Monday, 25 February 2008

The Margravate of Ober Nord Westfalen - an Historical Overview

NB: The Margraftum of Ober Nord Westfalen never existed, except in my imagination! It was created to allow an itinerant wargamer to join in non-historical wargames on the side of whichever army stood most in need of reinforcements. It began as a collection of wargames figures and just sort of grew from there!

In this blog, real events are emphasised in Bold, fictional events are emphasised in Italics.

The Margraftum is a small enclave in North West Germany squeeezed between Hannover, The Netherlands and the North Sea. It came into being as a result of the Peace of Augsberg of 1555. When the pot boiled over in 1618 and the Thirty Years War started, the then Margrave, Karl-Friederich II raised a force of some 4,000 men organised into three regiments of Foote (Pike and Musket armed) six troops of Horse and a company of artillery ( 8 light guns, ranging from robinets to sakers).

Karl-Friederich was a staunch Protestant and supported that cause throughout the war, fighting alongside Christian IV of Denmark, and later with Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden. Karl-Friederich kept the field almost continuously until his death, along with most of his army, at First Nordlingen (1634).

His cause was taken up by his nineteen year old son, Margrave Johannes I, who re-raised the army and doubled its strength. The Margraftum continued to participate in the war until it ended in 1648 with the Treaty of Westphalia.

During this period the portion of the population suitable for military service diminished greatly and in order to maintain the size of his army, Johannes recruited Scottish and English mercenaries, stipulating only that they be physically fit and of the Protestant religion. Many of these mercenaries returned to Britain on the outbreak of the English Civil War in 1642.

The years from 1648 until 1701 saw little military activity on the part of the Margraftum, Johannes being more concerned with rebuilding his land's shattered economy. However, 1655 saw Johannes honouring his alliance with Sweden in the First Northern War (1655-1660). The resoration of the status quo ante-bellum in 1660 by the Treaty of Kardis disgusted Johannes, and he withdrew from active participation in the military/political field, preferring to concentrate on re-building.

Johannes died in 1700, the title passing to his nephew Albrecht I. Albrecht was at first content to continue his uncle's policy of non-involvement, but the outbreak of the War of The Spanish Succession involved a general arming of the German princedoms; Albrecht realised that his uncle's pacifist policy placed the margraftum in danger and raised the first standing army.

This army consisted of The Guards Regiment (1 battalion) and three Regiments of Foot (2 battalions) 2 Regiments of Horse, 1 Regiment of Dragoons, 1 Regiment of Artillery (3 companies of six 6pdr guns) plus a company of engineers and supporting services. Apart from the Regiment Garde zu Fuss, regiments were known by their Colonel's names (Albrecht defrayed the expense of raising these troops by issuing Commissions of Arrays to trusted subordinates and allowing them to become proprieters of the regiments). Acknowledging the margraftum's old links with Sweden, and out of a desire to differentiate his troops from those of Prussia, Albrecht decreed that the uniform coat colour was to be "medium blue" and that breeches, waistcoats and belts were to be buff in colour. Grenadiers and Gunners were to wear caps, while all other troops were to wear a "round hat, well cocked at three points".

Albrecht joined the Empeor's faction in this war, establishing close links with Prussia, alongside whose troops the Margraf''s forces fought. The end of the war by the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), saw Prussia's recognition as a Kingdom who viewed Ober Nord Westfalen and Braunschweig as a useful allies to the west of Hannover.

In 1714 Queen Anne of England died and the English Parliament invited Elector George of Hannover to assume the throne. Albrecht realised that this move gave a previously impoverished Hannover potential access to much greater resources and together with Braunschweig formed a pact of triple alliance with Prussia (The Convention of Bremen 1716).

The corner stone of Albrecht's foreign policy was to prevent encroachment by Hannover, who had already insitigated a series of diplomatic squabbles over the ownership of some small towns and villages on the Margraftum's South Eastern border. Only Albrecht's alliance with Prussia prevented more overt coercive measures on the part of Hannover.


abdul666 said...

A very well-thought and well presented debut! I appreciate the precaution that " real events are emphasised in Bold, fictional events are emphasised in Italics; it reflects the 'Cult of Historical accuracy' in Napoleonic circles. Among 18th C. wargamers, Imagi-Nations are part and parcel of the Venerable Tradition, thus once stated that 'our' counrty is fictitious we do not even *think* of such 'pedagogical' precaution.

Too bad you don't intend to play the Margravate by Lace Wars times, but at least you gave us its uniform - and for the flags the Coat of Arms / Colour may already that of Napoleonic times?

Best wishes with your project, so original and audacious in your context - looking forward to further posts.

aka Louys de Monte-Cristo

abdul666 said...

I fear you’ll feel very alone among ‘Napoleonics’, as a rule hard-boiled ‘historicals’. Then, in order to meet kindred minds, what about taking a look at the merry exchanges between 40+ 18th C. Imagi-Nations rulers?
I’m refering to the jolly and very friendly 'Emperor vs Elector' diplomatic and wargaming campaign blog. (The name is a reference to the warring sovereigns in P. Young's classical 'Charge! Or How to play Wargames')

Actually if you feel interested you could join the group: you have a Country that already existed in the 18th C., you devised its history, geography, ruling line, uniforms… No need for minis in tricorns -at most, someday you'd be welcome to post these uniforms using the so handy SYW templates.

Best regards,

Bluebear Jeff said...

Welcome to the wonderful world of Eighteenth Century Imagi-Nations.

The Principality of Saxe-Bearstein wishes you well.

-- Jeff of Saxe-Bearstein