Geneology - Clüvers / Klüvers (english)

References to the Clüver’s first appeared in written history during the first centuries of the existence of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. These Clüver’s were saxons whose forefathers were called Clawen. There is evidence derived by inference that the ancient Clawen were Chauscians before they were Saxons and that they were one of the noble clans belonging to the Uradel of this ancient Germanic tribe. Some medieval Clüver’s are recorded as having been vassals of the Church; other members of the Clüver clan were noblemen invested with the elective office and title of Gogräfe (District Count) of the District Tribunal of Achim. This Tribunal, together with the vast possessions between the Elbe and Weser Rivers, was the source of the power and prestige which was possessed by these Clüver’s. The court appears to be a holdover into the beginning of mordern times of an Ancient People’s Court of one of the old satrap districts of the Saxons. Clüver’s were in charge of this court almost without interruption throughout the Middle Ages. Unlike the remainder of the Saxon homeland, the District of Achim was never completely subordinated to the will and the prerogatives of the overloards of the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire or the dignitaries of the authoritarian Church. The Clüver’s reached the height of their power between the 14th and 16th Centuries and allied themselves with the Roman Catholic Church. They suffered great losses during the Thirty Year War. During the negotiations of the end of this war it was conveniently arranged that the Bishoprics of Bremen Verden be occupied by the victorious Protestant Swedes. The District Tribunal of Achim was promptly taken over by the Swedes and the Catholic Clüver’s were persecuted. The last Clüver to be District Count was Otto von Clüver of Cluvenhagen. He fought to get in charge again and even went to Vismar, Sweden to take it for the swedish Supreme Court. He died however in 1660 before any decisions were made. Other Clüver’s got into swedish service like e.g. Cord Clüver who became a high ranked officer, before leaving the military behind him, becoming a landlord. The male lineage of the Counts of Clüvenhagen became extinct in the last half of the 17th Century. Relatives of the Clüver nobility lived during the 17th Century at Clüversborstel, Basum (Barsen), Verden, Sottrum, Stuckenborstel (Wasserburg), Bremen Hamburg, Lübeck, Achim, Wellen, Baden, Embsen, Clüverswerder, Diephoz and Sagehorn, all located in Lower or Old Saxony; others lived in Courland, Liefland, East Prussia, Holland, Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg, Denmark, Westphalia and elsewhere. Descendants of these Clüvers now bear the names Clüver, Cluver, Cluverius, Klüwer, Klüver, Kluver, Kluever, Kleuver and Klever and live in Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, the Union of South Africa, Canada and the United States of America. They are all members of the Clüver clan by virtue of descent from the ancient Clawen. (Clüverii Chronica).

The following 2 documents, i’ve received from Poul Cluver in Grabouw, South Africa and they narrow down much of which also can be read in Clüverii Chronica:

25 January 1958

Clüverswerder and the Clüver family.

The beautiful estate of the district Verden situated on the river Weser

The Clüver family belongs to the oldest dynasties of Lower-Saxony. This family is obviously not only one of the oldest but also one of the most successful settlers. Only few are aware of the fact that the Behrsche estate in Kl. Häuslingen was founded by the Clüvers. Already at the time of Charles the Great this knightly fortress was established. This fact is to be accepted because the Von Behrs had bought their estate Kl.Häuslingen during the 12th century from the Clüvers . Up to then the family von Behr owned estates in the region surrounding Hermannsburg.

Also in our immediate homeland do we find traces of colonisation by the Clüvers of which the names of valleys are a reminder. Apparently the name Cluvental in Verden is to be traced back to the family name of Clüver. In the district of Verden the village Cluvenhagen and the estate Clüverswerden situated on the river Weser, which now forms part of the district of Verden, remind us of the Clüvers. Also Neddernhudde used to be owned by the Clüvers. Only in the previous century the male line of the Clüver family came to a halt and Segelke Niebur, who at a later stage became the Councillor for Economic Affairs, married ino the family. In the district of Rotenburg is the estate Clüversborstel, which used to be a fortress and which made life for the bishops of Verden extremely difficult.

