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Principality of East Frisia 1654-1744 (Lower Saxony, Germany)

Fürstentum Ostfriesland, County of East Frisia 1464-1654

Last modified: 2012-03-31 by german editorial team
Keywords: east frisia | lower saxony | esens | wittmund | harlinger land |
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[East Frisia (Lower Saxony, Germany)] 2:3 image by Rob Raeside
Date of adoption unknown (late 18th or early 19th century)

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East Frisia was a County, later Principality, since the 15th century to 1744. From 1744 to 1810 the county belonged to Prussia, from 1810 to 1814 to France and from 1815 to 1866 to Hannover.

Santiago Dotor, 28 February 2001

In the 14th to 16th century various chieftains (Häuptlinge) fought for control over East Frisia. A short account of this is given for instance in this website (in German). The result of this was that the Cirksena family eventually conquered all of East Frisia. Only the Lordship of Jever resisted annexation. (...) Norden became a possession of the Cirksena family in 1436. (...) In 1454 the Cirksenas acquired the title of Counts of East Frisia. The lordships of Esens and Wittmund (jointly known as Harlinger Land) came into their possession in 1581 or 1600 (my sources differ). [Later] East Frisia became a principality that was acquired by Prussia in 1744 and became part of Hanover in 1815.

Stefan Schwoon, 28 February 2001

[East Frisia became a principality] in 3 steps: in 1654 Count Enno Ludwig is named prince; in 1662, his successor, Georg Christian, is named to the Fürstenstand; in 1667, Ostfriesland gets a seat and vote in the Fürstenrat.

Norman Martin, 1 March 2001

In 1654 count Enno Ludwig became prince (Reichsfürstentum Ostfriesland). In 1677 Ostfriesland gained a seat and right to vote in the Reichstag.

Ralf Stelter, 1 March 2001

Origin of the black-red-blue flag

The East Frisian flag of black-red-blue horizontal stripes appeared during the French occupation. This flag is even today called the East Frisian colours, and is today shown in many houseflags of shipping companies. Thesis about this flag:

  1. This black-red-blue flag might have been adopted to differenciate the remainder of East Frisia from Emden.
  2. The flag became used in 1805, when there was an English-French blockade against the Papenburg flag.
  3. The flag came in use during the resistance against France: in 1807 East Frisia to Kingdom of Holland, 1810 to France (Département Ost-Ems).

Ralf Stelter, 1 March 2001

Lordship of Esens 17th Century

Herrschaft Esens

On yellow field a black boar.

Jaume Ollé, 22 June 1998

Esens is a city near the coast in today's Wittmund County [Kreis Wittmund]. (...) The lordships of Esens and Wittmund (jointly known as Harlinger Land) came into the possession of the Counts of East Frisia in 1581 or 1600 (my sources differ). And after that it was never independent. On this 1547 map at the Baden-Württemberg mailing list website, there is a small unnamed territory between Jever and Ostfriesland, that's Harlinger Land.

The description above mentions "a black boar". Could this be "bear" instead? If so, it would match the arms of the Lordship of Esens [Herrschaft Esens], which are part of the arms of East Frisia (illustrated in this website).

Stefan Schwoon, 28 February 2001

Well, few of these things were all that simple in the Middle Ages. Before the middle of the 15th century, Ostfriesland was reichsunmittelbar [territory] i.e. was a confederation directly under the Emperor. In 1455, the Lordship of Esens recognized Ulrich Cirksena as its feudal lord so that when in 1464 he became Reichsgraf [Imperial Count], it became part of the county and so remained. Norden and [?] became Emden are much the same.

Norman Martin, 1 March 2001

In 1540 Esens became part of the county of Rietberg, and with it in 1581/1600 by marriage to East Frisia. (...) The flag of the lords of Esens was yellow with a black boar (not bear).

Ralf Stelter, 1 March 2001