Jever (; the pronunciation is often heard from non-locals) is the capital of the district of Friesland in Lower Saxony, Germany. The name Jever is usually associated with a major brand of beer which is produced here, the city is also a popular holiday resort. Jever was granted city status in 1536. Unofficially Jever is sometimes referred to as Marienstadt (Maria city) in reference to Maria of Jever, the last independent ruler of the city. The inhabitants of Jever are named Jeveraner.
Archeological findings in the vicinity of Jever suggest that the area has been inhabited since the neolithic era. A dolmen was located near the town up until at least 1880 but was removed sometime at the end of the 19th century due to farming expansion. In addition to this tools such as a flint dagger and sickle have been found in the Jever area. From later periods around the 6th century BCE there has also been a number of urns uncovered as well as a bronze spear tip and socket axe.
During the Roman period the Chauci had a settlement in the area of Jever. Around 826 Frisia was given by Louis the Pious to the Danish King Harald Klak following his conversion to Christianity, Harald had sought refuge at Louis’ court after being driven from his homeland. The 9th century epic Gudrunlied mentions the Danish dominion of Friesland and contains a reference to “Givers” in the area of Sande which is probably the first record of Jever. A further reference in 1158 notes a town by the name of "Geverae", the latinisiation of the low German Geveren or Gaveren ("pasture", or alternatively "Place of the Thing").
Coins stamped in Jever have been found as far afield as the Finnish Gulf and Warta in Poland which serves as testament to Jever importance as a trading town. during the 10th and 11th centuries Jever was a port and had access to the North Sea via both the Jade and the Harlebucht. Over time however land movements meant the access to the sea disappeared and the later construction of dikes has now left Jever well inland. Nevertheless Jever retained importance as a trading post. In 1546 Hooksiel became an outer harbour for Jever and with the extension of paved roads from Jever to Hooksiel the need for even small ships to sail to Jever was abolished. Today in the centre of Jever a children’s playground with a climbing frame in the shape of a ship serves as a reminder of the city’s important maritime past.
Saxon Dukes and subsequently the House of Welf later ruled over Jever, finally at the end of the 12th century, Jever came under the control of Oldenburg. A letter sent to King Philipp III of France, details that between 1271 and 1285, the people of Östringer were subject to no sovereign, but that they selected their own judges and chiefs themselves (see Frisian freedom).
Jever was granted rights as a town in 1347. Around the turn of the 15th century the town continued to be a prosperous trading center, this attracted not only merchants but also pirates. The most famous of the pirates was a band who were known as the "Likedeeler", and included Klaus Störtebeker and Goedeke Michels.
The last Baron of the Jeverland was Edo Wiemken who, in 1505, completed the reconstruction of the castle and is buried in the city church. After Edo’s death Jever came under the control of Graf Edward I. However Maria of Jever, the daughter of Edo restored the city’s independence, and in 1536 whilst under her rule Jever received its city rights which has led to the city’s unofficial title as "Marienstadt".
Maria died in 1575 but her death was kept secret for fear of a return of the East Frisians. Instead, Jever became one of Oldenburg's territories by last will of Maria. In 1667 Jever was passed under control of the Anhalt-Zerbst. After Prince Frederick August, who had supported the English in the American Revolutionary War for financial reasons, died in 1793, the male-line of Anhalt-Zerbst perished and its territories were split. Jeverland was then given to Catherine II of Russia, formerly Princess Sophia of Anhalt-Zerbst and Frederick August's sole surviving sibling. It remained Russian until Napoleon's armies occupied it in 1807. Between 1808 and 1810 it was part of the Kingdom of Holland, a Napoleonic vassal state. When the French were forced to withdraw in 1813, Russia regained possession of Jever and returned it to the grand dukes of Oldenburg in 1818.
Jever was connected to the railway network in 1871 by a line from Sande. From 1881, a line connected it westwards to Wittmund, Esens and Dornum, and from 1888 there was a line northwards to Carolinensiel. The railway station in Jever still has a waiting room for the exclusive use of the Duke of Oldenburg to this day.
Because Anhalt-Zerbst had guaranteed security and freedom of business for Jews, Jever became a center of Jewish life in Frisia, reaching its peak in the late 19th century. After that many youngsters left for larger cities where they hoped to find better economic opportunities (and since the 1920s also to escape growing anti-semitism). This caused the community to shrink to only half of its former size: by 1933, there were only 98 Jews left in Jever. The synagogue (inaugurated in 1802) was completely destroyed in the Night of Broken Glass, and at least 63 Jever Jews were killed in the Holocaust.