George William, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg

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George William
Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg
George William, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Born(1624-01-26)26 January 1624
Herzberg am Harz
Died 28 August 1705(1705-08-28) (aged 81)
Spouse Eleonore d'Esmier d'Olbreuse
Issue Sophia Dorothea of Celle
House Hanover
Father George, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Mother Anne Eleonore of Hesse-Darmstadt
Portrait of Georg Wilhelm after Anselm van Hulle by Pieter de Jode II. Anselmus-van-Hulle-Hommes-illustres MG 0446.tif
Portrait of Georg Wilhelm after Anselm van Hulle by Pieter de Jode II.

George William German : Georg Wilhelm (Herzberg am Harz, 26 January 1624 28 August 1705, Wienhausen) was Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg. He ruled first over the Principality of Calenberg, a subdivision of the duchy, then over the Lüneburg subdivision. In 1689, he occupied the Duchy of Saxe-Lauenburg and passed it on to his successors. [1] George William was the father of Sophia Dorothea of Celle, wife of George I of Great Britain.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

Herzberg am Harz Place in Lower Saxony, Germany

Herzberg am Harz is a town in the Göttingen district of Lower Saxony, Germany.

Wienhausen Place in Lower Saxony, Germany

Wienhausen is a municipality in the district of Celle, in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is known for Wienhausen Abbey, referenced in the municipal coat of arms.



George William was the second son of George, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg. He had an elder brother, two younger brothers, and several sisters, including Queen Sophia Amalie of Denmark.

Denmark constitutional monarchy in Europe

Denmark, officially the Kingdom of Denmark, is a Nordic country and the southernmost of the Scandinavian nations. Denmark lies southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and is bordered to the south by Germany. The Kingdom of Denmark also comprises two autonomous constituent countries in the North Atlantic Ocean: the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Denmark proper consists of a peninsula, Jutland, and an archipelago of 443 named islands, with the largest being Zealand, Funen and the North Jutlandic Island. The islands are characterised by flat, arable land and sandy coasts, low elevation and a temperate climate. Denmark has a total area of 42,924 km2 (16,573 sq mi), land area of 42,394 km2 (16,368 sq mi), and the total area including Greenland and the Faroe Islands is 2,210,579 km2 (853,509 sq mi), and a population of 5.8 million.


In 1648, when his elder brother Christian Louis inherited Lüneburg from their paternal uncle, he gave Calenberg to George William in appanage. When Christian Louis died childless in 1665, George William inherited Luneburg. He then gave Calenberg to his next brother, John Frederick.

Christian Louis, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg Duke of Brunswick-Calenberg and Brunswick-Lüneburg

Christian Louis was Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg. A member of the House of Welf, from 1641 until 1648 he ruled the Principality of Calenberg, a subdivision of the duchy, and, from 1648 until his death, the Principality of Lüneburg.

The Principality of Lüneburg was a territorial division of the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg within the Holy Roman Empire, immediately subordinate to the emperor. It existed from 1269 until 1705 and its territory lay within the modern-day state of Lower Saxony in Germany. The principality was named after its first capital, Lüneburg, which was ruled jointly by all Brunswick-Lüneburg lines until 1637. From 1378, the seat of the principality was in Celle. It lost its independence in 1705 when it was annexed by the Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg, but retained its vote in the Reichstag as Brunswick-Celle.

An appanage or apanage or French: apanage is the grant of an estate, title, office, or other thing of value to a younger male child of a sovereign, who would otherwise have no inheritance under the system of primogeniture. It was common in much of Europe.


In exchange for being freed from the obligation to marry Princess Sophia of the Palatinate, George William ceded Lüneburg to his younger brother Ernest Augustus, settling for the smaller duchy of Celle and promising to remain unmarried so that he would produce no legitimate heir who might pose a challenge to his brother's claim. Ernest Augustus then married Sophia and became the Duke of Hanover.

Sophia of Hanover Princess of the Palatinate, Electress of Hanover, heir presumptive and ancestor of British monarchs following the Act of Settlement 1701

Sophia of Hanover was the Electress of Hanover from 1692 to 1698. As a granddaughter of James I, she became heir presumptive to the crowns of the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Ireland under the Act of Settlement 1701. After the Acts of Union 1707, she became heir presumptive to the unified throne of the Kingdom of Great Britain. She died less than two months before she would have become queen succeeding her first cousin once removed, Queen Anne, and her claim to the throne passed on to her eldest son, George Louis, Elector of Hanover, who ascended as George I on 1 August 1714.

Ernest Augustus, Elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg German prince

Ernest Augustus was a Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and ruled over the Principality of Calenberg subdivision of the duchy. He was appointed Prince-elector, but died before the appointment became effective. He was also the Prince-Bishop of the Prince-Bishopric of Osnabrück.