Apparently the Clüvers seemed to be experts in the reclamation of marshlands which in ancient times used to cover the North German countryside. The bishops of Verden had to cultivate the friendship of the Clüvers if they wanted guaranteed peace in their domain.Therefore Hinrich Clüver was granted the permission from a bishop in Verden to build a castle in the middle of a marshy terrain on the river Wieste in the district of Rotenburg. It became a moated castle, which at all times was safeguarded against all kinds of attacks in those times of rule of force. Defiantly the castle overlooked the sprawling countryside. The sovereign prince, the Bishop of Verden, Bartold von Landesbergen, who did not appreciate the power of the Clüvers, soon recognised the threatening danger from the direction of Bremen. Bishop Bartold was an extremely warlike gentleman, collected within a short time an army of mercenaries, moved with 300 horsemen into his residence and decided to destroy the stronghold of the Clüvers in Cluverborstel. In the chronicles it was written: “In the year 1489 the noble house of Clüversborstel was beleaguered by the Bishop of Verden, Bertolde von Landesbergen. The catalyst for this action was Clüver’s rightful demand for sheep and river lamprey by an emissary. The stewards of the bishop refused the emissary’s demands, seized him, dragged him into the cellar, forced his mouth open with an iron rod and laid him under a barrel of beer and there the poor man suffered death by means of drowning in beer.

To revenge this gruesome deed the knight Clüver invaded the territory of the bishop, took some of his farmers prisoner and threw them into the dungeon of the castle in Clüversborstel.. In the year 1489, during Lent, the bishop himself with his soldiers marched off to the stronghold Clüversborstel and started to besiege this fortress.

During this siege a sniper shot his brother’s son, Ortrade. As a result the bishop terminated the siege of Clüversborstel. In the cathedral of Verden, where Otrade was buried, this whole incident is chronicled.

The bishop then accepted the fortress of Clüversborstel. Also did the Clüvers receive their sheep and river lamprey from the Bishop of Verden until the year of 1610. The wealth of the Clüvers increased constantly. In the chronicles the following was recorded: “In the year 1455 the Bishop Johan von Verden owe Hinrich Clüver and his wife 1100 Rhenish florins.” Furthermore it is stated that in lieu for this money the Clüvers received salt from the salt works at Lüneberg owned by the bishop.

In 1518 the Clüvers lent the archbishop of Bremen 2400 gold florins and were therefore awarded the Castle of Ottersberg and all the rights until the borrowed monies would be paid back. By means of marriage the Clüvers also acquired the old moated castle of Stuckenborstel in the district of Rotenburg. They were granted the permission to hunt all game belonging to the nobility as well as the ordinary populace in Ottersberg, Achim and Thedinghausen. Later Hinrich Clüver transferred his rights regarding Ottersberg to the knightly dynasty of Von Frese from Bremen.

Circa. 1414 Gise Clüver was the owner of the fortress Langwedel, most probably as a security for a loan which he had given to the Archbishop of Bremen. During the latter half of the 14th century both sons of Johan Clüver, Gise and Alverich, divided the extensive family properties. The elder Gise dynasty took over Clüverborstel, the younger Clüvershagen or as it is known today Cluvenhagen.During the 16th century it appears that the younger dynasty split up into several branches. From that time onwards Clüvers are to be traced to Baden, Embsen, Clüverswerden and Sagehorn. In Baden and in Lessel the male line of the Clüver dynasty came to an end. Through marriage the properties came into the ownership of the family of Lieth. The bishops of Verden never managed to break the power of the Clüvers. The Swedes had taken up their total rights as landlords,which had been deservedly acquired.

Of all the former Clüver properties only Clüverswerder has been preserved. This former big estate is situated nearby the river Weser, situated about 2 kilometers from the country road Bremen-Achim- Verden. The original estate is situated at Uphusen and Bierden. However, from that estate only 6 hectares of land have remained. The estate comprises the manor, the overseer’s house, a park and a small garden and the 2 hectare fortress lake with an island overgrown with trees. Before the district of Verden had bought the remainder of the estate, 3 hectares of grazing land, “In den Bergen”, bordering on the country road Bremen-Verden, belonged to the Clüverswerder. There a township was established by the planning department of the district of Verden. Thus, herewith the district of Verden had acquired valuable development property on a very favourable site.

