Henry Julius, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg

Henry Julius, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel

Henry Julius, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
Spouse(s) Dorothea of Saxony
Elizabeth of Denmark
Noble family House of Guelph
Father Julius, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Mother Hedwig of Brandenburg
Born (1564-10-15)15 October 1564
Hessen am Fallstein
Died 30 July 1613(1613-07-30) (aged 48)

Henry Julius (German: Heinrich Julius) (15 October 1564 – 30 July 1613) was duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and prince of Wolfenbüttel from 1589 until his death. In 1576 he had become the first rector of the Protestant University of Helmstedt.


Henry Julius was born in Hessen am Fallstein as the eldest son of Julius, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and his wife, Hedwig of Brandenburg. Already in 1566, at the age of two, 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 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.

Even though he was only twelve years old, he participated in theological debates among the faculty that were held in Latin. After finishing his study in law, he was employed by his father as a court judge. In 1589, when Henry Julius succeeded his father 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 not only known for the persecution of Jews and witches. In the years 1593 and 1594, he wrote eleven plays and invited Robert Browne (Jacobean actor) and his theatre company, who staged a shortened version of his "Susanna". Also the other plays, five comedies, four tragedies, were not very successful; however, one was a basis for the tall tales of Baron Munchausen. 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. He invited Hans Vredeman de Vries to develop ramparts and had a canal built through a swampland between Hornburg and Oschersleben. He invited John Dowland to come and see Michael Praetorius, the city's organ player.

Henry Julius lost control of the state's finances and amassed large amounts of public debt. When the rights of the nobles were reduced, the local nobles sued Henry Julius at the Imperial Court in Speyer. A compromise was struck in 1601. A more serious conflict occurred between Henry Julius and Brunswick, when the city refused to recognize his overlordhip. Henry Julius was not willing to confirm its traditional privileges, leading to a civil war in 1605. Attempts by King Christian IV of Denmark to mediate failed and 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". This position gave him much influence in imperial affairs. He also managed to resolve the conflict between Rudolf and his brother, Matthias. Henry Julius assisted in resolving the differences between Catholics and Protestants in Bohemia. In return, he was given the Emperor's full support in dealing with the City of Brunswick.

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


Marriage & Issue

Henry married first Dorothea of Saxony (4 October 1563 – 13 February 1587), daughter of Augustus, Elector of Saxony, on 26 September 1585. They had one child together:

Henry married second Elizabeth of Denmark (25 August 1573 – 19 June 1626), daughter of King Frederick II of Denmark on 19 April 1590. They had ten children together:


Henry Julius, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Cadet branch of the House of Este
Born: 15 October 1564 Died: 30 July 1613
Regnal titles
Religious titles
Preceded by
Sigismund II
Administrator of the
Prince-Bishopric of Halberstadt

Succeeded by
Henry Charles
Preceded by
Hermann of Schauenburg
Administrator of the
Prince-Bishopric of Minden

Title next held by
Anthony of Schauenberg
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Prince of Calenberg and
Prince of Wolfenbüttel

Succeeded by
Frederick Ulrich
Preceded by
Philip the Younger
Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Prince of Grubenhagen only de facto, not de jure

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