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German Genealogy

German Nobility, Aristocracy, Lineage,
 Heraldry and Coats of Arms

Pre-1918 German society had farm laborers and servants at the bottom of the social scale and the nobility at the top. There was virtually no upward movement between classes, and only limited upward mobility within each class. The village hierarchy answered to the lord of the land, which could be secular, like a nobleman, or religious, such as a bishop or a monastery. The land owner in turn was beholden to the next higher class, perhaps a count or a duke.

Leibeigenschaft was a medieval form of serfdom, usually passed down through the mother. Leibeigene persons were tied to the land. In return for the peasants' service, the landlord provided protection in times of war. special permission from the landlord was required in order to marry, move to another farming estate or town, or emigrate. Special taxes, both in kind and money, and unpaid labor on the lord's estate were required. When the head of the household died, the best piece of cattle in the barn (Besthaupt) was paid to the lord of the land. In case of his wife's death, her best dress was the required payment. In the 17th and 18th century, most of the obligations associated with Leibeigenschaft were converted to cash payments.

Coats of Arms

  • Bauer, Konrad F. Das Bürgerwappen: ein Buch von den Wappen und Eigenmarken der deutschen Bürger und Bauern. Frankfurt/Main: Verlag der Hauserpresse, 1935. (Brief history of German heraldry)
     
  • Großes Wappen-Bilder-Lexikon der bürgerlichen Geschlechter Deutschlands, Österreichs und der Schweiz. München: E. Battenberg, 1985.
    (Examples of coats of arms by family names)
     
  • Hussman, Heinrich. Über deutsche Wappenkunst.Wiesbaden: Guido Pressler Verlag, 1973. (Explains elements found in German coats of arms)
     
  • Index to surnames provided in General-Index zu den Siebmacher'schen Wappenbüchern, 1605-1961. Graz - Austria: Akademische Druck - U. Verlagsanstalt, 1964.
     
  • Lexikon Städte und Wappen der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik. 2. neubearb, und erweiterte Aufl. Leipzig: VEB Verlag Enzyklopädie, 1984. (Coats of arms for cities in the former East Germany)
     
  • Siebmacher, Johann. J. Siebmacher's Grosses und Allgemeines Wappenbuch. 82 volumes. Nurnburg: Bauer und Paspe, 1856-1938. Index to surnames provided in General-Index zu den Siebmacherschen Wappenbüchern, 1605-1961. Graz, Austria: Akademische Druck, U. Verlagsanstalt, 1964.
     
  • Steimel, Robert. Die Wappen der bundesdeutschen Landkreise. Köln: Steimel-Verlag, [1964]. (Coats of arms for cities of pre-re-unification West Germany)

Nobility & Aristocracy

  • Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels. Glücksburg/Ostsee : C.A. Starke, 1951- (Aristocracy)
     
  • German Nobility Index -  A Web page with a search engine to a database on the current heads of Germanic noble families (this includes noble families outside of the borders of present-day Germany) with biographies, pictures, arms, etc. 

     
  • Gothaisches genealogisches Taschenbuch der freiherrlichen Häuser [for barons] zugleich Adelsmatrikel der Deutschen Adelsgenossenschaft Teil B, Freiherrliche Häuser des seit Anfang des 15. Jh. bis zur Neuzeit nachgewiesenen deutschen und österreichisch-ungarischen Erbadels. Gotha: Perthes, 1923.

  • Gothaisches genealogisches Taschenbuch der freiherrlichen Häuser Teil A, Freiherrliche Häuser des spätestens um 1400 nachgewiesenen ritterbürtigen deutschen Landadels und ihm gleichartigen Geschlechter. Gotha: Perthes, 1922.
     
  • Herrensitze des Adels im Deutschen Reich. Institut Deutsche Adelsforschung -- Ihre Internet-Plattform zum Deutschen Adel.
     
  • Institut Deutsche Adelsforschung. A registered, professional organization that specializes in the area of genealogy, sociology, heraldry, history and related fields of the German lower aristocracy. Its research covers all topics allied with these themes, including composing individual biographies, creating family chronicles spanning the Middle Ages to the present and compiling designated bibliographies. In addition, the organization has an extensive library and several databases, which allow efficient access to the archival records as well as various literature on the German aristocracy.

  • Justus Perthes (Firm : Gotha, Germany). Gesamtverzeichnis der in den Gothaischen genealogischen Taschenbüchern behandelten Häuser [nach dem Stande von] 1942 mit Angabe der Jahrgänge der Erst- und Letztaufnahme und der Veröffentlichung von Stammreihe und Wappenbild sowie Hinzufügung der Aufnahmebedingungen. Gotha: J. Perthes, 1943.

  • Neues allgemeines Deutsches Adels-Lexicon im Vereine mit mehreren Historikern herausgegeben von... Ernst Heinrich Kneschke: 1-9. Band. 1859.

     
  • RootsWebGERMAN-NOBILITY mailing list, a bilingual English-German mailing list for anyone with a genealogical, cultural or historical interest in German nobility. To subscribe send "subscribe" to german-nobility-I-request@rootsweb.com (mail mode) or german-nobility-d-request@rootsweb.com (digest mode).
     
  • Stammfolgen-Verezeichnisse. Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels : Bände 1-60, Nachtrag Bände 61-75. Deutsches Geschlechterbuch : Alte Reihe, Bände 1-119, Neue Reihe Bände 120-170, Nachtrag, Bände 171-185. Limburg/Lahn: C.A. Starke, 1977. Stammfolgen-Verzeichnisse für das genealogische Handbuch des Adels und das deutsche Geschlechterbuch. (Index of the Genealogical Handbook of nobility and the German Lineage Books). Limburg/Lahn: C.A. Starke, 1969.  105 volumes.
     