Already at the entrance to the estate the visitor gains an excellent impression of the former Clüver property, which is devoid of everyday noise pollution. The park is very inviting with the old oak trees ,the spruce trees with the curved branches, the chestnut trees which provide shade, the birch trees with the white trunks and the ash trees. In all of these trees are nesting boxes for the indigenous birds. The rose path demands special appreciation.

Unanimous consent ensured that this historical site belonging to the district of Verden was rescued from property developers. In the former mansion, which is leased by the Department of Labour, courses are being offered for the retraining of the unemployed. With this the mansion has been given a use, which surely would also have met with the approval of the Clüvers, who through their untiring hard work had attained great heights. An old motto on the Clüver shield, most probably by a travelling minstrel, reads as follows: “The flags, the ornamental helmet and the foot of the bear prove your lion’s courage. Many a proud enemy will give way, when your courage is inspired by honour and fatherland!”

Verdener Anzeigenblatt 5./6. February 1944

The 1000year-old Clüver dynasty of Lower-Saxony.

The power of the local knights – a warlike Bishop of Verden and his weakness towards the knighthood.

The history of our homeland leads us in a time span of circa thousand years very often to the name Clüver. The estate in Klein Häuslingen was founded by the Clüver dynasty and was only acquired by the Von Behr family during the 13th century. The estate in Neddernhude still belonged in the 2nd half of the previous century to a Clüver and in 1880 through marriage came into the possession of the Niebuhr family. Also the estate “Zum Hingste” used to be owned by the Clüver family. The Siebenmeierhof–estate in Magelsen belongs to Major Erwin Clüver; the heir, a nephew of the present owner , was killed in line of duty on the battlefield. The estates in Clüvenhagen , in Baden and Lessel also used to be owned by the Clüvers.

However, we do not only get to know the members of this family as the lord of the manor, but they also occupied positions of trust for the Archbishop of Bremen and the Bishop of Verden. In this manner the Clüvers from Cluvenhagen occupied the district court in Achim. Alverich Clüver was district count of Langwedel; the district counts of Achim are his descendants. Although the position of district count could not be inherited, the Clüvers always managed to be elected to this position and fulfil its tasks with the greatest dignity. A change took only place when the Swedes took over the duchies of Bremen and Verden. Before the end of the Thirty Year’s War the Swedish general, Count Königsmarck, took over from Otto Clüver, who tried in vain to regain his position due to the dogged resistance of the Swedish government. Finally Otto Clüver enlisted the highest Swedish court which had been instituted for Sweden’s German possessions in Wismar. However, Otto Clüver died before the verdict was pronounced in 1660.

A wing of the church in Achim has been named the “Clüvers-Kapelle”. Apparently this wing was built by the Clüver family. It is also being reported that the school in Achim had been built by Lüder Clüver from Clüvershagen(today known as Cluvenhagen). Lüder Clüver contributed towards the salary of the teacher, so that a good schoolmaster could be employed.

The coat of arms of the Clüver family with the claw of a bear.

1000year-old history of a family! Up to the present we have not known about such an old family from Lower-Saxony.

The Clüvers were part of the knighthood of Bremen, but were never part of the nobility. However, there were numerous families in Lower-Saxony who were not part of the nobility but who were definitely regarded as part of the society families, who always were entrusted with the important positions by the sovereign prince. The Clüvers definitely also moved in these circles. The family is not only represented in Lower-Saxony but also in other areas of Germany. For example in 1580 in Danzig the philologist, geographer and archaeologist Cluver(Clüver) was born and died in 1623 in Leiden in the Netherlands. He was a scholar of high repute who was the first person to successfully analyse systematically the historical and political geography. His archeological descriptions of Italy and Germany were of greatest importance.

