History of Hohatzenheim, a village of Alsace
The surroundings of Hohatzenheim were probably inhabited during the prehistoric and Celtic periods.
58BC Cesar defeats Ariovist, the chief of the Suevi (a barbarian people then living in Alsace) near Wittelsheim (Southern Alsace). Alsace becomes Roman territory and the Rhine stands as its new border.
Roman Period (1st — 5th century AD)
10-12 After the disaster of the legions of Varus in the Black Forest (9AD), the emperor Augustus transfers the Second Legion Augusta from Spain to Argentoratum (Strasbourg), where a large garrison is built.
40 The Second Legion Augusta leaves Argentoratum to participate in the conquest of Britain.
70 The Eighth Legion Augusta sets its quarters in Argentoratum and enlarges the existing facilities. The town becomes the center of an important military administration.
The strict square layout of the streets of the village of Hohatzenheim is a clear testimony of its Roman origin. Archeological digs have revealed the existence of Roman fortifications in place of the current church. The steeple is built directly over Roman foundations. Church Street is one of the last remnants of the old Roman road linking the town of Bouxwiller (in the north) to Argentoratum.
357 The legions of Julian pass near Hohatzenheim on route to Kuttolsheim (about 7 miles south of Hohatzenheim) where they defeated the alliance of the Alemanni (a barbarian people established on the other side of the Rhine).
451 Attila the Hun invades Alsace and sets Argentoratum on fire for the last time. The Romans leave the town for good. Argentoratum had been the last stronghold held by the Roman army in Alsace.
Frankish Period (6th — 10th century AD)
496 Clovis the king of the Franks defeats the Alemanni at the battle of Tolbiac (north of Alsace). However, Alsace will only be incorporated gradually into the Frankish territories.
786 Hohatzenheim is mentioned for the first time.
800 Charlemagne, king of the Franks, is crowned emperor in Rome. Alsace is part of the new empire, which streches far beyond the Rhine. At this time the first church of Hohatzenheim has been probably built already.
842-920 The empire is divided between the grandsons of Charlemagne. Creation of the French and German kingdoms, which fight for the border lands stretching from Holland to Burgundy. Alsace is finally incorporated into the German kingdom.
962 King Otto I of Germany is crowned emperor in Rome and gives rise to the Holy German Empire.
Holy German Empire (962-1648)
During this period, Alsace will follow the fate of all the other regions of the empire and will be gradually broken off into pieces, as power becomes more and more diluted among a large number of small noble dynasties. Strasbourg will benefit from this increasing weakening of the central power and will eventually gain the status of a free town within the empire.
1053 The bishop of Strasbourg mentions his veneration for the pilgrimage of our Lady of Hohatzenheim and adds that himself enjoys going there.
1100 A new church is built in Hohatzenheim in place of the old one. It is the church still standing today. In those days, the village belonged to the bishopric of Metz (Lorraine region, west of Alsace). The church will be incorporated in the Benedictine Abbey of Neuwiller (central Alsace) in 1178.
With the 12th century develops the custom of naming the noble families from the location of the their main castle. During this period Alsace is ruled by about twenty powerful dynasties.
Rise of Lichtenberg Dynasty:
1206 The castle of the lords of Lichtenberg becomes inhabitable. It is built on a land owned by the family, which is located at about 20 miles northeast of Hohatzenheim. Despite many destructions and reconstructions it is still standing today.
1249 The lords of Lichtenberg earn the status of protectors of the city of Strasbourg. In case of danger they must defend the city.
1262 Battle of Hausbergen (near Strasbourg). The militiamen of Strasbourg defeat the 300 knights of their bishop, thus affirming for the city the status of free town.
1286 The bishop of Strasbourg Conrad of Lichtenberg helps his family rebuild its castle.
1305 Lichtenberg becomes a town, with all the rights and duties attached to such a promotion.
1332 The territory of Lichtenberg doubles in size with the acquisition of an important part of the domain of the lords of Werd.
The Thirteenth century sees a significant rise in the number of fortified castles built in stone. 500 of them have been identified in Alsace. They are established as places of residence or defense, strongholds for protection or extension. It is possibly during this period that the castle of Hohatzenheim is built, in place of the current restaurant, right across the street from the church. This castle was probably made of a square, rectangular or polygonal fortified wall, protecting the dungeon located at the center of the compound. This layout is typical of the castles built in the plains.
