1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hanover (province)

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

HANOVER (Ger. Hannover), formerly an independent kingdom of Germany, but since 1866 a province of Prussia. It is bounded on the N. by the North Sea, Holstein, Hamburg and Mecklenburg-Schwerin, E. and S.E. by Prussian Saxony and the duchy of Brunswick, S.W. by the Prussian provinces of Hesse-Nassau and Westphalia, and W. by Holland. These boundaries include the grand-duchy of Oldenburg and the free state of Bremen, the former stretching southward from the North Sea nearly to the southern boundary of Hanover. A small portion of the province in the south is separated from Hanover proper by the interposition of part of Brunswick. On the 23rd of March 1873 the province was increased by the addition of the Jade territory (purchased by Prussia from Oldenburg), lying south-west of the Elbe and containing the great naval station and arsenal of Wilhelmshaven. The area of the province is 14,870 sq. m.

Physical Features.—The greater part of Hanover is a plain with sandhills, heath and moor. The most fertile districts lie on the banks of the Elbe and near the North Sea, where, as in Holland, rich meadows are preserved from encroachment of the sea by broad dikes and deep ditches, kept in repair at great expense. The main feature of the northern plain is the so-called Lüneburger Heide, a vast expanse of moor and fen, mainly covered with low brushwood (though here and there are oases of fine beech and oak woods) and intersected by shallow valleys, and extending almost due north from the city of Hanover to the southern arm of the Elbe at Harburg. The southern portion of the province is hilly, and in the district of Klausenburg, containing the Harz, mountainous. The higher elevations are covered by dense forests of fir and larch, and the lower slopes with deciduous trees. The eastern portion of the northern plain is covered with forests of fir. The whole of Hanover dips from the Harz Mountains to the north, and the rivers consequently flow in that direction. The three chief rivers of the province are the Elbe in the north-east, where it mainly forms the boundary and receives the navigable tributaries Jeetze, Ilmenau, Seve, Este, Lühe, Schwinge and Medem; the Weser in the centre, with its important tributary the Aller (navigable from Celle downwards); and in the west the Ems, with its tributaries the Aa and the Leda. Still farther West is the Vecht, which, rising in Westphalia, flows to the Zuider Zee. Canals are numerous and connect the various river systems.

The principal lakes are the Steinhuder Meer, about 4 m. long and 2 m. broad, and 20 fathoms deep, on the borders of Schaumburg-Lippe; the Dümmersee, on the borders of Oldenburg, about 12 m. in circuit; the lakes of Bederkesa and some others in the moorlands of the north; the Seeburger See, near Duderstadt; and the Oderteich, in the Harz, 2100 ft. above the level of the sea.

Climate.—The climate in the low-lying districts near the coast is moist and foggy, in the plains mild, on the Harz mountains severe and variable. In spring the prevailing winds blow from the N.E. and E., in summer from the S.W. The mean annual temperature is about 46° Fahr.; in the town of Hanover it is higher. The average annual rainfall is about 23.5 in.; but this varies greatly in different districts. In the west the Herauch, a thick fog arising from the burning of the moors, is a plague of frequent occurrence.

Population; Divisions.—The province contains an area of 14,869 sq. m., and the total population, according to the census of 1905, was 2,759,699 (1,384,161 males and 1,375,538 females). In this connexion it is noticeable that in Hanover, almost alone among German states and provinces, there is a considerable proportion of male births over female. The density of the population is 175 to the sq. m. (English), and the proportion of urban to rural population, roughly, as 1 to 3 of the inhabitants. The province is divided into the six Regierungsbezirke (or departments) of Hanover, Hildesheim, Lüneburg, Stade, Osnabrück and Aurich, and these again into Kreise (circles, or local government districts)—76 in all. The chief towns—containing more than 10,000 inhabitants—are Hanover, Linden, Osnabrück, Hildesheim, Geestemünde, Wilhelmshaven, Harburg, Lüneburg, Celle, Göttingen and Emden. Religious statistics show that 84% of the inhabitants belong to the Evangelical-Lutheran Church, 17 to the Roman Catholic and less than 1% to the Jewish communities. The Roman Catholics are mostly gathered around the episcopal sees of Hildesheim and Osnabrück and close to Münster (in Westphalia) on the western border, and the Jews in the towns. A court of appeal for the whole province sits at Celle, and there are eight superior courts. Hanover returns 19 members to the Reichstag (imperial diet) and 36 to the Abgeordnetenhaus (lower house) of the Prussian parliament (Landtag).

