The village "Schwabendorf"

In 1985 the 300th anniversary of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes was commemorated. It had offered freedom of religious worship to the French protestants. This revocation meant that they were persecuted because LouisXIV removed all their rights.

It is estimated today that 250,000 Huguenots and Waldensians flew to neighbore protestant countries. Most of them were rich citizens with an important commercial or handcraft work. They went on foot through the Alps, using paths that were difficult but not controlled. The captured were thrown into prison or ended their lives on galleys. All captured priests were sentenced to death.

Their destination countries were Switzerland and Germany, where protestant lords offered religious freedom to them, as well as land portions and exemption from taxes. Most of the Huguenots who went to Germany passed Frankfurt. The French-reformed community of this city supported 100,000 refugees between 1685 and 1705. A big number of them headed to Northern Hesse. Landgraf Carl of Hesse (1677-1730) opened his land to them with the "Hessische Freyheitsconzession" (Hessian Concession of Freedom). So, the biggest resort of colonies was founded in the region of Cassel.

Via Hofgeismar (a city close to Cassel) 116 French refugees arrived at Rauschenberg in 1687, located north from Marburg. All in all they were thirty families who mostly came from Dauphiné (a province in the south-east of France). Here they were offered an area called "Brachter Ebene" (plain of Bracht) in the forest. But instead of this wooded ground the deprived colonists preferred a small protected valley, closer to the town of Rauschenberg and which was used as grazing land. This area was called "Auf der Schwabe". So, a new village was founded and after 1694 known as "SCHWABENDORF".

The village consists of two main streets, "Sommerseite" and "Winterseite" ("Summer Side", the sunny side and "Winter Side", the dark side), each colonist received "Portionsland" (a portion of ground). Later, the government of count Carl of Hesse donated 1000 trunks of oak to build houses replacing the first provisional huts made of poles and straw ("baraques").

After the first hard and miserable years agriculture started to develop like the skilled trade (hosiery, drapery, hat industry). Its knowledge had been acquired by the colonists in their country of origin. About 1750, the village became center of hosiery in High-Hesse. With the help of Schwabendorf, the waste and forsaken lands of Hertingshausen (1694) and Wolfskaute (1699) were repopulated. In 1725 the colonists received the rights of exploitation of the meadows "Brücher Wiesen" a moor in the forest "Burgwald". Later, these meadows became the hereditary goods of the peasants of Schwabendorf and were known as "Franzosenwiesen" (meadows of the French).

During 150 years, the French language persisted in the village. Today only five names (Aillaud, Badouin, Boucsein, Tourte, Vinçon), nicknames and village designations witness the French origin of Schwabendorf.