Celle Place in Lower Saxony, Germany

Celle is a town and capital of the district of Celle, in Lower Saxony, Germany. The town is situated on the banks of the river Aller, a tributary of the Weser and has a population of about 71,000. Celle is the southern gateway to the Lüneburg Heath, has a castle built in the Renaissance and Baroque style and a picturesque old town centre with over 400 timber-framed houses, making Celle one of the most remarkable members of the German Timber-Frame Road. From 1378 to 1705, Celle was the official residence of the Lüneburg branch of the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg who had been banished from their original ducal seat by its townsfolk.

This renunciation left George William free to marry whoever he wished, and indulge his desires to travel and socialize, without being encumbered by considerations of state. In 1665, George William entered into a morganatic marriage with his long-time mistress, Eleanor, Countess of Wilhelmsburg. In 1666, their only child and daughter, Sophia Dorothea, was born.

Morganatic marriage, sometimes called a left-handed marriage, is a marriage between people of unequal social rank, which in the context of royalty prevents the passage of the husband's titles and privileges to the wife and any children born of the marriage.

Sophia Dorothea of Celle wife of George I of Great Britain

Sophia Dorothea of Celle was the repudiated wife of future King George I of Great Britain, and mother of George II. The union with her first cousin was an arranged marriage of state, instigated by the machinations of his mother, Sophia of Hanover. She is best remembered for her alleged affair with Philip Christoph von Königsmarck that led to her being imprisoned in the Castle of Ahlden for the last thirty years of her life.

By 1676, it had become quite clear that among the four brothers (George William and three others), only the youngest (Ernest Augustus) had produced any heirs male, and that the entire duchy of Luneburg was likely to be united under Ernest's eldest son George Louis. George William therefore wanted that George Louis should marry his daughter Sophia, whose marriage prospects were otherwise not bright, given the circumstances of her birth. To George William's annoyance, George Louis and his parents refused the proposal on the grounds of status. At this point (in 1676), desiring to improve the status of his mistress and daughter, and in open violation of his promise, George William legitimized his daughter and declared that his marriage to Eleonore was not morganatic but valid to both church and state. This development greatly alarmed his relatives, as it threatened to hinder the contemplated union of the Lüneburg territories. Indeed, if George William had had a son, a serious succession crisis could have arisen. No son however was born, and in 1682, George Louis' parents finally agreed to the proposed marriage as a way of avoiding uncertainty and dispute. Sophia was given in marriage to George Louis in 1682, and was delivered of a son and heir the following year, named George after his father and maternal grandfather, and would be the future George II of England.

George I of Great Britain King of Great Britain, Elector of Hanover

George I was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1 August 1714 and ruler of the Duchy and Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg (Hanover) in the Holy Roman Empire from 1698 until his death in 1727.

The Lauenburg succession crisis

In 1689, Julius Francis, Duke of Saxe-Lauenburg died leaving no son and no accepted heir male, but only two daughters, Anna and Mary. The duchy had followed the Salic law since time immemorial, but Duke Julius Francis decided to nominate his elder daughter as his heir and proclaimed laws permitting female succession in his duchy. This self-serving innovation was not accepted by senior members of his dynasty (the other potential successors) and a succession crisis ensued.

George William was one of the nearest and senior-most male-line claimants to the succession. Shortly after the death of the duke, George William invaded the duchy with his troops and occupied it. The other claimants included the five Ascanian-ruled Principalities of Anhalt, Saxony, Saxe-Wittenberg, Sweden and Brandenburg, and also the neighbouring Mecklenburg-Schwerin and the Danish duchy of Holstein, whose ruler was the King of Denmark.

However, only George William and Christian V of Denmark (whose mother was George William's own sister) engaged militarily on this question. An accord was soon reached between them, and on 9 October 1693 they agreed (in the Hamburg Comparison, or Hamburger Vergleich) that George William - who now de facto held most of Saxe-Lauenburg - would retain the duchy in a personal union.

Meanwhile, the Emperor Leopold I, who had no direct claim on the duchy, occupied the Land of Hadeln, an exclave of Saxe-Lauenburgian, and held it in imperial custody. Apart from that, Leopold did not attempt to use force in Saxe-Lauenburg. In 1728, his son the Emperor Charles VI finally legitimised the de facto takeover and enfeoffed George William's second successor, the Elector George II Augustus of Hanover (also king of Great Britain) with the duchy of Saxe-Lauenburg, but Hadeln remained in imperial custody until 1731, when it was ceded to George Augustus too.

Other military feats

During the Swedish-Brandenburg War, George William participated from 1675 to 1676 in the campaign against Bremen-Verden as commander-in-chief of the allied forces against Sweden.



  1. Maclagan, Michael; Louda, Jiří (1999), Line of Succession: Heraldry of the Royal Families of Europe, London: Little, Brown & Co, p. 30, ISBN   0-7607-3287-6

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George William, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Cadet branch of the House of Welf
Born: 26 January 1624 Died: 28 August 1705
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Christian Louis
Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Prince of Calenberg

Succeeded by
John Frederick
Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Prince of Lüneburg

Succeeded by
George Louis
Preceded by
Julius Francis
Duke of Saxe-Lauenburg
(illegal occupation)