views updated May 14 2018


HANOVER. Hanover was one of the most important territories in the Holy Roman Empire, situated in the Lower Saxon region (Kreis) of northern Germany. It was ruled from the twelfth century by the Guelphs (Welfen), a once-powerful family that declined through frequent dynastic partitions. There were generally two major lines, designated by their principal duchies in Lüneburg and Wolfenbüttel. The latter was initially more important and became more generally known as Brunswick (Braunschweig) by the eighteenth century. Both lines frequently subdivided, with the Lüneburg branch splitting into the duchies of Celle and Calenberg in 1641. Hanover developed from the latter, taking its name from its principal town where the ruling branch set up residence in 1636. The entire area was flat and primarily agrarian, particularly with the decline of the Lüneburg salt springs and the mining region bordering the Harz Mountains after the sixteenth century.

The introduction of the Reformation was violently opposed by Duke Henry of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (ruled 15141568) until he was defeated by the Protestant Schmalkaldic League between 1542 and 1547. Thereafter, the Guelphs were solidly Lutheran and hoped to extend their regional influence by secularizing the neighboring prince bishoprics of Hildesheim, Osnabrück, and Paderborn. These ambitions drove them to ally first with Denmark, 16251629, and then with Sweden after 1631 during the Thirty Years' War, but they lacked the strength for a truly independent policy and shared the local defeats of their allies. Forced to make peace with the emperor in 1641, the Hanoverians had to be satisfied with partial control of Osnabrück, where their rule alternated with that of a local Catholic bishop.

The groundwork for Hanover's subsequent rise was laid by Duke John Frederick (16251679), who seized control of the duchy from his relations in 1665 and initiated a ruthless policy of military expansion, hiring troops to Venice, France, Spain, England, the Dutch Republic, and the emperor. His brother, Ernst August (16291698), continued this strategy after 1679, culminating in an alliance with Holy Roman emperor Leopold I. In return for substantial financial and military support against the Ottomans, Leopold made Ernst August an elector (Kurfürst), greatly increasing his prestige and influence within the empire. The ensuing controversy dominated imperial politics into the 1720s when an agreement was reached with the Wolfenbüttel line allowing them to inherit the new title if the Hanoverians died out. The other princes formally recognized it in 1708. Leopold also confirmed Ernst August's introduction of primogeniture, paving the way for his successor, George Louis (16601727), to inherit Celle when that line died out in 1705, doubling his territory. Within ten years, the new elector, whose mother was the granddaughter of James I of England, was catapulted into the front rank of European royalty when he inherited the British crown as George I with the backing of the English Parliament in 1714. He continued to pursue a primarily Hanoverian policy, joining the war against Sweden to capture its German possessions of Bremen and Verden in 1715. With the acquisition of the tiny county of Bentheim in 1752, Hanover reached its maximum extent of 10,214 square miles (26,455 square kilometers), and its population climbed slowly to 800,000 by 1803.

While the king-electors still visited Hanover, they became progressively more British than German, leaving government to the local nobles, who had a strong sense of responsibility, self-esteem, and corporate identity. Their rule was slow, orderly and mild. Although the new university at Göttingen, founded in 1734 and opened in 1737, rapidly became a model of enlightened learning, government remained conservative. Hanover remained a strategic liability for Britain until it was seized by France in 1803. The connection to Britain was severed in 1837 when Hanover became an independent kingdom until its annexation by Prussia in 1866.

See also George I (England) ; Hanoverian Dynasty (England) ; Saxony .


Birke, Adolf M., and Kurt Kluxen, eds. England und Hannover =England and Hanover. Munich, 1986.

Chance, John Frederick. George I and the Northern War. A Study of British-Hanoverian Policy in the North of Europe in the Years 1709 to 1720. London, 1909.

Dann, Uriel. Hanover and Britain 17401760: Diplomacy and Survival. Leicester, U.K., and Irvington, N.Y., 1991.

Hatton, Ragnhild. George I: Elector and King. Cambridge, Mass., 1978.

Hodgskin, Thomas. Travels in the North of Germany: Describing the Present State of the Social and Political Institutions . . . 2 vols. Reprint. New York, 1969. Originally published Edinburgh, 1820.

Schnath, Georg. Geschichte Hannovers im Zeitalter der neunten Kur und der englischen Sukzession 16741714. 5 vols. Hildesheim, 19381982.

