Mecklenburg a North German territory, now part of the German empire, consists of two grand-duchies, the larger one called Mecklenburg-Schwerin, and the smaller one called Mecklenburg-Strelitz.
(1.) Mecklenburg-Schwerin, bounded on the north by the Baltic, on the east by Pomerania, on the south by Brandenburg, and on the west by Laienburg, covers an area of about 5126 square miles, and has a population of 560,618 (in 1867), of which 556,290 are Lutherans (200 Reformed), 1195 communicants of the Church of Rome, and 3064 adherents to the Jewish faith. The Mecklenburgers are for, the most part of Slavonic origin, hut amalgamation with their Saxon neighbors has largely Germanized the original race. The predominating form of religion is the Lutheran, the religion of the reigning prince. The grand-duke, whose powers are limited by a mixed feudal and constitutional form of government, has the title of royal highness, and is styled prince of the Wends, and of Schwerin and Ratzeburg, count of Schwerin, and lord of Rostock, Stargard, etc. The state Church divides the territory into 331 rectories, with 475 churches, which are controlled by six superintendents and thirty-seven prpepositors. Much has been done of late years in extending the educational organization of Mecklenburg, although the lower classes do not yet enjoy as many advantages as in some other districts of Germany. Besides the university at Rostock (q.v.), there are five gymnasia, and numerous burgher, parochial, and other schools. The principal towns are the capital Schwerin, Ludwigslust, Rostock, Gistrow, and Wismar.
(2.) Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the other grand-duchy, is composed of two distinct portions of territory, viz. Stargard (by far the larger division, lying to the east of Mecklenburg-Schwerin) and the principality of Ratzeburg (between Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Lauenburg), and comprises an area of rather more than 1000 square miles, with a population of 98,770 (in 1867), of which 97,937 are Lutherans (1000 Reformed), 169 Roman Catholics, and 466 Jews. Like the other Mecklenburg duchy, the, country is in the hands of the Lutherans. It is divided into sixty-two rectories, and is governed by seven diocesan superintendents (propste).
The two Mecklenburg duchies have provincial estates in common, which meet once a year, alternately at Malchin and Sternberg. This united chamber consists of noble landowners and the representatives of forty- seven provincial boroughs, each of which has, however its separate municipal government.
History.-The Mecklenburg territory, anciently occupied by Germanic and afterwards by Slavonic tribes, was in the 12th century conquered by Henry the Lion, duke of Saxony, who, after thoroughly devastating the country, and compelling the small number of inhabitants remaining after the war to adopt Christianity, restored the greater part of the territory to Burewin, the heir of the slain Slavonic prince, Niklot, and gave him his daughter in marriage. The country at that period received its present designation from its principal settlement, Mikilinborg, now a village between Wismar and Brul. Christianity was, however, known to the inhabitants of this country long before the inroads of Henry the Lion. Missionaries of the Cross are said to have been there in the days of Charlemagne; but true Christian principles and faithful adherents to the Christian cause were not made there until the first half of the 10th century. After Henry I had vanquished the natives in the battle at Leuzen (931), bishop Adalward, of Verden, in that very year baptized one of their rulers, and by the close of that century many converts had been gathered. But Christianity was still unpopular, and its confessors suffered much persecution, especially near the middle of the 11th century (comp., Jaffe, Lothar, p. 147, 232; Conrad III, p. 16). Not until the successful incursions of Henry the Lion can Christianity be really said to have found a hold in Mecklenburg territory, and hence he is generally looked upon not only as the author of the consolidation of the territory as Mecklenburg, but also as the founder of Christianity within its bounds. Shortly after the middle of the 12th century convents were built, and several monastic establishments founded. We find one Vicelin (t 1154), bishop of Lubeck, and his successor Geroldj especially active as missionaries. But Christianity did not attain to a really prosperous condition during the Middle Ages in this part of the-Teutonic domains, although it was elevated into a duchy in 1349 by the emperor Charles. The Protestant doctrines were first introduced here in 1550 by duke Johann Albrecht, and his grandsons, Wolf-Friedrich and Johann Albrecht, who founded the lines of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Giistrow. They were, however, deprived of the ducal title in 1627, in consequence of their adhesion to the Protestant cause, and the imperial general Wallenstein was proclaimed duke of all Mecklenburg. In 1632 Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden restored his kinsmen, the deposed dukes, to their domains. Kotzer, alias Schluter (q.v.), who was poisoned in 1532 was particularly prominent in the cause of the Reformers. The fruit of his labors was seen in 1534 in the decree against the reading of the mass, and in the final official adoption of the Protestant cause in 1550. The secular affairs of Mecklenburg continued to undergo changes. After various subdivisions of the ducal line into the branches of Schwerin, Strelitz, and others, and the successive extinction of several of these collateral houses, the Imperial Commission, which met at Hamburg in 1701, brought about the settlement of a family compact, by which it was arranged that Schwerin and Giistrow should form one duchy, and Strelitz, with Ratzeburg and Stargard, Mirow and Nemerow, another independent sovereignty. After this, very few events of importance occurred till the accession in Schwerin, in 1785, of Friedrich Franz, who obtained the title of grandduke in 1815, and died in 1837, after a long reign, which he had made highly conducive to the internal welfare and external reputation of his hereditary dominions. The reign of Friedrich Franz II, who succeeded his father, Paul Friedrich, in 1842, was disturbed by a context between the nobles and the burgher and equestrian landowners, the former arrogating to themselves the exclusive right of electing members into the equestrian order, nominating to benefices, and monopolizing other prerogatives of the ancient feudal nobility. The revolutionary excitement of 1848 gave a fresh stimulus to the popular ferment, and the disturbances could only be quelled by the intervention of Prussian troops. In 1866 the duchies were incorporated in the North German Confederation, and since the establishment of the new German empire they form part of the latter. Religious toleration and freedom of speech, which were comparatively unknown in the duchies of Mecklenburg, have since. 1866 gained quite a footing there, and promise much aid in the extinction of a very lukewarm profession of Christianity, and the establishment of vital Christianity in its stead. See Adam. Bremens. Hist. Eccles. in Pertz, Mon. Script. vol. iii; Ernst Boll, Geschichte Mecklenburg's mit besonderer. Berucksichtigung der Culturgesch. (Neubrandenburg, 1855-5.);:Herzog, Real-encyklopadie, s.v.; Deutsch- Amerik. Conv. Lexikon, s.v., (J. H. W.)