Our research into the name Krantz brings us to Germany, the land of poets and philosophers, and the powerhouse of the European economy. Ancient Germany had previously consisted of a loose association of Germanic tribes who struggled against the power of the Roman Empire. In a rare moment of unity, Hermann, the Cherusker prince, brought some of the many tribes of Germania under his command, and utterly destroyed an entire Roman army in the Teutoburg Forest in 9 A.D. This was a vital turning point in German history, for it showed that the previously invincible Roman Empire could not defeat the Germanic peoples' desire for independence.
As a loose confederation of rival states, the leaders of the various German tribes elected Henry of Saxony their king in 918. His son, Otto I, consolidated the kingdom, defeated the Slavs and Magyars in the East, and eventually conquered Italy. Otto became Holy Roman Emperor in 962, Germany became merely a base for the Empire, rather than a nation in its own right. The political strife began with the conflict between the authority of the Church, the will of the Emperor, and the ambitions of the local German princes, who jealously protected their own interests and independence.
In the Middle Ages the family Krantz settled in various parts of the Holy Roman Empire. There is a reference from the year 1308 of Berthold Krantz, who was then serving as “Ratsherr” (councilor) in the city of Strassburg. A Johan Crenzelin is on record in 1288 in Worms and a bearer of Krenzelmacherin is on record in Prague in 1403.
The surname Krantz comes from the Old High German “cranz” meaning “garland or wreath,” and perhaps the name was originally born by a maker of chaplets or wreaths.
Throughout the history of a name’s development, numerous variations in spelling and pronunciation occur. Since only scribes or priest could read or write during the middle ages, they often had to record a name for documents or birth certificates based on its sound. It was also common in German to add phrases to the beginning or end of a root name, to express something about the person’s place of origin, religious beliefs, or even character. Therefore the numerous variations of the name Krantz include the following: Kranz, Kranze, Krantz, Kranzler, Kranzlbinder, Kranzberg, Kranzle, Krenzel, Krenzle, Krantz, Krantzler, Krantzle, Kranzel, Kranzl, Crenzelin, Kranzbuhler, Kranzmayer, to name a few examples.
When Martin Luther protested against the practices of the Catholic Church, he began the Reformation that swept throughout Europe. Gutenberg invented the printing press, which spread the German Bible to the common people and became a major method of spreading the reformed faith. Germany was wracked by the devastation of the Peasant’s War, which followed, only to suffer through the Thirty Year War. This religious conflict (1618-1648) was one of the worst wars in European history, with Germany as its battleground. Germany remained fragmented despite its tremendous economic advances, such as the settlement of the fertile regions of the Baltic and the establishment of the Hanseatic trade league, which spanned most of Europe.
During this period of transition, the name Krantz moved to the region of throughout the Holy Roman Empire, where they emerged as a notable family name early in the Middle Ages. A bearer of Kranzemecher was recorded in 1583 in Wesel. Notables of the period with the name Krantz were Krantz of Germany.
Germany was a patchwork of almost 300 minor states and free cities well into the 18th century, until the rise of Prussia as a major military and economic power that made Germany a united Empire under Kaiser Wilhelm I in 1871. Germany was defeated in the First World War, and the demands of the Treaty of Versailles aroused great bitterness and economic hardship. The rise of Hitler, who promised a greater Germany of prosperity and power, also led to territorial expansion. The invasion of Poland began the massive conflict of the Second World War, after which Germany was divided into East and West Germany after 1945, finally uniting through the free elections of December, 1990.
Many Germans left their homeland in order to seek a better life in America or in Canada. This flow of immigration into North America began after 1650, and following the upheavals of the 20th century, continues to this day. The majority of Germans settled in the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, Illinois, New Your, and California, while German settlements in Canada centered around the province of Ontario and the Prairie region. Among those settlers bearing the name Krantz were: Vallendin Kranz, who arrived at the port of Philadelphia in 1738, Henrich Kranz, who was a Hessian soldier in the American War for Independence, recorded in 1780 Carl Kranz, who arrived at Baltimore in 1834, at the age of 13, Franz Kranz, who arrived in New York city from Breman in 1852, Martin Kranzler, who was Naturalized in Philadelphia in 1856, Conrad Krantz, who came to New York city in 1710, as well as Heinrich and Anna Catharine Krantz and their four children, who were in New York city in 1709. In our modern period, bearers of the name Krantz distinguished themselves, such as Eugene Kranz (b. 1933), American, Director of Mission Operations at NASA, who oversaw the first manned moon mission, Jacob Kranze (1899-1977), Austrian born, Hollywood actor, who changed his name to Ricardo Cortez, as well as Judith Krantz, author.
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