BOTHA in Southern Africa

ORIGINS - Maps and Short History

PEOPLE & HISTORY | Origins | Early History in SA | Ancestors
LINEAGE IN SOUTHERN AFRICA | Descendants | Migration | Botha/Blake
BOTHA POTPOURRI | Coat of Arms | Noteworthy Bothas | Botha Appellations
GENERAL INFORMATION | Information | Research Ideas | Own Research

The surname of BOTHA in South Africa is derived from two progenitors ("stamvaders"). The first progenitor, Friedrich Both (a1) came from Germany, whilst the second, Samuel Friedrich Bode (a2), although he came from Germany, is believed to have migrated there from France.

The Thirty Years' War (1618- 1648) left many of the German states in a poor economic condition. Consequently many Germans, including ex-soldiers, were drawn to the west by the wealth of the Netherlands. Political boundaries did not imply a complete division between the people living in the border regions, and from a linguistic point of view there was not much of a difference between German and Dutch. This was particularly true of the regional dialects of the eastern Netherlands and western German regional dialects with a strong Saxon influence.


Friedrich Both was born on 4th March 1653 in Wangenheim, about 8 kilometers (5 miles) north west of Gotha (50.57° Latitude, 10.41° Longitude), in the Province of Thuringia in the duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (see History below).


A map of Germany follows with Thuringia highlighted:

German Map
German map from German WWW Servers

The size of the state of Thuringia (Thüringen) is about 16 251 square kilometers (6 000 square miles) and the population is estimated at 2 684 000 people in 1990. The capital is Erfurt.

A map of Thuringia follows with Gotha highlighted:

Thuringia Map
German map from German WWW Servers

The town of Gotha has about 50 000 inhabitants and distances from other nearby towns are:

Town Population Distance
Erfurt 205 400 24 km
Bad Langensalza 20 400 17 km
Eisenach 44 700 26 km
Arnstadt 26 000 23 km


The size of the town centre of Gotha can be seen from the following photograph:

Photo from Gotha - the Heart


The history of Thuringia can be traced back to 350 AD and the subsequent events can be roughly divided into four separate periods.

First period - Until approximately 500 AD - The establishment of historical Thuringia

The area's first occupants, the ancient Germanic tribe of Thuringians, were conquered by Attila the Hun in the second quarter of the fourth century and by 500 AD had freed themselves to establish their own kingdom. In 531 their king Irminfrid was defeated by the Franks and their kingdom placed under their rule.

Second period - From 500 AD until 1485 - The era of central rule

To assert the Frankish king's authority, the area was ruled under authority from the king by a succession of dukes and counts. The conversion of Thuringia to Christianity was completed by the 8th century. The direct line of German kings of the Saxon dynasty died out in 1024. They were replaced by Louis the Bearded, a member of the Ludowing family. The Ludowings ruled from 1039 until 1256. After a war lasting from 1256 to 1263, Henry the Illustrious obtained the territory. It was now dominated by the Wettin dynasty of Saxony, who had emerged as princes of the Holy Roman Empire.

Third period - From 1485 AD until 1918 - The era of duchies

The division of the Wettin lands in 1485 gave the major share to their Ernestine line of family, who split Thuringia into several duchies, e.g. Saxe-Coburg, Saxe-Weimar-Gotha, Saxe-Jena. The Ernestine family continually distributed their lands between themselves and realigned them from time to time. From 1826 there were four main duchies: (1) the Grand Duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach; (2) the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg; (3) the Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen-Hildburghausen; and (4) the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. A map of this period obtained from Rootsweb or can be seen by "clicking" on Map.

Fourth period - Post 1918 - Independent or Free State

After the German Revolution in 1918, the landgraves abdicated their territories and these became Free States. In 1920 these territories (except Coburg which joined Bavaria) merged to form a new Thuringia. From 1946 to 1990 this area formed part of East Germany under Soviet control.


The Thuringian coat of arms has a rising lion, surrounded by eight stars. The stars symbolize those areas that were united to reform Thuringia in 1920.

