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Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, Prince of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (german: Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel; 9 October 1735 – 10 November 1806) was the Prince of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel and
Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg Duke is a male title either of a monarch ruling over a duchy, or of a member of Royal family, royalty, or nobility. As rulers, dukes are ranked below emperors, kings, grand princes, grand dukes, and sovereign princes. As royalty or nobility, t ...
and a military leader. His titles are usually shortened to Duke of Brunswick in
English-language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading language of international discourse in the 21st centu ...
sources. He succeeded his father as sovereign prince of the Principality of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, one of the
princely state A princely state, also called a native state, feudatory state or Indian state (for those states on the subcontinent), was a vassal state under a local or indigenous or regional ruler in a subsidiary alliance with the East India Company and af ...
s of the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town i ...
. The duke was a cultured and benevolent despot in the model of
Frederick the Great Frederick II (german: Friedrich II.; 24 January 171217 August 1786) was King in Prussia King ''in'' Prussia ( German: ''König in Preußen'') was a title used by the Prussian kings (also in personal union Electors of Brandenburg) from 1701 t ...

Frederick the Great
, and was married to Princess Augusta, a sister of
George III of Great Britain George III (George William Frederick; 4 June 173829 January 1820) was King of Great Britain and Ireland Ireland (; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separ ...
. He was also a recognized master of 18th century warfare, serving as a
Field Marshal Field marshal (or field-marshal, abbreviated as FM) is the most senior military rank, ordinarily senior to the general officer A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, space force ...
in the
Prussian Army The Royal Prussian Army (1701–1919, german: Königlich Preußische Armee) served as the army of the Kingdom of Prussia. It became vital to the development of Brandenburg-Prussia as a European power. The Prussian Army had its roots in the cor ...
. During the Napoleonic Wars, he was mortally wounded by a musket ball at the
Battle of Jena–Auerstedt The twin battles of Jena and Auerstedt (; older spelling: ''Auerstädt'') were fought on 14 October 1806 on the plateau west of the river Saale in today's Germany, between the forces of Napoleon, Napoleon I of France and Frederick William III o ...
in 1806.


Early life

Charles William Ferdinand was born in the town of
Wolfenbüttel Wolfenbüttel () is a town in Lower Saxony, Germany Lower Saxony (german: Niedersachsen ; nds, Neddersassen; stq, Läichsaksen) is a States of Germany, German state (''Land'') situated in Northern Germany, northwestern Germany. It is the se ...

Wolfenbüttel
on 9 October 1735, probably in
Wolfenbüttel Castle
Wolfenbüttel Castle
. He was the first-born son of
Charles I, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel Charles (German: ''Karl''; 1 August 1713, Braunschweig – 26 March 1780, Braunschweig), Duke of Brunswick-Bevern, Brunswick-Lüneburg (Bevern line), reigned as List of rulers of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, Prince of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel from ...
and his wife Philippine Charlotte. His father Charles I was the ruling prince (german:
Fürst ' (, female form ', plural '; from Old High German ', "the first", a translation of the Latin ') is a German language, German word for a ruler and is also a princely title. ' were, since the Middle Ages, members of the highest nobility who ruled ...
) of the small state of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, one of the
imperial state An Imperial State or Imperial Estate ( la, Status Imperii; german: Reichsstand, plural: ') was a part of the Holy Roman Empire with representation and the right to vote in the Imperial Diet (Holy Roman Empire), Imperial Diet ('). Rulers of thes ...
s of the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town i ...
. Philippine Charlotte was the favourite daughter of King
Frederick William I of Prussia Frederick William I (german: Friedrich Wilhelm I.; 14 August 1688 – 31 May 1740), known as the "Soldier King" (german: Soldatenkönig), was the king in Prussia and elector of Brandenburg from 1713 until his death in 1740, as well as prince of N ...
and sister of
Frederick II of Prussia Frederick II (german: Friedrich II.; 24 January 171217 August 1786) was King in Prussia from 1740 until 1772, and King of Prussia from 1772 until his death. His most significant accomplishments include his military successes in the Silesian wa ...

Frederick II of Prussia
(Frederick the Great). As the
heir apparent An heir apparent is a person who is first in an order of succession An order of succession or right of succession is the line of individuals entitled to hold a high office when it becomes vacated such as head of state A head of state ...
of a sovereign prince, Charles William Ferdinand received the title of Hereditary Prince (german: Erbprinz). He received an unusually wide and thorough education, overseen by his mother. In his youth he travelled in the Netherlands, France and various parts of Germany. In 1753 his father moved the capital of the principality back to
Brunswick Brunswick is the historical English name for the German city of Braunschweig (Low German: ''Brunswiek'', Braunschweig dialect: ''Bronswiek''). Brunswick may also refer to: Places and other topographs Australia * Brunswick, Victoria, a suburb of ...

