Principality of Schwarzburg Rudolstadt
When Friedrich Froebel was born in 1782, German was a language rather than a land; a culture rather than a country; a people rather than a political unit. By translating the Bible into German (1534), Martin Luther had transformed the speech of the meadow and the market place into a language of philosophy, capable of expressing the highest aspirations of the human mind, heart and soul.
"I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men - and German to my horse" said Charles V, who became Holy Roman Emperor in 1519.
For centuries German speaking people had lived across the Northern European plain; farming, trading and ruling countries from England (George I 1714-1727) to Russia (Catherine The Great l762-1796). In many of the small duchies and principalities of the Holy Roman Empire, enlightened rulers encouraged science and the arts to flourish, and developed projects useful for the domestic economy, there was room enough in the smallest hut for a satisfied heart.
These plains had also been the battlefields of Europe for centuries. After the The Thirty Years War (1618-1648) there were many autonomous German states; kingdoms, electorates, free cities, grand duchies and principalities. The German confederation formed after the defeat of Napoleon (1815) was a hollow expression of the growing desire for national unity. A powerless parliament was its only achievement.
The first fifty years of Friedrich Froebel's life witnessed the most intense philosophical exchange and development since Ancient Greece. Many of these philosophers hoped for a nation of German speaking people enjoying the freedoms of the recently independent United States of America (1776). Education was central to the realisation of this vision. It was in the context of these turbulent times, that Friedrich Froebel developed his cherished plan for a school, the Universal German Educational Institute.
The small Principality of Schwarzburg Rudolstadt was remote from Berlin and Vienna. But it was in the valleys and villages of Griesheim, Keilhau and Bad Blankenburg that Friedrich Froebel developed and demonstrated his educational principles, which have become the universal foundation for education.
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