Graphic from Flags of the World


Samuel Friedrich Bode was born in 1730 in Lüneburg (53.15° Latitude, 10.23° Longitude), Germany (see History below). In 1766 the family stayed in Hannover and Samuel left to go to Amsterdam to join the VOC.

According to legend the family is believed to have migrated from France (as Hugenots) possibly to the Netherlands and then to Germany. The surname changed from Boudier (France) to Boodjee (Netherlands) to Bode (Germany) and finally to Botha (South Africa).


A map of Germany follows with Lower Saxony highlighted:

German Map
German map from German WWW Servers

The size of the state of Lower Saxony (Nieder Sachsen) is about 47 338 square kilometers (18 296 square miles) and the population is estimated at 7 190 000 people in 1988. The capital is Hanover.

A map of Lower Saxony follows with Lüneburg highlighted:

German map from German WWW Servers

The town of Lüneburg has about 65 800 inhabitants and distances from other nearby towns are:

Town Population Distance
Winsen 30 900 19 km
Seevetal 37 900 31 km
Uelzen 35 300 34 km


The following photograph shows the brick houses next to the Ilmenau river in Lüneburg which were built during the rich salt era:

Photo from Lüneburg Heath

Of special interest is the Salt Works of Lüneburg. Salt, the "White Gold" of the Middle Ages, was produced by boiling the abundant resources of pure salt water and using wood from the forest surrounding the city. The Salt Works continued with the production of salt for 1 024 years and was only closed in 1980.


The history of Lower Saxony is similar to the history of Thuringia (see History above) as they were both ruled by dukes, as a result of the Holy Roman Empire. The current day Lower Saxony was established with the merger of Hanover, Brunswick, Oldenburg and Schaumburg-Lippe.

Brunswick - Pre 1919

The area was ruled by the Welf dukes as the duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg until 1635 when it was divided among the children of duke Frederick Ulrich and became the duchy of Brunswick until 1918. In 1919 it became a Free State.

Hanover - Pre 1946

The electorate of Hanover grew out of one of the divisions of the possessions of the house of Brunswick-Lüneburg. In 1636 Duke Georg established his residence in the city of Hanover after he had inherited certain principalities. His principalities soon came to be named after its principal city. The growth of Hanover was solely attributed to the skill of its rulers. Through the marriage of one of the sons to Sophia Dorothea, George I of England's only daughter, a link to the British Royalty had been made. Although Sophia became electress, she never succeeded to the throne; she died a few weeks before. Her son, the elector George Louis, ascended the British throne as George I. The 123 year association between the British throne and Hanover had started. The British kings then ruled Hanover from a distance through a privy council.

In 1814, after the defeat of Napoleon, the area was enlarged and was also elevated to a kingdom. In 1837 the union with Britain was broken as the law of succession in Hanover did not allow female succession if a male heir was still living. Hanover did not pass to Victoria, but to Ernest Augustus, duke of Cumberland. The latter moved to Germany. With the expansionism of Bismarck, a choice was given to the king, George V, to either ally themselves with Prussia or to surrender their sovereignty. The king left and was eventually exiled in France.

From 1866 to 1945 the then kingdom of Hanover became a province of Prussia for the next 80 years.

Oldenburg - Pre 1919

This was successively a countship, a duchy and then a grand duchy. From the twelfth century it was a countship and its greatest extent was from 1854 onwards. The early reign was by the family of the Saxon duke Widukind. One of the later rulers, Christian of Oldenburg became King of Denmark, later of Norway and then of Sweden. He ceded Oldenburg to his brother and his line of descendants ruled the territory.

Schaumburg-Lippe - Pre 1919

One of the smallest countships with an area of only 342 square kilometers (132 square miles). It was ruled from 1111 by a series of Counts until the revolution of 1918.

1919 - 1946

The Free States were part of the German Reich under the Weimar Constitution of 1919 until 1934 when Hitler passed a law divesting these States of their independence.

Post 1946 - Independent or Free State

Lower Saxony was only established on 1 November 1946 when the Prussian province of Hanover was merged with the states of Brunswick, Oldenburg and Schaumburg-Lippe.


Graphic from Flags of the World

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Cheetah Date Last Updated:   26 August 2021
Date First Published:   26 June 1999

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