As early as the 18th c., Archbishop Firmian of Salzburg sought to establish counter-Reformation in the area of his influence. As he failed to get any support from peasants, in 1731, he forcefully made about 20,000 of the local residents leave the Archdiocese of Salzburg. The Evangelical population of the Empire were the first to protest against that. Then, King of Prussia Friedrich Wilhelm I invited those displaced from home to come to his kingdom. About 16,000 of them accepted the invitation and, observed by the public, via Berlin arrived in the land later called East Prussia. In the 18th c., due to the famine and especially the Great Plague, the former Duchy of Prussia had lost about one third of its population, and the eastern region of the country was struck especially hard. For King Friedrich Wilhelm I, who was implementing the programme of repopulation of the deserted areas of his country, the opportunity to accomodate the Salzburgers deprived of their homeland was like a gift from God. It was impossible any more to accomodate them in individual villages, especially in the north-eastern part of the country, however, they still formed a colony (Colonie) which had for a long time cherished the sense of community, before in the end of the 19th c. their descendants assimilated with the local population and adopted their dialect.