The Clüvers of Lower-Saxony were often officers during Swedish, Hanoverian and Prussian rule. Already from the 10th century onwards the name Clüver is being mentioned in the local history. They are regularly being mentioned in conjunction with the knights of our homeland, but were also known as successful landlords, who had to be hard-working. Heather, marshland and water were still the distinguishing characteristics of stretches of Lower-Saxony. The effects of the 33year long war, which Charles the Great (Karl der GroBe) waged against the Saxons, had not been healed. The defeated people only slowly got used to the new order, which had brought with it the loss of personal freedom. The ownership structures had shifted completely. Those, who had recognized the progress of the new times and continued courageously with their daily lives, impressed the victors and were able to extend their properties and entrench their rights as owners and increase them. The others displayed secret and public animosity and had to suffer the negative consequences. During these times the differences between the nobles, the “Frielingen” and farmers without any rights became more distinct. To crown it all Karl der GroBe decreed that the poorer classes still had to hand over a tenth of their harvest.

However, the Clüver family did not suffer during this time, but increased their wealth from year to year. The heyday of the German knighthood had started; slowly the power of the princes and cities grew. As a result the knights lost their standing and properties. In vain they tried to suppress the emergence of the middle classes and maintain their priviledged position. The following saying which before had been frowned upon and reprimanded became the motto:

Riding and robbery does not cause any disgrace, the best in the country do it”.

The citizens of the walled cities, known as the hated “pepper bags”, became the embodiment of steady and peaceful progress and with that also of freedom.

In our homeland these phenomena did not attain the dimensions as they were reported in the history of the other German districts.

After studying the family history and chronicles it is noteworthy that the Clüver knights never participated in any robberies. However,in one chronicle it was stated that the Archbishop Gieselbert von Bremen had an agreement with the Duke Otto von Braunschweig in the year of 1297 wherein it was stated that especially the Clüver knights would be urged to have a meeting with the knights Herbert von Mandelsloh and Gerhard Slepegrell at Bremen to facilitate peace. The knights of Mandelsloh from Brunswick did not have a favourable reputation; apparently the Clüvers put a stop to their robbery expeditions.

The fact that the Clüvers were pro the normal folk can be derived from the history of the fortress of Langwedel. There the stewards were known for their gruesome methods of justice towards their subordinates. Following the advice of the canon of the cathedral in Bremen other judges were elected, whose judgements were less harsh. The following were appointed: Von Gillen, Clüver, Von Frese.

As the Clüvers had also been victims of the lust for power, they repeatedly fought the power crazed archbishops of Bremen. The family once owned the estates of Wellen at Beverstedt, also the fortress “Monjove”. But the family fortress is Clüvershagen at Daverden, which today is known as Cluvenhagen. For all these properties , which had been the properties of the emperor, the Clüvers had to acknowledge the archbishop as the feudal lord. In case of a war they were under the obligation to supply the horses which was connected to the demand for also 16 horses for the knights.

Bishop Rudolf I. built in 1195 the fortress Rotenburg.

The Clüver family had to hand over the land, and in lieu the bishop was under the obligation to supply them annually with 18=360 river lamprey.

The coat of arms of the Clüvers shows that that the family once was called “Clauen”(claws). In the coat of arms is a black claw of a bear on a golden field. On the open helmet is a blue ball with a green wreath on which is a golden column with peacock feathers. An old saying explains this coat of arms:

The flags and the decoration of the helmet testify

as well as the claw of the bear of your lion courage,

as many a proud enemy had to bend his knee,

when honour and fatherland inspires your courage.

Trusted officials of the Bishop of Werden were de Clüver, de Clawen,de Cluvere; the accompanying remark was:”They are a dynasty , 200 years ago known as de Clauen, all three had a claw of a bear in their shield”.

The Bishop of Verden also knew how to maintain the friendship of the Clüver knights. He allowed Hinrich Clüver to erect a castle on marshy land on the Wieste. Again one has an example of Clüver colonization of hitherto marshy land.

Throughout all these years of turmoil the Clüver family went unscathed. However, in the year of 1460 Hinrich Clüver erected the castle “Clüversborstel” in the district of Rotenburg,in the then bishopric of Verden, to be protected against all invasions or other attacks. According to the experts the castle was an example of an impregnable stronghold which was surrounded by a double moat. Clüversborstel was situated on the border between the archbishopric of Bremen and the bishopric of Verden.

