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

Karl I.
(Charles I.)

Duke of Brunswick - Wolfenbüttel - Bevern

As a young officer, the duke fought successfully on the side of prince Eugène of Savoy (1663-1736) against the Turks.  Karl I. had to take up the rule in the principality of Brunswick - Wolfenbüttel unexpectedly early.  His father, duke Ferdinand Albrecht II. (1680-1735), the first ruling duke in Wolfenbüttel from the line of Bevern, died after just a six-month reign.  As a result of the friendship of his father with the soldier king Friedrich Wilhelm I. (1688-1740) of Prussia, Karl I. had already married the Prussian princess Philippine Charlotte in 1733.  She was a sister of Friedrich II. the Great (1712-1786) of Prussia.  As a result of the simultaneous marriage of Karl's sister, princess Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick, to the future king Friedrich II., the friendly alliance of the two dynasties was underlined.  In complete contrast to Friedrich II. of Prussia, the marriage of Karl I. with Philippine Charlotte was generally happy.  From his marriage there came thirteen children.  Under the leadership of the theologian Jerusalem, duke Karl founded the Collegium Carolinum in Brunswick in 1745.  This type of school, which became the standard in  Germany, became a link between the old Latin school and the university.  The students received a modern education in the sense of the enlightenment.

Even at the beginning of his reign the absolute ruling duke Karl I. had to accommodate government dealings and his luxurious royal household  to the catastrophic financial situation of the principality.  Attempts to reform the economy foundered on a poorly trained civil service apparatus, or they were rejected by the estates of the realm.  Thus the duke came to favor the establishment of a new management in the principality.  Well-intentioned measures for advancing the court were not, however,  able to cover over the failures. For financial reasons the royal household had to be moved from Wolfenbüttel to Brunswick.  Above all, the Seven Years' War (1756-1763) had a negative impact on the principality of Brunswick.  In 1773 hereditary prince Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand (1735-1806) took over the business of ruling and deprived his father of power as a result of the financial misery in the land.

--Adapted from the website, Die Welfen


  • Fürst, R. and W. Kelsch.  Wolfenbüttel: Ein Fürstenhaus und seine Residenz.  Wolfenbüttel, 1990.