Grand Duchy of Oldenburg
|Grand Duchy of Oldenburg|
|State of the German Confederation, the North German Confederation, and the German Empire|
[[Heil dir, O Oldenburg]]
"Hail to thee, O Oldenburg"
Oldenburg within the German Empire
|-||1814–1823||Peter Friedrich Wilhelm|
|-||1900–1918||Frederick Augustus II|
|-||1814–1842||Karl von Brandenstein|
|-||1916–1918||Franz Friedrich Ruhstrat|
|-||Congress of Vienna||1814|
|-||German Revolution||9 November 1918|
|Today part of||Germany|
The Grand Duchy of Oldenburg (German: Großherzogtum Oldenburg) (also known as Holstein-Oldenburg) was a Grand Duchy within the German Confederation, North German Confederation, and German Empire, which consisted of three widely separated territories: Oldenburg, Eutin and Birkenfeld. It ranked tenth among the German states and had one vote in the Bundesrat of Germany and three members in the Reichstag.
The bulk of the Duchy's inhabitants were Saxons, but to the north and west there were also numerous descendants of the ancient Frisians. The differences between the two people were mostly perceptible, but Low German was universally spoken, except in Saterland, where the Saterland Frisian language had maintained itself. The population was somewhat unequally distributed — some parts of the marsh lands contained over 300 people per square mile, while in the geest the number occasionally sank as low as 40. About 70% of the inhabitants lived in rural areas. The harbor of Wilhelmshaven, on the shore of Jade Bight, was built by the Kingdom of Prussia on land ceded by the Jade Treaty.
The Napoleonic Wars
To the regent Duke Peter fell the task of governing during the time of the Napoleonic Wars in the place of his incapacitated cousin Peter Frederick William. In 1806, the Duchy of Oldenburg was occupied by the French and the Dutch and the duke and regent were forced to fight, but in 1807 the duchy was restored and in 1808 it joined the Confederation of the Rhine. However, in 1810, Oldenburg was forcibly seized by Napoleon because the duke refused to exchange it for Erfurt. This drove Peter to join the Allies and at the Congress of Vienna, due to the successes of Alexander I of Russia, his services were rewarded by the addition of Eutin and Birkenfeld and made him a grand duke. In 1829, Peter was succeeded by his son, Augustus.
The European Revolutions
Oldenburg did not entirely escape from the Revolutions of 1848 that swept across Europe, but no serious disturbances took place therein. In 1849 Augustus granted a constitution of a very liberal character to his subjects. Hitherto his country had been ruled in the spirit of enlightened despotism which had been strengthened by the absence of a privileged class of nobles, the comparative independence of the peasantry, and the importance of the towns; thus a certain amount of friction was inevitable. In 1852 some modifications were introduced into the constitution, yet it remained one of the most progressive in the German Confederation. Important alterations were made in the administrative system in 1855 and again in 1868, and government oversight on church affairs was ordered by a law of 1863. In 1863, Peter II, who had ruled since the death of his father Augustus in 1853, seemed inclined to press a claim to the vacant duchy of Schleswig and duchy of Holstein, but ultimately in 1867 he abandoned this in favor of the Kingdom of Prussia and received some slight compensation. In 1866 he had sided with this power against the Austrian Empire and had joined the North German Confederation, and in 1871 the grand duchy became a state of the German Empire.
Heraldic shield of the Grand Dukes
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.