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Prussian reign


The time of Prussian reign brought a considerable economic boom for Ostfriesland, a stronger opening to the outside and many innovations. The beginning of the fen colonization and the foundation of the fen settlement also began during this period.

Prussia approved the independent position of Ostfriesland within the Prussian state and installed a widely autonomously reigning East Frisian chancellor. The first chancellor was the very influential Sebastian Anton Homfeld (mentioned above) who came from a noble family in the Rheiderland, and whom rumors surround with regards poisoning of the last East Friesian prince.

Ostfriesland as part of the Kingdom of Holland and the Empire of France

After the battle of Jena and Auerstedt, Ostfriesland was integrated into the Kingdom of Holland and hence into the power area of France. In 1810, it  joined the French Empire as the department “Ems-Orientale” (Osterems/East Ems). The western Ostfriesland (Rheiderland) was separated because of ancient claims by Holland and given to the Dutch department “Ems-Occidentale” (West Ems) with the capital Groningen. France brought modern jurisdiction into Ostfriesland and undertook the first important steps for a fundamental conversion of the ancient East Frisian society system.

By order of Napoleon, in 1811 the East Frisians had to adopt the yet unknown family names and give up their previous, complicated system of patronymic name-heritance (still, this conversion did not have success until the middle of the 19th century). For the first time, mayors were installed in the villages. Until that time, the East Frisian village society did not practice a central administration because the responsibility was distributed in equal manner between Olderinge, Deichgrafen (dike counts) and other local noble men. On top of that, the French Code Civil was introduced.

To make the Continental System to success, numerous customs officers came to Ostfriesland (whose descendants partly still live there). In that economically difficult time, some East Frisians became rich by England-smuggling

Ostfriesland in the kingdom of Great Britain and Hanover

After Napoleon was defeated and his governance collapsed, the Prussians returned in the years 1813-1815. During that period, East Frisian soldiers participated in the battles of Ligny and Belle-Alliance (Waterloo). But the hopes of Ostfriesland to remain Prussian were were to no avail with the Congress of Vienna 1814/15. After Napoleon, a new territorial order or Europe was founded in Vienna. Prussia received a part of the Grand Duchy Varshava (Posen). Prussia also received Fore-Pommern, Westphalia and the Rhine Province but had to sign over Ostfriesland to the kingdom of Hanover.

England was very interested in a solution which tried to prevent the permanent presence of Prussia at the North Sea coast. Article 27 of the Final Act of the Congress of Vienna: "The King of Prussia hands the principality of Ostfriesland to the King of Great Britain and Hanover, under the conditions mutually stipulated in Article 5 concerning shipping on the Ems and trade in the harbor of Emden. The estates of the principality will keep their rights and privileges." The time which followed was characterized by stagnation and even backward steps.

Ostfriesland under the second Prussian governance

In general, the East Frisians approved that their country became Prussian once more in 1866 with the annexation of the kingdom of Hanover by Prussia, in fact this immediately resulted in a new boom. Since that time, the Ostfriesland cultural connection to Germany finally succeeded, and additionally the use of the German language finally became standard at school (in prior times, some regions used the Dutch language or East Frisian Low German dialect).

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