Peter H. Wilson


views updated May 08 2018


HANOVER (Ger. Hannover ), city in Germany. Sources dating from 1292 note the presence of Jews in Hanover's "old city" (Altstadt). The period was one of significant expansion for the city and, therefore, Jewish moneylenders were welcomed and promised protection by the city council. A municipal law of 1303 prohibited anyone from molesting the Jews "by word or deed." The Jewish community grew significantly, and by 1340 ritual slaughter was permitted in the city. During the *Black Death persecutions the Jews were driven from the city. In 1369–71 only one Jew lived in Hanover until he, too, was expelled by the council, with the permission of the duke. In 1375 the dukes yielded to the city the privilege of admitting Jews and retaining their taxes. Shortly thereafter historical records again attest to the presence of Jews in the city. By 1500 several Jews also lived in the "new city" (in 1540, there were three families in the old city, and five in the new). During this period the Jews maintained a synagogue and a rabbi. In 1451 the bishop of Muenden forced the Jews of Hanover to wear the distinguishing *badge, and in 1553 the Jews were compelled to listen to the court preacher Urbanus Rhegius in the synagogue. Between 1553 and 1601 the dukes issued six orders of expulsion against the Jews, but they were either canceled or not carried out. Apparently the Jews who were under the protection of the city were not affected by these orders. In 1588 the council forbade all business connections with Jews, and for a long time Jews did not live in the "old city."

In 1608 the residence of six Jewish families in the "new city" is mentioned, but when they opened a synagogue it was destroyed by the burghers (1613). In the 17th century the dukes permitted the settlement of several wealthy Jews in the "new city." At the request of the Court Jew Leffmann *Behrens, a resident of Hanover, a rabbinate was founded for the Duchy of Hanover. In 1704 a synagogue was established in Behrens' home. In 1710 only seven Jewish families lived in the city, but subsequently their numbers increased considerably, reaching 537 in 1833. Hanover became an important center of Jewish learning and increasingly the residence for important Jewish figures in the financial world. A larger synagogue was built in 1870 and expanded in 1900. From 1848 to 1880 Solomon *Frensdorff, the masoretic scholar, headed a teachers seminary. Hebrew printing took place in Hanover during the 18th and 19th centuries. Among the more significant works produced was Jacob b. Asher's commentary on the Pentateuch (1838). Prominent rabbis of Hanover include Nathan *Adler(1831–45) and Selig Gronemann (1844–1918). The Jewish population numbered 1,120 in 1861 (1.9% of the total population), 3,450 in 1880 (2.8%), 5,130 in 1910 (1.7%), 4,839 in 1933 (1.1%), and 2,271 in 1939 (0.5%). On the eve of World War ii Hanover had one of the 10 largest Jewish communities in Germany, with over 20 cultural and welfare institutions. The anti-Jewish boycott started even before the nationwide boycott of April 1, 1933, when the Karstadt Department story fired all its Jewish employees. There was anti-Jewish rioting in May 1933 and the attacks continued the next year. Jews understood their perilous plight; many left and others closed their business and professional practices. By 1938, 552 Jewish business and legal and medical practices in Hanover were no longer operating. As their public life as Germans narrowed, Jewish communal life became more intense. In October 1938, 484 Jews of Polish origin were expelled to Poland. On Kristallnacht the synagogue was burned, Jewish stores were looted and homes ransacked. The mortuary was also destroyed and the mikveh was wrecked. Three hundred and thirty-four men were arrested and sent to Buchenwald. In a rapid operation on September 3–4, 1941, 1,200 Jews were evicted from their homes and consigned to 15 "Jew houses." Deportations began in December 1941 and continued in March and July 1942, when the Jewish population was reduced to some 300. In February 1945 Jews married to non-Jews were deported. At least 2,200 Jews from Hanover died in the Holocaust. Some 100 survived within the city.

After the war 66 survivors of the prewar community returned. In 1963 a new synagogue was opened; in 1966 there were 450 Jews in Hanover (0.03% of the total population). In 1988 the European Center for Jewish Music was established at the University for Music and Theatre. It is devoted to the reconstruction and documentation of liturgical music. The Jewish community numbered 379 in 1989 and 3,898 in 2004. The membership increased due to the immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union. Since 1997 the community has employed a rabbi. In 1995 a liberal community was established which had more than 450 members in 2005. It is a member of the Union of Progressive Jews in Germany. Hanover is the seat of two associations of Jewish communities in Lower Saxony: the association which is affiliated with the Central Council of Jews in Germany with nine communities (founded in 1953) and the association of liberal Jewish communities (founded in 1997) with seven members (2005).

