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The Palatinate – Die Pfalz

Nearly 30 percent of the foreign Protestants who settled Lunenburg came from the Palatine Electorate – almost as many as from all the other territories in southwestern Germany combined [Bell 1961, 315]. Yet the Electorate’s population of about 300,000 at that time [Cohn 1965, 4] was only a fraction of the roughly 16 million people who lived in Germany (excluding Austria) [Aubin und Zorn 1971, 511]. Why did so many people emigrate from the Palatinate in the 1700s that all German emigrants were referred to as “Palatines”? . . .

Religious factors as well as repeated war-induced devastation influenced Palatine emigration, too. After the Calvinist line of Electors line died out in 1685, their Roman Catholic replacements introduced a recatholization so extreme that other German princes forced the Elector Johan Wilhelm to back off somewhat. His “Religions’ Declaration of 21 November 1705” decreed joint use in most cities of the churches (the nave, allocated to the Calvinists, was separated by a wall from the Catholics, who got the choir) and a 5:2 division of village churches between Calvinists and Catholics. . . .

Why was emigration from the Palatinate so disproportionately heavy? Neighboring areas of Germany also experienced warfare and religious turmoil in the 17th and 18th centuries, but both the devastation and population losses from the 17th century wars and the repression of Protestants after 1698 were more severe and prolonged in the Palatine Electorate. . . .


Oberklingen (Odenwald) 40 km S Frankfurt
Territory: Palatine Electorate; Kurpfalz
Name(s): Haas, Johann George, wife/Ehefrau
Ramichen, Johan Wendel, wife/Ehefrau, 5 children/Kinder
Geiger, Johan Georg, wife/Ehefrau, 4 children/Kinder

The village is nestled below the Otzberg in a beautiful forested area.


Protestant village church (dating from before 1303), at one time, St. Peter’s. The village today is still primarily Calvinist. In the Thirty Years War the number of families living there dropped from 24 to 4.



Westhofen 50 km SW Frankfurt
Territory: Palatine Electorate; Kurpfalz

Gorckum [Corkum],



Hermann & family / Familie
Willem & family / Familie


Hermann, wife / Ehefrau, 3 children / Kinder; & son / Sohn
Hermann jr. & wife / Ehefrau

Until 1615, Westhofen was shared among three feudal masters, who maintained a common cellar for the wine they received as a tithe. . . . Westhofen was twice destroyed by invading armies in a single year (1621). A decade later the privations of the Thirty-Years War – hunger, epidemics, tribute, pillage, destruction of both the Catholic and the Calvinist churches – so multiplied that the population fled, utterly emptying the community.

After the Peace of Westphalia (1648, more than a decade later), people returned and some immigration – especially from the Netherlands – took place. But the reconstruction process was severely interrupted by Louis XIV’s brutal and destructive wars of expansion which got under way in 1665 and continued – with varying intensity in Westhofen – until his death a half century later. The exterior of the (larger) spire of the Calvinist church was completed in 1710, but the installation of bells, which inadvertently precipitated a long-running dispute, had to wait until 1731. The bells were owned by the whole community, so were supposed to be equally available to all three confessions: Calvinist, Roman Catholic and Lutheran. This caused discontent among the Calvinists, in whose church tower the bells hung. . . .



Protestant Church (17th century) with two steeples. The slender one over the choir was added in 1764 during the “church bell dispute.”



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