Edzard I, Count of East Frisia

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Edzard I
Count of East Frisia
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Edzard I, count of East Frisia
Predecessor Enno I
Successor Enno II
Born15 January 1462
Died14 February 1528
SpouseElisabeth von Rietberg
House Cirksena
Father Ulrich I
Mother Theda Ukena

Edzard I, also Edzard the Great (15 January 1462 in Greetsiel 14 February 1528 in Emden) was count of East Frisia from 1491 till his death in 1528.

Greetsiel Ortsteil of Krummhörn in Lower Saxony, Germany

Greetsiel is a small port on the bight of Leybucht in western East Frisia, Germany that was first documented in letters from the year 1388. Since 1972, Greetsiel has been part of the municipality of Krummhörn, which has its administrative seat in Pewsum. The nearest railway station is at Emden, about 15–20 kilometres (9.3–12.4 mi) away, and the two towns are linked by a bus service.

Emden Place in Lower Saxony, Germany

Emden is an independent city and seaport in Lower Saxony in the northwest of Germany, on the river Ems. It is the main city of the region of East Frisia and, in 2011, had a total population of 51,528.

County of East Frisia

The County of East-Frisia was a county in the region of East Frisia in the northwest of the present-day German state of Lower Saxony.


Edzard succeeded his brother Enno in 1492. He fought with George, Duke of Saxony over Friesland and Groningen. The city of Groningen accepted him as its lord in 1506, but in 1514 renounced him again in favor of Charles of Guelders.

George, Duke of Saxony Duke of Saxony

George the Bearded, Duke of Saxony, was Duke of Saxony from 1500 to 1539 known for his opposition to the Reformation. While the Ernestine line embraced Lutheranism, the Albertines were reluctant to do so. Despite George's efforts to avoid a succession by a Lutheran upon his death in 1539, he could not prevent it from happening. Under the Act of Settlement of 1499, Lutheran Henry IV became the new duke. Upon his accession, Henry introduced Lutheranism as a state religion in the Albertine lands of Saxony.

After he returned from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1492, he took over the rule of East Frisia together with his mother Theda. After his mother died in 1494, he ruled together with his less significant brother Uko.

Pilgrimage Journey or search of moral or spiritual significance

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Jerusalem City in the Middle East

Jerusalem is a city in the Middle East, located on a plateau in the Judaean Mountains between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. It is one of the oldest cities in the world, and is considered holy to the three major Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority claim Jerusalem as their capital, as Israel maintains its primary governmental institutions there and the State of Palestine ultimately foresees it as its seat of power; however, neither claim is widely recognized internationally.

East Frisia Coastal region in the northwest of Germany

East Frisia or Eastern Friesland is a coastal region in the northwest of the German federal state of Lower Saxony. It is the section of Frisia in between West Frisia and Middle Frisia in the Netherlands and North Frisia in Schleswig-Holstein.

Edzard's rule was characterized by his energetic approach against his opponents, the East Frisian leaders Hero Oomkens from Harlingerland and Edo Wiemken from Jever, whom he quickly managed to subdue. He was also a supporter of the Protestant Reformation in his territories, through the creation of new East Frisian laws, the reform of the coinage and the introduction of primogeniture for his house, the house of Cirksena.

Hero Oomkens von Esens was a Frisian nobleman, the Earl of Harlingerland. He inherited the title upon the death of his father, Sibet Attena von Esens, in 1473.

Harlingerland strip of land on the North Sea coast of East Frisia

The Harlingerland is a strip of land on the North Sea coast of East Frisia. While today the whole of the district of Wittmund is usually described as Harlingerland, historically it specifically refers to the northern part of the present district, which formed the old Frisian state of this name, in particular, the regions around Esens and Wittmund. The region around Friedeburg still belonged at that time to the Frisian state of Östringen.

Jever Place in Lower Saxony, Germany

Jever is the capital of the district of Friesland in Lower Saxony, Germany. The name Jever is usually associated with a major brand of beer which is produced there. The city is also a popular holiday resort. Jever was granted city status in 1536. Unofficially Jever is sometimes referred to as Marienstadt in reference to Maria of Jever, the last independent ruler of the city. The inhabitants of Jever are named Jeveraner.

His foreign policies led to a three-year war (1514–1517) against Duke George of Saxony. The war was mostly fought on East Frisian territory, and caused destruction in large areas. The city of Aurich, for example, was burned to the ground.

The Saxon feud was a confrontation between the East Frisian Count Edzard I and George, Duke of Saxony in the years 1514-1517. The war took place predominantly on East Frisian soil and destroyed large parts of the region.

Aurich Place in Lower Saxony, Germany

Aurich is a town in the East Frisian region of Lower Saxony, Germany. It is the capital of the district of Aurich and is the second largest City in East Frisia, both in population, after Emden, and in area, after Wittmund.

Duke George of Saxony was appointed stadtholder of all Frisian territories in 1514 by Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor. This was not accepted by the city of Groningen. Count Edzard saw this as a chance to expand his influence in the province of Groningen, and proclaimed himself protector of the city. As a result, 24 German dukes and counts invaded the Frisian lands with their troops and devastated the region. Edzard was proclaimed an outlaw ( Reichsacht ) by the emperor.

Stadtholder title used in parts of Europe

In the Low Countries, stadtholder was an office of steward, designated a medieval official and then a national leader. The stadtholder was the replacement of the duke or earl of a province during the Burgundian and Habsburg period.

Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor Holy Roman Emperor

Maximilian I was Holy Roman Emperor from 1508 until his death. He was never crowned by the pope, as the journey to Rome was always too risky. He was instead proclaimed emperor elect by Pope Julius II at Trent, thus breaking the long tradition of requiring a papal coronation for the adoption of the imperial title. Maximilian was the son of Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor, and Eleanor of Portugal. He ruled jointly with his father for the last ten years of the latter's reign, from c. 1483 to his father's death in 1493.

Groningen (province) The northeasternmost province of the Netherlands

Groningen is the northeasternmost province of the Netherlands. It borders on Friesland to the west, Drenthe to the south, the German state of Lower Saxony to the east, and the Wadden Sea to the north. In 2014, it had a population of 582,640 and a total area of 2,960 km2 (1,140 sq mi).

During the three-year war, Edzard eventually managed to keep the majority of East Frisia under his control. Only when Charles V came to power in the Netherlands did Edzard manage to end the war by getting himself confirmed as ruler of East Frisia.

Marriage and children

He married in 1498 with Elisabeth of Rietberg-Arnsberg (1470 - 1512), daughter of John I, Count of Rietberg and had 3 children :

See also

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Edzard I, Count of East Frisia
Born: 1461 Died: 14 February 1528
Preceded by
Theda Ukena
as Regent
Count of East Frisia
Succeeded by
Enno II