Education.—Among the educational institutions of the province the university of Göttingen stands first, with an average yearly attendance of 1500 students. There are, besides, a technical college in Hanover, an academy of forestry in Münden, a mining college in Clausthal, a military school and a veterinary college (both in Hanover), 26 gymnasia (classical schools), 18 semi-classical, and 14 commercial schools. There are also two naval academies, asylums for the deaf and dumb, and numerous charitable institutions.

Agriculture.—Though agriculture constitutes the most important branch of industry in the province, it is still in a very backward state. The greater part of the soil is of inferior quality, and much that is susceptible of cultivation is still lying waste. Of the entire area of the country 28.6% is arable, 16.2 in meadow or pasture land, 14% in forests, 37.2% in uncultivated moors, heaths, &c.; from 17 to 18% is in possession of the state. The best agriculture is to be found in the districts of Hildesheim, Calenberg, Göttingen and Grubenhagen, on the banks of the Weser and Elbe, and in East Friesland. Rye is generally grown for bread. Flax, for which much of the soil is admirably adapted, is extensively cultivated, and forms an important article of export, chiefly, however, in the form of yarn. Potatoes, hemp, turnips, hops, tobacco and beet are also extensively grown, the latter, in connexion with the sugar industry, showing each year a larger return. Apples, pears, plums and cherries are the principal kinds of fruit cultivated, while the wild red cranberries from the Harz and the black bilberries from the Lüneburger Heide form an important article of export.

Live Stock.—Hanover is renowned for its cattle and live stock generally. Of these there were counted in 1900 1,115,022 head of horned cattle, 824,000 sheep, 1,556,000 pigs, and 230,000 goats. The Lüneburger Heide yields an excellent breed of sheep, the Heidschnucken, which equal the Southdowns of England in delicacy of flavour. Horses famous for their size and quality are reared in the marshes of Aurich and Stade, in Hildesheim and Hanover; and, for breeding purposes, in the stud farm of Celle. Bees are principally kept on the Lüneburger Heide, and the annual yield of honey is very considerable. Large flocks of geese are kept in the moist lowlands; their flesh is salted for domestic consumption during the winter, and their feathers are prepared for sale. The rivers yield trout, salmon (in the Weser) and crayfish. The sea fisheries are important and have their chief centre at Geestemünde.

Mining.—Minerals occur in great variety and abundance. The Harz Mountains are rich in silver, lead, iron and copper; coal is found around Osnabrück, on the Deister, at Osterwald, &c., lignite in various places; salt-springs of great richness exist at Egestorfshall and Neuhall near Hanover, and at Lüneburg; and petroleum may be obtained south of Celle. In the cold regions of the northern lowlands peat occurs in beds of immense thickness.

Manufactures.—Works for the manufacture of iron, copper, silver, lead, vitriol and sulphur are carried on to a large extent. The iron works are very important: smelting is carried on in the Harz and near Osnabrück; there are extensive foundries and machine factories at Hanover, Linden, Osnabrück, Hameln, Geestemünde, Harburg, Osterode, &c., and manufactories of arms at Herzberg, and of cutlery in the towns of the Harz and in the Sollinger Forest. The textile industries are prosecuted chiefly in the towns. Linen yarn and cloth are largely manufactured, especially in the south about Osnabrück and Hildesheim, and bleaching is engaged in extensively; woollen cloths are made to a considerable extent in the south about Einbeck, Göttingen and Hameln; cotton-spinning and weaving have their principal seats at Hanover and Linden. Glass houses, paper-mills, potteries, tile works and tobacco-pipe works are numerous. Wax is bleached to a considerable extent, and there are numerous tobacco factories, tanneries, breweries, vinegar works and brandy distilleries. Shipbuilding is an important industry, especially at Wilhelmshaven, Papenburg, Leer, Stade and Harburg; and at Münden river-barges are built.

