Principality of Göttingen

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Territory in the Holy Roman Empire
Principality of Göttingen
coat of arms
Coat of arms is missing

Arose from until 1345 the principality of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel
Capitals / residences Goettingen
Dynasties Guelphs
Language / n Low German

Incorporated into since 1463 to the Principality of Calenberg

The Principality of Göttingen was a part of the Duchy of Braunschweig-Lüneburg in what is now the state of Lower Saxony . It was created when the Principality of Brunswick was divided in 1345 and was merged with the Principality of Calenberg in 1495 .


The southernmost principality of the Duchy of Braunschweig-Lüneburg extended south from Münden down the Weser to Lauenförde . In the east, the area extended via Göttingen down the leash via Northeim to close to Einbeck .



Originally the territory belonged to the Guelph Duchy of Saxony . After Henry the Lion was given an imperial ban in 1180 , he lost his title as Duke of Saxony and Bavaria. Heinrich's grandson Otto the child was able to move up to the prince status again in the course of the Staufer-Welf reconciliation in 1235 and received the allodial ownership of the family in the area between Lüneburg and Braunschweig as an independent Duchy of Braunschweig-Lüneburg , which was claimed in the battles . The Guelphs also held some estates in what is now southern Lower Saxony . Due to the great influence of other counts and noblemen in the region, the property was not sufficient to exercise complete sovereignty. But already for the period between the years 1201 to 1208, the Welf Count Palatine Heinrich is given as lord of the city of Göttingen . Later important areas around Göttingen, such as the so-called Grafschaft im Leinegau, Northeim , Münden , the Mark Duderstadt and the “Obergericht”, the area south of Göttingen, could be won. The area was also called Oberwald because it lies south of the Harz and Solling low mountain ranges .

Welfish inheritance divisions

After Otto the child's death in 1252, his sons Johann and Albrecht the Great ran the inheritance together until 1267. After that, the inheritance was divided and Albrecht received the south with Göttingen. This first Guelph inheritance was to be followed by more and the duchy was to be severely split up. The special feature of these divisions was that the duchy remained as an ideal unit, the individual rulers of the sub-countries also called themselves Duke of Braunschweig-Lüneburg, but the sub-countries were called "principalities".

After Albrecht the Great's death in 1279, his three secular sons initially ruled the duchy together, but in 1286 it was again divided among them. Albrecht the Feiste should get the south, the land of Oberwald. Albrecht chose Göttingen as his seat of power and moved into the castle, the Ballerhus (also Bahrhus), located in the northern old town. After the death of his brother Wilhelm , he was able to rule over the Braunschweig territory again from 1292. After Albrecht's death in 1318, his eldest son Otto der Milde took over the general government, but this was probably due to the fact that the other two were not yet of legal age. Otto died childless in 1344, now his brothers Magnus and Ernst divided the country. The Göttingen territory, which was now separated from Braunschweig for a long time, got serious.

Under Ernst I., Otto dem Quaden and Otto Cocles

Under Ernst I, who took over the government of the Principality of Göttingen in 1345, the Principality of Göttingen was separated from the other Guelph territories for the first time as a part of the Principality insofar as the Prince only ruled over this area. Sometimes the Duchy of Braunschweig-Göttingen is also used for the territory that has now been created. However, this was the economically poorest of the Guelph principalities. Not much is known about the time under Ernst I, but it is assumed that he, like his predecessor, fought together with the cities against the noble knights who owned castles in the Göttingen area.

Ernst's son Otto, known as "der Quade" (Low German for "the bad one"), deviated from this policy and fought together with the knights against the emerging urban population, especially against Göttingen. At the climax of this dispute, the people of Göttingen occupied his castle, the Ballerhus, in the city in 1387 and then beat him in an open field battle. Overall, Otto's rule appears to be a negative balance, as he overestimated his strength and splintered it into too many undertakings. He left his only son Otto Cocles (the one-eyed) a debt-ridden and politically disordered country.

Otto Cocles took over the government of the principality in 1394. In contrast to his father, he allied himself again with the cities against the robber barons powerful in the region. So he succeeded in destroying several castles of the aristocratic knighthood in the vicinity of the principality. Even if he succeeded in restoring the political order in the principality, Otto Cocles suffered from persistent financial problems and had to borrow money from his cousins ​​in Wolfenbüttel several times and in return, as he had no male descendants, promised them the successor. Otto withdrew from the government in 1435 and left the government to the estates. In 1442 there was also another division of the country when he left Münden to his wife and Seesen and Gandersheim were separated from the remainder of the principality and from then on belonged to Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel . Otto himself kept the town and castle of Uslar to himself. After some disputes, Wilhelm the Elder , who had already taken over the government in the Principality of Calenberg , obtained the consent of his brother Heinrich and the other Guelph princes to govern the Principality of Göttingen until Otto Cocles' death.

