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

Johann Friedrich
(John Frederick)

Duke of Brunswick - Lüneburg - Calenberg (1665-1679)

Duke Johann Friedrich ruled as absolute sovereign in the principality of Brunswick - Lüneburg - Calenberg (Hanover), in just the manner of the man he sought to emulate, the French Sun King Louis XIV. (1638-1715). He was the third son of Georg (1583-1641), Duke of Brunswick - Lüneburg - Calenberg, and Anna Eleonore of Hessen - Darmstadt (1601-1659). He was the only one of four brothers who converted to the Catholic faith.  His marriage to Benedicte Henriette (1652-1730) of the Palatinate - Simmern, produced four daughters, three of which survived infancy:  Charlotte Felicitas (1671-1710), Henriette (1672-1757), and Wilhelmine Amalie (1673-1742).   In 1695 Charlotte Felicitas married the duke of Modena, Rinaldo III. (1655-1737); and in 1699  Wilhelmine Amalia, married emperor Joseph I. (1678-1711).

Duke Johann Friedrich entered into alliance with King Louis XIV. of France, in return for which he was paid subsidies to raise his army; but he was forced out of the war. In just the manner of his model from Versailles, Duke Johann Friedrich had a palace and great garden laid out at Herrenhausen in 1666. However, it was first brought to completion after 1680 by his sister-in-law, Duchess Sophie (1630-1714) of Hanover, later to become the first electress of Hanover in 1692. In 1676 duke Johann Friedrich appointed Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz as Librarian and Counselor to his court. Toward the end of 1677, Leibniz was installed as Privy Counselor to duke Johann Friedrich.

Duke Johann Friedrich died in 1679 without male descendents. Thus his younger brother, Ernst August (1629-1698), who later became the first elector of Brunswick - Lüneburg (Hanover), inherited the principality of Calenberg - Göttingen in 1679.

Upon the death of his patron, duke Johann Friedrich, Leibniz wrote to Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695):

"I have suffered a huge loss in the death of my lord the Duke, who, even apart from his princely qualities, was certainly one of the greatest men I have known. But his brother, the Duke of Osnabrück, who has taken up the reins of government and has already shown that in this House virtue and nobility are to be a certain extent hereditary, has given us grounds for some consolation over the loss, which could not be better made up than by such a successor." [as quoted in Mates, p. 24]

--Adapted from the website, Die Welfen


  • Aiton, E. J.  Leibniz: A Biography (Boston: Adam Hilger, 1985).
  • Mates, Benson. The Philosophy of Leibniz: Metaphysics and Language. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.
  • von Stieglitz, Annette. Landesherr und Stände zwischen Konfrontation und Kooperation. Hanover, 1996.