Maria of Jever

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Maria of Jever
Maria von Jever 1572.jpg
Painting of Miss Maria, 1572
Born(1500-09-05)5 September 1500
Died20 February 1575(1575-02-20) (aged 74)
Noble familyWiemken
FatherEdo Wiemken the Younger
MotherHeilwig of Oldenburg
Monument to Maria of Jever, near Jever castle, by Harro Magnussen

Maria of Jever, known in Jeverland as Fräulein Maria (5 September 1500 in Jever – 20 February 1575, Jever) was the last ruler of the Lordship of Jever from the Wiemken family.


Maria of Jever was a third child of the East Frisian chieftain Edo Wiemken the Younger. Her mother, Heilwig, was Edo's second wife and was the sister of Count John V of Oldenburg. Heilwig died when Maria was one year old. Her father died about 10 years later. After her father's death, a council of five village elders took up the regency and guardianship of his children. Her brother Christopher was given a suitable education to become the next Lord of Jeverland. Maria and her two sisters were raised to marry economically and politically favorable prospects.

However, Lord Christopher suddenly died at the age of 18. This drastically changed the situation. Since there was no male heir, Maria inherited the Jeverland. Edzard I, Count of East Frisia, demonstrated his military strength at the common border. With the approval of the regents, he concluded a marriage contract, which made him protector of Jeverland. Maria seemed destined to marry one of Edzard's sons. However, the future counts Enno and John could not wait until the marriage and occupied Jever Castle in 1527, exposing Maria to severe humiliation. The East Frisian Landdrost Boing of Oldersum came to Maria's rescue and drove the invaders out of Jeverland. He and Maria were probably in love. However, he died during a siege of Wittmund and Maria never married.

In the subsequent years, Maria managed to defend her father's inheritance and gradually got a grip on the business of government. Some sources state that this was due to her strong will and growing desire for independence. Her unusual decisions also played a rôle. For example, she requested assistance from the regional opponent Emperor Charles V. As Count of Holland and Duke of Brabant, he took possession of the Jeverland and then gave it back to Maria as a fief. Thus Maria ended the imperial immediacy Jeverland had enjoyed since 1417.

Nevertheless Maria has done much for her territory. In 1536, she gave Jever city rights. She expanded Jever Castle, she enlarged her territory by creating new polders and locks and she stimulated the administration of justice. Commerce flourished during her reign. In 1556, Maria converted the choir of the city church, which had been damaged several times, into a grave chapel. Between 1561 and 1564, a Renaissance grave monument for her father was erected in the chapel. This monument still exists.

When she died in 1575, her death was initially kept secret, for fear that the Counts of East Frisia might grab power. Her room was sealed and food was placed outside her door. A servant is said to have secretly eaten the food, so no suspicion would arise, until Maria's rightful heir, Count John VII of Oldenburg, had arrived.


  • August Mahr: Die Hexe, in the series Friesland Bücherei, vol. I, Friesen Verlag Heine, Wilhelmshaven, 1921
  • Wolfgang Petri: Maria von Jever: Herrschaft und Liebe - Tragik und Legende, Lüers, Jever, 2000, ISBN 3-9806885-2-6
  • Antje Sander (ed.): Das Fräulein und die Renaissance: Maria von Jever 1500–1575. Herrschaft und Kultur in einer friesischen Residenz des 16. Jahrhunderts, Isensee, Oldenburg, 2000, ISBN 3-89598-711-5

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