My German family surname is Bonstein The oldest Bonstein Ancestor of mine recorded in my file is Cuntz Bonnstein and his wife Gela. They were married before 1630 and lived in the town of Ropperhousen, in the Principality of Hesse-Kassel (a principality in northern Hesse) in what was know as the Holy Roman Empire.
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The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation (German: Heiliges Römisches Reich Deutscher Nation listen ▶ (help·info), Latin Sacrum Romanum Imperium Nationis Germanicae, see names and designations of the empire) was a political conglomeration of lands in Central Europe in the Middle Ages and the early modern period. Emerging from the eastern part of the Frankish realm after its division in the Treaty of Verdun (843), it lasted almost a millennium until its dissolution in 1806. By the 18th century, it still consisted of the larger part of modern Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Belgium, and Luxembourg, as well as large parts of modern Poland and small parts of the Netherlands. Previously, it had included all of the Netherlands and Switzerland, and parts of modern France and Italy (see: Maps below). In the 18th century, when the Empire was already in decline, Voltaire ridiculed its nomenclature by saying that the Holy Roman Empire was "neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire".
It was never a nation state. Despite the German ethnicity of most of its rulers and subjects, from the very beginning many ethnicities constituted the Holy Roman Empire. Many of its most important noble families and appointed officials came from outside the German-speaking communities. At the height of the empire it contained most of the territory of today's Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Czech Republic and Slovenia, as well as eastern France, northern Italy and western Poland. Its languages thus comprised not only German and its many dialects and derivatives, but many Slavic languages and the languages which became modern French, Dutch and Italian. Furthermore, its division into territories ruled by numerous secular and ecclesiastical princes, prelates, counts, imperial knights, and free cities made it, in the early modern period at least, far less cohesive than the emerging modern states around it.
However, during most of its time it was more than a mere confederation. The concept of the Reich not only included the government of a specific territory, but had strong Christian religious connotations (hence the holy prefix). Until 1508, German Kings were not considered Emperors of the Reich until the Pope had formally crowned them as such.
The Reich can thus best be described as a cross between a state and a religious confederation
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My family moves forward to 1776 and the American Revolutionary War. Laurentius (Lorenz) Bonstein (Johann Paulus (Paul)5, Christian4, Henning3, Cuntz2, First name unknown1) was born February 5, 1716 in Grossropperhausen, Cassel, Germany and his wife Hedwig Lingemann have to give up two son to the standing Army of Frederick II, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel.
Paulus Bonnstein and his younger brother my ancestor Johann Jacob (I) Bonstein.
Jacob stayed here and Paulus went home to Hesse-Kassell and family after the war.
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