Brunswick
(german: Braunschweig), the state's largest city. (Wolfenbüttel had been the capital since 1432.) The royal family moved into the newly built
Brunswick Palace Brunswick Palace (german: Braunschweiger Schloss or ''Braunschweiger Residenzschloss'') on the ''Bohlweg'' in the centre of the city of Brunswick Brunswick is the historical English name for the German city of Braunschweig (Low German: ''Brunswiek' ...
.


Early military career

Charles William Ferdinand entered the military, serving during the
Seven Years' War The Seven Years' War (1756–1763) is widely considered to be the first global conflict in history, and was a struggle for world supremacy between Kingdom of Great Britain, Great Britain and Kingdom of France, France. In Europe, the conflict ar ...
of 1756–63. He joined the allied north-German forces of the Hanoverian Army of Observation, whose task was to protect
Hanover Hanover (; german: Hannover ; nds, Hannober) is the capital and largest city of the German States of Germany, state of Lower Saxony. Its 534,049 (2020) inhabitants make it the List of cities in Germany by population, 13th-largest city in Germa ...
(in
personal union A personal union is the combination of two or more states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The Stat ...

personal union
with the
Kingdom of Great Britain The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called Great Britain,"After the political union of England and Scotland in 1707, the nation's official name became 'Great Britain'", ''The American Pageant, Volume 1'', Cengage Learning (2012) was a s ...

Kingdom of Great Britain
) and the surrounding states from invasion by the French. The force was initially commanded by the Anglo-Hanoverian
Prince William, Duke of Cumberland Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, (15 April 1721 Old_Style_and_New_Style_dates">N.S..html" ;"title="Old_Style_and_New_Style_dates.html" ;"title="/nowiki>Old Style and New Style dates">N.S.">Old_Style_and_New_Style_dates.html" ;"title= ...
. At the
Battle of Hastenbeck The Battle of Hastenbeck (26 July 1757) was fought as part of the Invasion of Hanover during the Seven Years' War between the allied forces of Hanover Hanover (; german: Hannover ; nds, Hannober) is the capital and largest city of the Ger ...
(1757) Charles William Ferdinand led a charge at the head of an infantry brigade, an action which gained him some renown. The subsequent French Invasion of Hanover and
Convention of Klosterzeven The Convention of Klosterzeven (or the Convention of Kloster-Zeven, german: Konvention von Kloster Zeven) was a convention signed on 10 September 1757 at Klosterzeven between France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link= ...
of 1757 temporarily knocked Hanover out of the war (they were to return the following year). Cumberland was recalled to Britain and the remaining allied north-German forces were placed under the command of
Ferdinand of Brunswick Ferdinand is a Germanic nameGermanic given names are traditionally dithematic; that is, they are formed from two elements, by joining a prefix A prefix is an affix which is placed before the stem of a word. Adding it to the beginning of one w ...
, brother of Charles I, who easily persuaded his nephew Charles William Ferdinand to renew his military service as a
general officer A general officer is an Officer (armed forces), officer of highest military ranks, high rank in the army, armies, and in some nations' air forces, space forces, or marines. In some usages the term "general officer" refers to a rank above colo ...
. Charles William Ferdinand was part of the allied Anglo-German force at the
Battle of Minden The Battle of Minden was a major engagement during the Seven Years' War The Seven Years' War (1756–1763) is widely considered to be the first global conflict in history, and was a struggle for world supremacy between Great Britain ...
(1759), and the
Battle of Warburg The Battle of Warburg was a battle fought on 31 July 1760 during the Seven Years' War. The Battle was a victory for the Hanoverians and the British against the French. British general John Manners, Marquess of Granby achieved some fame for charg ...
(1760). Both were decisive victories over the French, during which he proved himself an excellent subordinate commander. He continued to serve in the army commanded by his uncle for the remainder of the war, which was generally successful for the north German forces. The hereditary prince's reputation improved throughout, and he became an acknowledged master of
irregular warfare Irregular warfare (IW) is defined in United States joint doctrine as "a violent struggle among state and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence over the relevant populations." Concepts associated with irregular warfare are older than the te ...
. Peace was restored in 1763.


Marriage and travels

The royal houses of the former
Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg The Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg (german: Herzogtum Braunschweig und Lüneburg), or more properly the Duchy of Brunswick and Lüneburg, was a historical duchy that existed from the late Middle Ages to the Late Modern era within the Holy Roman ...
had traditionally married within the family, to avoid further division of their family lands under
Salic law#REDIRECT Salic law The Salic law ( or ; la, Lex salica), or the was the ancient Salian Franks, Salian Frankish Civil law (legal system), civil law code compiled around AD 500 by the first Frankish King, Clovis I, Clovis. The written text is in La ...
. By the time, Brunswick-Lüneburg had consolidated back into two states, Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel and the Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg (Hanover). The electorate was ruled by the Hanoverian branch of the family in personal union with the
Kingdom of Great Britain The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called Great Britain,"After the political union of England and Scotland in 1707, the nation's official name became 'Great Britain'", ''The American Pageant, Volume 1'', Cengage Learning (2012) was a s ...

