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Charles I, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel

Charles I
After Ziesenis - Charles I, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel.png
Prince of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
Reign2 September 1735 – 26 March 1780
PredecessorFerdinand Albert II
SuccessorCharles William Ferdinand
Born(1713-08-01)1 August 1713
Died26 March 1780(1780-03-26) (aged 66)
SpousePrincess Philippine Charlotte of Prussia
IssueCharles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
Prince Georg Franz
Sophie, Margravine of Brandenburg-Bayreuth
Prince Christian Ludwig
Anna, Duchess of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
Prince Frederick Augustus
Prince Albrecht Heinrich
Princess Louise
Prince Wilhelm Adolf
Elisabeth Christine, Crown Princess of Prussia
Princess Friederike
Augusta Dorothea, Abbess of Gandersheim
Prince Maximilian Julius Leopold
HouseHouse of Guelph
FatherFerdinand Albert II, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
MotherDuchess Antoinette of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel

Charles (German: Karl; 1 August 1713, Braunschweig – 26 March 1780, Braunschweig), Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (Bevern line), reigned as Prince of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel from 1735 until his death.


Silver coin of Charles I, dated 1765.
Painting by Antoine Pesne

Charles was the eldest son of Ferdinand Albert II, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. He fought under Prince Eugene of Savoy against the Ottoman Empire before inheriting the Principality of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel from his father in 1735. Through his mother he was first cousins with Empress Maria Theresa

On the suggestion of his court-preacher, Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Jerusalem, in 1745 he founded the Collegium Carolinum, an institute of higher education which is today known as the Technical University of Brunswick. He also hired Gotthold Ephraim Lessing as the librarian for the Bibliotheca Augusta, the ducal library. Lorenz Heister of the University of Helmstedt named the botanical genus Brunsvigia in his honour, in recognition of his encouragement of botany and the study of B. orientalis.

Charles attempted to promote the economic development of his state; for example, he founded the Fürstenberg Porcelain Company, and he installed mandatory fire insurance. However, he did not manage to keep the state finances in check. As a consequence, in 1773 his eldest son Charles William Ferdinand took over government.

When the American Revolution began in 1775, Prince Charles saw an opportunity to replenish the duchy's treasury by renting its army to Great Britain. In 1776, Duke Charles signed a treaty with his cousin George III of the United Kingdom to supply troops for service with the British armies in America. 4,000 soldiers were dispatched under General Friedrich Adolf Riedesel. The Brunswick troops fought in General John Burgoyne's army at the Battles of Saratoga (1777), where they were taken prisoner as part of the Convention Army. Although the terms of surrender allowed the troops to return to Europe, the American Continental Congress cancelled the convention. The Convention Army was held prisoner in America until the war ended in 1783.

Marriage and children

In 1733, Charles married Philippine Charlotte, daughter of King Frederick William I of Prussia. They had the following children that reached adulthood:

Charles also had a child out of wedlock, Christian Theodor von Pincier (1750–1824), the adopted son of Baron von Pincier of Sweden.


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