Commerce.—Although the carrying trade of Hanover is to a great extent absorbed by Hamburg and Bremen, the shipping of the province counted, in 1903, 750 sailing vessels and 86 steamers of, together, 55,498 registered tons. The natural port is Bremen-Geestemünde and to it is directed the river traffic down the Weser, which practically forms the chief commercial artery of the province.

Communications.—The roads throughout are, on the whole, well laid, and those connecting the principal towns macadamized. Hanover is intersected by important trunk lines of railway; notably the lines from Berlin to Cologne, from Hamburg to Frankfort-on-Main, from Hamburg to Bremen and Cologne, and from Berlin to Amsterdam.

History.—The name Hanover (Hohenufer = high bank), originally confined to the town which became the capital of the duchy of Lüneburg-Calenberg, came gradually into use to designate, first, the duchy itself, and secondly, the electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg; and it was officially recognized as the name of the state when in 1814 the electorate was raised to the rank of a kingdom.

The early history of Hanover is merged in that of the duchy of Brunswick (q.v.), from which the duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg and its offshoots, the duchies of Lüneburg-Celle and Lüneburg-Calenberg have sprung. Ernest I. (1497–1546), duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, who introduced the reformed doctrines into Lüneburg, obtained the whole of this duchy in 1539; and in 1569 his two surviving sons made an arrangement which was afterwards responsible for the birth of the kingdom of Hanover. By this agreement the greater part of the duchy, with its capital at Celle, came to William (1535–1592), the younger of the brothers, who gave laws to his land and added to its area; and this duchy of Lüneburg-Celle was subsequently ruled in turn by four of his sons: Ernest II. (1564–1611), Christian (1566–1633), Augustus (d. 1636) and Frederick (d. 1648). In addition to these four princes Duke William left three other sons, and in 1610 the seven brothers entered into a compact that the duchy should not be divided, and that only one of them should marry and continue the family. Casting lots to determine this question, the lot fell upon the sixth brother, George (1582–1641), who was a prominent soldier during the period of the Thirty Years’ War and saw service in almost all parts of Europe, fighting successively for Christian IV. of Denmark, the emperor Ferdinand II., and for the Swedes both before and after the death of Gustavus Adolphus. In 1617 he aided his brother, Duke Christian, to add Grubenhagen to Lüneburg, and after the extinction of the family of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel in 1634, he obtained Calenberg for himself, making Hanover the capital of his small dukedom. In 1648, on Duke Frederick’s death, George’s eldest son, Christian Louis (d. 1665), became duke of Lüneburg-Celle; and at this time he handed over Calenberg, which he had ruled since his father’s death, to his second brother, George William (d. 1705). When Christian Louis died George William succeeded him in Lüneburg-Celle; but the duchy was also claimed by a younger brother, John Frederick, a cultured and enlightened prince who had forsaken the Lutheran faith of his family and had become a Roman Catholic. Soon, however, by an arrangement John Frederick received Calenberg and Grubenhagen, which he ruled in absolute fashion, creating a standing army and modelling his court after that of Louis XIV., and which came on his death in 1679 to his youngest brother, Ernest Augustus (1630–1698), the Protestant bishop of Osnabrück. During the French wars of aggression the Lüneburg princes were eagerly courted by Louis XIV. and by his opponents; and after some hesitation George William, influenced by Ernest Augustus, fought among the Imperialists, while John Frederick was ranged on the side of France. In 1689 George William was one of the claimants for the duchy of Saxe-Lauenburg, which was left without a ruler in that year; and after a struggle with John George III., elector of Saxony, and other rivals, he was invested with the duchy by the emperor Leopold I. It was, however, his more ambitious brother, Ernest Augustus, who did most for the prestige and advancement of the house. Having introduced the principle of primogeniture into Calenberg in 1682, Ernest determined to secure for himself the position of an elector, and the condition of Europe and the exigencies of the emperor favoured his pretensions. He made skilful use of Leopold’s difficulties; and in 1692, in return for lavish promises of assistance to the Empire and the Habsburgs, the emperor granted him the rank and title of elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg with the office of standard-bearer in the Holy Roman Empire. Indignant protests followed this proceeding. A league was formed to prevent any addition to the electoral college; France and Sweden were called upon for assistance; and the constitution of the Empire was reduced to a state of chaos. This agitation, however, soon died away; and in 1708 George Louis, the son and successor of Ernest Augustus, was recognized as an elector by the imperial diet. George Louis married his cousin Sophia Dorothea, the only child of George William of Lüneburg-Celle; and on his uncle’s death in 1705 he united this duchy, together with Saxe-Lauenburg, with his paternal inheritance of Calenberg or Hanover. His father, Ernest Augustus, had taken a step of great importance in the history of Hanover when he married Sophia, daughter of the elector palatine, Frederick V., and grand-daughter of James I. of England, for, through his mother, the elector George Louis became, by the terms of the Act of Settlement of 1701, king of Great Britain and Ireland in 1714.