Kingdom of Great Britain
. It was therefore arranged for Charles William Ferdinand to marry a British-Hanoverian princess:
Princess Augusta of Great Britain Princess Augusta Frederica of Great Britain (31 July 1737 – 23 March 1813) was a British princess, granddaughter of King George II and the only elder sibling of King George III George III (George William Frederick; 4 June 173829 January 1 ...
, daughter of
Frederick, Prince of Wales Frederick, Prince of Wales, (Frederick Louis, ; 31 January 170731 March 1751), was heir apparent An heir apparent is a person who is first in an order of succession An order of succession or right of succession is the line of individuals ...

Frederick, Prince of Wales
and his wife,
Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg ( – 8 February 1772) was Princess of Wales Princess of Wales ( cy, Tywysoges Cymru) is a British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the Un ...
, and sister of the reigning
King George III George III (George William Frederick; 4 June 173829 January 1820) was King of Great Britain and of Monarchy of Ireland, Ireland from 25 October 1760 until Acts of Union 1800, the union of the two kingdoms on 1 January 1801, after which he wa ...

King George III
. In 1764, shortly after the Seven Years' War had ended, he travelled to
London London is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowerc ...

London
(landing at
Harwich Harwich is a town in Essex Essex () is a Ceremonial counties of England, county in the East of England. One of the home counties, it borders Suffolk and Cambridgeshire to the north, the North Sea to the east, Hertfordshire to the west, Ke ...

Harwich
) to marry Princess Augusta. He received a rapturous welcome from the British people, thanks to his service with allied British troops during the war. The
Parliament of Great Britain The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in May 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of UnionAct of Union may refer to: In Great Britain and Ireland * Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542, passed during the reign of King Henry VIII to m ...
showed its gratitude by voting him a lump sum of 80,000 and an annual income of £3,000 as a wedding gift. However George III was less welcoming, and sought to express his displeasure through numerous small insults e.g. by lodging the prince at
Somerset House Somerset House is a large Neoclassicism, Neoclassical complex situated on the south side of the Strand, London, Strand in central London, overlooking the River Thames, just east of Waterloo Bridge. The Georgian architecture, Georgian quadrang ...

Somerset House
, instead of one of the royal palaces; not providing him with a military guard; and instructing the servants at the wedding to wear old clothes. This merely served to exacerbate the enthusiasm of the public, particularly when the prince was suspected of turning his back on the unpopular monarch whilst attending an
opera Opera is a form of theatre Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actor, actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a s ...

opera
(a breach of social protocol). Charles William Ferdinand defied royal displeasure by meeting
William Pitt the Elder William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, (15 November 170811 May 1778) was a British statesman of the Whig Whig or Whigs may refer to: Parties and factions In the British Isles * A pejorative nickname for the Kirk Party The Kirk Party were ...
(who had been
prime minister A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transpa ...
during the war but resigned in 1761) and the other leaders of the
parliamentary opposition Parliamentary opposition is a form of opposition (politics), political opposition to a designated government, particularly in a Westminster system, Westminster-based parliamentary system. This article uses the term ''executive (government), gover ...
. The wedding was completed, but as a result of these machinations the prince remained in Britain for only thirteen days. Over the next few years the couple embarked on a wide-ranging tour of Europe, visiting many of the major states. In 1766 they went to France, where they were received by both his allies and recent battlefield enemies with respect. In Paris he made the acquaintance of . The couple next proceeded to Switzerland, where they met
Voltaire François-Marie Arouet (; 21 November 169430 May 1778), known by his ''nom de plume A pen name, also called a ''nom de plume'' () or a literary double, is a pseudonym A pseudonym () or alias () (originally: ψευδώνυμος in Greek) is a ...

Voltaire
. The longest stop on their travels was Rome, where they remained for a long time exploring the antiquities of the city under the guidance of . During their travels the couple also met and in 1767 the prince had his portrait painted by
Pompeo Batoni Pompeo Girolamo Batoni (25 January 1708 – 4 February 1787) was an Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Ital ...

Pompeo Batoni
. After a visit to
Naples Naples (; it, Napoli ; nap, Napule ), from grc, Νεάπολις, Neápolis, lit=new city. is the regional capital of and the third-largest city of , after and , with a population of 967,069 within the city's administrative limits as of ...

