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Ì Ancient History Ì
of the Distinguished Surname
Trott in Germany

The distinguished surname Trott can be traced back to Brandenburg, the birthplace of modern Germany.  Historically known as Brandenburg-Prussia, this region was first named Brandenburg, after the Slavic chieftain seat of Brendaburg.  Brandenburg eventually expanded to incorporate the Rhineland, Westphalia, Hanover, parts of Saxony, Pomerania, Silesia, and Hessen.  The Germanic Semnonen tribe lived here, then the Slavic tribe of the Heveler, who held this territory until the arrival of the Christian Saxons.

Bearers of the family name Trott were found in the Prussian province of Magdeburg, where the name, derived from this family's seat Trothe near the city of Halle, later emerged in the middle ages as one of the most powerful and famous families of the region.  There is much speculation on which period the family first arouse, but nothing is certain.  What can be said is that the Trothe family was one of the oldest families of this entire region and belonged to the nobility long before the first chronicles mention them.  From the 13th century the surname was identified with the great social and economic evolution which made this territory a landmark contribution to the development of the nation.  By the 14th century the family had established their fame and were the largest landowners of Magdeburg-Saxony.

A major aspect of research into family names is the changing spelling or pronunciations of a name throughout its history.  The addition of a phrase at the beginning or end of the root name became a quite common indicator of a person's character, place of origin, or religious beliefs.  In the middle ages, scribes would often record a name simply by its sound.  Therefore the numerous variations of the name Trott include Trotha, Trothe (oldest form), Tretsch, Trotte, Trotta, Drothe, Trote, Trota, Drod, Drad, Trade, to name a few examples.

Albrecht the Bear, margrave in 1184, battled the Slavic tribe of the Wenden as he drove eastwards, naming the conquered territories, Brandenburg.  In 1323, members of the Bavarian ducal house became rulers of this area until they were replaced by the Emperor with the Hohenzollerns, a great ruling dynasty, who made Berlin their capital in 1486 and introduced the Reformation in 1539.  The Hohenzollerns continued their extensive programs of expansion by gaining possession of East Prussia and West Prussia, as well as the duchy of Cleve on the Rhine.  In 1701, Frederick I crowned himself King of Prussia in the East Prussian capital of Koenigsberg, naming his entire country Prussia, after the Baltic Prussen, former inhabitants of the land.

During this period of change, the family name of
Trott moved to Saxony, Anhalt and Hessen, holding many interests as the population of the family name grew in the same dimensions as the general population explosion in the 16th century.  As the size of the family broadened they established many branches in the regions of Brandenburg, and Latvia.  They moved following their special interests in religious, military or political occupations.  They were later raised to the ranks of the nobility when the von Teyden branch became Austrian barons in 1778.  Notable figures with the name Trott at this time were Thilo von Trotha, who was unquestionably the most famous and important member of the family.  He first served as canon of the Magdeburg church and then became Bishop of Merseburg, a position he held for forty six years.  His story is told in the well known but not historically accurate saga of "The Raven with the Ring".

As Prussia gained strength the rulers promoted settlement of its agricultural and industrial regions by skilled workers and craftsmen.  Prussia became a haven for political and religious refugees, including Salzburg Protestants fleeing from Catholic Austria, not to mention the French Huguenots.  The greatest king was Frederick II, whose reform of the civil service, the cultivation of the land, and encouragement of industrial development made Prussia the unifying force behind the German empire.  The Prussian army became the most feared and respected military force in Europe.

Frederick's successors were defeated by Napoleon, and Prussia was divided in half.  However the Congress of Vienna in 1815 gave the rich territories of the Rhineland and of Westphalia to Prussia.  The resurgence of Prussian strength was due to Bismarck, "the Iron Chancellor", who defeated Austria and Denmark.  By 1871, Germany was united under Prussian power in the Franco-Prussian war.  In 1919, Prussia became a state of the new Weimar Republic, only to be incorporated into the German Democratic Republic in 1952, after giving its lands east of the Oder river to Poland.

Throughout the centuries, many people migrated to other parts of Germany, as well as to North America.  This flow of migration to the New World began around 1650, and continued well into the 20th century.  Pockets of German settlements include Pennsylvania, Texas, New York, Illinios, California, and Ohio.  In Canada, German settlements centred around Ontario and the Prairies.  Settlers bearing the family name
Trott include Johann Conrad Trott, who came to Philadelphia in 1785.

In our modern period, many members of the surname Trott achieved prominence, such as, Margarethe von Trotha, who was one of Germany's famous film directors. One of the more famous German Trott's was Adam von Trott zu Solz, born 1909 into an aristocratic family who lived in a castle near Immshausen in the German State of Hesse close to the Trottenwald (Trott's Forest). Adam became a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University before the second World War, married, and was later involved in one of a number of plots to assassinate Adolf Hitler after which he was arrested and executed in 1944. His story is told in a book by Giles McDonagh entitled 'A Good German' whilst Adam's widow, today in her 90's, remains in a flat in Germany working to try to get a posthumous pardon for her late husband.

The oldest Coat of Arms of the family name Trott is:

    On a blue shield a silver fleur-de-li and a heart.

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