Brunswick, scattered fascination

The postal aspects of Brunswick, or 'Braunschweig' as the original German name reads, are certainly one of the most interesting and exciting of all former German states. On the next pages, this exiting story will gradually unfold, and will hopefully succeed in fascinating you as it did me. It is a tale telling of war, dukes and kings, exclaves and enclaves, and the formation of a postal structure in the dark ages of centuries ago, when the circumstances were entirely different from what we can imagine in these modern days.

The 'history' part will deal with the general history of the realm of Brunswick, its origination, and interactions with neighboring states in a constantly changing environment.
The 'postal history' part will take you back to the days when the arrival of a letter was heralded in a village. It introduces you to the organization of the postal system, the different currencies and rates, and shows how things worked before and after the introduction of stamps. A detailed overview of the cancellations used in the Brunswick territory is disclosed in a separate limited access part.

But first, let's go back to the 19th century...
The area now known as Germany was a mosaic of individual states in various varieties. Among them, kingdoms, duchies and grand duchies, republics, and free cities were found. The most important states were arguably Prussia ('Preußen') in the central and eastern part, and Bavaria ('Bayern') in the south. The northern part of current Germany was dominated in size by the kingdom of Hannover. Roughly in the middle of the German territory the realm of Brunswick ('Braunschweig') is situated, see the map below:

Map situating the duchy of Brunswick and its neighbouring states in the 19th century.

Map situating the duchy of Brunswick (shown in yellow) and its neighboring states in 19th century Germany. For reference, the thick black lines project the borders of the German territory. Part of The Netherlands can be seen at the upper left side. In the lower right, the territory of the current Czech republic can be seen. The light blue color represents the North Sea.

One intriguing aspect will be clear immediately from the map shown above: the territory of Brunswick is highly scattered and constitutes three large parts, three small parts, and four tiny parts. This aspect certainly makes Brunswick the most scattered German state to issue stamps; one part is even located near the remote city of Bremen! The scattering also resulted in a variety of conditions to be found in the landscape, ranging from relatively flat agricultural lands, thru thick forests, to the mountainous southern part where the Harz Mountains are situated.

Despite the scattered territory, there was nevertheless one unified postal system. As will be shown on the following pages, this postal system is one of the interesting and fascinating parts of Brunswick's philately!

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