Naples
they returned to Paris, and thence to
Brunswick Brunswick is the historical English name for the German city of Braunschweig (Low German: ''Brunswiek'', Braunschweig dialect: ''Bronswiek''). Brunswick may also refer to: Places and other topographs Australia * Brunswick, Victoria, a suburb of ...
.


Ruler of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel


Restoration of state finances

His father,
Charles I Charles is a masculine given name predominantly found in English language, English and French language, French speaking countries. It is from the French form ''Charles'' of the Proto-Germanic, Proto-Germanic name ᚲᚨᚱᛁᛚᚨᛉ (in r ...
, had been an enthusiastic supporter of the war, but nearly bankrupted the state paying for it. As a result, in 1773 Charles William Ferdinand was given a major role in reforming the economy. With the assistance of the minister Feonçe von Rotenkreuz he was highly successful, restoring the state's finances and improving the economy. This made him hugely popular in the duchy. When the
American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was initiated by delegates from Thirteen Colonies, thirteen American colonies of British America in Continental Congress ...
broke out in 1775, Charles William Ferdinand saw an opportunity to replenish the state's treasury by renting its well-trained army to Great Britain. In 1776, Charles I signed a treaty supporting Britain in the war, the first prince to do so. Under the terms of this treaty, Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel supplied 4,000 troops for service with the British armies in America, under the command of general
Friedrich Adolf Riedesel Freiherr Friedrich Adolf Riedesel Freiherr zu Eisenbach (3 June 1738 in Lauterbach/Hesse – 6 January 1800 in Braunschweig) was a German officer who served in the Seven Years' War The Seven Years' War (1756–1763) was a global conflict ...

Friedrich Adolf Riedesel
. Riedesel was given command of all the
German troops German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language * Germanic peoples * Ger ...
serving in the
Saratoga campaign The Saratoga campaign in 1777 was an attempt by the British high command for North America to gain military control of the strategically important Hudson River The Hudson River is a river that flows from north to south primarily through ea ...
, under British general
John Burgoyne General A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, space forces, or marines Marines or naval infantry, are typically a military force trained to operate on Littoral Zone, littoral ...

John Burgoyne
. Burgoyne was defeated in the
Battles of Saratoga The Battles of Saratoga (September 19 and October 7, 1777) marked the climax of the Saratoga campaign, giving a decisive victory to the Americans over the British in the American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1 ...
(1777), and his troops were taken captive as the
Convention Army The Convention Army (1777–1783) was an army of British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, British Overseas Territories, and Crown Dependencies. ** Britishness, ...
. Although the terms of surrender allowed the Convention Army to give their
parole Parole is the early release of a prisoner A prisoner (also known as an inmate or detainee) is a person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason Reason is the capacity ...
and return to Europe, the American
Continental Congress The Continental Congress was a series of legislative bodies A legislature is a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is ...
revoked the convention. The Convention Army was kept in captivity until the war ended in 1783.


Reign

Charles I died in 1780, at which point Charles William Ferdinand inherited the throne. He soon became known as a model sovereign, a typical
enlightened despot Enlightened absolutism (also called enlightened despotism or enlightened absolutist) refers to the conduct and policies of European Absolute monarchy, absolute monarchs during the 18th and early 19th centuries who were influenced by the ideas of th ...
of the period, characterized by economy and prudence. The duke's combination of interest in the well-being of his subjects and habitual caution led to a policy of gradual reforms, a successful middle way between the
conservatism Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the philosophy of art (its own area of philosophy that comes out of ae ...
of some contemporary monarchs and the over-enthusiastic wholesale changes pursued by others. He sponsored
enlightenment Enlightenment, enlighten or enlightened may refer to: Age of Enlightenment * Age of Enlightenment, period in Western intellectual history from the late 17th to late 18th century, centered in France but also encompassing: ** Midlands Enlightenment ...
arts and sciences; most notably he was patron to the young mathematician
Carl Friedrich Gauss Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss (; german: Gauß ; la, Carolus Fridericus Gauss; 30 April 177723 February 1855) was a German mathematician This is a List of German mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of m ...

Carl Friedrich Gauss
, paying for him to attend university against the wishes of Gauss' father.Dunnington, G. Waldo. (May 1927). ''Scientific Monthly'' XXIV: 402–414. Retrieved on 29 June 2005. Now available at Retrieved 28 January 2016. He resembled his uncle
Frederick the Great Frederick II (german: Friedrich II.; 24 January 171217 August 1786) was King in Prussia King ''in'' Prussia ( German: ''König in Preußen'') was a title used by the Prussian kings (also in personal union Electors of Brandenburg) from 1701 t ...

