Georg Wilhelm I (Liegnitz-Brieg-Wohlau)

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Duke Georg Wilhelm

Georg Wilhelm I (Czech Jiří Vilém Břežsko-Lehnický , Polish Jerzy Wilhelm legnicki ; born September 29, 1660 in Ohlau ; †  November 21, 1675 in Brieg ) was Duke of Liegnitz , Brieg and Wohlau from March 14, 1672 until his death . He was the last legitimate male descendant of the Silesian Piast family .

Origin and family

His parents were Christian von Liegnitz-Brieg-Wohlau and Luise von Anhalt-Dessau († 1680), daughter of the Anhalt-Dessau prince Johann Kasimir . Georg Wilhelm had the following siblings:

  • Charlotte (1652–1707), married Duke Friedrich von Holstein-Sonderburg-Wiesenburg on July 14, 1672 , the last duchess of the Silesian Piast family.
  • Luise (1657-1660)
  • Christian Ludwig (January 15, 1664 - February 27, 1664)


Georg Wilhelm was the only son and heir to his father. August Friedrich Bohne , who came from Bernburg , was appointed his tutor and court master, and the ducal personal physician Heinrich Martini monitored his health. When his father died in 1672, Georg Wilhelm was only eleven years old. During his lifetime, Duke Christian had decreed how the reign of his country should be regulated after his death. Accordingly, the guardianship of the not yet mature Georg Wilhelm fell to his mother Luise and the three governors of the principalities left behind. Honorary guardianship was transferred to the Brandenburg Elector Friedrich Wilhelm and Prince Georg von Anhalt . Since it was feared that Emperor Leopold, as the Bohemian sovereign, would take over the guardianship of the orphaned Prince Georg Wilhelm in order to have him educated as a Catholic, Georg Wilhelm was brought to Frankfurt in Brandenburg one day before his father's death . For this reason he was not allowed to return to Brieg for his father's funeral, which took place on March 31, 1672. A house was rented in Frankfurt and Georg Wilhelm was taught according to his educator's training program.

Medal with the portrait of Georg Wilhelm

The transfer of Georg Wilhelm out of the country and the appointment of the Brandenburg Elector as his honorary guardian was perceived by the imperial court in Vienna as an unfriendly gesture. Since the elector sought a political agreement with the Viennese court, he resigned the honorary guardianship. After the emperor had assured that he would not interfere in the education of Georg Wilhelm, Duchess Luise brought him back to Brieg in the summer of 1673. On August 12th J. the homage to Georg Wilhelm as future sovereign took place by the Brieger, then by the other estates. After Georg Wilhelm's sister Charlotte married secretly and without her mother's knowledge a few months after the death of Duke Christian in 1672, the estates and guardianship councils were dissatisfied with Duchess Luise, whom they accused of failure. Therefore they pleaded for an end to their reign. They incited Georg Wilhelm against his mother and pursued his early declaration of majority with the emperor so that he could take over the government of the inherited duchies himself. Since both the granting of legal age and the transfer of feudal rights could only take place personally by the emperor in Vienna, Georg Wilhelm, after appropriate diplomatic preparations, went to Vienna with his entourage on February 14, 1675.

The course and program of the trip, about which little was known up to now, could only recently be taken from a manuscript that was found in the Leipca Albertina Library . The author of the diary known as “Vermerck” is not known, but it is assumed that he belonged to the travel companion. She consisted u. a. from the educator and ducal councilor August Friedrich Bohne, the Brieger governor Hans Adam Freiherr von Posadowsky (1636–1708), the court marshal Friedrich Günther Freiherr Wolhaben and the Liegnitz chancellor Friedrich von Roth (1628–1695). The latter was a friend of the poet Daniel Casper von Lohenstein , who was in Vienna at the same time. In addition, the former Brieger Chancellor and Governor Wilhelm Wenzel Freiherr von Lilgenau lived in Vienna, who had been dismissed by Georg Wilhelm's father, with whom Georg Wilhelm had now made contact again.

On the day of his arrival, Emperor Leopold granted the prince a private audience, during which he was convinced of the prince's “bailiff”. On March 4, Georg Wilhelm paid a visit to the Jesuit College in Vienna, on March 9 to the imperial advisor and Capuchin Emerich Sinelli , on March 12 to the papal nuncio Mario Albrizio. The upcoming court appointments were arranged by the Supreme Chancellor of Bohemia responsible for Silesia, Imperial Count Johann Hartwig von Nostitz-Rieneck . He was a friend of the Brieger Princely House and played a directing role on the day of homage.

Georg Wilhelm paid homage to the emperor on March 14, 1675. Georg Wilhelm was brought before the Kaiser by the President of the Imperial Court Council, Prince Schwarzenberg, and the President of the Court War Council, Count Montecuccoli . After Georg Wilhelm had presented his request and the oath had been spoken, the emperor presented him with a hat and sword, which were considered symbolic insignia, as a sign of enfeoffment. In order to capture the important event, Georg Wilhelm had ordered the portrait painter Benjamin Block from Regensburg to Vienna. After the portrait made at the time, which has not survived, a copper engraving was made in several versions, depicting the young duke in the pose of the ruler.

After the enfeoffment, Duke Georg Wilhelm stayed in Vienna until March 24, where he carried out other social obligations. On March 30th he returned to Brieg, where his formal assumption of government was celebrated. As early as the summer of 1675, the emperor appointed him his deputy and commissioner for the upcoming Prince's Day. His promising rise came to an abrupt end, however. After a hunt, he died of a cold followed by child smallpox. Due to his early death, the planned reconstruction of Gröditzburg , which had been destroyed in the Thirty Years' War, could not be realized.

Georg Wilhelm was buried in the Liegnitz Johanniskirche, in which his mother had a princely crypt built for the last Piasts two years later. It was conceived by Daniel Casper von Lohenstein, who also wrote the praise “Lob-Schrifft deß Weyland Serene Prince and Herr / Herr George Wilhelms Hertzogens in Schlesien zu Liegnitz”, published in 1676.

His duchies Liegnitz, Brieg and Wohlau as well as Ohlau , which his mother was entitled to until 1675 as Wittum , moved in as a settled fiefdom by Emperor Leopold in his capacity as King of Bohemia . Subsequently, they were administered as hereditary principalities by a governor appointed by the emperor , who officiated as governor and resided at the castle in Liegnitz. In the principalities that had been Protestant until then, the imperial government took counter-Reformation measures.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. The undated manuscript was created on February 19, 1675 ( Georg Wilhelm's arrival in Vienna ). It ends on March 21, 1675 ( three days before the Duke's departure from Vienna ). It was only discovered during the preparatory work for the article by Norbert Conrad cited here under literature. The “note” is printed at the end of the article on pages 91-101.