Friday, January 1, 2016

Diedelsheim: A Town All Its Own?

Diedelsheim is the name of the village from which the Dittes family originates. My great-grandfather was born there. Records show that our family has lived there since the 16th Century.

But here's the thing about Diedelsheim.

You can't find it on a map.

Here is a map of the area. I have marked the crossroads of the village where Steinzeugstraße meets Schwandorfstraße with a golden star. Other than my marking, there is no sign of the village.

The village is today a small part of the larger town of Bretten, population 29,000. Zoom in on the golden star, and you might find remaining evidence of the village name. The book I'm reading, Diedelsheim: Vom ritterschaftlichen Dorf zum Brettener Stadtteil by Otto Bickel, attempts to trace the history of this particular village. Considering how much of my own family's history is wrapped up in this place, I want to learn all I can--and through this blog, I will share it with you, my reader.

Bickel states that Diedelsheim was founded in the 6th Century, after the Franks, under King Clovis, had defeated the previous occupants, the Alemanni in 496.

While the new rulers of the land are not disputed, Bickel--focused on the people--doesn't know what happened to the Alemanni residents. Were they enslaved, shipped to Grenada (the Islamic kingdom that then ruled much of modern Spain) and sold to the Saracens? Did they stay on as serfs (Hörigen)?

Bickel spends the last part of today's section (pages 31-32) taking on the idea that my Familiendorf has always been a part of Bretten. He drops some hints about evidence he will show in future chapters. He leaves the reader with the distinct sense that Diedelsheim is a unique village.

The Kurpfalz: a map of the lands ruled by the
counts of the Rhineland-Palatinate. This map
shows how dispersed and disconnected
lands were in the Middle Ages.
The town of Bretten can be seen on the map.
He drops two hints. First, he emphasizes that neither Bretten nor the Kurpfalz had the village within their jurisdiction.

The second hint Bickel drops is a reerence to the Count Kechler von Schwandorf (whose name is on one of the main streets of the village). The translated document linked above implies that Diedelsheim may have been a source of conflict between Schwandorf and the counts of the Palatinate.

I'm looking forward to learning more about this village and connecting it to my planned trip to Baden-Württemburg!

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