Hannover [or Hanover], a kingdom in the north of Germany, was comprehended in the Germanic Confederation, though politically united for a century with Britain, and dignified since 1815 with the title of kingdom. It had the Elbe along its NE side, the German ocean on the NW, Dutch Friesland, with Prussian Westfalen or Westphalia, on the SW, and Prussia and Braunschweig on the E and S. The area was about 14,600 square miles, or the half of Scotland. It lay between 6.51 and 11.51 of E Lg., and 51.18 and 53.54 of N Lt.
It was divided into 11 provinces:Calenburg, Gottingen, Lüneburg, Hoya, and Diepholtz, acquired in 1543 and 1585; Hildesheim, acquired partly in 1519, partly in 1815; Osnaburg, acquired in 1648; Verden, acquired in 1715; the duchy of Bremen, which is distinct from the town, acquired in 1719; Bentheim, acquired in 1753; East Friesland, Lingen, with part of the lordship of Rheina, and the lordship of Meppen, acquired in 1815: these provinces are subdivided into 107 bailiwics.
The chief towns were Hannover (the capital), Embden, Hildesheim, Lüneburg, Osnabrück, Göttingen, Zell, Clausthal, Goslar, Eimbeck, Hamelm, &c. With the exception of the Harz, and other elevated tracts in the south, the territory of Hannover consisted of an immense plain, with gentle undulations. In the s the valleys are fertile; in the N were many barren heaths and moors; the most productive tracts were those along the banks of the rivers, which have been reclaimed from a marshy state. The mountain tract of the Harz is covered with vast forests, which were particularly valuable in this quarter, as they afford fuel for the supply of the mines, which the country abounded. Those of silver were discovered so early as the year 968, and were supposed to have been the first opened in Europe. Iron, copper, and lead, were wrought here to a great extent; also zinc and sulphur, with green, blue, and white vitriol. The iron mines were the most productive; and their annual yelded a revenue of about £115,000 sterling.
The rivers are the Elbe, joined by the Jeetze, the Ilmenau, the Oste, the Weser, which receives the Leine, the Ocker, the Innerste, the Ruhme, and the Embs, joined by the Stunte and Haze. The chief lakes are Steinhude and Dummer. The Harz, being a mountain tract, is deficient in corn. The Duchy of Lineburg contained immense heaths, which were turned to account in sheep walks, and in some as affording nourishment to bees. The corn cultivated was wheat, barley, and oats, but with a considerable portion of rye and buck wheat; peas and beans were very generally raised; but agriculture was in many parts of the kingdom in a very backward state in the early 19th century.
The manufactures were coarse woollens, paper, leather, and glass, carried on in a number of places, but on a small scale in each. The only town which had a maritime trade of consequence was Embden. Four fairs were held annually at Hannover, and two at Osnabrück. The goods imported from abroad were English manufactures and colonial produce; linen from Friesland and Prussia; broad cloth, silk, and jewellery, from France. The chief exports were coarse linen, iron and copper from the Harz, planks, and horses and black cattle from various parts. By the 1830s the revenue amounted to a million sterling, and principally arises from a land-tax, the post-office, an impost on carriages, horses, and other articles of luxury; on certain imports from abroad; also on mines and forests.
The Lutheran was the prevailing religion, but complete toleration was granted to all sects. The Calvinists amount only to 40,000; and the Catholics, of whom the greater number were in the principality of Osnabrück, did not exceed 150,000. A portion of the ecclesiastical property formerly belonging to Catholic establishments, was set apart for the maintenance of the Lutheran clergy; but the greater part is appropriated to the University of Göttingen, the lyceum of Hefeld, and other public institutions. Elementary schools are established in every village; others, somewhat more comprehensive, were provided in the small towns; and in the more populous places were academies, or high-schools, for the education of those farther advanced.
This kingdom has been governed since the early 18th century by the king of Great-Britain. At the diet of Germany the king occupied the fifth rank, taking precedence of all except Austria, Prussia, Bavaria, and Saxony. The crown was hereditary in the order of primogeniture, and the succession was limited to the male line. The king's power is not unlimited; it had a counterpoise in the states, which consist of the Wolfenbuttel nobility, the heads of the church, and the deputies of the towns. No tax can be levied, or new law made, without the consent of the states. The fault of the constitution is, that it gave undue power to the nobility, and comparatively little power to the middling classes.
It was in 1692 that the elector of Hannover was raised to the electoral dignity. Until 1708, Hanover had been a minor principality within the Holy Roman Empire. In 1708, its lands were combined with most of the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg and became an electorate (essentially, a voting member state) of the Holy Roman Empire. It's rulers belonged to the dynastic lineage of the House of Hanover. In the 1701 Act of Settlement, the wife to Duke Ernest Augustus of the House of Hanover, Duchess Sophia of the Palitinate (who was also to King James I of Great Britain) was declared heir to the throne of Great Britain. Having married Sophia, a daughter of the Elector Palatine, and grand-daughter of James I of England, his son proved the nearest Protestant heir to the crown of Great-Britain after Queen Anne, to whom he succeeded in 1714.
In 1801 it was taken possession of by the king of Prussia. In the war of 1803, the first act of Buonaparte was to overrun it. In 1806 it was ceded by the French for a time to the Prussians. Part of it was annexed to the kingdom of Westphalia, and the rest remained in the possession of the French. At the end of 1810 Bonaparte declared a farther part of it annexed to France. At last, on the expulsion of the French from Germany, in October 1813, the whole electorate was restored to the sovereign of GreatBritain; and the course of events having annulled the electoral office, he assumed, in 1815, the title of king of Hannover; P. 1,300,000, of whom about 200,000 were added by treaty in 1815.
Hanover's Kings were Kings of Great Britain for a period of 123 years (Georges I to IV and William IV). The Crown Prince of Hannover in 1851 succeeded to the throne as King George V. The turning point in his life was the fatal war of 1866, when King George, loyal to the German Confederation, lost, not only his kingdom, but also his private fortune. The March Revolution in 1848 caused Hanover to temporarily leave the German Confederation, but after they failed, it rejoined in 1850. Hanover remained within the German Confederation until the Austro-Prussian War (or "Seven Weeks War") in 1866. Victory by the Prussians at the battle of Sadowa-Koniggratz meant that Hanoverian states would be ruled from Prussia rather than Austria. What resulted became known as the North German Confederation, ruled by Kaiser Wilhelm I and his appointed Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck. King George V of Hanover, son of Ernest Augustus I, attempted to wrest control back from the influence of the powerful Prussians, but these attempts failed.
As the royal house of Hannover had never made peace with Prussia, which in 1866 forcibly annexed the Kingdom of Hannover, the Duke of Cumberland was de jure King of Hanover; he was, furthermore, de jure Duke of Braunschweig by virtue of inheritance. Out of this inheritance he had been kept for twenty years and more by the strong hand of Prussia. Prince Albrecht of Prussia ruled the duchy as regent until his death a year ago. Now the Duke of Cumberland offers to renounce forever for himself and his eldest son all rights to the duchy of Braunschweig, in favor of his youngest son, Ernst August, who in turn is willing to renounce for himself and his posterity all rights to the throne of Hanover. But Prussia is relentless, and declares that no Guelph shall rule over Braunschweig. The provisional government of the duchy has appealed against Prussia to the Bundesrath, that is to say, to the sovereigns of the empire.
What was once the Kingdom of Hanover is now the German state of Niedersachsen (or Lower Saxony), with its capital in the city of Hanover. The boundaries of Lower Saxony are nearly identical to those of the former Kingdom of Hanover.
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