He married Catharina in Germany, 1643. (Catharina is #981.) Catharina was born in Frauenbreitung, Thuringia, Germany 1623. (Additional notes for Catharina(1)) Catharina died February 19, 1686 in Weitersweiler, Alsace, Germany, at 62 years of age. Her body was interred in Weitersweiler, Alsace. The following registration of Catharina Gerlinger in the Weitersweiler, Alsace Protestant church records gives several important pieces of information about her life:
"In 1686 Catharina Gerlinger, born in Frankenbreiting (Frauenbreitung), Thuringia, married in her 20th year during war-time (Thirty-Years War) to a soldier by the name of Christoph Gerlinger who afterwards became a citizen of this very village, with whom she lived as a wife for nearly 33 years, whom she has borne 7 children (5 sons and 2 daughters), has been buried here today, on February 19th, with Christian Consecration, in her 63rd year and her 10th year of widowhood, as testified by the signatures of her own sons, Hans Michael Gerlinger, citizen of this village: Michel Gerlinger, citizen of this village."
Investigations of the registers of the Protestant church in Breitung (Frauenbreitungen), Thuringia, have so far not been successful. Christoph Gerlinger settled down in Weitersweiler, Lutzelstein, Alsace around 1657. This is an area that is in the Notheast of present day France. The Alsace-Lorraine (Elsass-Lothringen) has been the location of many conflicts between France and Germany throughout European History. The land has been shuffled between the two nations on many occasions. Many of the villages have both German names and French names that are used interchangeably depending on which nation happens to control the region that century.
Christoph Gerlinger settled in Weitersweiler after being pensioned off by the Army. He had been a soldier in the Thirty Year' s War. He married his wife during the war in 1643. His wife Catharina was from Frauenbreitung, Thuringia. Thuringia is a region in Central Germany They had 7 children, 5 sons and 2 daughters. We only know the names of three of the boys Christoph was from the area in Southern Germany near the village of Creglingen, just 7 miles from the medieval "free imperial city" of Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Rothenburg on the Tauber River). Creglingen is in the present day German province of Baden-Wuerrtemburg while Rothenburg is in Bavaria. Both are situated along the Tauber River.
The Thirty Years War (1618-1648) was the last great European War of Religion. In fact, it was a series of Wars involving most of the nations of Western Europe. This conflict sets the stage for Christoph Gerlinger's entire life. Christoph was a Protestant, but as a veteran of the Thirty Years War he settled in the Alsace under Catholic French control. This eventually resulted in some of his Protestant descendants fleeing the Alsace for America a century later.
Rothenburg had been well known as sympathetic to the Protestants. In 1525, the City of Rothenburg had allied itself with the peasants in a brief uprising of the German lower class against their feudal overlords. It was caused by the growing economic, religious and judicial oppression to which the lower classes of Germany were subjected by the nobles and clergy, The peasants demanded an end to serfdom. The revolt was particularly violent in the province of Thuringen northeast of Rothenburg. The Catholic forces put down the revolt by 1526 and thousands were executed. Catholic Mass was re-introduced into Rothenburg. Despite this, the region around Creglingen and Rothenburg remained strongly sympathetic to the Protestants.
Religious tensions continued, Protestant churches in many parts of Germany were destroyed, restrictions were placed on the rights of Protestants to worship freely. In 1608, the Protestant Evangelical Union was formed as a defensive alliance among Protestant princes and cities under the leadership of Frederick IV of the Palatinate. In 1609, Maximilian I, the Habsburg Duke of Bavaria, led the Catholic princes in the formation of the Catholic League. War was inevitable.
The Protestant Evangelical Union met in Rothenburg in 1618, just shortly before the birth of Christoph Gerlinger around 1620. On May 23, 1618, the Thirty Years War began when a group of Bohemian Protestant noblemen tossed two Catholic governors out of the window of the Royal Hradcany Palace in Prague. The Protestants appealed for help from the Prince of Transylvania and immediately elected Frederick V of the Palatinate their new King. They had hoped that the Moslem Sultan of Ottoman Turkey would support the Transylvania Protestants against the Austrian Habsburgs. The Protestants were also counting on Frederick V's father-in-law and uncle to enter the war. The uncle was the ruler of the United Provinces of the Netherlands and the father-in-law was King James I of England. Frederick V was a Protestant, but he was a Calvinist, not a Lutheran. There was great dissension among the Evangelical Union as most of the German Protestant Princes were Lutheran.