Former German State

The Duchy of Hanover was formed out of the former territories of *Brunswick and Lueneburg in the 17th century. Duke Ernst August (1679–98) obtained the title of elector through the services of Leffmann Behrens, whose descendants continued in the service of the crown till the middle of the 19th century. Other prominent families of Court Jews were David, Cohen, and Gans. The dukes established their rights of taxation and guardianship over the Jews, expressed in the Judenordnung of 1723, in force until 1842, which severely restricted the number of Jews there. In 1808 the Jews of Hanover received civil rights either through annexation of the territory to France or its incorporation in the newly created Kingdom of Westphalia. These rights were abolished in 1815, and the basic 1842 legislation concerning the Jews confirmed discrimination against them by expressly excluding Jews from state posts. The Jewish oath was rescinded only in 1850. The Jews finally achieved emancipation three years after Hanover passed to Prussia (1866).


H. Bodemeyer, Die Juden: ein Beitrag zur Hannoverschen Rechtsgeschichte (1855); Wiener, in: Jahrbuch fuer die Geschichte der Juden und des Judenthums, i (1860), 167–216; idem in: mgwj, 10 (1861), 121–36, 161–75, 241–58, 281–97; 13 (1864), 161–84; M. Zuckerman, Dokumente zur Geschichte der Juden in Hannover (1908); S. Gronemann, Genealogische Studien ueber die alten juedischen Familien Hannovers (1913); Blau, in: Zeitschrift fuer Demographie und Statistik der Juden, 8 (1912), 70–75; 10 (1914), 110–6; S. Stern, The Court Jew (1950), index; Leben und Schicksal: zur Einweihung der Synagoge in Hannover (1963); Germ Jud, 2 (1968), 337–40; A. Loeb, Die Rechtsverhaeltnisse der Juden im… Hannover (1908); Pinkas ha-Kehillot (1963); S. Freund, Ein Vierteljahrtausend Hannoversches Landrabbinat 16871937 (1937); H. Schnee, Die Hoffinanz und der moderne Staat, 2 (1954), 11–85; bjce. add. bibliography: A.Quast, Nach der Befreiung. Juedische Gemeinden in Niedersachsen seit 1945. Das Beispiel Hannover Goettingen (2001; Veroeffentlichungen des Arbeitskreises Geschichte des Landes Niedersachsen (nach 1945), volume 17); R. Roehrbein, Waldemar, Juedische Persoenlichkeiten in Hannovers Geschichte Hanover (1998); P. Schulze, Beitraege zur Geschichte der Juden in Hannover (1998; Hannoversche Studien, volume 6); P. Schulze (ed), Juden in Hannover. Beitraege zur Geschichte und Kultur einer Minderheit (1989; Kulturinformation, volume 19); C. Ochwadt, Die Kristallnacht in Hannover. Erinnerungen eines damals 15jaehrigen (1988); M. Buchholz, Die hannoverschen Judenhaeuser. Zur Situation der Juden in der Zeit der Ghettoisierung und Verfolgung 1941 bis 1945 (1987; Quellen und Darstellungen zur Geschichte Niedersachsens, volume 101); P. Schulze (ed.), "… dass die Juden in unseren Landen einen Rabbinen erwehlen …" Beitraege zum 300. Jahrestag der Errichtung des Landesrabbinats Hannover am 10. Maerz 1987 (1987); F. Homeyer, Gestern und heute. Juden im Landkreis Hannover (1984); S. Spector (ed), Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust (2001).

[Zvi Avneri /

Larissa Daemmig (2nd ed.)]


views updated May 14 2018

Hanover was in personal union with Britain from 1714, when George I succeeded Queen Anne under the terms of the Act of Settlement, until 1837 when the Salic Law prevented Victoria from retaining Hanover and it passed to her uncle, Ernest Augustus, duke of Cumberland.

The line of Brunswick-Lüneburg or Hanover had been chosen in 1701 because Sophia, electress of Hanover, was a granddaughter of James I, through her mother Elizabeth, queen of Bohemia, and the nearest protestant heir. In 1692 Hanover had been granted electoral status within the Holy Roman empire and in 1705 it was reunited with the larger state of Celle, making it the leading second-line German power.

In 1714 it had a population of just over 500,000 and, with some 7,000 square miles, was rather bigger than Yorkshire. The chief town, Hanover, had about 10,000 inhabitants. In 1719, the acquisition of Bremen and Verden at the expense of Sweden gave the electorate access to the North Sea. George I had more authority as elector of Hanover than as king of England, but he did not rule Hanover autocratically. Most of the component territories had retained their assemblies, usually acting through committees, though executive power was firmly in the hands of the Privy Council, instructed by the Regierungsreglement promulgated by George before he left the country.

