Duchy of Brunswick

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Duchy of Brunswick
coat of arms flag
Coat of arms of the Duchy of Braunschweig Flag of the Duchy of Braunschweig
Situation in the German Reich
Location of the Duchy of Braunschweig in the German Empire
State capital Braunschweig
Form of government monarchy
Head of state duke
dynasty Guelphs
Consist 1235 / 1814 - 1918
surface 3,672.2 km²
Residents 494,339 (1910)
Population density 134 inhabitants / km²
Arose from Principality of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel
Incorporated into Free State of Braunschweig
Votes in the Federal Council 2 votes
Duchy of Braunschweig 1914.png

The Duchy of Braunschweig was founded in 1814 after the Congress of Vienna as the successor to the Principality of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel . Its roots lie in the Duchy of Braunschweig-Lüneburg , which was created in 1235 through the division of the Saxon tribal duchy of the Guelphs . After the November Revolution in Braunschweig in 1918, it became the Free State of Braunschweig .


Origin of the dominion

Heinrich the Lion from the House of Welfs was the founder of Braunschweig's claim to rule . He had received the city ​​of Braunschweig and the Duchy of Saxony as a fief in 1142 and greatly enlarged the latter in the following years as part of intensive colonization in the east . He chose the city of Braunschweig as the center of his domain, which he had converted into his royal seat . After Heinrich the Lion was appointed Duke of Bavaria in 1154, he was considered one of the most powerful princes in the Holy Roman Empire . As the conflict between Henry and the Emperor Barbarossa came to a head more and more, eventually became 1180 imperial ban imposed on Henry. Following the imperial military expedition against Heinrich the Lion that followed , Heinrich only had the cities of Braunschweig and Lüneburg as well as some smaller inherited property ( allodial property ).

Duchy and Principality

It was not until Henry the Lion's grandson, Otto the Child , that the lost influence was partially restored. In the course of the reconciliation between Staufer and Guelph, it transferred its owners to Emperor Friedrich II in 1235. In return, the Duchy of Braunschweig-Lüneburg was founded from the transferred goods and other large imperial areas and Otto was enfeoffed with it.

As early as 1269, however, the duchy was divided into individual principalities. In the southern part of the duchy, the Principality of Braunschweig emerged with possessions around Braunschweig, Wolfenbüttel , Einbeck and Göttingen . In the northern part of the duchy the Principality of Lüneburg was established with possessions in the Lüneburg area. Both principalities continued to form the Duchy of Braunschweig-Lüneburg, which thus continued to exist undivided under imperial law. A sign of the continuation was also that all princes and male princes of the various lines carried the title "Duke of Braunschweig and Lüneburg". In the further course of history there were several divisions within the duchy and its partial principalities, from which the principality of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel emerged in 1291 . This remained largely unchanged and became the predecessor state of the Duchy of Braunschweig. The other principalities gradually merged again until the Electorate of Braunschweig-Lüneburg was established in 1692 , better known as the Electorate of Hanover .


All these principalities were smashed by the Napoleonic campaigns against Prussia and the subsequent peace of Tilsit . By decree, Napoléon Bonaparte founded the Kingdom of Westphalia , to which the various Brunswick and Hanoverian possessions were subordinated. Only after the defeat of Napoleonic France was this division reversed at the Congress of Vienna. On June 8, 1815, the German Confederation was founded as the successor organization to the Holy Roman Empire . Member states included the Kingdom of Hanover and the Duchy of Braunschweig.


Guelph rule

In 1813 Duke Friedrich Wilhelm was restituted. After the Congress of Vienna, the Duchy of Braunschweig was established in 1814 within the old boundaries of the Principality of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel. During the congress there were still efforts on the part of Brunswick to incorporate parts of the former duchy of Hildesheim into Brunswick territory. The Wolfenbüttel dukes ruled over these areas as early as the 16th and 17th centuries, and such an increase could have ended the territorial fragmentation of the state. But the interests of Prussia and, above all, Hanover opposed this. The entire Hildesheim area eventually became part of the Kingdom of Hanover .

