on the subject). It also seems that all these growing pains were accompanied by several years of bad harvests…which only made things worse for the farmers and may have contributed to emigration.

In John Dietrich’s time, Bremen was known as The Free City of Bremen and was a member of the Confederation of German States. Bremen purchased land for Bremerhaven from Hannover in 1827. It is now a state as well as a city.


Pre-1558: The Archbishopric of Bremen is an ecclesiastical state in the Holy Roman Empire. It includes the area north of the city between the Weser and the Elbe. It is part of the Lower Saxon Circle.

The rest of what will become Hanover is known as the Principality of Calenburg and is part of the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg which was also a part of the Lower Saxon Circle.

1558: Archbishopric of Bremen (including Meyenburg) is secularized. Still a state in the Empire.
1618-1648: 30 Years War between German Protestants and The Holy Roman Empire. Other countries in Europe take sides (not necessarily along religious lines) and the principalities within Germany sometimes switch sides during the war.
1648: Bremen is ceded to Sweden. Changed to a Duchy. Still considered part of the Empire?
1692: Principality of Calenburg becomes The Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg, also known informally as: The Electorate of Hanover.
1715 :
(or 1719?)
Bremen is given to (The Electorate of) Hanover.
1803: French occupation of (The Electorate of) Hanover begins. Lasts about 10 years.
1804: French Empire proclaimed.
1805: Prussia obtains Hanover (Treaty of Schönbrunn).
1807: Hanover becomes part of Kingdom of Westphalia. Does not include area north of Bremen? See map.
1810: Bremen is incorporated into the French Empire.
1814-1815: Prussia cedes territory to Hanover. Congress of Vienna establishes the German Confederation. Hanover is elevated to Kingdom.
1814-1866: The German Confederation.
1885: Osterholz is established by Prussia.


Britannica Online: The Encyclopedia’s website. This entry is about Napoleon and the French Empire.

Das Dorf in der Neuzeit – A German language site which is the summary, I believe, of a series of lectures by K.H. Schneider about the history of Hanover. I was reading the Google translation…and it was difficult to understand…the information regarding emigration from Hanover is accompanied by a chart.

German Culture – An English language website, maintained by Tatyana Gordeeva, with lots of information about Germany, including history.

Historical Atlas of the World. Hammond, Maplewood, NJ, 1990; p.H26-27, 30-31.

Königreich Hannover – A website dedicated to Hanover by Dr. Lutz König, Uelzen. Contains an English version.

Progenealogists – A website put together by a group of professional genealogists which includes articles on history.

WHKMLA – KMLA is a school in South Korea and this webpage is authored by one of the teachers there, Alexander Ganse. It is FULL of historical maps and links to the maps that he doesn’t have on the website. It is a very informative site.

Wikipedia – This is a great website in English and in German. There is a link to the German equivalent below…which has entirely different information. The public is free to contribute and change articles so there are many authors for each entry. I searched: Hanover, Bremen, Osterholz, Osterholz-Scharmbeck, Kingdom of Westphalia, Germany, and clicked on links from all of them.

Wikipedia – This is the German Wikipedia site. It too is contributed to by multiple authors. When I clicked on this link it wouldn’t work, but if you click on “go to main page” and then search for “Osterholz” one of the choices will say “Osterholz-Scharmbeck.”

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