Frederick the Great
in many ways, but he lacked the resolution of the king, and in civil as in military affairs was prone to excessive caution. He brought Brunswick into close alliance with the king of
Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian Distribution of the Baltic tribes, circa 1200 CE (boundaries are approximate). Old Prussian was a Western Baltic language belonging to the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European languages The Indo-Europ ...

Prussia
, for whom he had fought in the Seven Years' War; he was a Prussian
field marshal Field marshal (or field-marshal, abbreviated as FM) is the most senior military rank, ordinarily senior to the general officer A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, space force ...

field marshal
, and was at pains to make the regiment of which he was colonel a model one. The duke was frequently engaged in diplomatic and other state affairs. In August 1784 he hosted a secret diplomatic visit from Karl August, Duke of Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Eisenach (
Goethe Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of G ...

Goethe
was a member of Karl August's entourage). The visit was disguised as a family visit, but was in fact to discuss the formation of a league of small- and mid-sized German states as a counterbalance within the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town i ...
to
Habsburg Monarchy Habsburg Monarchy (german: Habsburgermonarchie), or Danubian Monarchy (german: Donaumonarchie), or Habsburg Empire (german: Habsburgerreich) is a modern umbrella term In linguistics, hyponymy (from Greek language, Greek ὑπό, ''hupó'', "u ...

Habsburg Monarchy
's ambitions to trade the
Austrian Netherlands The Austrian Netherlands nl, Oostenrijkse Nederlanden; french: Pays-Bas Autrichiens; german: Österreichische Niederlande; la, Belgium Austriacum. was the larger part of the Southern Netherlands The Southern Netherlands, also called the Cat ...
for the
Electorate of Bavaria The Electorate of Bavaria (german: Kurfürstentum Bayern) was an independent hereditary electorate of the Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Imperium Romanum; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of ...
. This Fürstenbund (League of Princes) was formally announced in 1785, with the Duke of Brunswick as one of its members and commander of its military forces. The league was successful in forcing the Austrian
Joseph II Joseph II (German: ''Josef Benedikt Anton Michel Adam''; English: ''Joseph Benedict Anthony Michael Adam''; 13 March 1741 – 20 February 1790) was Holy Roman Emperor from August 1765 and sole ruler of the Habsburg Monarchy, Habsburg lands from N ...

Joseph II
to back down, and thereafter became obsolete. The Swedish princess and diarist Hedwig Elizabeth Charlotte visited Brunswick in 1799; she described the Duke as "witty, literal and a pleasant acquaintance but ceremonial beyond description. He is said to be quite strict, but a good father of the nation who attends to the needs of his people." In 1803 the process of
German Mediatisation German mediatisation (; german: deutsche Mediatisierung) was the major territorial restructuring that took place between 1802 and 1814 in Germany and the surrounding region by means of the mass mediatisation and secularisation of a large number ...
led to the acquisition of the neighbouring
imperial abbey Weissenau abbey, circa 1625 Princely abbeys (german: Fürstabtei, ''Fürststift'') and Imperial abbeys (german: Reichsabtei, ''Reichskloster'', ''Reichsstift'', ''Reichsgotthaus'') were religious establishments within the Holy Roman Empire T ...
s of Gandersheim and
Helmstedt Helmstedt () is a town on the eastern edge of the German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also Ger ...
, which were secularised.


Military commander

He was made a Prussian general in 1773.


War of the Bavarian Succession

From 1778 to 1779 he served in the
War of the Bavarian Succession The War of the Bavarian Succession (; 3 July 1778 – 21 May 1779) was a dispute between the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy and an alliance of Electorate of Saxony, Saxony and Kingdom of Prussia, Prussia over succession to the Electorate of Bavaria a ...
.
Frederick IIFrederick II, Frederik II or Friedrich II may refer to: * Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor (1194–1250), King of Sicily from 1198; Holy Roman Emperor from 1220 * Frederick II of Denmark (1534–1588), king of Denmark and Norway 1559–1588 * Freder ...

Frederick II
praised the prince personally for his conduct during the war.


Invasion of the Netherlands

In 1787 the Duke was made
Generalfeldmarschall ''Generalfeldmarschall'' (from Old High German ''marahscalc'', "marshal, stable master, groom") ( en, general field marshal, field marshal general, or field marshal; ; often abbreviated to ''Feldmarschall'') was a rank in the armies of several ...
(
field marshal Field marshal (or field-marshal, abbreviated as FM) is the most senior military rank, ordinarily senior to the general officer A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, space force ...

