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Herzogtum Lauenburg County (Germany)

Kreis Herzogtum Lauenburg (Duchy of Lauenburg), Schleswig-Holstein

Last modified: 2017-11-11 by klaus-michael schneider
Keywords: herzogtum lauenburg county | lauenburg(duchy) | saxe-lauenburg(duchy) | ratzeburg(county) | ratzeburg(bishopric) | ratzeburg(principality) | sadelbande | horsehead | bordure | crown |
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[Herzogtum Lauenburg County flag] 3:5 image by Jörg Majewski, 8 Dec 2007 See also: Outside links (all in German only):

Herzogtum Lauenburg County

On 31 December 2011the Duchy of Lauenburg County (Kreis Herzogtum Lauenburg) had an area of 1,263 km2, with a population of nearly 187,500. Nearly 100,000 of them are living in the cities of Geesthacht, Lauenburg/Elbe, Mölln, Ratzeburg (seat),Schwarzenbek and the municipality of Wentorf bei Hamburg. The rest is living in126 municipalities within 8 subcounties (Ämter). Two of them have an administrative cooperation (Verwaltungsgemeinschaft)with major cities, because their number of inhabitants is less than 8,000.

Herzogtum Lauenburg County Flag

Description of flag:
The ratio is 3:5. The white flag is divided by two narrow, black, horizontal stripes. The coat of arms is between the stripes in the centre of the flag.
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 10 Mar 2013

Herzogtum Lauenburg County Banner

[Herzogtum Lauenburg County banner] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 10 Mar 2013

Description of banner:
The white banner is divided by two narrow, black, vertical stripes. The coat of arms is between the stripes and slightly shifted to the bottom.
Source: this online catalogue
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 10 Mar 2013

Herzogtum Lauenburg County Coat of Arms

[Herzogtum Lauenburg County CoA] image by Jörg Majewski, 8 Dec 2007
granted 12 Nov 1866

The arms were granted on 12 November 1866 by the Prussian King as the duchy had become part of Prussia in 1865. The arms were discontinued when the Duchy was made a district in 1876. Counties were not allowed to use proper arms in Prussia. The district continued to use the arms when Prussia ceased to exist in 1918.
The Duchy belonged to Denmark until 1816 and from 1816-1865 it belonged to the Kingdom of Hannover. The horse is taken from the arms of the Kingdom of Hannover, but the horse was made of gold to distinguish it from the arms of Hannover. The Danish Kings also used a white horse for Lauenburg, to emphasize the claims on the Duchy after 1816. In 1866 the original colours were restored and the chequered border in Prussian colours was added to distinguish the arms. The arms may be used with a golden crown since 1866.
Source: Ralf Hartemink's site.
Jarig Bakker (?), 8 Dec 2007

According to Reißmann 1997, the Saxon Horse had been replaced by a horsehead by the Danish kings for two reasons.
1) The horsehead should be distinct from the Saxon Horse. The county readopted the coat of arms with silver horsehead and bordure around 1925.
2) The message of the Danes should be that there had been no further claims to Hannoverian territories.
The colours golden and red are probably those of the house of Oldenburg, which ruled Denmark in the 19th century. Since 1866 the shield is topped by a royal crown. From 1779 to 1841 the nobility, the region and the districts (Ämter) of Ratzeburg, Lauenburg, Schwarzenbek and Steinhorst used a Saxon Horse in their seals.
Sources: Reißmann 1997, p.27 and Stadler 1964, p.45 Flag and banner were never approved officially. The coat of arms was granted on 12 December 1866.
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 10 Mar 2013

Historical Notes on the Duchy of Saxe-Lauenburg (Herzogtum Sachsen-Lauenburg)

After Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony and Bavaria, was disowned (1180), the eastern part of the Saxon duchy was given to the Askanian kin. In 1260 the Askanians split into Sachsen-Lauenburg and Sachsen-Wittenberg. In 1689 the former went back to a branch of the kin of Guelphs (Welfen). From 1714 it belonged to the Electorate of Hannover.
Stefan Schwoon, 12 Feb 2001

According to William R. Shepherd's Historical Atlas 1929, Lauenburg was given to Hannover in 1689 and continued in its possession to the Napoleonic era. It was acquired by Prussia between 1803 and 1806. In 1810 it was annexed to the French Empire, and along with Lübeck, which was also annexed, gave France's north German territories a corridor to the Baltic.