  • Starke Genealogy Index of German Nobility. Index to surnames listed in the books of the Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels series.
     

Lineage

  • Deutsches Geschlechterbuch. (German Lineage Books) Vol. 1- , 1889- to date. Charlottenburg: F. Mahler (etc.), 1889- .(194+ volumes. Middle class, Bürger genealogies) Collected genealogies of generally upper-class German families. Every surname indexing in each volume. Cumulative indexing of families who are subjects of articles in volumes 1- 185 in Stammfolgen-Verzeichnisse: Genealogische Handbuch des Adels und Deutsches Geschlechterbuch. Each listed family has a brief history, a coat of arms if appropriate, places where the family lived, and a complete genealogy. The work includes lineages from all parts of Germany, including the territories lost after World War II. It is only occasionally useful to German genealogy researchers. German areas and specific volumes numbers are listed below.
     
    • Baden: 81, 101, 120, 161, 189
    • Baltic: 79
    • Berg (Bergische): 24, 35, 83, 168, 183
    • Brandenburg: 111, 150, 160
    • Darmstadt: 69, 96
    • German-Swiss: 42, 48, 56, 65, 77
    • Eifel: 93, 123
    • Hamburg: 18, 19, 21, 23, 27, 44, 51, 53, 127-128, 142, 171, 200
    • Harz: 106
    • Hessen: 32, 47, 52, 54, 64, 66, 69, 84, 96, 98, 107, 119, 121, 124, 138, 144, 157, 159, 175, 176
    • Kurpfalz (Pfalz): 58, 86, 149, 197
    • Lippe: 72
    • Magdeburg: 39
    • Mecklenburg: 57, 74, 88, 105
    • Nassau: 49
    • Neumark: 93
    • Niedersachsen: 46, 76, 89, 102, 113, 122, 129, 131, 141, 143, 151, 158, 166, 167, 180, 187
    • Obersachsen: 33
    • Ostfriesland: 26, 31, 59, 103, 134, 190
    • Ostpreußen: 61, 68, 117
    • Pommern: 40, 67, 90, 115, 136, 137, 145, 155, 174, 191
    • Posen: 62, 78, 116, 140
    • Ravensberg: 82, 194
    • Reutlingen: 34, 41
    • Sauerland: 38, 53, 97
    • Schlesien: 73, 112, 153, 178
    • Schleswig-Holstein: 91, 162, 186
    • Schwaben: 34, 41, 42, 55, 71, 75, 110, 146, 170
    • Siegerland: 95, 139, 163, 164, 198, 199
    • Swiss (German): 42, 48, 56, 65, 77
    • Thüringen: 87, 114
    • Westfalen: 108, 152, 156, 172, 182, 184, 187, 193
    • Westpreußen: 126, 132, 133
    • General: 1-17, 20, 22, 25, 28, 30, 36, 37, 45, 50, 60, 70, 80, 85, 92, 100, 104, 109, 118, 125, 130, 135, 147, 148, 154, 165, 169, 172, 177, 185, 188, 192, 195, 196, 201, 203
       
  • Gesamtregister zum Deutschen Familienarchiv. Neustadt a.d. Aisch, Germany: Verlag Degener & Co., 1980, 1981 and 1994. Collective register to the "German Family Archive," a series of printed lineages. The register comes in three separate volumes: one for volumes 1-50 (114 pages), one for volumes 51-75 (70 pages), and one for volumes 76-100 (55 pages).
     
  • Institut Deutsche Adelsforschung. A registered, professional organization that specializes in the area of genealogy, sociology, heraldry, history and related fields of the German lower aristocracy. Its research covers all topics allied with these themes, including composing individual biographies, creating family chronicles spanning the Middle Ages to the present and compiling designated bibliographies. In addition, the organization has an extensive library and several databases, which allow efficient access to the archival records as well as various literature on the German aristocracy.
     
  • Stammfolgen-Verzeichnisse für das genealogische Handbuch des Adels und das deutsche Geschlechterbuch. (Index of the Genealogical Handbook of Nobility and the German Lineage Books). Limburg/Lahn: C.A. Starke, 1969.

History of Feudalism

  • Blum, Jerome. The End of the Old Order in Rural Europe. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1978. Historical overview of the social emancipation of the rural peasantry in Austria-Hungary, the Baltic States, Denmark, France, Germany, Poland, Romania, Russia, and Switzerland during the 18th and 19th centuries.

  • Cowan, Alexander Francis. The Urban Patriciate: Lübeck and Venice, 1580-1700. Köln: Böhlau, 1986. Includes extensive bibliography.

  • Heinemeier, Dan C. A Social History of Hesse: Roman Times to 1900. Arlington, Virginia: Heinemeier Publications, 2002. Has good bibliography.

  • Hoffmann, Richard C. Land, Liberties and Lordship in Late Medieval Countryside: Agrarian Structures and Change in the Duchy of Wroclaw. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1989. Social history of the former Duchy of Wroclaw, part of the larger Duchy of Silesia, from the 12th to the 16th centuries.

  • Laslett, Peter, Karla Oosterveen and Richard M. Smith; Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure. Bastardy and Its Comparative History: Studies in the History of Illegitimacy and Marital Nonconformism in Britain, Grance, Germany, Sweden, North America, Jamaica and Japan. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1980.