With an air of defiance the castle overlooked the sprawling countryside. The sovereign prince, the Bishop of Verden, to whom the Clüvers were definitely in no debt, soon recognised the danger threatening him from Bremen. The Bishop of Verden was an extremely warlike gentleman, gathered within a short time an army of soldiers and at the head of 300 riders moved into his residence. He decided to destroy the stronghold of the Clüvers in Clüversborstel.

In the year of 1489 the Bishop of Verden, Bertholde von Landesbergen, and his army beleaguered the noble house of Clüversborstel The catalyst for this was Clüver’s rightful demand for sheep and river lamprey by an emissary. The bishop’s steward refused to comply, Clüver’s emissary was dragged to the cellar, his mouth was forced open with an iron rod , they laid him under a barrel of beer and there he suffered a cruel death by drowning in beer.

To revenge this deed Clüver’s knights invaded the bishop’s territory, took some of his farmers prisoner and threw them into the dungeon of the castle in Clüversborstel. During Lent of 1489 the bishop and his soldiers marched to the Clüversborstel stronghold and started to besiege this fortress. During this siege his brother’s son, Ortrade, was killed by a sniper.

As a result the bishop terminated the siege of Clüversborstel. Ortrade’s remains are buried in the cathedral of Verden where his death has also been chronicled.

The Bishop of Verden now had to accept the existence of the stronghold in Clüversborstel. Also did the Clüvers receive their sheep and river lamprey up to 1610 from the Bishop of Verden. This incident underlines the fact that the Clüvers did not have to part with any of their rights even if they had to go to war for them.

The wealth of the Clüver family increased steadily. In the chronicles is the following to be read:”In the year 1455 Bishop Johan of Verden owed Hinrich Clüver and his wife Adelheiten 1000 golden florins. In the year 1499 Bishop Johan borrowed 1100 Rhenish florins from Hinrich Clüver and his wife and furthermore in 1473 Bishop Bartholdus borrowed 1500 Rhenish florins. Furthermore it is stated that in lieu for this money the Clüvers received salt from the salt works at Lüneberg owned by the bishop.

But the power of the Cüvers increased even more. In 1518 they loaned the Archbishop of Bremen 2400 golden florins and in return received the castle in Ottersberg and all the rights until all the borrowed monies would be paid back. By means of marriage the Clüvers also acquired the old moated castle of “Stuckenborstel” in the district of Rotenburg. They were granted the permission to hunt all game belonging to the nobility as well as the ordinary populace in Ottersberg, Achim and Thedinghausen. Later Hinrich Clüver transferred his rights regarding Ottersberg to the knightly dynasty of Von Frese from Bremen.

After a Clüver had received the fortress Ottersberg as a security for a loan from the the Archbishop Albert, the latter’s successor,Archbishop Otto, demanded the return of Ottersberg.without repaying the loan. Johann Clüver defended himself and the Archbishop Otto terminated the siege of Ottersberg, repayed the loan to again become master of the fortress.

Quite a confusing state of affairs reigned in Germany at that time if one takes into account that a knight wielded more power than the sovereign ruler which was embodied by the archbishop. Therefore it was not surprising that in our German fatherland 1700 different “fatherlands” existed at that time. Often such a fatherland was just a village, estates or free towns which governed themselves and only paid allegiance to the emperor and not towards the sovereign rulers of their particular districts. Furthermore the emperor was considered to be very far away and therefore these different”fatherlands” did not fear the influence of the emperor and his power to command them as his troops.

Circa 1414 Gise Clüver becomes the owner of the fortress Langwedel, most probably as a security for a loan he had given to the Archbishop of Bremen. When in that same year the Frisians under the leadership of Dide Lübben threatened the town of Bremen, Gise Clüver together with the knights Von Meuhe, Von Werpa and others rushed to the aid of Bremen.

In the latter half of the 14th century the two sons of Johann Clüver, Gise and Alverich,divided the extensive property between the two of them. The elder Gise dynasty took over Clüversborstel; the younger dynasty took over Clüvershagen or Clüvenhagen. In the 16th century it seems that the younger dynasty had split up in numerous branches; and thereafter Clüvers were to be found in Baden, in Embsen, Clüverswerder and in Sagehorn, where some ruins of their old fortresses can still be seen.