From this time until the death of William IV. in 1837, Lüneburg or Hanover, was ruled by the same sovereign as Great Britain, and this personal union was not without important results for both countries. Under George I. Hanover joined the alliance against Charles XII. of Sweden in 1715; and by the peace of Stockholm in November 1719 the elector received the duchies of Bremen and Verden, which formed an important addition to the electorate. His son and successor, George II., who founded the university of Göttingen in 1737, was on bad terms with his brother-in-law Frederick William I. of Prussia, and his nephew Frederick the Great; and in 1729 war between Prussia and Hanover was only just avoided. In 1743 George took up arms on behalf of the empress Maria Theresa; but in August 1745 the danger in England from the Jacobites led him to sign the convention of Hanover with Frederick the Great, although the struggle with France raged around his electorate until the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748. Induced by political exigencies George allied himself with Frederick the Great when the Seven Years’ War broke out in 1756; but in September 1757 his son William Augustus, duke of Cumberland, was compelled after his defeat at Hastenbeck to sign the convention of Klosterzeven and to abandon Hanover to the French. English money, however, came to the rescue; in 1758 Ferdinand, duke of Brunswick, cleared the electorate of the invader; and Hanover suffered no loss of territory at the peace of 1763. Both George I. and George II. preferred Hanover to England as a place of residence, and it was a frequent and perhaps justifiable cause of complaint that the interests of Great Britain were sacrificed to those of the smaller country. But George III. was more British than either his grandfather or his great-grandfather, and owing to a variety of causes the foreign policies of the two countries began to diverge in the later years of his reign. Two main considerations dominated the fortunes of Hanover during the period of the Napoleonic wars, the jealousy felt by Prussia at the increasing strength and prestige of the electorate, and its position as a vulnerable outpost of Great Britain. From 1793 the Hanoverian troops fought for the Allies against France, until the treaty of Basel between France and Prussia in 1795 imposed a forced neutrality upon Hanover. At the instigation of Bonaparte Hanover was occupied by the Prussians for a few months in 1801, but at the settlement which followed the peace of Lunéville the secularized bishopric of Osnabrück was added to the electorate. Again tempting the fortune of war after the rupture of the peace of Amiens, the Hanoverians found that the odds against them were too great; and in June 1803 by the convention of Sulingen their territory was occupied by the French. The formation of the third coalition against France in 1805 induced Napoleon to purchase the support of Prussia by allowing her troops to seize Hanover; but in 1807, after the defeat of Prussia at Jena, he incorporated the southern part of the electorate in the kingdom of Westphalia, adding the northern portion to France in 1810. The French occupation was costly and aggressive; and the Hanoverians, many of whom were found in the allied armies, welcomed the fall of Napoleon and the return of the old order. Represented at the congress of Vienna by Ernest, Count Münster, the elector was granted the title of king; but the British ministers wished to keep the interests of Great Britain distinct from those of Hanover. The result of the congress, however, was not unfavourable to the new kingdom, which received East Friesland, the secularized bishopric of Hildesheim, the city of Goslar, and some smaller additions of territory, in return for the surrender of the greater part of the duchy of Saxe-Lauenburg to Prussia.

