Over the course of the existence of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, to give its full name, many local governmental institutions as well as semi-governmental organizations, both secular and ecclesiastical, developed in the numerous states comprising the whole, and in the latter case a number of these continued post-Reformation. The higher positions in almost all governmental / administrative institutions were, with only a few rare exceptions, "reserved" for the sons and daughters of the nobility. In contrast, some ecclesiastical institutions, pre- and post-Reformation, gave talented non-nobles a shot at upward mobility. To aspire to such a position, it was necessary in non-ecclesiastical institutions and in some ecclesiastical institutions to submit various proofs of nobility. These could be in the form of sworn statements (Atteste) by recognized nobles already in such positions or in the form of a multi-generation "Adelsprobe" that documented the lineage of the "proband" back to 8, 16 or 32 ancestors with each family's name and colorful depiction of the coat of arms.
The link below will take you to one collection of such "Adelsproben" in the state archives of the German state of Hesse. They are grouped alphabetically (left side of the web page), and thankfully the family names in each document are also listed independently of the scan of the original parchment.
https://arcinsys.hessen.de/arcinsys/det ... d=v4831334
Enjoy. More to come as time permits.
Regards from South Carolina
Heraldry of the German speaking countries
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