_de terra



It all started when...

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[Bio incoming]




The huguenots

The de Terra family is of Huguenot origin. The Huguenots were French Protestants who left France during the period when the Huguenots began to be persecuted.  After the Reformation, the Edict of Nantes signed in 1598 by King Henry IV of France, granted the Calvinist/Protestants of France (also known as Huguenots) substantial rights in the nation, which was still considered essentially Catholic. In the edict, Henry aimed to promote civil unity. The edict separated civil from religious unity, treated some Protestants for the first time as more than mere schismatics and heretics, and opened a path for secularism and tolerance. In offering general freedom of conscience to individuals, and the edict offered many specific concessions to the Protestants, such as amnesty and the reinstatement of their civil rights, including the right to work in any field or for the state and to bring grievances directly to the king. It marked the end of the religious wars that had afflicted France during the second half of the 16th century.


The Edict of Fontainebleau. Louis XIV gained the throne in 1643 and acted increasingly aggressively to force the Huguenots to convert. At first he sent missionaries, backed by a fund to financially reward converts to Catholicism. Then he imposed penalties, closed Huguenot schools and excluded them from favored professions. Escalating, he instituted dragonnades, which included the occupation and looting of Huguenot homes by military troops, in an effort to forcibly convert them. In 1685, he issued the Edict of Fontainebleau, revoking the Edict of Nantes and declaring Protestantism illegal.

The revocation forbade Protestant services, required education of children as Catholics, and prohibited emigration. It proved disastrous to the Huguenots and costly for France. It precipitated civil bloodshed, ruined commerce, and resulted in the illegal flight from the country of hundreds of thousands of Protestants, many of whom became intellectuals, doctors and business leaders in Britain as well as Holland, Prussia, and South Africa. Four thousand emigrated to the North American colonies, where they settled in New York and Virginia, especially. The English welcomed the French refugees, providing money from both government and private agencies to aid their relocation.


The de Terras went to Prussia where the King welcomed Huguenots as offering a positive contribution to society. They established a small estate near the city of Königsberg and there was a family graveyard. All of this was ploughed under by the Russians during or after WW 2 and Königsberg was renamed Kaliningrad and is still occupied by Russia, and made a part of Russia. Some people have said recently that with Russia grabbing Crimea, Germany should get back Königsberg but no such claims have yet been made.


On July 11, 1900 a third child was born to Otto Albert de Terra and his wife Margarethe Guenther at Guben, a small town on the Oder-Neisse border.  The child was named Helmut. His father was an administrative official of the German State Railway.


Helmut 2.jpg

Helmut de terra - archaeologist, adventurer, explorer