Schleswig-Holstein: ManumissionEdit This Page
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In the beginning of the 19th century the release from serfdom for the German farmer began. In the Age of Enlightenment the oppression of one person to another seemed inappropriate. Practical experiments proved that abolition of serfdom was also advantageous to the manor lord as the Earl of Rantzau in Schleswig-Holstein had demonstrated. The development of industry required more workers and had to come from the ranks of serfs. Between the second half of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century manumissions occurred in many German states. The release from serfdom was very well documented with either an actual document or an official entry in a record. The release was granted by the respective sovereign lord.
The releases occurred step by step. Sometimes the entire estate of the manor lord was transferred to the serfs without compensation to the previous owner. On the other hand the release from serfdom only covered personal choices such as granting agency in matters of marriage. In some German states the serf was able to purchase land from the manor lord or was supported by the state in purchasing land.
In the Duchy of Holstein, Hans Graf zu Rantzau was the first manor lord, who released his serfs step by step from his services beginning in 1739. In 1796 manumission on a larger scale took place in Holstein and also, in the Duchy of Schleswig. After all manor lords were contacted and the King notified, the resolution of June 30, 1797 was sanctioned and the abolition of serfdom completed by the end of 1804.
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