Henry Julius, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg

Henry Julius, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg

Henry Julius (German Heinrich Julius; 15 October 156430 July 1613), was duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and prince of Wolfenbüttel from 1589 until his death.

Born in Hessen am Fallstein, Henry Julius was the eldest son of Julius, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg. He was well educated, and became the first rector of the newly founded University of Helmstedt in 1576. Even though he was only twelve years old, he participated in theological debates among the faculty that were held in Latin. Later, he studied law, and was employed by his father as a court judge. He was also versed in architecture, and designed several important buildings, among them the "Juleum novum", the main building of the University of Helmstedt, and the cathedral "Beatae Mariae Virginis" in Wolfenbüttel. In the years 1593 and 1594, he wrote eleven plays. These plays were not successful; however, one of his plays was a basis for the tall tales of Baron Münchhausen, to become famous two centuries later.

Already in 1566, at the age of two years, he had been elected bishop of Halberstadt by the cathedral chapter; however, a condition of his election was an agreement that the cathedral chapter would lead the Bishopric under its own authority until Henry Julius reached the age of 14. Hence he took over administration of the Bishopric in 1578, and became active as a temporal as well as spiritual ruler. He had a canal built through the Großes Bruch, a swampland between Hornburg and Oschersleben. He improved general education in the Bishopric, and completed the Protestant Reformation, although he allowed Catholic office holders to keep their privileges — except that he strictly prohibited priests from having mistresses.

In 1589, Duke Julius, Henry Julius' father, died, and Henry Julius succeeded him as ruler of Wolfenbüttel. He replaced Saxon Law by Roman Law, and instead of local nobles, lawyers with academic degrees now served as judges. Henry Julius is known for the persecution of Jews and witches. He lost control of the state's finances and amassed large amounts of public debt. The rights of the nobles were reduced; because of this, the local nobles sued Henry Julius at the Imperial Court in Speyer, before a compromise was struck in 1601. A more serious conflict occurred between Henry Julius and the City of Brunswick; the city refused to recognize his overlordhip unless he agreed to confirm its traditional privileges. Henry Julius was not willing to do so, and this led to a civil war between the duke and the city in 1605. Attempts to mediate by King Christian IV of Denmark failed; in 1606, Emperor Rudolf II banned the city.

In 1607, Henry Julius went to the Emperor's court in Prague in order to negotiate the details of the ban. He gained the Emperor's confidence, and was named his "chief director", a position that gave him much influence in imperial affairs. In this position, he managed to resolve the conflict between Rudolf and his brother, Matthias, and he assisted in resolving the differences between Catholics and Protestants in Bohemia. In return, Henry Julius was given the Emperor's full support in dealing with the City of Brunswick.

When the Rudolf died in 1612, Henry Julius returned to Prague to consult his successor, Matthias. Here in Prague he died of alcohol abuse on 20 July 1613. He was buried in the cathedral at Wolfenbüttel.



Henry Julius married Dorothea (1563-1587), daughter of Augustus, Elector of Saxony, in 1585. They had one child:
* Dorothea Hedwig (1587-1609), married Rudolph, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst

Henry Julius married Elizabeth (1573-1626), daughter of King Frederick II of Denmark in 1590. They had the following children who reached adulthood:

* Frederick Ulrich (1591-1634)
* Sophia Hedwig (1592-1642), married Ernest Casimir, Prince of Nassau-Dietz
* Elizabeth (1593-1650), married Augustus, Duke of Saxony, and Johann Philipp, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg
* Hedwig (1595-1650), married Ulrich, Duke of Pomerania
* Dorothea (1596-1643), married Christian William, Margrave of Brandenburg, son of Joachim Frederick, Margrave of Brandenburg
* Christian (1599-1626)
* Anna Augusta (1612-1673), married George Louis, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg


* [http://mdz.bib-bvb.de/digbib/lexika/adb/images/adb011/@ebt-link?target=idmatch(entityref,adb0110502) Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, vol. 11, p. 500-505]
* [http://www.welfen.de/heinrich10.htm At the House of Welf site]

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