After the death of Friedrich Wilhelm, he was followed in 1815 by eleven-year-old Karl II as Duke of Braunschweig. Until Charles came of age in 1823, however, his uncle, George IV of Great Britain and Hanover , exercised the regency. In 1830, after a bad harvest, there was unemployment , hunger and great dissatisfaction in the state of Braunschweig . Charles II had long since turned the population against him with his clumsy style of government and his absolutist behavior, which, under the impression of the July Revolution in France, led to a popular uprising: The above-mentioned "Gray Court" was stormed in 1830 by petty bourgeoisie , craftsmen and workers and cremated, Charles II was left only to flee to Switzerland - in his luggage works of art of inestimable value. In Braunschweig law and order could only by that of councilor Meanwhile Wilhelm Bode founded vigilantes be maintained. Duke Charles II was declared incapable of government in absentia .

The reign was transferred to his younger brother Wilhelm (initially the last member of the Welfish line). On October 12, 1832, the New Landscape Order was enacted, a hereditary monarchist representative state constitution with a chamber and a fixed budget of the ruling prince of 230,900 thalers. Under this unmarried ruler, Braunschweig experienced a phase of neutrality as a small state that was not allied with either Austria or Prussia . The state formed the tax association with Hanover as a customs union in 1834 , but joined the German customs union as early as 1841 . When the empire was founded in 1871, the duchy became a federal state of the German Empire.

Reign of Prince Albrecht of Prussia

After the death of Wilhelm (1884), who did not leave a legitimate heir, the chairman of the Regency Council, Hermann Graf von Görtz-Wrisberg , took over the affairs of government until, after a Federal Council decision on November 2, 1885, at the end of Prussia's efforts, there was no Welfe from the House of Hanover ( Ernst August, Duke of Cumberland had actually been chosen for this), but Prince Albrecht of Prussia was appointed as regent.

Reign of Prince Johann Albrecht of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

Regency Council : Painting by Moritz Röbbecke from 1909. The members of the second Regency Council are shown (from left to right): Albert von Otto , August Trieps , Adolf Hartwieg , Hans Wolf and Wilhelm Semler .

After Albrecht's death in 1906, the President of the Regency Council, Albert von Otto , took over government again. On June 5, 1907, Duke Johann Albrecht zu Mecklenburg was granted the Brunswick regency after a corresponding Federal Council resolution. The reign ended when the last Brunswick duke couple, Ernst August and his wife Viktoria Luise , moved into the city on November 1, 1913 .

Renewed Guelph rule

In the meantime - triggered by the wedding on May 24, 1913 between Viktoria Luise , the daughter of Kaiser Wilhelm II , and Prince Ernst August von Hanover - a reconciliation between Welfen and Hohenzollern had come about . On November 1, 1913, Duke Ernst August, a Guelph, once again ascended the throne of Brunswick. Ernst August abdicated in 1918 at the end of the First World War in the November Revolution , which ended the Duchy of Braunschweig. First of all, a " socialist republic " emerged. On January 6, 1922, Braunschweig received a new democratic constitution as the Free State of Braunschweig .

Administrative structure

The Duchy of Braunschweig was confirmed by a resolution of the Congress of Vienna in the old borders of the Principality of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel and the Principality of Blankenburg.

It consisted of several, non-contiguous parts: the area between Aller and Harz with Braunschweig, the area between Harz and Weser with Holzminden, Blankenburg am Harz with its surroundings, the Calvörde office (surrounded by the province of Saxony), the Thedinghausen office between Bremen and Verden, the patch Bodenburg with the village of Oestrum (Gandersheim office), the village of Ostharingen (Lutter am Barenberge) north of Goslar and the village of Ölsburg south of Peine , which belongs to the Vechelde office .

