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Eastphalia (German: Ostfalen; Eastphalian: Oostfalen) is a historical region in northern Germany, encompassing the eastern part of the historic Duchy of Saxony, roughly demarcated by the rivers of Leine and Saale. Today it covers the southeastern part of the state of Lower Saxony and the western part of Saxony-Anhalt.

Etymology

The name Ostfalen probably means "east plain". The second word, Falen, is related to the Germanic words "field", "flat", and "floor" (all of which are related to the Latin "planus" through a common Proto-Indo-European root, *pele, meaning "flat, (to) spread"). Unlike Westphalia the geographic concept gradually lost its meaning after the dissolution of the Saxon stem duchy.

The term was reintroduced in the 19th century by German linguists exploring the Eastphalian language as a West Low German dialect. With the rise of scientific racism in the 19th and early 20th century, mention began to be made of a "Phalian" (fälisch) subtype of an "Aryan race" according to the occult concept of Helena Blavatsky and her Ariosophic followers.

History

With Charlemagne's defeat and baptism of Duke Widukind in 785 during the Saxon Wars, his lands were integrated into the Frankish Empire and the Saxons were increasingly converted to Christianity. On this behalf the bishoprics of Halberstadt (804) and Hildesheim (815) were established in eastern Saxony, bounded by the Oker river. The medieval Duchy of Saxony was divided between the districts of Eastphalia (Ostfalahi), Westphalia and Engern.

The Eastphalian territory at the Harz mountain range were the hereditary lands of Henry the Fowler, the first Saxon duke to become King of the Romans in 919, and his descendants of the Ottonian dynasty. They left several Romanesque abbeys and castles, a cultural landscape that today encompasses three World Heritage Sites with the medieval town of Goslar and Quedlinburg as well as St. Mary's Cathedral and St. Michael's Church at Hildesheim.

With the placing of Duke Henry the Lion under imperial ban in 1180, Eastphalia was increasingly subdivided into smaller states, such as the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg, the imperial city of Goslar, the bishoprics of Hildesheim and Halberstadt, the Archbishopric of Magdeburg, Quedlinburg Abbey as well as the counties of Wernigerode and Blankenburg.

Subdivision

Eastphalia consisted of several Gaue (shires):

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