1337-1453 Hundred Year War between France and England.
1349 Black plague in Alsace. The Jews of Strasbourg are blamed for this calamity and are all burnt alive.
1355 John of Lichtenberg is elected bishop of Strasbourg. The same year, the bishopric of Metz transfers a fiefdom including Hohatzenheim to the lords of Lichetenberg.
1365 The militiamen of Strasbourg run over and destroy the castle of Hohatzenheim. It was the property of the noble family of Waltenheim-Mittelhausen. This family will rebuild a much smaller establishment in the village of Mittelhausen, at the bottom of the hill of Hohatzenheim. The same year, the region is devastated by bands of mercenaries freed from their military service by the recent truce of Bretigny between France and England.
1425 William of Mittelhausen (born in 1398) marries Margaret of Lichtenberg (born in 1402).
1434-1444 Guntenberg lives in Strasbourg. He will print the first bible about ten years later in Mainz, Germany (about 50 miles north of Alsace).
1439 Alsace is devastated again by bands of looters nicknamed “skinners”. They burn 150 villages. It is the same year that the cathedral of Strasbourg is completed.
1440 The castle of Lichtenberg is protected by 12 defenders, including a door keeper and a watchman.
1444 The skinners are back in Alsace in large number (40,000) under the command of the future king of France Louis XI. Once his mission completed, Louis returns to France relinquishing the region to the skinners who will loot freely once again.
1458 James II of Lichtenberg becomes count by decision of the emperor.
1472 Death of William of Mittelhausen. A monument which is still standing is erected next to the church of Hohatzenheim (northern side).
1480 The last of the Lichtenberg dynasty James II dies without heir. Hohatzenheim becomes part of the estate of Philip I, count of Hanau-Lichtenberg.
1540 Marriage of Philip IV of Hanau-Lichtenberg with the Protestant Eleanor of Furstenberg. His territories will pass gradually under the Protestant reformation.
1545 Hohatzenheim and the neighboring village of Mittelhausen become Protestant. Wingersheim, the other neighboring village, remains Catholic since it belongs to an estate directly administered by the empire.
1587 Wingersheim replaces Hohatzenheim as mother church of the three villages.
1618-1648 Thirty Year War. France, Sweden and some of the Protestant kingdoms of the German Empire are opposed to Spain and Austria (which holds the imperial crown). Alsace will be invaded in turn by several armies of these countries and will be particularly devastated. A great number of inhabitants will die or flee the conflict.
1621 Alsace is first invaded by the troops of the count of Mansfeld, an officer of the Imperial army, who is soon trying to establish a small autonomous Protestant kingdom in the important town of Haguenau (about 10 miles north of Hohatzenheim).
1632 Invasion of the Swedish army to protect the Protestant of Alsace after the departure of Mansfeld.
1634 After the death of their king the swedes finally retreat. The French troops then intervene and occupy most of Alsace.
1644 Hohatzenheim is left with 2 inhabitants.
1648 The treaty of Westphalia puts an end to the Thirty Year War and recognizes the transfer of Alsace over to France. However, France confirms the privileges and the possessions of the German princes. Thus, Hohatzenheim passes under French dominion while still being part of the estate of the lords of Hanau-Lichtenberg. Strasbourg and a few other towns remain independent.
The kingdom of France (1648-1789)
1681 The troops of king Louis XIV enter Strasbourg and annex the city. The French conquest of Alsace is completed.
1687 Hohatzenheim becomes Catholic again. On the northern wall of the church, above an old side door, which has been walled up, an inscription in Latin and German commemorates the event:
“This old and famous sanctuary had been in the hands of the Lutherans for more than a hundred years. On October 7, 1687 under Louis XIV brought back to the true religion and renovated in 1772.”
1741-1748 War of the Austrian Succession between France, Austria and Prussia.
1744 The Pandours (mercenaries) of colonel Trenk of the Austrian Imperial army storm briefly through Alsace. They stop by Hohatzenheim where they cause some damage.
1760 Hohatzenheim is populated by 19 Catholic families and 4 Protestant families.
1778 Hohatzenheim becomes again the mother parish of Wingersheim. Wingersheim will regain the title from 1808 to 1907.
1789 On July 14, the Parisians assault and cease the main Parisian prison (Called “Bastille”) which triggers the French revolution.