Ferdinand, Emperor of the Catholic Holy Roman empire took advantage of the disunity and Protestant hopes were dashed rather quickly by the Catholic League commanded by General Tilly. For the next fourteen years Tilly ravaged the Protestant German countryside and reclaimed the Palatinate for the Habsburg Duke of Bavaria.
In 1625, Christian IV, King of Denmark and Norway came to the aid of the German Protestants. Initially successful, within 18 months, Tilly completely defeated the Danish Army. This allowed Tilly to spread his pillage into Northern Germany.
In1631, when Christoph Gerlinger would have been about 12 years old, General Tilly conquered the area around Rothenburg and Creglingen in Southern Germany. He entered the walled city of Rothenburg on October 31, 1631. The Catholic General Tilly was furious at the stiff resistance of the area and vowed to "hang every man jack of the city council." All appeals to Tilly were to no avail. The Mayor, Burgermesiter Bezold was summoned to fetch the executioner.. The General was offered a 6.3 pint tankard of the region's best Franconian Wine. Tilly upon witnessing this offered to show mercy if any of the condemned councilmen could swallow the entire contents in one draught. Former Burgermeister Nusch accepted the challenge and succeeded in finishing off the wine in one go. Tilly kept his promise and spared Rothenburg from wholesale destruction. Nevertheless, most of surrounding Germany was in ruins. Some villages had lost half of their population in casualties and displacement. This was the world that the young Lutheran Protestant, Christoph Gerlinger, lived in as an adolescent.
Now the Thirty Years War would begin to become less about religion and more about politics. As Tilly proceeded to lead the Catholic League in the destruction and massacre of Protestants, France was becoming alarmed at the growth of Habsburg domination in Europe. In one of the most bizarre turn of events in European History, the Catholic nation of France under King Louis XIII at the urging of Chief Minister, Cardinal Richelieu, aligned themselves with the German Protestants against the Habsburg Catholics. The Catholic French subsidized an invasion of Germany by the Lutheran Protestant King Gustav II Adolph of Sweden. Gustav was a zealous Lutheran who entered the war on the side of the German Protestants. The Swedish Army drove through Germany defeating the Catholics and settled in Southern Germany for the winter of 1631. On April 14, 1632, Gustav's army battled General Tilly near Munich. Tilly was killed in the Catholic Defeat. The Swedish Army continued its success until the Fall when King Gustav was killed on November 18, 1632. The Swede's continued to overrun Bavaria but began to run out of steam by the mid-1630's. In 1635, Cardinal Richelieu of France committed French Troops to the War on the side of the German Protestants and Sweden.
At about this time young Christoph Gerlinger would have entered the army as a soldier in the Lutheran Protestant forces. The War continued another 13 years and involved virtually all the nations of Western Europe, Catholic Spain entered the war on the side of the Habsburgs. In 1643, during the war years, Christoph met and married his wife, Catharina. Catharina was from the nearby province of Thuringen north of Bavaria.
The Treaty of Westphalia ended the Thirty Years War on October 24, 1648. The weakened Holy Roman Empire and Habsburgs surrendered territory and influence to France and Sweden. This Treaty gave control of the Alsace to the Kingdom of France. The Alsace region had been part of the Holy Roman empire and was controlled largely by the Habsburgs rulers of Austria. The War between France and Spain continued until 1659, with England joining tha war on the side of France in 1656. The alliances which began to develop between England and some of the Protestant German Princes would set the stage for the Gerlinger family's move to America a hundred years later to the promised land of Philadelphia.
The original homelands of Christoph and Catharina had been ravaged by war and there was nothing to return to. When Christoph Gerlinger was pensioned off by the army, they settled in French controlled Alsace in 1657. He became a citizen of Weitersweiler. Two of the seven children were born before the couple arrived in Weitersweiler. Descendents would live in the area for the next 350 years. Some would move next door into neighboring Grossbundenbach in the Pfalz (Lower Palatinate), some would come to America as immigrants where the surname would be known as both Gerlinger and Garlinger.
Christoph Gerlinger and Catharina had the following children:
+ 2 i. Hans Michael2 Gerlinger was born before 1657.
+ 3 ii. Johannes Michaelis Gerlinger was born January 30, 1657.
+ 4 iii. Phillippus
Jacobus Gerlinger was born May 20, 1660
to Second Generation.
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