Like those of the other districts of Germany, the estates of the different provinces which formed the kingdom of Hanover had met for many years in an irregular fashion to exercise their varying and ill-defined authority; and, although the elector Ernest Augustus introduced a system of administrative councils into Celle, these estates, consisting of the three orders of prelates, nobles and towns, together with a body somewhat resembling the English privy council, were the only constitution which the country possessed, and the only check upon the power of its ruler. When the elector George Louis became king of Great Britain in 1714 he appointed a representative, or Statthalter, to govern the electorate, and thus the union of the two countries was attended with constitutional changes in Hanover as well as in Great Britain. Responsible of course to the elector, the Statthalter, aided by the privy council, conducted the internal affairs of the electorate, generally in a peaceful and satisfactory fashion, until the welter of the Napoleonic wars. On the conclusion of peace in 1814 the estates of the several provinces of the kingdom were fused into one body, consisting of eighty-five members, but the chief power was exercised as before by the members of a few noble families. In 1819, however, this feudal relic was supplanted by a new constitution. Two chambers were established, the one formed of nobles and the other of elected representatives; but although they were authorized to control the finances, their power with regard to legislation was very circumscribed. This constitution was sanctioned by the prince regent, afterwards King George IV.; but it was out of harmony with the new and liberal ideas which prevailed in Europe, and it hardly survived George’s decease in 1830. The revolution of that year compelled George’s brother and successor, William, to dismiss Count Münster, who had been the actual ruler of the country, and to name his own brother, Adolphus Frederick, duke of Cambridge, a viceroy of Hanover; one of the viceroy’s earliest duties being to appoint a commission to draw up a new constitution. This was done, and after William had insisted upon certain alterations, it was accepted and promulgated in 1833. Representation was granted to the peasants; the two chambers were empowered to initiate legislation; ministers were made responsible for all acts of government; a civil list was given to the king in return for the surrender of the crown lands; and, in short, the new constitution was similar to that of Great Britain. These liberal arrangements, however, did not entirely allay the discontent. A strong and energetic party endeavoured to thwart the working of the new order, and matters came to a climax on the death of William IV. in 1837.

By the law of Hanover a woman could not ascend the throne, and accordingly Ernest Augustus, duke of Cumberland, the fifth son of George III., and not Victoria, succeeded William as sovereign in 1837, thus separating the crowns of Great Britain and Hanover after a union of 123 years. Ernest, a prince with very autocratic ideas, had disapproved of the constitution of 1833, and his first important act as king was to declare it invalid. He appears to have been especially chagrined because the crown lands were not his personal property, but the whole of the new arrangements were repugnant to him. Seven Göttingen professors who protested against this proceeding were deprived of their chairs; and some of them, including F. C. Dahlmann and Jakob Grimm, were banished from the country for publishing their protest. To save the constitution an appeal was made to the German Confederation, which Hanover had joined in 1815; but the federal diet declined to interfere, and in 1840 Ernest altered the constitution to suit his own illiberal views. Recovering the crown lands, he abolished the principle of ministerial responsibility, the legislative power of the two chambers, and other reforms, virtually restoring affairs to their condition before 1833. The inevitable crisis was delayed until the stormy year 1848, when the king probably saved his crown by hastily giving back the constitution of 1833. Order, however, having been restored, in 1850 he dismissed the Liberal ministry and attempted to evade his concessions; a bitter struggle had just broken out when Ernest Augustus died in November 1851. During this reign the foreign policy of Hanover both within and without Germany had been coloured by jealousy of Prussia and by the king’s autocratic ideas. Refusing to join the Prussian Zollverein, Hanover had become a member of the rival commercial union, the Steuerverein, three years before Ernest’s accession; but as this union was not a great success the Zollverein was joined in 1851. In 1849, after the failure of the German parliament at Frankfort, the king had joined with the sovereigns of Prussia and Saxony to form the “three kings’ alliance”; but this union with Prussia was unreal, and with the king of Saxony he soon transferred his support to Austria and became a member of the “four kings’ alliance.”

