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History of the Seven Mountains Area

At the Border of the Roman Empire

Roman Era

Our region lay right at the Roman Rhine frontier, in sight of the Roman legion camp in Bonn. The Romans had quarries at Mount Drachenfels. In Bonn and Cologne, even in Xanten and Nijmegen trachyte from the Drachenfels was used.

Early Middle Ages

St. Pantaleon, Cologne

The oldest villages in and around the Siebengebirge date back to the time of the Merovingians and Carolingians. In 925, the Rhineland, disputed for a long time between the West and East Francia, became part of the East Francia for good.

High Mitddle Ages

High Middle Ages

The time of knights and castles. Our region was affected by two wars for the throne. The castles on the mountains Wolkenburg, Drachenfels, Löwenburg and Rosenau were built, as well as the Monastery of Heisterbach and the church on Mount Petersberg.

Late Middle Ages

Late Middle Ages

Gothic art thrived, the cathedral of Cologne was built with trachyte from Mount Drachenfels. Ongoing rivalries and battles between the local powers, the Archbishopric of Cologne and the Dukes of Berg. In 1484, most of our region fell to the Duchy of Berg.

Religious Division

Siege of Königswinter 1583

Although the Rhineland remained mainly catholic, there were protestant communities too. Anabaptists and Calvinists could only meet secretly. In the War of Cologne 1583, Königswinter was besieged and pillaged. About 50 years later, the Thirty Years' War raged.

Absolutism and Wars of Succession

Bonn around 1700

1688/89: In the War of the Palatine Sucession, Bonn was besieged, villages on the right bank of the Rhine were burned down. For decades, the House of Pfalz-Sulzbach and the rulers of Brandenburg-Prussia rivaled over the Duchy of Berg, until Frederick II renounced.

Napoleonic Era

Battle of Austerlitz

French troops occupied the left bank of the Rhine. In 1797, it was ceded to Napoleon. In 1803, all ecclesiast- ical states were secularized and dispossessed; the archbishopric of Cologne disappeared from the map. Our region became part of the Grand Duchy of Berg.

Prussian Rhine Province

Prussian Rhine province

The Congress of Vienna gave the Rhineland to Prussia. The following decades were a golden age of culture, art and science, and Rhine romanticism - and a time of political oppression and bitter poverty. Eventually, the March revolution 1848.

German Reich

German Reich

Kaiser William I and his "Iron Chancellor" Bismarck made the unified German Reich a great power and a modern industry state, but it remained utterly conservative. Kaiser William II behaved like the emperor of a World Power. At the end, World War I and the revolution.

Weimar Republic

Weimar Republic

The first years were almost civil-war-like. Many Germans blamed the republican politicians rather than the Kaiser'a generals. Allied troops occupied the Rhineland. Yet, Germany got back on her feet and the republic prevailed, until the Great Depression.



Nazi-Germany was soon transformed into a totalitarian state, with its terror machinery soon in place. Hitler went for war. WW II raged between 1939 and 1945 and affected the civilians more than any war before. The abandoned mine Ofenkaulen reminds us of those days.

Federal Republic

Hotel on Mount Petersberg

The Federal Republic with its provisional capital Bonn struggled for integration into the democratic western world, and for reconciliation. From 1949 to 1952, the Allied High Commission took residence in the hotel on Mount Petersberg.

"Who once was settled here, to him this is his homeland," thus the Roman historian Tacitus quotes the Germanic Ubii. Indeed, during the last about 2,000 years, people of numerous nationalities have come to the Rhine: Celts, Teutons, Romans, Frenchmen, Prussians, just to mention some of them. Therefore, the history of the Seven Mountains in the Rhineland is also a bit German and European history.

From the Stone Age to State Guests on Mount Petersberg

In the Roman Era, the Rhine was the border between the Roman Empire and the free Germania. In the Middle Ages, the front between regional powers, the Archbishopric of Cologne and The Duchies of Sayn and Berg, went right through the Seven Mountains. In the early modern times, the Prussian Kings again and again claimed the Duchy of Berg. Then, in the French Era, the Rhine again became the border, and the Duchy of Berg became a French model state with Napoleon at the top!

In 1815 began then the long time the "Prussian Rhineland". As citizens of the State of Prussia, the Rhinelanders lived to see the establishment of the German Empire, the First World War and the Weimar Republic, when there were efforts to create a "Rhenish Republic". Finally, death and destruction in the Second World War, the new start with the Petersberg Agreement and the today's federal city of Bonn.

"Crossroads" in history

Carl Schurz is a historical "cross roads", a person who "links" Rhineland history with the history of English speaking countries. You can meet him in my emigrants' story "At Home at the Rhine and in America. Another one is King Richard I Lionheart of England, whose dear nephew Otto of Brunsvick was elected King Otto IV of the Holy Roman Empire, supported by the Counts of Sayn from the Löwenburg.

Emigration to North America

EmigrantsHistory books tell us a lot of emperors and kings, princes and archbishops, but little about people like you and me. Little is known about those people who in the early modern age left their beloved homeland because they were suffering hunger and hardships, or persecution for their beliefs. My emigrants' story At Home on the Rhine and in America is about Rhinelanders who built up a new live for themselves in North America. It is about Rhineland/German and American history, yes, but the historical events just set the stage for the people, and tells the story of a family that is at home on both sides of the Atlantic.


The pictures are from the German Wikipedia, Public Domain Section