The connection with Hanover was regarded by most Britons with distaste or at best as a necessary evil. The Act of Settlement had indicated a marked distrust. The new monarch could not appoint Germans to any post in Britain, could not declare war to help Hanover without parliamentary consent, and could not even visit his native land without parliamentary approval. Though the last condition was soon dropped, as personally offensive to the sovereign, suspicion remained. Britons were afraid that the connection would mean continental entanglements and resented the evident pleasure their kings took in visiting their electorate. In December 1742, William Pitt gained great popularity by declaring that ‘this great, this powerful, this formidable kingdom is considered only as a province of a despicable electorate’.

But the main problem was strategic. Hanover was almost defenceless against French or Prussian attack and, if overrun, would have to be rescued at the end of the war by concessions elsewhere. In the War of the Austrian Succession, with France and Prussia in alliance, the situation was particularly tense. Britain put into the field the Pragmatic Army, under William, duke of Cumberland, the hero of Culloden. To avoid reproach, Hanoverian troops for the alliance were placed under Austrian command but paid for by British subsidies. With Prussia concerned mainly with Austria, and France bogged down in Holland, Hanover survived.

During the Seven Years War, Hanover's defence was easier, since Prussia had become a British ally. Indeed, the search for protection for Hanover had been an important factor in bringing about the reversal of alliances which preceded and precipitated the conflict. Cumberland, attacked in 1757 by superior French forces, was forced into the humiliating capitulation of Kloster-Zeven and Hanover occupied by the French. But the armistice was repudiated and the Army of Observation, under Ferdinand of Brunswick, succeeded in holding the French at bay, and even won a victory at Minden in 1759.

After 1760, British hostility to Hanover declined. The declaration by the new king, George III, that ‘born and educated in this country, I glory in the name of Britain’ played the nationalist card to some effect, and the swarms of Scots who clustered around Bute gave the English new people to hate. George III never visited Hanover, though at moments of crisis he mused on retiring there.

It was not possible for Hanover to escape the maelstrom of the Napoleonic wars. It gained Osnabrück in 1803 in one of the many reorganizations of Germany, but was occupied first by Prussia, then in 1806 by the French. Napoleon took the northern parts into his swollen French empire, giving the rest to a new kingdom of Westphalia, ruled by his younger brother Jerome. At the peace settlement in 1814, Hanover was given the status of a kingdom and gained important territories, including East Friesland, Hildesheim, and Lingen. The reign of Ernest Augustus from 1837 was turbulent. But his son, the blind George V, took the side of Austria in the war of 1866 and paid the penalty. Hanover was annexed to the new German empire.

The connection with Britain for well over a century left few traces. There was little attempt to develop trade between the two countries and little contact between the inhabitants, save for diplomats and soldiers. Though the University of Göttingen, founded by George II in 1737, soon acquired a fine reputation, few Britons went there. Though the British complained more fiercely, it is arguable that the Hanoverians suffered more. They were dragged into British struggles and had to put up with an absentee ruler and a diminished court at Herrenhausen. As a consequence, they welcomed Cumberland with joy in 1837, and his equestrian statue with an inscription ‘Dem Landes Vater sein treues Volk’ still stands outside the main railway station at Hanover.

J. A. Cannon


views updated May 09 2018

Hanover a former state and province in northern Germany. It was an electorate of the Holy Roman Empire 1692–1806, ruled by the Guelph dynasty, and from 1866 until 1945 was a province of Prussia. In 1714 the Elector of Hanover succeeded to the British throne as George I, and from then until the accession of Victoria (1837) the same monarch ruled both Britain and Hanover.

With the accession of Victoria (1837) to the British throne, however, Hanover passed to her uncle, Ernest, Duke of Cumberland (1771–1851). The British royal house from 1714 to the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 was known as the House of Hanover, and its members as the Hanoverians.

The heraldic badge of Hanover, a white horse, was formerly represented in the Royal Arms of the United Kingdom.


views updated May 21 2018

Hanover (Hannover) Former kingdom and province of Germany. In 1692, Ernest Augustus, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneberg, was created Elector of Hanover; his lands were known thereafter as Hanover. His son succeeded to the British throne as George I in 1714. Divided during the Napoleonic era, Hanover was reconstituted as a kingdom in 1815. Allied with Austria in the Austro-Prussian War (1866), it was annexed by Prussia after Austria's defeat. After World War II it became part of the state of Lower Saxony.


views updated May 23 2018

Hanover (Hannover) City on the River Leine, n Germany; capital of Lower Saxony. Chartered in 1241, it joined the Hanseatic League in 1386. In 1636 it became the residence of the Dukes of Brunswick-Lüneberg (predecessors of the House of Hanover); George I was Elector of Hanover. Allied bombing badly damaged Hanover during World War II, but the city reconstructed many old buildings. Industries: machinery, steel, textiles, rubber, chemicals. Pop. (1999) 512,200.