Ned Smith, 12 Feb 2001

Sachsen-Lauenburg was formed by Johann I, son of Albrecht I of Sachsen, in 1261. The family ruled Lauenburg and assorted lower Saxon territories mostly on the lower Elbe until the line died out in 1689. It then was ceded to Lüneburg and later Hannover and in 1815 ceded to Holstein.

Norman Martin, 12 Feb 2001

According to Erich Dieter Linder and Günter Olzog, "Deutsche Landkreise — Wappen, Geschichte, Struktur", Battenberg Verlag, Augsburg 1996, p. 356, Lauenburg belonged to Hannover 1689-1816, and then became Danish. The Danes let Lauenburg be represented by arms showing a golden horse's head on red (i.e. Gules, a horse's head Or). When Lauenburg was conquered by the Prussians in 1864, the assembly of noblemen (in German die Ritterschaft) made a decision on 21 October, that they would join in a personal union with Prussia under the condition that Lauenburg was considered a German Duchy (Herzogtum) in itself. This is the reason, Lauenburg is still called Kreis Herzogtum Lauenburg ["County Duchy of Lauenburg"]. The Prussian king became duke of Lauenburg. On 13 April 1867, Lauenburg was granted arms with a silver horse's head in red inside a black and white bordure. The royal crown upon the shield has been added by the local authorities. Official blazon in German: In Rot mit von Silber und Schwarz gestecktem Schildbord ein silberner Pferdekopf. Auf dem Schild die preußische Königskrone. I would suppose, that the tinctures of the bordure are the Prussian black and silver. It can be noted, that Lauenburg would have become Prussian already in 1815 (1816?), if Denmark hadn't traded it for the northern part of Hither Pomerania, which Denmark had got in 1814 from Sweden in exchange for Norway.

Elias Granqvist, 13 Feb 2001

Duchy of Lauenburg pre 1865 Colours

[] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 28 Feb 2013

Saxony-Lauenburg: It seems that the Dannebrog was in use.

Jaume Ollé, 30 Aug 1998

Until 1865 the flag was black-yellow. Lauenburg was given to the Danish king [i.e. not to Denmark] after the Congress of Vienna [1815] and the Danish king represented the country in the German Confederation.

Mario Fabretto, 31 Aug 1998

Duchy of Lauenburg Colours since 1866

[] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 28 Feb 2013

The old colours of the Herzogtum Lauenburg were black-yellow. According to Order of 12 November 1866 the colours are black-white.
Source: Ströhl 1897, p.91

Ralf Stelter, 15 Feb 2001

History of the Duchies of Saxe-Lauenburg and Lauenburg

Territories of the historical Duchy of Saxe-Lauenburg

In addition to the core territories in the current Duchy of Lauenburg County, in the past other territories mostly south of the river Elbe belonged to the Duchy of Saxe-Lauenburg: The stripe of land alongside the southern Elbe bank (German: Marschvogtei), reaching from Marschacht to the Amt Neuhaus,now being part of the Lower Saxon counties of Harburg and Lüneburg. The stripe included great parts of the current comprehensive municipality of Elbmarsch (probably without Drage), the municipality of Artlenburg and the city of Bleckede. The Amt Neuhaus proper, in the past including areas on both sides of the Elbe also was ceded to the Kingdom of Hannover in 1814. After a 45-years-intermezzo it is now part of Lüneburg County. The exclave Hadeln, which some people consider being the cradle of the tribe of Saxons, in the area of the Elbe estuary was disentangled from Saxe-Lauenburg in 1689 and administered as a separate territory under imperial custody, before it was ceded to Bremen-Verden in 1731. Today it is part of Cuxhaven County. (Lower Saxony)

