Anna of Oldenburg

Anna of Oldenburg

Anna of Oldenburg
Spouse(s) Enno II of East Frisia
Noble family House of Oldenburg
Father John V, Count of Oldenburg
Mother Anna of Anhalt-Zerbst
Born (1501-11-14)14 November 1501
Died 24 September 1575(1575-09-24) (aged 73)

Anna of Oldenburg (14 November 1501 in Oldenburg – 24 September 1575 in Emden) was a Countess consort of East Frisia as the spouse of Count Enno II of East Frisia. She was the Regent of East Frisia in 1540/42–1561 as the guardian for her minor sons. Her reign lasted until 1561 and was generally supported by the Estates. Her chief advisor was her brother, count Christopher of Oldenburg. When she died in 1575, it was exactly 35 years after her own husband's death.


The main characteristic of her policy towards the Reformation was an effort to balance the various confessions and allow them to coexist. She adhered to the faith herself, but saw that among the East Frisian nobility Lutheranism as Zwinglianism were about equally distributed. It was cleat that a selection of one of these as the state religion of East Frisia, would not be enforceable. Catholics and Spiritualists were also allowed to practise their faith in East Frisia. Only under pressure from the emperor, was Baptism forbidden in 1549.

She founded the police force in East Frisia (1545), reformed the legal system. Next to its administrative tasks, the Chancellery was given judiciary tasks. Councillors and legal scholars were added to the Chancellery to carry out these tasks. The Chancellery was mostly a court of appeals, but would also act a court of first instance in cases involving the nobility.

During Anna's rule, the armed conflict with the Harlingerland flared up one more time, when Count John II "the Mad" of Harlingerland seized a strip of land at the Accumer Deep. Anna took her case to the Reichskammergericht and to the Lower Rhenish-Westphalian Circle. The Circle arrested John, who had made many enemies, and he died in captivity in 1562.

In 1558, she abolished the law of the first born would succeed as sole ruler of the county, instead power was to be shared between her three sons, Edzard, Christopher and Johan. This was meant to prevent Swedish dominance in view of the wedding between her son Edzard to princess Katharina Vasa of Sweden (1559). It also implied a continuation of the religious balance, with Johan being a Calvinist and Edzard being Lutheran and neither of them able to establish their faith as the only religion allowed in the county.

The relationship between Edzard and Johan was not too good to begin with and it worsened after Christopher died in 1566. The power struggle between the brothers often blocked the exercise of their shared power; this greatly strengthened the nobility and the citizens of Emden.

Menso Alting had only been preacher at Emden for a short time, when Countess Anna died on 24 September 1575. He held his first major funeral sermon when she was buried in the family vault in the Great Church in Emden, the Reformed church, locally known as the Moederkerk ("Mother Church").

After Johan's death in 1591 Edzard II became the sole ruler of the County of East Frisia, but his authority had been severely hit by the ongoing conflict. The weakening of the Count's house was one of the factors leading to the so-called "Emden Revolution".


From her marriage to Count Enno II, Anna had six children:


References and sources

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Anna of Oldenburg
Born: 14 November 1501 in Oldenburg Died: 24 September 1575 in Emden
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Enno II
Regent of East Frisia
Succeeded by
Edzard II
Title last held by
Elisabeth of Rietberg
Countess of East Frisia
Title next held by
Catherine Vasa
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