field marshal
) in the
Prussian army The Royal Prussian Army (1701–1919, german: Königlich Preußische Armee) served as the army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" eminine, ground force or land force is a fighting force that figh ...
.
Frederick William II of Prussia Frederick William II (german: Friedrich Wilhelm II.; 25 September 1744 – 16 November 1797) was King of Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian: ''Prūsa'' or ''Prūsija'' was a historically prominent Germans, German state that originated in 1 ...
appointed him as commander of a 20,000-strong Prussian force which was to invade the
United Provinces of the Netherlands The United Provinces of the Netherlands, or United Provinces (officially the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands), commonly referred to in historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historians in developing history ...
(The Dutch Republic). The goal was to suppress the Patriots of the
Batavian Revolution The Batavian Revolution ( nl, De Bataafse Revolutie) was a time of political, social and cultural turmoil at the end of the 18th century that marked the end of the Dutch Republic The United Provinces of the Netherlands, or United Provinces ...
, restoring the authority of the
stadtholder In the Low Countries The term Low Countries, also known as the Low Lands ( nl, de Lage Landen, french: les Pays-Bas) and historically called the Netherlands ( nl, de Nederlanden), Flanders, or Belgica, refers to a coastal lowland region in No ...
William VWilliam V may refer to: * William V, Count of Nevers () * William V, Duke of Aquitaine (969–1030) * William V, Duke of Bavaria (1548–1626) * William V, Duke of Jülich (1299–1361) * William V, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel (1602–1637) * William ...
of the
House of Orange The House of Orange-Nassau (Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" ...
. Much of the country was in open revolt against William, whose personal troops were unable to quell the Patriot militias and the various Dutch provinces refused to aid him. The
Encyclopædia Britannica The (Latin for "British Encyclopaedia") is a general knowledge English-language encyclopaedia which is now published exclusively as an online encyclopedia, online encyclopaedia. It was formerly published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., ...
described the Duke's invasion: "His success was rapid, complete and almost bloodless, and in the eyes of contemporaries the campaign appeared as an example of perfect generalship". The Patriots were out-manoeuvred and overwhelmed: their militias were unable to put up any real resistance, were forced to abandon their insurrection, and many Patriots fled to France. The Duke's forces entered the Netherlands on 13 September and occupied
Nijmegen Nijmegen ( , ;; Spanish language, Spanish and it, Nimega. South Guelderish, Nijmeegs: ''Nimwèège'' ) is a city in the Dutch province of Gelderland, on the Waal (river), Waal river close to the Germany–Netherlands border, German border ...

Nijmegen
that day. The largest Patriot force, 7,000 men under the Rhinegrave of Salm, was quickly out-manoeuvred and forced to abandon
Utrecht Utrecht ( , ) is the List of cities in the Netherlands by province, fourth-largest city and a List of municipalities of the Netherlands, municipality of the Netherlands, capital and most populous city of the Provinces of the Netherlands, provin ...

Utrecht
, which the Duke occupied on 16 September. The Prussian force captured Gorcum on the 17th after a short artillery bombardment, followed by Dordrecht on the 18th and Delft on the 19th. They entered The Hague on the 20th, from which the Patriots had been forced to withdraw following a loyalist insurrection on the 17th. Amsterdam, the last city occupied by the Patriots, surrendered on 10 October. The campaign had taken less than a month. William V was restored to power, which he was to hold Batavian Revolution#Proclamation of the Republic, until 1795. Both contemporaries and historians have praised the Duke's decisive campaign, in which he manoeuvred to concentrate his forces and achieve overwhelming local superiority, before moving on to the next city. He also received credit for the low number of casualties; one British observer suggested that "the sap of the trees was the only blood shed" (an exaggeration), referring to the wooden palisades and batteries constructed by both sides.


War of the First Coalition

At the outbreak of the War of the First Coalition in the early summer of 1792, Ferdinand was poised with military forces at Coblenz. After the Girondins had arranged for France to declare war on Austria, voted on April 20, 1792, the Catholic Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold II and the Protestant King of Prussia Frederick William II of Prussia, Frederick William II had combined armies and put them under Brunswick's command.