The Pre-Askanian Era and the Development in the Ratzeburg Area

7th century: The Slavic tribe of Polabians settles down in the northern part of the area, while the southern part, the so called Sadelbande, remains a Saxonian stronghold.
804: Franconian Emperor Karl the Great gives the whole region to the Abodrites as a reward for supporting him against the Saxons.
810: He changes his policy and cancels his former decision. He starts to built a boundary wall, the Limes Saxoniae.
During the following years the northern part was as County of Ratzeburg ruled by Slavic Counts.
1060: The Bishopric of Ratzeburg is established.
1137: Albrecht the Bear from the Askanian kin gains the fiefdom over the Duchy of Saxony from German king Konrad III but he resigns in 1141.
1142: Heinrich the Lion from the Guelph (Welfen) kin becomes duke of Saxony.
1180: Heinrich the Lion is disempowered by Emperor Friedrich I Barbarossa.
1180-1212: another Askanian, Bernhard III becomes duke of Saxony.
1203: King Waldemar II of Denmark conquers the Lauenburg area.
1204: He unites the County of Ratzeburg and the Sadelbande for the first time.
1227: Duke Albrecht II of Saxony, grandson of Albrecht the Bear, reconquers the area after the Danish defeat at Bornhöved.
1230: After the Counts of Ratzburg have died out, after a brief intermezzo (Duchy of Saxony) the bishops themselves gain the administrative rights (Vogteirechte).
1260: first attempt to divide the Duchy of Saxony by Albrecht II
1554: Bishop Christoph von der Schulenburg resigns. Since then usually relatives oft he Dukes of Mecklenburg become administrators oft he territory.
1648: The bishopric is secularized and becomes part of the Duchy of Mecklenburg as Principality of Ratzeburg.
1701: The principality becomes part of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

The Askanian Era (1296-1689)

1296: Albrecht II and his nephews Johann II, Erich I and Albrecht III divide the duchy into Saxe-Wittenberg and Saxe-Lauenburg. This is the actual birth of the Duchy of Saxe-Lauenburg. Albrecht II overtakes Saxe-Wittenberg and dies two years later. His nephews overtake Saxe-Lauenburg as fellow dukes.
12 September 1296: a charter mentions the separate territories of the joint parishes (Vierlande), Sadelbande (Lauenburg's core), Ratzeburg, Darzing (Amt Neuhaus) and Hadeln as parts of the condominium of the fellow dukes.
1305: Saxe-Lauenburg is divided into a Bergedorf-Mölln branch (elder line; seat: Bergedorf; Johann II) and a Ratzeburg-Lauenburg branch (younger line; seat Lauenburg; Erich I and Albrecht III).
1314: Struggle between Saxe-Lauenburg and Saxe-Wittenberg about the title of an elector escalates. The Dukes of Saxony had been Imperial Arch-Marshals (German: Erzmarschälle, Latin: Archimarescalli), but just by customary law. Thus a statemate occurred, when the German king was elected. Wittenberg supported Friedrich the Fair from Habsburg, Lauenburg supported Ludwig the Bavarian.
1356: Lauenburg's attempts to gain the electorate fail the first time. The Dukes of Saxe-Wittenberg gain the title.
1359-1683: The city of Mölln is mortgaged to Lübeck.
1401: Both branches of Saxe-Lauenburg are reunited by Duke Erich IV.
1401-1420: war against Lübeck, Hamburg and Brandenburg
1420: Treaty of Perleberg: Lauenburg has to cede the city of Bergedorf and the joint parishes (Vierlande) to the Hansa Cities, which erect a condominium in the area.
1422: After the death of Albrecht III the Askanians die out in Saxe-Wittenberg.
1423: Lauenburgs attempts to gain the title of an electorate fail a second time. King Sigismund enfeoffs the Friedrich I from the Wettin kin with the Duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg, which is since then the Electorate of Saxony.
1500: Lauenburg becomes member of the Lower Saxon Imperial Circle (Niedersächsischer Reichskreis).
1585: "Eternal Union" (German: Ewige Union) of the representatives of Saxe-Lauenburg's nobility and common subjects (Landschaft), mostly from the cities. They are altogether constituted as the estates of the duchy (Stände). Their general assembly since then is held in Büchen.
1616: After a fire in Lauenburg Duke Bernhard II transfers the capital to Neuhaus.
1619: Duke August transfers the capital from Neunhaus to Ratezburg.
1623: Due to his merits as an imperial commander in the 30-Years-War Duke August gains the Lordship of Schlackenwerth in Bohemia, which solves the permanent financial problems of the duchy.
1689: The last Askanian, Duke Julius Franz dies. Emperor Leopold I takes Hadeln into imperial custody.

