Anthes Family Tree : Historical Context : France & Germany

The following brief historic notes of France & Germany may explain some of the events which impacted on the lives of the Anthes families in the Alsace and Frankfurt areas from early in the 16th century.


The Reformation, with input from Martin Luther in Germany, John Calvin in france and Henry VIII in England between 1520-1536 saw the reemergence of protestantism and the challenge to the Catholic power in Europe. By 1560 the Huguenots in France were highly organised and attracted aristocratic recruits who provided skilled military leadership. In 1562, Michel l'Hopital promulgated the edict of St Germain which recognised Huguenots in France.

Henry IV (1553-1610) King of Navarre and of France from 1594 fouunded the Bourbon dynasty. By early conviction a Calvanist he became the Huguenots leader during the Wars of Religion and as heir to the throne and after Henry III's death defeated the Catholic Leaguers in battle. His conversion to Catholicism to secure the throne of France, clinched his victory and he repaid his debts to the Huguenots in the Edict of Nantes (1598) which gave them rights and concessions including the freedom of worship.

it was left to his son Louis XIII (1610-1643) and his minister Cardinal de Richelieu to create the modern French state. The power of the great nobles was curbed, the Royal civil service, manned by middle class officials extended all over the kingdom while the protestants were deprived of their fortresses. At the same time, the decline of Spain and the anarchy of the Germany of the Thirty Year War enabled Richelieu to make France dominant in Europe and to reach the Rhine through the annexation of Alsace (1681) during the reign of Louis XIV (1643-1715). In 1685 Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes and so drove many Huguenots, hundreds of thousands of the richest, most enterprising and most skillful of his subjects into hostile lands such as Germany, Holland and England.

Louis XV (1715-1774), after a period of alliance with Britain, made the Family compact with Spain, secured the reversion to Lorraine (1737) and acquired Corsica (1768). In the Seven Year War (1756-1763) France was defeated on land by Prussia and her empires in Canada and India lost to Britain. Even the successful intervention on the side of the American rebels that led to the establishment of the United States (1776) was a barren triumph for its costs pushed the French states into bankruptcy.

Louis XVI called the states-general, the primitive parliament that had not met sine 1604, and in 1789 the French Revolution began. Bonaparte became Napoleon I, emperor of France in 1804 which saw war with England. This resulted in the defeat at Trafalgar in 1805, the retreat from Moscow in 1812 and the defeat at Waterloo in 1815.


At the time of the French Revolution, despite the rise of Prussia, Germany, a loose collection of states, was still weak and disunited and the French Revolutionary armies entered Germany in 1792. After the peace of Luneville in 1801, Napoleon redrew the map of Germany and reduced the number of German states from 300 to 30. The Holy roman Empire was dissolved in 1806. Prussia, decisively defeated, embarked on liberal reform as a means of restoring its strength and standing, while Austrian influence ensured continued German disunity.

the German revolution in 1830 passed without serious upheaval but not so in 1848. Under the impact of the revolution an all-German parliament met at Frankfurt. Its aimlessness led to its collapse and Austria resumed control. In 1862 Bismark became Prime Minister of Prussia and in 1866 decisively defeated Austria. Four years later (1870), France was defeated and the German Empire was proclaimed and included the territories of Alsace and Lorraine which France had to surrender. These territories were lost to France at the conclusion of World War I (1918), regained by Germany in 1940 and lost to france at the conclusion of World War II (1945). Throughout Alsace and Eastern Lorraine, German dialects have been preserved.