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

Heinrich Julius
(Henry Julius)

Duke of Brunswick - Wolfenbüttel (from 1589)

Heinrich Julius took over the rule in Wolfenbüttel in 1589.  However, before he took up the succession, he carried out his ecclesiastical duty as Protestant bishop in the Catholic bishopric of Halberstadt.  This post guaranteed him a high income.  While his father duke Julius (1528-1589) ruled economically, parsimoniously, and efficiently, and left behind for his son a well-organized treasury, the extravagant reign of duke Heinrich Julius was valued as a most brilliant period of late Renaissance courtly culture.  Heinrich Julius was indeed among the most talented and most educated princes of his time:  highly educated in literature and art, gifted in speech, and experienced in all known sciences.  Duke Heinrich Julius had already manifested his legal ability in 1587 as president of the court in Wolfenbüttel, so that with the assumption of the rule in Wolfenbüttel in 1589 he possessed both ruling and administrative experience.

Superstition, belief in witches, and demon worship marked the legal conception of the Duke who was trained in the law.  Frequently more than ten magicians, both male and female, were burned daily in Wolfenbüttel.  In 1591 Duke Heinrich Julius banished all Jews from the country.  Under the direction of the building director, Paul Francke, the capital city of Wolfenbüttel was surrounded with a modern fortification.  In the Thirty Years' War Wolfenbüttel had the strongest fortifications in northern Germany.

His diplomatic skill advanced Heinrich Julius to become the imperial Privy Councilor in Prague.  He won the trust of emperor Rudolph II. (1552-1612), and he thereby forever lost sight of his rule in Wolfenbüttel.  With his high-flying plans, he neglected the care of the land and led his principality to the brink of financial ruin.  Duke Heinrich Julius died in Prague and left behind an impoverished principality of Brunswick - Wolfenbüttel.  He was the father of Friedrich Ulrich (1591-1634), who inherited Brunswick - Wolfenbüttel and Christian (1599-1626), who inherited Brunswick - Lüneburg.

--Adapted from the website, Die Welfen


  • Fürst, R. and W. Kelsch. Wolfenbüttel: Ein Furstenhaus und seine Residenz, biographische Porträts. Wolfenbüttel, 1990.
  • Judge, Harry, ed. Oxford Illustrated Encyclopedia. 3 vols. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.
  • Luckardt, Jochen. In the catalogue for the exhibition "Hofkunst der Spätrenaissance." Brunswick, 1998