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Salzburg 'Exulants'1

Salzburg exulants
Struggle with me, little children,
now in this tough emergency
God will be merciful to us,
because we will not tolerate mockery and ridicule

The Salzburg ‘exultants’ were Protestant religious refugees from the Archbishopric of Salzburg, which belonged, during the High Middle Ages (14th century) to 1802/03, as a part of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. During the Reformation, about 1525 many followers were found in the Archbishopric of Salzburg, who were subsequently expelled from the city in the year in 1588.

By 1600, only a few Protestants (secret Protestants) lived in the city. In 1729 Archbishop Leopold Anton von Firmian tried to convert the Protestants using Jesuit missionaries. When they refused he used to authoritative measures and called 6,000 Austrian soldiers into the country.

In 1731, the pursuit of the Protestants flared up again in Europe and in the autumn 1731, all who were not of the Roman Catholic belief, were expelled from the country.

East Prussia had been depopulated by the plague (1708/09) and the Calvinist2 Frederick I, King in Prussia, used the persecution of Protestants to repopulate his territory. On February 2, 1732, he issued an ‘immigration patent’ and sent Commissioners (locators) who would take care of the transport and travel of citizens of Salzburg.

Go From Your Country and From Your Friendships
Go From Your Country and
From Your Friendships

The refugees were given daily meal money, 4 pennies per day for men, 3 for the wife and 2 for each child. From the day of the application, the refugees should be respected as Prussian citizens.

In several columns the emigrants left Salzburg; where they had to leave behind their children under the age of 14 years, so that they could be raised in the Roman Catholic faith.

The refugees moved to East Prussia crossing Brandenburg. On April 30, 1732, the first 843 Salzburg emigrants arrived in East Prussia. Originally, the action was planned for about 6,000 refugees, but there were over 20,000 people who applied.

Konstantin Johann Franz Cretius: King Frederick William I welcomes the Salzburg Protestants in Berlin at the Leipzig Tor on April 30, 1732
Konstantin Johann Franz Cretius: King Frederick William I welcomes the Salzburg Protestants in Berlin at the Leipzig Tor on April 30, 1732

 

Stamp from 1982: The Arrival of the Salzburg Emigrants in Prussia
Stamp from 1982:
The Arrival of the Salzburg Emigrants in Prussia

Over half of the asylum seekers who arrived in East Prussia received their livelihood at the expense of the State. Arable land, construction land, timber, cattle, farm implements, and seeds were provided. Furthermore, they obtained exemption from taxes for three years, generous loans, subsidies for construction costs and a long-term exemption from military service. Prussia was now regarded as the protector of all Protestants.

A total of over 30,000 people left the province of Salzburg, most of whom (17,000), found a new home in Prussia. Several hundred of the Salzburg Lutherans found refuge in the State of Georgia in North America. More than a fifth of the refugees died during the exhausting marches.

 

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1 Thanks to S. Winkler for help with the English translation of this page

2 Calvinism = Reformed doctrine of the Geneva Reformer John Calvin, who preached that only the spiritual presence of Christ was embodied in the Last Supper (Luther taught that the substances of bread and wine remain, but that Christ is present in, with and under the Eucharistic elements) and of the predestination of the chosen people of God.

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