After a provisional division into 2 city courts (Braunschweig and Wolfenbüttel) and 19 district courts had been decreed on March 1, 1814, which were under the jurisdiction of 6 chief officers (Wolfenbüttel, Schöningen, Harz, Leine, Weser and Blankenburg), it took place in 1823 a judicial and administrative reform, which did not come into force until October 1, 1825. The duchy was redistributed into 6 more evenly tailored districts, each with a district court, and at the level of the previous city and district courts in 4 city courts (including 3 for Braunschweig and 1 for Wolfenbüttel) as well as 22 district offices and 1 district court (Thedinghausen). In 1827 the district office of Calvörde was added, which was separated from the district office of Vorsfelde.

As early as 1832 there was another change in the administrative structure: districts became districts, and the district administrative districts were renamed administrative districts. With effect from January 1, 1833, the duchy consisted of the following circles:

f1Georeferencing Map with all linked pages of the districts and offices of the Duchy of Braunschweig: OSM | WikiMap

  1. District of Braunschweig : City of Braunschweig , offices of Riddagshausen , Vechelde and from 1850 Thedinghausen
  2. District of Wolfenbüttel : City of Wolfenbüttel , offices of Wolfenbüttel, Salder , Schöppenstedt and Harzburg
  3. District of Helmstedt : Offices Helmstedt , Schöningen , Königslutter , Vorsfelde and Calvörde
  4. District of Gandersheim : Offices Seesen , Gandersheim , Lutter am Barenberge and Greene
  5. District of Holzminden : offices of Holzminden , Stadtoldendorf , Ottenstein , Eschershausen and until 1850 Thedinghausen
  6. District of Blankenburg : offices of Blankenburg , Hasselfelde and Walkenried

All six district directors together formed a regional directorate, in whose deliberations the boards of the magistrates of Braunschweig and Wolfenbüttel took part. The two cities thus occupied a special position. The Braunschweig Provincial Directorate was given the task of managing the “Secretariat, registry and office business of the Provincial Directorate”; Last but not least, it also had the task of recording all files from the predecessor authorities that could not be clearly assigned and thus looking after the state archive.

With the Courts Constitution Act of August 21, 1849 and its implementation on July 1, 1850, administration and justice in the duchy were consistently separated. The offices lost in importance in the period that followed.


The regents of the Duchy of Braunschweig:

(life data)
Domination Remarks
Duke Charles II
June 16, 1815
to April 20, 1831
Duke Wilhelm
April 20, 1831
to October 18, 1884
Hermann Graf von Görtz-Wrisberg
April 20, 1884
to November 2, 1885
Chairman of the Regency Council
Prince Albrecht of Prussia
November 2, 1885
to September 13, 1906
Regent of Braunschweig
Albert von Otto
September 13, 1906
to June 5, 1907
President of the Regency Council
Duke Johann Albrecht of Mecklenburg
June 5, 1907
to November 1, 1913
Regent of Braunschweig
Duke Ernst August
November 1, 1913
to November 8, 1918
Last Duke of Braunschweig, had to abdicate in the course of the November Revolution in Braunschweig on November 8, 1918 to the local workers and soldiers' council

Population development

year Residents source Timeline
1822 230,400
1855 269.209
1871 311,764
1880 349,367
1890 403.773
1900 464,333
1905 485,655
1910 494,339

See also


Web links

Commons : Duchy of Brunswick  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Gerhard Schildt: From the restoration to the time of the establishment of the empire, in: Die Braunschweigische Landesgeschichte, Braunschweig 2000. S. 751
  2. ^ Supplements to the Universal Lexicon or Encyclopedic Dictionary of Sciences, Arts and Crafts. (HA Pierer, ed.), First volume: An - Bronchophonie. Altenburg 1841, p. 719.
  3. a b See: “Law, the organization and the sphere of activity of the district directorates and the regional directorates to be formed by them”, 1832.
  4. Stefan Brüdermann (Ed.): History of Lower Saxony , Volume 4, From the beginning of the 19th century to the end of the First World War , Wallstein, Göttingen 2016, p. 256, ISBN 978-3-8353-1585-3
  5. ^ Georg Hassel : Statistical outline of all European and the most distinguished non-European states . Verlag des Geographisches Institut, Weimar 1823, p. 104
  6. ^ Georg von Viebahn : Statistics of the customs united and northern Germany . Reimer, Berlin 1858, p. 405