French Revolutions and Empires (1789-1871)
1792 The revolution “annexes” permanently all the territories of the old French kingdom. The German lords such as the Hanau-Lichtenberg, are all dispossessed of their estates in Alsace. The same year the first census of the population of Hohatzenheim counts 199 inhabitants.
1793 The mayor of Hohatzenheim Nicolas Blaise is reported as a royalist and beheaded by Eulogius Schneider, who is roaming throughout the region with his portable guillotine. The following inscription can still be read on his grave: “Here rests in God Nicolas Blaise, beheaded in 1793 under the terror by Eulogius Schneider, this soul of mud, who put to death, innocent, a great number of honest men of Lower Alsace.”
1794 Eulogius Schneider is beheaded in Paris on January 6.
1804-1815 Napoleon I is emperor of the French people.
1815-1848 Reestablishment of a royalist regime.
1829 (May 10) The village holds 45 men, 32 horses, 2 oxen, 13 cows and 47 carts.
1842 The church of Hohatzenheim is in a pitiful state. On June 24, 1844 the Municipal Council decides to spend 1,600 francs for the restoration of the church in order to “protect it from imminent ruin.”
1848 Another Revolution shakes France. The last French king is driven out.
1848-1852 Second French Republic.
1851 The census in Hohatzenheim counts 197 people compared to 199 in 1792.
1852-1870 Second Empire. Napoleon III emperor of the French people.
1852-1859 New school in Hohatzenheim. On April 25, 1852 the Municipal Council deliberates upon the amount to spend on a new school building. On January 10 the M.C. votes an extraordinary levy of 400 francs for this purpose. On February 9, 1856 the M.C. decides to build it in place of the old school. Finally on July 20, 1859 the M.C. produces a cost estimate for the furnishing of the new school.
1870-1871 Franco-Prussian war.
1870 French troops are defeated at the battle of Reischoffen (northern Alsace). The Germans invade Alsace and France.
1871 France surrenders and Alsace is annexed by the new German Empire.
German Empire (1871-1918)
1888 Heavy restoration of the Church of Hohatzenheim.
1905 Census: 211 people live in Hohatzenheim compared to 197 in 1851. 177 of them are Catholic and 34 are Protestant.
1909 The Franciscan order takes hold of the pilgrimage site of Hohatzenheim.
1914-1918 World War I.
1915 The wooden porch in front of the church is added by the architect of the Strasbourg cathedral Knauth.
1918 On November 11, Germany surrenders to the allies. Alsace becomes French again. A French contingent stops in Hohatzenheim.
Back to France (1918-1940)
1936 Census: 180 people now live in Hohatzenheim compared to 211 in 1905.
1939-1945 World War II.
1940 Germany invades France in May. By June the defeat of the French troops is complete and France surrenders. The Third Republic collapses and the authoritarian regime known as the “Vichy government” is put in place. At that time the German troops occupy the northern half of France.
German Occupation and Annexation (1940-1944)
1942 By decree of the German authorities, Alsace becomes part of the Third Reich.
1943 Beginning of the forced draft of the Alsacian youth in the German army. They will be nicknamed the “malgre-nous” (despite our will). The drafted from Hohatzenheim will fight in Russia, Yugoslavia, Italy and one of them will serve on the battleship “Prince Eugene”.
1943-44 The Franciscan convent and the underground beneath the church become the hiding places of three clandestine men sought by the Germans.
1944 The Gestapo comes to Hohatzenheim. Father Celestin is taken to Strasbourg to be interrogated.
1944 Strasbourg is liberated on November 23 by the troops of General Leclerc. The next day the first American tank coming from the neighboring village of Gougenheim, enters Hohatzenheim.
Alsace finally part of France (since 1945)
1945 From February 21 till March 4, the 141st infantry regiment of the 36th infantry division of the US army sets its headquarters in Hohatzenheim. The single classroom of the school becomes the headquarter’s war room. This regiment from Texas, which would cross the Rhine at the end of March had participated in operations in Algeria, Italy and Corsica before taking part in the large landing of August 1944 in southern France.
1945 Free French troops stop in Hohatzenheim.
1946 The French admiral Thierry d’Argenlieu stops in Hohatzenheim.
1990 Fifth census: 188 people live in Hohatzenheim compared to 180 in 1936.