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Junkers (English pronunciation: ) were the landed aristocracy of Prussia and Eastern Germany - often also called "Eastelbia" (Ostelbien in German - the land east of river Elbe). These families were mostly part of the German Uradel (very old feudal nobility) and carried on the colonization and Christianization of the northeastern European territories in the 11th, 12th and 13th century.
In the Netherlands the title is sometimes used, this form has however taken the meaning of jonkheer opposed to the description given below.
"Junker" in German means "young lord", and is understood as country squire. It is probably derived from the German words Junger Herr, or Young Lord. As part of the nobility, many Junker families have particles such as "von" or "zu" before their family names. In the Middle Ages, a Junker was simply a lesser noble, often poor and politically insignificant. Martin Luther was given the cover name "Junker JÃ¶rg" while he lived in Wartburg Castle in 1521. A good number of poor Junkers took up careers as soldiers and mercenaries. Over the centuries, the...