Thomas von dem Knesebeck (the Elder)

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Thomas von dem Knesebeck (1559 - 1625) was a Privy Councillor and Landeshauptmann (Governor) of the Altmark. Together with his father and grandfather he was a major figure in the introduction of protestantism to Brandenburg.

House of Knesebeck noble family

Knesebeck is the name of two branches of a prominent aristocratic family in the tradition of ancient nobility in Germany. In the 17th century they acknowledged a common ancestry and combined their arms. The black line of the family von dem Knesebeck stems from the ancient nobility of Lower Saxony, while the white line stems from the ancient nobility of the Altmark. Branches of both lines remain to this day. The family has produced numerous senior military and public figures. These have included ambassadors, bishops, governors, members of parliament, a field marshal, and dozens of generals.

Landeshauptmann gubernatorial title

Landeshauptmann or Landeshauptfrau is the chairman of a state government and the supreme official of an Austrian state and the Italian autonomous provinces of South Tyrol and Trentino. His or her function is equivalent to that of a minister-president or premier. Until 1933 the term was used in Prussia for the head of government of a province, in the modern-day states of Germany the counterpart to Landeshauptmann (governor) is the Ministerpräsident (minister-president).


The Altmark is a historic region in Germany, comprising the northern third of Saxony-Anhalt. As the initial territory of the March of Brandenburg, it is sometimes referred to as the "Cradle of Prussia", as by Otto von Bismarck, a native from Schönhausen near Stendal.


Thomas von dem Knesebeck to the right of John Sigismund, Elector of Brandenburg on the Siegesallee Johann Sigismund Siegesallee group23.JPG
Thomas von dem Knesebeck to the right of John Sigismund, Elector of Brandenburg on the Siegesallee

He was born into one of the most prominent Brandenburg families as the son of Colonel Joachim von dem Knesebeck, who fought at the Siege of Vienna, and Margarethe von der Schulenburg. [1] In his youth he studied law and the humanities in Helmstedt and Frankfurt (Oder) before the premature death of his father obliged him to return to the management of the family estates. His brother Hempo had already been killed in 1581 as a Colonel in Spanish services during the Eighty Years' War, while another brother was killed during the Siege of Metz (1552) as an officer in imperial services.

Colonel is a senior military officer rank below the brigadier and general officer ranks. However, in some small military forces, such as those of Monaco or the Vatican, colonel is the highest rank. It is also used in some police forces and paramilitary organizations.

Siege of Vienna attempt to capture the city of Vienna, Austria

The Siege of Vienna in 1529 was the first attempt by the Ottoman Empire, led by Suleiman the Magnificent, to capture the city of Vienna, Austria. The siege came in the aftermath of the 1526 Battle of Mohács, which had resulted in the death of the King of Hungary and the descent of the kingdom into civil war, with rival factions supporting the Habsburg Archduke Ferdinand I of Austria and others supporting the Ottoman backed John Zápolya. The Ottoman attack on Vienna was part of their intervention into the Hungarian conflict, intended in the short term to secure Zápolya's position. Historians disagree in their interpretation of Ottoman long-term goals and regarding what motivations lay behind the choice of Vienna in particular as the target of the campaign. The failure of the siege marked the beginning of 150 years of bitter military tension and reciprocal attacks, culminating in a second siege of Vienna in 1683.

Schulenburg is a German surname that may refer to:

During this period he published a memorandum on the administration of the Altmark, which brought him the attention of the Chancellor of Brandenburg, Lampert Distelmeyer, and subsequently appointments to the council and the courts. By 1602 he was raised to Privy Councillor and Landeshauptmann. In this capacity, which he held until his death, he was responsible for the reorganisation of Brandenburg case law and in particular regarding religious freedom. [2]

Chancellor is a title of various official positions in the governments of many nations. The original chancellors were the cancellarii of Roman courts of justice—ushers, who sat at the cancelli or lattice work screens of a basilica or law court, which separated the judge and counsel from the audience. A chancellor's office is called a chancellery or chancery. The word is now used in the titles of many various officers in all kinds of settings. Nowadays the term is most often used to describe:

In 1612 Knesebeck made his conversion from the Lutheran confession to Calvinism public and was instrumental in bringing about the conversion of the Elector of Brandenburg, John Sigismund, a year later. Earlier under John Sigismund's father Joachim Frederick, he had still felt obliged to conceal this. When attempts by John Sigismund to introduce mass conversion met with significant resistance from the still Lutheran population, Knesebeck ensured that Lutheranism and Calvinism would be equal confessions, with broad tolerance for Catholicism and Judaism. [3] He died in 1625, succeeded by his sons Thomas, Hempo and Levin. Thomas immediately inherited the position of Landeshauptmann, followed in turn by his brother Hempo.

Calvinism Protestant branch of Christianity

Calvinism is a major branch of Protestantism that follows the theological tradition and forms of Christian practice set down by John Calvin and other Reformation-era theologians.

John Sigismund, Elector of Brandenburg Prince-elector of the Margraviate of Brandenburg

John Sigismund was a Prince-elector of the Margraviate of Brandenburg from the House of Hohenzollern. He became the Duke of Prussia through his marriage to Duchess Anna, the eldest daughter of Duke Albert Frederick of Prussia who died without sons. Their marriage resulted in the creation of Brandenburg-Prussia.

Joachim Frederick, Elector of Brandenburg Elector of Brandenburg

Joachim Frederick, of the House of Hohenzollern, was Prince-elector of the Margraviate of Brandenburg from 1598 until his death.

In 1901 he was honoured with inclusion among the statues of the Siegesallee, as a bust next to John Sigismund.

Siegesallee street in Berlin, Germany

The Siegesallee was a broad boulevard in Berlin, Germany. In 1895, Kaiser Wilhelm II ordered and financed the construction and expansion of an existing alley with a variety of marble statues, which was finalized in 1901.

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Von dem Knesebeck Surname list

Knesebeck most often refers to:

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Thomas von dem Knesebeck was a Privy Councillor and Landeshauptmann (Governor) of the Altmark during most of the 30 Years War, as well as one of the earliest members of the Fruitbearing Society.

Thomas von dem Knesebeck may refer to:


  1. A. von dem Knesebeck: Haus und Dorf Carwe in der Grafschaft Ruppin. Berlin 1865
  2. Isaacsohn, Siegfried, "Knesebeck, Thomas von dem" in: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie 16 (1882), p.285
  3. Isaacsohn, Siegfried, "Knesebeck, Thomas von dem" in: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie 16 (1882), p.285