“High Germany”


Young man, conscripted into the war in Germany, bids his sweetheart come with him. She demurs, saying she is not fit for war. He offers to buy her a horse, and also to marry her by and by. She laments the war (and/or her pregnancy)


Sharp cites a date of c. 1780 for this song. That the current forms of the song date from the eighteenth century is almost a historical necessity. The Hannoverian Succession (1714) brought a German prince to the British throne, meaning that English troops might be sent to intervene in German affairs. British interest in Germany ended when Napoleon rebuilt the Holy Roman Empire on his own terms, leaving the Hannoverian princes out of the picture.

This was reinforced a few years later, when King William IV died (1837). William's heir under English law was his niece Victoria, but Hannoverian law did not permit a female succession, so the throne of Hannover fell to Victoria's uncle Ernest. And, of course, Hannover, like the rest of Germany, was absorbed by Prussian in the 1860s and 1870s.

It's also worth noting that, by the nineteenth century, it was common for the wives of British soldiers to accompany them; the army actually made allowance for a certain number of wives per regiment.

In at least one of these cases, that of Fanny Dubberly, she even took a part in the fighting: At Gwalior, India (1858?), cavalrymen of the Eighth Hussars started a charge at the Indian mutineers. Mrs. Dubberly's horse was nearby and joined the charge (without her husband!). It's not clear what she would have done had she caught anyone, since she wasn't really a soldier -- but she did add weight of numbers to the charge. - RBW

Historical references

  • 1714 - Hannoverian succession causes Britain to become involved in German wars

Cross references


  • Phoebe Smith, "Higher Germany" (on PhSmith01, HiddenE)


  1. Sharp-100E 56, "High Germany" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Peacock, pp. 679-680, "High Germany" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Silber-FSWB, p. 279, "High Germany" (1 text)
  4. BBI, ZN3231, "O cursed be the wars that ever they began" (?)
  6. Roud #904
  7. BI, ShH56


Alternate titles: “The Wars of Germany”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1930 (cf. Ord)
Keywords: love war soldier
Found in: Britain(England) Canada(Newf)