1902 Encyclopedia > Mecklenberg, Germany


MECKLENBURG, a territory in North Germany, on the Baltic Sea, extending from 53° 4' to 54° 24' N. lat., and from 10° 35' to 13° 57' E. long., corresponds with tolerable closeness to the old lower Saxon province of the same name, and is now unequally divided into the two grand-duchies of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz: These are so closely related in history, political organization, natural features, and general development that it is convenient to treat them in a single article.

MECKLENBURG-SCHWERIN, the seventh state of the German empire in size and the eighth in population, is bounded on the N. by the Baltic Sea, on the W. by the principality of Ratzeburg and Lauenburg, on the S. by Brandenburg and Hanover, and on the E. by Pomerania and Mecklenburg-Strelitz. It embraces the duchies of Schwerin and Giistrow, the district of Rostock, the principality of Schwerin, and the barony of Wismar, besides several small "enclaves " in the adjacent territories. Its total area is about 5117 square miles.

MECKLENBURG-STRELITZ, the eleventh state of the German empire in area and the nineteenth in population, consists of two detached parts, the duchy of Strelitz on the east of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and the principality of Ratzeburg on the west. The first of these is bounded by Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Pomerania, and Brandenburg, the second by Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Lauenburg, and the territory of the free town of Lubeck. Their joint area is 1126 square miles.

Mecklenburg lies wholly within the great North-European plain, and its fiat surface is interrupted only by one range of low hills, intersecting the country from south-east to north-west, and forming the watershed between the Baltic Sea and the Elbe. Its highest point, the Helpter Berg, is 580 feet above the sea-level. The coast-line runs for 65 miles along the Baltic (without including indentations), for the most part in flat sandy stretches covered with dunes. The chief inlets are the bays of Wismar, Grosse Wiek, Salzhaff, and Kroy, and the roads of Warnemiinde. The rivers are numerous though small ; most of them are affluents of the Elbe, which itself traverses a small portion of Mecklenburg. Several of the streams are navigable, and the facilities for inland water traffic are increased by a tolerably extensive system of canals. Lakes are very numerous; about four hundred of fair size, covering an area of 500 square miles, are reckoned in the two duchies. The largest is Lake Miiritz, 52 square miles in extent. The climate on the whole resembles that of Great Britain, but the winters are generally more severe ; the mean annual temperature is 48° F., and the annual rainfall is about 28 inches. Although there are long stretches of marshy moorland along the coast, the soil is on the whole productive. According to the official returns of 1878, about 57 per cent. of the total area of Mecklenburg-Schwerin consisted of cultivated land, 17 per cent. of forest, and 13 per cent. of heath and pasture. In Mecklenburg-Strelitz the corresponding figures were 48, 20, and 9 per cent. Agriculture is by far the most important industry in both duchies. The following table shows the areas and products of the chief crops in 1880 : - MECKLENBURG Besides these, smaller areas are devoted to maize, buckwheat, pease, rape, hemp, flax, hops, and tobacco. The extensive pastures support large herds of sheep and cattle, including a noteworthy breed of merino sheep. The horses of Mecklenburg are of a fine sturdy quality, and are highly esteemed in Germany. In 1878 the two duchies contained 100,651 horses, 315,712 cattle, and 1,321,916 sheep. Red deer, wild swine, and various other kinds of game are found in the forests. The manufactures of Mecklenburg are of little importance. Its industrial establishments include a few iron foundries, wool-spinning mills, carriage and machine factories, dye-works, tanneries, brick-fields, soap-works, breweries, distilleries, numerous limekilns and tar-boiling works, tobacco and cigar factories, and about eight hundred mills of various kinds. Mining is also insignificant, though a fair variety of minerals is represented in the district. Amber is found on and near the Baltic coast. Trade, mainly confined to the larger duchy, is tolerably active. Rostock, Warnemilude, and Wismar are the principal commercial centres. The chief exports are grain and other agricultural produce, live stock, spirits, wood, and wool ; the chief imports are colonial produce, iron, coal, salt, wine, beer, and tobacco. The horse and wool markets of Mecklenburg are largely attended by buyers from various parts of Germany. Fishing is carried on extensively in the numerous inland lakes. Within the last decade the mercantile fleet of Mecklenburg-Schwerin has doubled the number and quadrupled the tonnage of its ships, these consisting in 1881 of 370 sailing vessels and 11 steamers, with an aggregate burden of 112,388 tons. Mecklenburg-Strelitz has no seaboard.

' Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz are both limited monarchies under grand-dukes, who are hereditary in the male line. The reigning families are closely related, and possess mutual rights of succession ; should both families become extinct, their possessions pass to Prussia. The constitution, which is common to both the duchies, exhibits few traces of the liberal tendency of modern politics. The temporary modifications brought about by the agitation of 1848 were quickly rescinded, and matters returned to the old semi-feudal arrangements, which deprive the bulk of the people of all share in the government. The constitution as it now exists is based upon an agreement made between the duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and his estates in 1755, and adopted in the same year by Mecklenburg-Strelitz. The Landes-Union, or common assembly of the two duchies, consists of representatives of tke Rittorschaft, or landed proprietors, and of the Landschaft, which embraces forty-seven towns. The peasantry is unrepresented, and the principality of Ratzeburg, in Mecklenburg-Strelitz, is governed directly by the grand-duke. The Landes-Union meets once annually, alternating between Sternberg and Malchin. When not sitting it is represented by a committee of nine members. Distinct from the Landes-Union are the convocation diet and the deputation diet, which are assemblies of the estates of one or other duchy for special business. In Mecklenburg-Schwerin the executive is placed in the hands of for ministers, holding the portfolios of foreign affairs, domestic affairs, finance, and justice (including education and religion). In Mecklenburg-Strelitz there is one minister, who is aided by a small council. In both duchies the military administration is in the hands of the crown. Mecklenburg-Schwerin has two votes in the federal council of the German empire, and sends six members to the imperial diet, while the smaller duchy has one representative in each assembly. As no official budget is published in either duchy, it is impossible to give accurate details of their financial position. In Mecklenburg-Schwerin it is usual to distinguish three branches of revenue, one under the control of the sovereign, one under the joint control of the sovereign and estates, and the third (of small amount) under the sole management of the estates. The income under the first heading is derived from the royal domains, the ordinary taxes, and special votes for special purposes, and L'amounts to about £600,000: With this sum are defrayed the ordinary expenses of government, including the annual contribution to the imperial treasury. The revenue under the second head is about £100,000. The public debt in 1880 amounted to £1,100,000. The revenues of Mecklenburg-Strelitz are unknown ; its debt is estimated at about £300,000. The private income of the duke, derived from the royal domains, makes him one of the richest princes in Germany. The duchies of Mecklenburg contribute three regiments of infantry, a battalion of rifles, two regiments of dragoons, and four batteries of field artillery to the imperial army.

The educational institutions partake of the high character common to those of the German empire. The two duchies contain nine gymnasia, seven "Realschulen," three normal schools, and an adequate number of schools of a lower grade. There is a university at Rostock, which in 1882 had a teaching staff of 36 professors and an attendformed Church is insignificant. The ultimate spiritual societies and benevolent institutions. The supreme court of appeal for both duchies, in all criminal and civil cases, is at Rostock.

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