Merger with Calenberg

With Otto's death in 1463, the Göttingen line of the Guelphs also died out. Even if the amalgamation with Calenberg in 1442 and finally in 1463 was actually just a coincidence, it should still last. Göttingen stayed with Calenberg.

Wilhelm I, who had succeeded him in Wolfenbüttel in the meantime, died in 1482. His sons Friedrich , called the restless, and Wilhelm II , called the younger, initially took over the reign after the death of their father. In a contract dated August 1, 1483, they shared the usage rights (so-called mutsching ): Friedrich the restless received the usage rights for the states of Calenberg and Göttingen, his brother Wilhelm II received the usage rights for Wolfenbüttel. But this deposed Friedrich in 1484/85 and declared him insane. In this way, Wilhelm II succeeded - even if only for a short time - in reuniting the entire territory of the principalities of Calenberg, Braunschweig-Göttingen and Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel. After Friedrich's death in 1495, Wilhelm divided the country again and left the principality of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel to his older son Heinrich . The younger son Erich I received Calenberg and Göttingen and thus founded the Calenberg line of the House of Braunschweig-Lüneburg . The territory that has now arisen was mostly only referred to as the Principality of Calenberg , sometimes also as the Principality of Calenberg-Göttingen.

Economic and social history

Noble knighthood was strong in the Principality of Göttingen. Many families managed to remain independent over the long term: for example the gentlemen from Hardenberg and Plesse , as well as from time to time those of Grone , von Uslar and Adelebsen . Especially under Otto the Quaden, who worked with them, they had a great influence. This only subsided in the 15th century, when the power of the sovereigns grew. To protect against this then z. B. put the Lords of Plesse into dependence on Hesse . However, under Otto Cocles, who successfully attacked some castles, robber baronship came to an end.

The cities of Northeim and Göttingen played a strong role in the principality. Göttingen was the economic center of a region in the Leinetal. It was precisely here that the merchants were leading. However, the city of Göttingen gradually managed to make itself independent from the sovereign. Otto the Quade, who had tried to assert his influence in the city, had little success. In April 1387 the people of Göttingen stormed the ducal castle within the city walls; In return, Otto devastated villages and lands in the area. In July, however, the citizens were able to achieve a victory over the princely armed forces in an open field battle between Rosdorf and Grone under city governor Moritz von Uslar . Otto then had to recognize the freedom of the Göttingen goods in the area in August 1387. When Erich I then demanded homage from the city after taking over the government , this was initially refused to him. It was not until 1512, after Erich obtained the imperial ban against Göttingen in 1504 , that the city paid homage.

List of rulers

Surname Domination Remarks
Ernst I. , (1305-1367) 1345-1367 Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Otto the Quade , († 1394) 1367-1394 Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Otto the One-Eyed , († 1463) 1394-1435 Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg

See also


  • Wilhelm Havemann: History of the Lands of Braunschweig and Lüneburg , 3 vol., Reprint. Hirschheydt, Hannover 1974/75, ISBN 3-7777-0843-7 (original edition: Verlag der Dietrich'schen Buchhandlung, Göttingen 1853-1857)
  • Hans Patze (Greetings): History of Lower Saxony , 7 vols. Hahnsche Buchhandlung, Hanover 1977- (Publications of the Historical Commission for Lower Saxony and Bremen, 36) ( Publisher overview ( Memento from March 5, 2012 in the Internet Archive ))
  • Gudrun Pischke: The divisions of the Guelphs in the Middle Ages . Lax, Hildesheim 1987, ISBN 3-7848-3654-2
  • Paul Ehrenpfordt: Otto der Quade, Duke of Braunschweig zu Göttingen (1367-1394). Geibel, Hanover 1913
  • Edgar Kalthof: History of the South Lower Saxon Principality of Göttingen and the State of Calenberg in the Principality of Calenberg 1285–1584 Otto Zander Verlag, Herzberg (Harz) -Pöhlde 1982, ISBN 3-923336-03-9
  • Ellen Widder: Saint George on the Sachsenross? The Göttingen court, its threatened end and the barefoot altar as part of Guelph memoria. In: Niedersächsisches Jahrbuch für Landesgeschichte 85 (2013), pp. 261–327.

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