Tue 3 Mar, 2015 01:36 pm
I am trying to find information about the giving of land to persons on the basis of their being able to work it. My family benefited from this and it has been stated that they moved from the Alsace region to Neu Langsow for this purpose. Where would you suggest I look for references and what year did this policy begin?
You might look for information about Friedrich Wilhelm, the Elector of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia. He had succeeded his father, Georg Wilhelm, a weak and ineffective man, who had spent most of the so-called Thirty Years war cowering before the Imperialists, and then cowering before the Swedes.
Friedrich Wilhelm had already begun, in a modest way, to settle Protestant refugees in the Duchy of Prussia. He was aided and advised in his policies by his military adviser who acted as a sort of ex-officio prime minister, i believe his name was Blumenthal. When Louis XIV of France repealed the Edict of Nantes in 1685, which had guaranteed religious tolerance in France, Friedrich Wilhelm issue an edict of his own, and welcomed thousands of French and Walloon Protestants, going so far as to provide them tools, seed and livestock if they were willing to farm (Prussian farm land really sucked, though), or specialized tools if they had a particular skill to offer. Alsace was a crucial region because they became a French protectorate during the Thirty Years War, and French Protestants had sought refuge there. With the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, more Protestants came to Alsace, but both they and the native Protestants of Alsace began to look elsewhere.
The French Protestants were, by and large, skilled craftsmen--watch and clock makers, gunsmiths, joiners and cabinetmakers, jewellers, gold- and silversmiths. They were not just an ornament, but a valuable resource to whomever took them in. Largely, they went to Holland, England and Germany. The ones who went to Germany got the best offer from Friedrich Wilhelm, known to history as the Great Elector. Brandenburg-Prussia is almost indefensible from the point of view of the terrain. So Friedrich Wilhelm built up a large and efficient army. Although we might not think that 40,000 men is very large, that was quite a few troops to maintain in time of peace. It also helped create the kingdom of Prussia. When the War of the Spanish Succession began in 1701, The Anglo-Dutch-Imperialist alliance began looking for Germans to hire to face the French, who had an army of a quarter of a million men. The third son of Friedrich Wilhelm, Friedrich, made a deal with the Emperor for Prussian troops, which included the Emperor's recognition of him as King of Prussia. His family, the House of Hohenzollern, held Prussian by right of conquest. So as soon as Friedrich was acknowledged the King of Prussia, he became an independent monarch, owing no allegiance to anyone. The Great Elector and his boys were some sharp cookies.
Of course, i could be wrong about the era when your ancestors went to Prussia, but this is the most plausible. Walter, a member of the site who is German and is probably the best educated historian here, may come along to expand and correct this information.
By the way, i believe i am correct in stating that Neulangsow is in the electorate of Brandenburg.