Gregory Brown
513 Agnes Arnold Hall
Department of Philosophy
University of Houston
Houston, TX 77204-3004

Heinrich the Elder
(Henry the Elder)

Duke of Brunswick - Wolfenbüttel

In 1487 the two brothers, Heinrich the Elder (1463-1514) and Erich I. (1470-1540), had already assumed joint rule in the principality of Calenberg.  In 1491 their father, Duke Wilhelm II. (d. 1503), also gave the two sons the principality of Brunswick - Wolfenbüttel, together with a small earldom.  Thereupon the brothers divided up the rule.  In accordance with Welf tradition, Heinrich, as eldest brother, divided the land and the younger brother, Erich I., was permitted to chose one of the two parts for himself.  Thus it happened that Heinrich the Elder took charge of the principality of Brunswick - Wolfenbüttel and his younger brother Erich I. took charge of the principality of Calenberg - Göttingen.  During his rule Duke Heinrich the elder sought to acquire the two cities of Brunswick and Hanover for himself.  By means of his siege in 1492 he made moot Brunswick's right to mint coinage and its right of tribute, as well as its jurisdiction, even though his predecessor had already sold these rights to the city.  The Hanseatic League authorized the city of Hildesheim to help the besieged city of Brunswick.  Duke Heinrich had to flee, but in 1494 an agreement was reached between the city of Brunswick and Heinrich the Elder.

In 1514, during one of his many campaigns against the north, Duke Heinrich succumbed to a severe head injury.  He left behind six sons, four of whom had committed themselves to the clergy.  In 1514 his eldest son, Heinrich the Younger (1489-1568), succeeded his father in ruling for twenty-five years.

--Adapted from the website, Die Welfen


  • Hohenstein, O.  Braunschweigische Geschichte, Brunswick, 1908.