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Gregory Brown
513 Agnes Arnold Hall
Department of Philosophy
University of Houston
Houston, TX 77204-3004
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August (Augustus)
"The Younger"
(1579-1666)

Duke of Brunswick - Wolfenbüttel (from 1635)
Founder of the New House of Brunswick

Duke August was the youngest son of duke Heinrich Dannenberg (1533-1598) of the Lüneburg line. Consequently, in the beginning he had scarcely any prospect for the domain of Dannenberg and certainly none at all for the principality of Brunswick - Wolfenbüttel.  August received a very good education.  He was able to attend the universities of Tübingen and Rostock, and he undertook a trip to France, England, and Italy that lasted several years.  In 1604 duke August inherited the small estate of Hitzacker on the Elb, with castle and city.  Here he lived 30 years in relatively modest circumstances.  He appeased his very great passion for books by purchases over his European-wide organized network of agents.  The greatest part of the appanage that fell to him was spent in connection with his trips and the necessary construction in the castle for his library.  It is today the basis for the famous Duke August Library in Wolfenbüttel.  As the chief judge in his estate, it has been authenticated that between 1590 and 1610 he had seventy sorcerers and witches burned. 

In 1634 the last Welf ruler from the Middle House of Brunswick, duke Friedrich Ulrich (1591-1634) of Brunswick - Wolfenbüttel, died without heirs.  Within the family branch of Lüneburg, a struggle for succession broke out.  Only under pressure from the emperor did the Welf descendents from the Lüneburg line come to terms.  Duke August had previously purchased all rights with respect to the principality of Brunswick - Wolfenbüttel from his seven elder brothers.  In 1635, on the basis of the inheritance contract that his father Heinrich Dannenberg had made with the Lüneburg line, the fifty-five-year-old duke August assumed at Wolfenbüttel the reign of the principality of Brunswick - Wolfenbüttel.  Consequently, duke August was the founder of the New House of Brunswick. In return for it the principality of Calenberg - Göttingen was separated from Wolfenbüttel and awarded to the Lüneburg line under duke Georg of Calenberg (1583-1641).  Among duke August's most important ruling measures was the planning and construction of an artisans' suburb in Wolfenbüttel in the years 1652-1656, which received the name "Auguststadt."   When duke August died in 1666, he left behind a well-ordered principality, in which the severe damage caused by the Thirty Years' War was largely overcome.  Duke August, as collector, humanist, scholar, and politician, was one of the most significant Welf sovereigns.  As a representative of the Baroque Age, Duke August lived completely in accordance with his motto: "Everything with deliberation."

From his first marriage duke August had two sons, Rudolf August (1627-1704) and Anton Ulrich (1633-1714).  His third son, Ferdinand Albrecht I. (1636-1687), came from his second marriage.

--Adapted from the website, Die Welfen

Sources

  • Fürst, R. and W. Kelsch. Wolfenbüttel: Ein Furstenhaus und seine Residenz. Wolfenbüttel, 1990.
  • Judge, Harry, ed. Oxford Illustrated Encyclopedia. 3 vols. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

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