The Expulsion of Duke Heinrich of Braunschweig by the Schmalkaldic League 1542

A.) Prehistory

In 1540, an Imperial ban was declared against the immediate city of Goslar, after the latter had razed to the ground a number of monasteries located outside of her city walls, on the grounds that the buildings could provide cover for potential enemies. Germany's Protestant princes and cities, by threatening not to attend the Imperial diet of 1541, succeeded in having the Imperial ban revoked.
Duke Heinrich IX. (the Younger) of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel (Braunschweig in English often spelled Brunswick), an old enemy of Goslar and a Catholic, however, declared the revocation of the ban illegal, confiscated property of the city of Goslar respectively of her burghers within his territory, and undertook a number of measures to harrass the city and her burghers.

B.) The Revolt

The Diet of Speyer 1541 charged the captains of the Schmalkaldic League to grant the city of Goslar any assistance required. After further negotiations, Landgrave Philipp of Hessen and Duke-Elector John Frederick of (Ernestine) Saxony, at Gandersheim, united their forces, consisting of 4,000 cavalry and of 32 units of infantry, in combination with the force raised by Goslar, about 20,000 men.
Duke Heinrich did not have an adequate force to defend his Duchy of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel; he assembled his force at Wolfenbüttel, his main stronghold, which he charged his knights to defend. Then he left his country in order to raise a relief force.
Wolfenbüttel fell on August 13th 1542, after a short siege; canons had done severe damage to the city's fortifications. The city was almost completely destroyed. Duke Heinrich, meanwhile, failed in his attempt to find support.

C.) The Legacy

Duke Heinrich remained in exile for a number of years, only returning to resume his rule after the Imperial victory in the Schmalkaldic War in 1547. While the Catholic Duke was in exile, the Lutheran Reformation was introduced in Wolfenbüttel and elsewhere in the Duchy. In 1547 Duke Heinrich returned and reintroduced Catholicism; only on his death in 1568, his successor, Duke Julius finally introduced the Lutheran Reformation to city and Duchy.

Aus der Geschichte Wolfenbüttels, from Alt-Wolfenbüttel, in German
Geschichte der Gemeinde St. Petrus, Wolfenbüttel (History of the (Catholic) Parish St. Petrus in W.), from Bistum Hildesheim in German
DOCUMENTS Lucas Cranach the Younger, The Siege of Wolfenbüttel 1542, from History of Tents
Dukes of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, from Something of Interest : Sovereigns in Europe
REFERENCE Leopold von Ranke, Deutsche Geschichte im Zeitalter der Reformation (German History in the Era of Reformation), (1839-1847), Emil Vollmer Verlag, reprint, n.d., Pt.2, pp.275-279, in German

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on February 22nd 2004, last revised on November 17th 2004

Click here to go Home
Click here to go to Information about KMLA, WHKMLA, the author and webmaster
Click here to go to Statistics

Impressum · Datenschutz