The Brunswick Proclamation

The "Brunswick Proclamation" or "Brunswick Manifesto" that he now issued from Coblenz on July 25, 1792 threatened war and ruin to soldiers and civilians alike, should the Republicanism, Republicans injure Louis XVI of France, Louis XVI and his family. His avowed aim was:
to put an end to the anarchy in the interior of France, to check the attacks upon the throne and the altar, to reestablish the legal power, to restore to the king the security and the liberty of which he is now deprived and to place him in a position to exercise once more the legitimate authority which belongs to him.
Additionally, the manifesto threatened the French population with instant punishment should they resist the Imperial and Prussian armies, or the reinstatement of the monarchy. In large part, the manifesto had been written by Louis XVI of France, Louis XVI's cousin, Louis Joseph de Bourbon, Prince de Condé, who was the leader of a Army of Condé, large corps of émigrés in the allied army. It has been asserted that the manifesto was in fact issued against the advice of Brunswick himself; the duke, a model sovereign in his own principality, sympathized with the constitutional side of the French Revolution, while as a soldier he had no confidence in the success of the enterprise. However, having let the manifesto bear his signature, he had to bear the full responsibility for its consequences. The proclamation was intended to threaten the French population into submission; it had exactly the opposite effect. In Paris, Louis XVI was generally believed to be in correspondence with the Austrians and Prussians already, and the republicans became more vocal in the early summer of 1792. Rather than assuring the continued existence of the French monarchy, Brunswick's proclamation would instead ensure its downfall; the manifesto was rapidly distributed in Paris on July 28, apparently by monarchists, who badly misjudged the effect it would have. The Brunswick Manifesto seemed to furnish the agitators with a complete justification for the revolt that they were already planning. When news spread of a combined Austrian and Prussian army led by Brunswick marching into French soil on the days after the Manifesto was publicized, the Paris populace, already incensed by the threat against the city, exploded into violence. The first violent action was carried out on 10 August (French Revolution), August 10, when the Tuileries Palace was stormed.


Invasion of France

The Duke was disappointed that the British remained neutral. His initial advance into France was slowed by poor weather, the rough terrain of the Forest of Argonne, and an outbreak of dysentery among his troops. The Duke was less successful against the French citizens' army that met him at Battle of Valmy, Valmy. Having secured Longwy and Verdun-sur-Meuse, Verdun without serious resistance, he turned back after a mere skirmish in Valmy, and evacuated France. Initially the Duke intended to winter in the fortress of Verdun, before resuming the campaign in France the following spring. However Kellerman's forces outflanked him by advancing up the Rhine, recapturing French possessions there. The Duke abandoned Verdun on 8 October and Longwy on 22 October, before retreating back into Germany. When he counterattacked the Revolutionary French who had invaded Germany, in 1793, he recaptured Mainz after a long Siege of Mainz (1793), siege, but resigned in 1794 in protest at interference by
Frederick William II of Prussia Frederick William II (german: Friedrich Wilhelm II.; 25 September 1744 – 16 November 1797) was King of Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian: ''Prūsa'' or ''Prūsija'' was a historically prominent Germans, German state that originated in 1 ...
.


War of the Fourth Coalition

Prussia did not take part in the War of the Second Coalition, Second Coalition or War of the Third Coalition, Third Coalition against Revolutionary France. However, in 1806 Prussia declared war on France, beginning the War of the Fourth Coalition. Despite being over 70 years old, the Duke of Brunswick returned to command the Prussian army at the personal request of Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Louise, Queen of Prussia. By this stage the Prussian army was regarded as backward, using outdated tactics and with poor intelligence and communication. The structure of the high command has been particularly criticised by historians, with multiple officers developing differing plans and then disagreeing on which should be followed, leading to disorganisation and indecision. The duke commanded the large Prussian army at Auerstedt during the double
Battle of Jena–Auerstedt The twin battles of Jena and Auerstedt (; older spelling: ''Auerstädt'') were fought on 14 October 1806 on the plateau west of the river Saale in today's Germany, between the forces of Napoleon, Napoleon I of France and Frederick William III o ...
on 14 October 1806. His forces were defeated by Napoleon's marshal Louis Nicolas Davout, Davout, despite the Prussians outnumbering the French around Auerstedt by two to one. During the battle he was struck by a musket ball and lost both of his eyes; his second-in-command Friedrich Wilhelm Carl von Schmettau was also mortally wounded, causing a breakdown in the Prussian command. Severely wounded, the Duke was carried with his forces before the advancing French. He died of his wounds in Ottensen on 10 November 1806. The duke's body was provisionally laid to rest in Christianskirche in 1806. It was later transferred for reburial in Brunswick Cathedral on 6 November 1819.