George V., the new king of Hanover, who was unfortunately blind, sharing his father’s political ideas, at once appointed a ministry whose aim was to sweep away the constitution of 1848. This project, however, was resisted by the second chamber of the Landtag, or parliament; and after several changes of government a new ministry advised the king in 1855 to appeal to the diet of the German Confederation. This was done, and the diet declared the constitution of 1848 to be invalid. Acting on this verdict, not only was a ministry formed to restore the constitution of 1840, but after some trouble a body of members fully in sympathy with this object was returned to parliament in 1857. But these members were so far from representing the opinions of the people that popular resentment compelled George to dismiss his advisers in 1862. But the more liberal government which succeeded did not enjoy his complete confidence, and in 1865 a ministry was once more formed which was more in accord with his own ideas. This contest soon lost both interest and importance owing to the condition of affairs in Germany. Bismarck, the director of the policy of Prussia, was devising methods for the realization of his schemes, and it became clear after the war over the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein that the smaller German states would soon be obliged to decide definitely between Austria and Prussia. After a period of vacillation Hanover threw in her lot with Austria, the decisive step being taken when the question of the mobilization of the federal army was voted upon in the diet on the 14th of June 1866. At once Prussia requested Hanover to remain unarmed and neutral during the war, and with equal promptness King George refused to assent to these demands. Prussian troops then crossed his frontier and took possession of his capital. The Hanoverians, however, were victorious at the battle of Langensalza on the 27th of June 1866, but the advance of fresh bodies of the enemy compelled them to capitulate two days later. By the terms of this surrender the king was not to reside in Hanover, his officers were to take no further part in the war, and his ammunition and stores became the property of Prussia. The decree of the 20th of September 1866 formally annexed Hanover to Prussia, when it became a province of that kingdom, while King George from his retreat at Hietzing appealed in vain to the powers of Europe. Many of the Hanoverians remained loyal to their sovereign; some of them serving in the Guelph Legion, which was maintained largely at his expense in France, where a paper, La Situation, was founded by Oskar Meding (1829–1903) and conducted in his interests. These and other elaborate efforts, however, failed to bring about the return of the king to Hanover, though the Guelph party continued to agitate and to hope even after the Franco-German War had immensely increased the power and the prestige of Prussia. George died in June 1878. His son, Ernest Augustus, duke of Cumberland, continued to maintain his claim to the crown of Hanover, and refused to be reconciled with Prussia. Owing to this attitude the German imperial government refused to allow him to take possession of the duchy of Brunswick, which he inherited on the extinction of the elder branch of his family in 1884, and again in 1906 when the same subject came up for settlement on the death of the regent, Prince Albert of Prussia.

In 1867 King George had agreed to accept Prussian bonds to the value of about £1,600,000 as compensation for the confiscation of his estates in Hanover. In 1868, however, on account of his continued hostility to Prussia, the Prussian government sequestrated this property; and, known as the Welfenfonds, or Reptilienfonds, it was employed as a secret service fund to combat the intrigues of the Guelphs in various parts of Europe; until in 1892 it was arranged that the interest should be paid to the duke of Cumberland. In 1885 measures were taken to incorporate the province of Hanover more thoroughly in the kingdom of Prussia, and there is little doubt but that the great majority of the Hanoverians have submitted to the inevitable, and are loyal subjects of the king of Prussia.

Authorities.—A. Hüne, Geschichte des Königreichs Hannover und des Herzogtums Braunschweig (Hanover, 1824–1830); A. F. H. Schaumann, Handbuch der Geschichte der Lande Hannover und Braunschweig (Hanover, 1864); G. A. Grotefend, Geschichte der allgemeinen landständischen Verfassung des Königreichs Hannover, 1814–1848 (Hanover, 1857); H. A. Oppermann, Zur Geschichte des Königreichs Hannover, 1832–1860 (Berlin, 1868); E. von Meier, Hannoversche Verfassungs- und Verwaltungsgeschichte (Leipzig, 1898–1899); W. von Hassell, Das Kurfürstentum Hannover vom Baseler Frieden bis zur preussischen Okkupation (Hanover, 1894); and Geschichte des Königreichs Hannover (Leipzig, 1898–1901); H. von Treitschke, Der Herzog von Cumberland und das hannoversche Staatsgrundgesetz von 1833 (Leipzig, 1888); M. Bär, Übersicht über die Bestände des königlichen Staatsarchivs zu Hannover (Leipzig, 1900); Hannoversches Portfolio (Stuttgart, 1839–1841); and the authorities given for the history of Brunswick.