In Baden and in Lessel the male line of the Clüver dynasty came to an end. Through marriage the properties came into the ownership of the family of Lieth. The latter had experienced how the new Swedish rulers had relieved Otto Clüver from all his responsibilities and rights as district count and all methods to regain the previous rights pertaining to the district county of Achim had been in vain. The family of Lieth now tried to regain at least the patronage rights of the churches in Achim and Daverden. But this was also rejected by Stockholm as they apparently could not prove their patronage rights towards the patronage adequately.

The reasons for excluding the Clüvers from all governing powers were quite obvious. Surely the Clüvers had contributed immensely to the development of their homeland; in fact they also always were very particular about their rights and the accompanying powers. We have seen how a Clüver from Clüversborstel managed to retain his claims concerning the sheep and river lamprey by means of taking to arms. The actual sovereign prince in the bishopry of Verden, the bishop, had to give up the siege of the fortress Clüversborstel, as the powers of the Clüver family were greater than those of the sovereign prince.

The Swedish occupation of the duchies of Bremen and Verden also produced a positive legacy. The radical curtailment of special rights within each “Land”(province) which were part of the old Germany, was the greatest merit of the Swedish occupation. In other districts it was not dared to curtail these special rights. The strong Swedish government put a stop to this plunder; in fact so thoroughly that even the mighty Clüver family’s patronage rights over a church and the rights of their descendants were nullified.

The Clüvers adapted readily to the new political situation and joined the Swedish army. Cord Clüver, a royal Swedish lieutenant, is mentioned in the family tree of the family. However, he did not serve too long in the Swedish army as he decided to become a landlord. In this field the Clüvers always were most successful.

This Cord Clüver is seen as the founder of the Magelsen dynasty of the Clüvers.

When he died in 1682, his children inherited the estate Siebenmeierhof in Magelsen, as well as the properties Neddernhude and Zum Hingste. During the course of the years these three beautiful Wesermarshland properties did not remain united in one hand. A Clüver would divide his property amongst his sons. Circa 1880 there was no male heir of the family at Neddernhude, Segelke Niebuhr from Spraken in the district of Hoya married the daughter of the last Clüver of Neddernhude and became the owner of this marshland estate. On the estate “Zum Hingste”no Clüver is the lord of the manor anymore: throughout the years the estate had changed hands several times.

According to family chronicles the founder of the Clüver dynasty in Magelsen was presented the three properties Siebenmeierhof in Magelsen, Neddernhude and Zum Hingste by the sovereign prince. This could well have happened as it was the time of the Thirty Year’s War. The upheavals and distress which were brought about in Lower-Saxony by this war, led to the desolation of once thriving estates. This most probably was the case in Magelsen with the Siebenmeierhof-estate, with Neddernhude and Zum Hingste. The government of the district was pleased about the fact that a member of the Clüver family,who were known for their farming expertise, had been prepared to take over the rebuilding of the properties.

What does Siebenmeierhof mean? They are not seven feudal estates put together,but the name is to be derived from the fact that during catholic times seven properties were established which had to provide the Bücker monastery with food. This included the Magelsen estate and the Siebenmeierhöfe in Wüsden (v.Waldthausen), Mahlen (Meyer), M..ringen(Stegemann), Stendern and Essen. The seventh estate was in Bücken, which was also divided up. On all these properties the Canonici (canon) of the Bücker monastery had the right to live on the estate for four weeks of each year. By these means the Bücker monastery wanted to safeguard its existence. Therefore the Stegemann’sche estate in Mehringen received on the Hämelheide terrain, to erect beehives so that the church would have a guaranteed wax supply.

The knighthood had lost its meaning, the military was kept alive in the Clüver family.The present owner of the Siebenmeierhof in Magelsen, Major Clüver, is in spite of his 67 years still the leader of the horse recruiting commission for the district Hoya and Nienburg. As a young officer he voluntarily went in 1905/06 to our colony in German South West Africa and fought against the Hereros. Major Clüver returned home from the First World War with bravery awards.

Heinrich Lüdemann