Family

On 16 January 1764, Charles married
Princess Augusta of Great Britain Princess Augusta Frederica of Great Britain (31 July 1737 – 23 March 1813) was a British princess, granddaughter of King George II and the only elder sibling of King George III George III (George William Frederick; 4 June 173829 January 1 ...
, eldest sister of George III of Great Britain, King George III. The couple were second cousins to each other, being great-grandchildren of George I of Great Britain. As such, they were not related in a particularly close degree, yet there had been many bonds of marriage between the House of
Brunswick-Bevern Brunswick-Bevern was a secundogeniture A secundogeniture (from la, secundus "following, second," and "born") was a dependent territory given to a younger son of a princely house and his descendants, creating a cadet branch. This was a special fo ...
and the House of Hanover, themselves both branches of the House of Welf. Some commentators have pointed to inbreeding as a possible cause for the fact that many of the couple's children suffered from physical, mental or psychological disabilities. Indeed, the duke was once moved to describe his children to Christian Karl August Ludwig von Massenbach, von Massenbach as "mostly cripples in mind and body." Shortly after they married, the prince had the Schloss Richmond built for his wife. It was in English architectural style and with an English landscape garden, to remind her of her home. The duke and his wife Augusta had four sons and three daughters. Three of their four sons suffered from major debilities. Their eldest son, Karl Georg August of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, Karl Georg August (1766–1806) was named
heir apparent An heir apparent is a person who is first in an order of succession An order of succession or right of succession is the line of individuals entitled to hold a high office when it becomes vacated such as head of state A head of state ...
, but suffered from a significant learning disability and was regarded as "well-nigh imbecile." Nevertheless, he was married in 1790 to Frederica Louise Wilhelmina of Orange, Frederika of Orange-Nassau, daughter of William V, Prince of Orange, a gentle, good-hearted woman who remained devoted to him to the end. He died childless at the age of 40 in 1806, shortly before his father. The second son, Georg Wilhelm Christian (1769–1811), suffered from an even more severe learning disability than his elder brother. He was declared incapacitated and was excluded from the succession. He never married. The couple's third son was August (1770–1822). He was blindness, blind and was also excluded from the succession. He also never married. The fourth son, Friedrich Wilhelm (Brunswick and Lüneburg), Friedrich Wilhelm (1771 – 16 June 1815), was sound of mind and body. He eventually succeeded his father, married and sired two sons. Frederick and Augusta also had three daughters, two of whom reached adulthood. Neither of them was disabled, but both of them had similar, disastrous trajectories in life. Both of them were married to future kings, both made extreme failures of their marriages, both had extremely acrimonious relations with their husbands, and both were accused by them of similar faults: adultery, uncouth behavior, absence of dignity, falsehood and utter fecklessness. The elder daughter, Augusta of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, Auguste Caroline Friederike (1764–1788), was the wife of the future king Frederick I of Württemberg and mother of the future William I of Württemberg. She separated from her husband and died in Russia from complications that arose while giving birth in secret to an illegitimate child. The younger daughter, Caroline of Brunswick, was married in 1795 to her first cousin, the future George IV of the United Kingdom, and bore him a daughter, the ill-fated Princess Charlotte of Wales. On two occasions (1806 and 1818–19), her husband made serious efforts to divorce her on grounds of adultery, forming commissions of inquiry to indict her, and after he became king, he in fact caused the House of Lords to Pains and Penalties Bill 1820, pass a bill of divorce citing adultery with an Italian commoner. However, the bill was never introduced in the House of Commons of Great Britain, House of Commons and the divorce was never finalized. Caroline died three weeks after she was physically prevented from entering Westminster Abbey to participate in her husband's coronation. The future Queen of Sweden, Hedwig Elizabeth Charlotte of Holstein-Gottorp, described the ducal family thus:
The Duchess is the sister to the King of England and a typical Englishwoman. She looked very simple, like a vicar's wife, has I am sure many admirable qualities, and is very respectable, but completely lacks manners. She makes the strangest questions without considering how difficult and unpleasant they can be.....The sons of the Ducal couple are somewhat peculiar. The (eldest) prince, chubby and fat, almost blind, strange and odd - if not to say an imbecile - attempts to imitate his father but only makes himself artificial and unpleasant. He talks continually, does not know what he says, and is in all aspects unbearable. He is accommodating but a poor thing, loves his consort to the point of worship, and is completely governed by her. The (second) son, Prince Georg, is the most ridiculous person imaginable, and so silly that he can never be left alone but is always accompanied by a courtier. The third son is also described as an original. I never saw him, as he served with his regiment. The fourth is the only normal one, but also torments his parents by his immoral behaviour.
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The duke also fathered at least one Legitimacy (family law), bastard, Forstenburg, who was healthy and began a promising military career before being killed in action during 1793.


Issue


Ancestry


External links


Text of the Proclamation of the Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg, 1792


References


Notes


Citations


Bibliography

* * * * Arthur Chuquet, ''Les Guerres de la Révolution: La Première Invasion prussienne'' (Paris) {{DEFAULTSORT:Brunswick, Charles William Ferdinand, Duke Of 1735 births 1806 deaths People from Wolfenbüttel, Charles William Ferdinand Field marshals of Prussia Princes of Wolfenbüttel, Charles William Ferdinand House of Brunswick-Bevern, Charles William Ferdinand Protestant monarchs German Lutherans Knights of the Garter Fellows of the Royal Society Military leaders of the French Revolutionary Wars German military leaders of the French Revolutionary Wars Prussian commanders of the Napoleonic Wars Military personnel killed in the Napoleonic Wars