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

Otto I.
"The Child"

First Duke of Brunswick and Lüneburg

Otto was the grandson of Heinrich the Lion (1129-1195). In 1235 he became the first duke of Brunswick and Lüneburg.  After the early death of his father, Wilhelm (1184-1213), Otto had still been under age; but in 1227, after the death of his uncle, Count Palatine Heinrich, the entire Welf family estate was united under him.  In 1235 Otto was invested with the Duchy of Brunswick - Lüneburg at the Imperial Diet in Mainz by emperor Friedrich II. (1194-1250). The founding charter of the new duchy of Brunswick - Lüneburg marked the end of the altercation between the Welfs and the Hohenstaufen and at the same time the successful conclusion of the efforts of the Welfs to regain their princely rank, which they had lost owing to the fall of Heinrich the Lion in 1180.  In 1235 Otto gave up his entire freehold (the estates around Brunswick and Lüneburg) to emperor Friedrich II., who in his turn transferred it to the empire.  Both parts of the estate (Brunswick - Lüneburg) were united in a new duchy and bestowed upon Otto as a hereditary fief of the empire.  Otto performed the ritual, laying his hands in the hands of the Emperor and swearing an oath of allegiance to him, as provided by feudal law.  Otto the Child had two sons, Albrecht I. (1236-1279), and Johann (1242-1277).

Brunswick and Lüneburg were the principal regions of the new duchy, from which its name derived; in subsequent periods it was partitioned into more principalities. In the duchy of Brunswick the last ruling Welf abdicated in 1918 at the end of the first world war.

--Adapted from the website, Die Welfen


  • Judge, Harry, ed. Oxford Illustrated Encyclopedia. 3 vols. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.
  • Schwarz, Ulrich.  In the catalogue for the exhibition "Heinrich der Lowe und seine Zeit," Brunswick, 1995.