What was Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany called in the 1600s?

+12 votes
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My 7th great grandfather, Johann Lucas, was born in Germany abt. 1690. Records say Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. He passed away before 1720 in Berks, Pennsylvania. Lucas-10747

My 8th great grandfather, Gerhard Lucas, was born in Germany abt. 1660. Records show he was born and died in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.  Lucas-10748

According to my research, Rhineland-Palatinate was not the accurate name in the 1600s. Am I missing something?
WikiTree profile: Johann Lucas
in Genealogy Help by Linda Short G2G Crew (520 points)
I would super-recommend "Iron Kingdom: The rise and downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947" by Christopher Clark.  Although to be honest, there were parts I skimmed (it's a long book...).  It does a great job of detailing all the nation states and duchys and suburbs and trailer parks that existed back then, who they went to war with and why, how they consolidated and merged etc.

2 Answers

+13 votes
 
Best answer
The most important territory in the area was the Electorate of Palatinate.

The Electoral Palatinate (short for Electorate Palatinate, more precisely Electoral Palatinate by the Rhine or Electoral Rhenish Palatinate) was an electorate of the Holy Roman Empire that existed until 1803.
That mean the correct name was: kurfürstliche Pfalzgrafschaft bei Rhein.

The Electoral Palatinate was located on the Upper and Middle Rhine, between the Moselle and Kraichgau, with its core area on the lower Neckar and its capitals in Heidelberg and Mannheim. The Electoral Palatinate territory was not contiguous, but a "patchwork quilt" of exclaves and enclaves typical of the time; individual territories were even shared with other states. At the end of its existence, the territory covered 8200 square kilometers.

Former Electoral Palatinate territories are now located in the German states of Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse, Bavaria (Upper Palatinate = Upper Palatinate, Palatinate-Neuburg), Saarland, as well as in the departments of Bas-Rhin (Lower Alsace) and Moselle, which today belong to France.

This means that you would have to know a little more exactly where your ancestors came from, then I might be able to determine exactly which area it is.
by Dieter Lewerenz G2G6 Pilot (687k points)
selected by Kie Zelms
Thank you Dieter for the clearest explanation of this complex question.  For people contributing to profiles of people from these areas, if you happen to know the village of origin, it is strongly recommended to use the biography section to add something such as, "from the village of X located 14 km south of Heidelberg." The reference town should be large enough to have its own Wikipedia page; link it.  In addition to aiming for historical precision--as described by Dieter--we should also strive for geographic precision, which avoids the conflation of the many similar village names across Germany.  Geographic precision is also important to, say, Americans wanting to explore the home village of their ancestors or locate the appropriate church record.
Thanks for clarification, Dieter. Michael, good suggestion!
+7 votes

possibly Pfalz, my first guess...some borders moved back and forth due to wars, so today may possibly be in a neighboring German "Staat" or state.  In the 1600s, it also included much of northwestern Bavaria (Bayern), Schwabia (Schwaben), and Baden-Wurttemburg. Parts were also dukedoms, bishoprics, and independent city-states. All a patchwork of the Holy Roman Empire (heiliges Römisches Reich)

by Russ Gunther G2G6 Mach 8 (82.6k points)
edited by Russ Gunther

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