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The Sanftlebens

Christoffer Sanftleben: 1646-1733

The place of Christoffer Sanftleben's birth is unclear, although family tradition indicates that he was born near Frankenstein in Schlesien.  When the Peace of Westphalia ended the Thirty Years War in 1648, the terms of the treaty made Schlesien a Catholic province.  Many inhabitants simply switched religions again--as they had been forced to do many times during the war--and accepted Catholicism.  Other families left the area for Protestant regions when the Swedish Army departed.  That appears to have been the case with Christoffer and his family, as Christoffer eventually ended up as the owner of a farm near the town of Basbeck, not too far from the city of Stade, in the region of Northern Germany known as Bremen-Verden, an area stretching between the Elbe and Weser Rivers that was ceded to Sweden following the war.
Mercator Map Showing Stade - 1635

Bremen-Verden was actually a Swedish "dominion," meaning that while it was governed by Swedish law and a Swedish Governor-General, it was allowed to retain some regional law-making responsibility and it was not fully incorporated as an integral part of the nation.

Unfortunately, almost all records for Bremen-Verden were lost when Swedish Cavalrymantwo-thirds of the regional capital, Stade, went up in flames during a catastrophic fire in 1659.  So, few details are known about Christoffer other than that he served as a Swedish cavalryman and that he was supported by a large track of land which was farmed by tenants. 

While this information at first seems contradictory, it is not.  It dovetails quite nicely with the "indelningsverket" or "allotment system" that was used by Sweden to keep a trained army at all times.  The infantry soldiers who were part of this system were known as "indelta soldater" or "tenement soldiers." In exchange for their training and service when required, these infantrymen were given small tenement or crofts of farmland.  For cavalrymen, the system was slightly different and based on a "rusthall" or "armed household."  A rusthall was a much larger farm or estate capable of supporting a horseman, horse, and associated equipment.  Frequently, these "peasant manors" were farmed by tenants, and occasionally the horseman received additional tax incentives. 

The Swedish WarehouseThe proximity of  Basbeck and Stade also suggest this arrangement as the Swedes built Stade into a headquarters city with a large fortress and associated structures capable of garrisoning up to 3000 soldiers.  As a result of the fire, many of the Stade's most prominent structures, including the Schwedenspeicher (Swedish Warehouse) and the Armoury, have a distinctly Swedish military character, and the old walls and moat of the Swedish fortress still surround the town today.

It is unlikely that Christoffer saw much, if any action, as the region generally was at peace during this period.  It is possible, however, that he participated in the Bremen War of 1666.  Although the powerful city of Bremen was technically a part of Bremen-Verden, its citizens had long enjoyed considerable independent freedom.  While the city agreed to pay Swedish taxes, it refused to submit to Swedish control of its government and other institutions.  In response, Sweden unsuccessfully attempted to use the forces garrisoned in and around Stade to force Bremen's acquiescence.

To Silesian Roots         To Andreas Christoffer Sanftleben