The Hannoverian Era (1689 - 1814)

1693: Duke Georg-Wilhelm of Braunschweig-Lüneburg invades Saxe-Lauenburg and causes a war of succession against Denmark, i.e. precisely Holstein. Danish troops destroy the fortress of Ratzeburg. In the Compromise of Hamburg Georg Wilhelm keeps control over Saxe-Lauenburg but has to agree to raze the fortress of Ratzeburg, which was considered to be a threat against Holstein.
1731: Lauenburg loses Hadeln, which becomes part of the Electorate of Hannover (the successor of Braunschweig-Lüneburg)
1747: Lauenburg regains numerous villages having been mortgaged to Lübeck.
1803: Lauenburg is occupied by French troops.
1806: Lauenburg is again occupied by French troops, Lauenburg becomes part of the Kingdom of Westphalia, a French puppet state.
1810-1814: Lauenburg is incorporated into the French Empire. Amt Neuhaus and the Marschvogtei remain parts of Westphalia.
29 May 1815: Congress of Vienna: Hannover cedes Lauenburg to Prussia. The parts on the southern Elbe bank remain Hannoverian, a bit later also Amt Neuhaus.
4 June 1815: Prussia cedes Lauenburg to Denmark in a barter agreement and gains Swedish Hither-Pomerania instead. On the other hand Prussia cedes East Frisia to Hannover.

The Danish Era (1815-1864)

6 December 1815: Frederik VI of Denmark issues his Asseveration Act and guarantees the local privileges of his Lauenburgian subjects. He becomes Duke of Lauenburg in personal union with Denmark.
1848-1851: The estates of Lauenburg request Hannoverian troops as peace-keeping occupational forces on behalf of the German Confederation to avoid a conquest by Prussia.

The Prussian Era (1864-1876)

1864: Denmark is defeated in the 2nd Schleswig War by Prussia and Austria. King Christian IX of Denmark resigns as Duke of Lauenburg by the Treaty of Vienna. Lauenburg becomes an Austro-Prussian condominium.
1865: Austria sells its claims on Lauenburg by the Gastein Treaty to Prussia. Prussian king Wilhelm I is offered the title of a Duke of Lauenburg. He accepts in September. Wilhelm I appoints Prussian Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck as minister of Lauenburgian affairs.
1871: Due to his merits Otto von Bismarck gains the ownership of the Sachsenwald forest.
1876: The estates decide to dissolve the duchy and to transform it into the Duchy of Lauenburg County as part of the Prussian province of Schleswig-Holstein. Otto von Bismarcks manges to keep special privileges for the Lauenburgians till the end of the German Empire.

Territorial Changes of the Duchy of Lauenburg County since 1876

1937: The county gains 13 villages from Lübeck and Mecklenburg, among those the northern part of Ratzeburg Island incl. the dome, furthjermore the city of Geesthacht from Hamburg. The settlement of Curslack was ceded to Hamburg.
1945: Barber-Lyaschenko-Barter-Agreement (in Gadebusch) between British and Soviet occupation forces. The Lauenburgian municipalities east of Schaalsee, a local lake, become parts of Mecklenburg. The municipalities are Dechow, Groß Thurow, Klein Thurow and Lassahn. On the other hand Ziethen, Mechow, Bäk and Römnitz become parts of Lauenburg.
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 11 Mar 2013

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