You leave your village for some days, and when you come back … tz … My neighbour – you remember the guy in the wheelchair ? – is hospitalised and already operated, they removed some stones out of his body. And not one, but two, houses burnt down while I was away, within some hours & within sight from the bureau of mago Inc. : Things always happen while one is not there.
While I was in Hassia and busily doing mago-things I visited the parochial church – and promptly found this :
Those adventurous Hassians went to Australia, namely to Ballarat and Bendigo – what reminded me of dearest Princess : Darling, maybe I spent some days in the village your ancestors came from ?
The “events” mentioned in the text above are the Napoleonic wars and their aftermath. The village was since the high middle-ages in the possession of the Malteserritter, the knights of Malta (Ger., Eng.) – yep, those with the falcon.
In 1810 the Prussian state decided that it had enough from the Protestant branch of the knights, the Johanniterorden, and disbanded the group, selling their possessions to fill up the coffer, because our good friend Napoleon demanded reparations.
Land & anything that belonged to it, the whole structure, was sold to a well-financed businessman from Frankfurt/Main. He treated the whole thing as investment and – of course rightfully – did not prolong the lease contracts : The knights had leased out the land to farmers, in part for some pretty long time (basically since the 13th century), and all of a sudden this came to an end, not totally abrupt, but in the course of some years. Add some bad harvests, the political and social development of the early 19th century in rural areas – so it’s no wonder that the number of the village’s inhabitants halved from the beginning (circa 2000 souls) to the middle of the century. The church of the knights became a cowshed.
So – yippieahjeah – if there’s gold to be found in California or Australia, why not pick it up ? It can only get better, can’t it ?
The Protestant order of St. John’s hospital was re-organised in the 1850s, and shortly before the church, and what was left, was sold to be torn down, the duke of Hassia intervened, bought the ruins and presented it to the order. The knights accepted the gift and did what they could do best, re-model the old farmhouse into a hospital, which was running until the 1970s. Today there’s a kind of conference centre.