House Of Brunswick, one of the oldest families in Germany, a branch of which occupies the throne of Great Britain. The Brunswick territory, then forming a part of Saxony, was by Charlemagne united to the Frankish empire, and with the other Saxon provinces was governed successively by the princes of the house of Saxe, Billung, Supplingenburg, and Guelph. The Guelph house, of mixed Italian and German origin, obtained, in the person of Otho the Young, in 1235, the city of Brunswick as a fief of the empire, which with its dependencies was then first erected into a duchy. The two sons of Otho, Albert and John, reigned in common from 1252 to 1267, and then divided the paternal inheritance. John received the city of Hanover and the duchy of Ltine-burg; Albert, the duchy of Brunswick, the Hartz, and the district of the Weser; the city of Brunswick remained common property. John and Albert thus founded the elder branches of Ltineburg and Wolfenbuttel. The former of these became extinct in 1369, and its possessions reverted to the latter.
Albert left three sons, Henry, Albert the Fat, and William, who divided the inheritance, and founded the three lines of Grubenhagen, Gottingen, and Wolfenbuttel. The first of these divided into two branches in 1361, both of which became extinct in 1596, and their possessions returned to the Wolfenbuttel line. The Gottingen branch became extinct in 1463, and its possessions were transferred to the duke of Kalenberg. From the Wolfenbuttel branch sprang in 1409 the two new branches of Liine-burg and Wolfenbtittel-Kalenberg, the latter of which in 1634 transferred its possessions to the duke of Brunswick-Ltineburg-Dannenberg, a descendant of the Lilneburg branch. The Ltineburg branch had divided in 1569, and had another oifshoot in the family of Brunswick Ltineburg, which has furnished the electoral and royal dynasty of Ltineburg-Hanover. Henry, duke of Brunswick-Ltineburg-Dannen-berg, who died in 1598, was the founder of the present dynasty of Brunswick. His line was divided in 1666 into the branches of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel and Brunswick-Bevern, the former of which became extinct in 1735, the possessions passing to the latter, which has retained them undivided from that time to the present.
Among the queens belonging to this family have been Sophia Dorothea, wife of George I., king of England; Amelia Elizabeth Caroline, the wife of George IV.; and Sophia Charlotte and Sophia Dorothea, queens of Prussia, the latter the mother of Frederick the Great. The first wife of Leopold I. of Belgium was Charlotte Augusta, daughter of Queen Caroline of England. The following are the most prominent members of the family. I. Ernest, duke of Brunswick-Ltineburg, born June 26, 1497, died June 11,1546. He embraced the doctrines of Luther, signed the confession of Augsburg, and adhered to the Smalcaldic league. His eulogy was pronounced by Melanchthon. H. Christian, duke of Brunswick-Ltineburg, born Sept. 10, 1599, died June 9, 1626. In the thirty years' war he enthusiastically espoused the cause of the elector palatine Frederick V., elected king of Bohemia. After the flight of that prince from Prague in 1620 he ravaged Hesse and the electorate of Mentz, was defeated by the imperialists on the Main, entered the service of the Dutch in 1622, and forced the Spaniards to raise the siege of Berg-op-Zoom, but was afterward again defeated by Tilly. His motto was, "Friend of God, enemy of priests." III. Ernest Augustus, duke of Brunswick-Ltineburg, and first elector of Hanover, born Nov. 20, 1629, died Jan. 28, 1698. He became bishop of Os-nabrtick in 1662, travelled extensively, and was distinguished as a general and diplomatist.
He served the emperor Leopold I. in his war against France, for which he was rewarded with the electoral dignity in 1692. By his marriage with Sophia, daughter of the elector palatine Frederick V., and granddaughter of James I., king of England, his house obtained a right to the throne of England. His son George Louis became king of England in 1714 under the name of George I. IV. Ferdinand, duke of Brunswick, a general in the seven years' war, born at Brunswick, Jan. 11, 1721, died July 3, 1792. He entered the Prussian army in 1740, assisted at the capture of Prague, obtained in 1757 the command of the Anglo-Hanoverian army in Westphalia, defeated the French at Crefeld and at Minden, and in 1763, by reason of a disagreement with Frederick the Great, retired to his castle at Vechelde, where he occupied himself with freemasonry and with the encouragement of the fine arts. V. Charles William Ferdinand, duke of Brunswick, a Prussian general, born at Wolfenbilttel, Oct. 9, 1735, died near Altona, Nov. 10, 1806. His services during the seven years' war were celebrated by Frederick the Great in a poem. He participated in the battle of Crefeld in 1758, and in 1787 marched into Holland to restore the hereditary stadtholder.
After the treaty of Pilnitz he was intrusted with the command of the allied armies against France. He published at Coblentz, July 15, 1792, his famous manifesto, threatening to march directly upon Paris, cut off supplies, and reduce that city by famine. He penetrated into Champagne, but was obliged after the engagement at Valmy to conclude an armistice with Dumouriez. In 1793 he commanded the army of the Ehine, reappeared in 1806, after an interval of retirement, at the head of the Prussian army, and commanded at the battle of Auerstadt, where he was mortally wounded. VI. Frederick William, duke of Brunswick, fourth son of the preceding, a Prussian general in the Napoleonic wars, born Oct. 9, 1771, fell in the battle of Quatre-Bras, June 16, 1815. He became duke of Oels and Bernstadt in 1786, and succeeded to the dukedom of Brunswick after the death of his eldest brother and the abdication of the two others in 1806. At the head of a body of hussars, which he raised in Bohemia, he entered upon the campaign of 1809, was obliged by Rewbell to retreat, and to take refuge with his army in England, where he was received with distinction.
He returned to his country in 1813, and fell two days before the battle of Waterloo. VII. Charles Frederick Augustus William, duke of Brunswick, son of the preceding, born at Brunswick, Oct. 30, 1804, died in Geneva, Aug. 19, 1873. His education was very imperfect; he paid but little attention to public affairs; and after his assumption of power upon attaining his majority in 1823, his rule was so negligent and arbitrary that he was expelled by an insurrection, Sept. 7, 1830, declared incapable of governing by the Germanic diet, Dec. 2, and formally deposed by a family council, April 25, 1831, in favor of his younger brother William (Augustus Louis William Maximilian Frederick, born April 25, 1806), who had previously governed in his name. He afterward resided mostly in Paris and London, making himself conspicuous by his eccentricities, his revolutionary manifestoes, and especially his extraordinary precautions for the protection of a valuable collection of jewels.