House of Welf (Guelf, Guelph)
Parent houseHouse of Este (agnatic)
Elder House of Welf (cognatic)
CountryGermany, Italy, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Founded8th century
FounderWelf I, Duke of Bavaria
Final rulerErnest Augustus, Duke of Brunswick
Estate(s)Brunswick & Hanover
Deposition1918 (in Germany)
Cadet branchesHouse of Hanover
The possessions of the Welfs in the days of Henry the Lion

The House of Welf (also Guelf or Guelph[1]) is a European dynasty that has included many German and British monarchs from the 11th to 20th century and Emperor Ivan VI of Russia in the 18th century. The originally Franconian family from the Meuse-Moselle area was closely related to the imperial family of the Carolingians.


The (Younger) House of Welf is the older branch of the House of Este, a dynasty whose earliest known members lived in Veneto and Lombardy in the late 9th/early 10th century, sometimes called Welf-Este. The first member was Welf I, Duke of Bavaria, also known as Welf IV. He inherited the property of the Elder House of Welf when his maternal uncle Welf III, Duke of Carinthia and Verona, the last male Welf of the Elder House, died in 1055.

Welf IV was the son of Welf III's sister Kunigunde of Altdorf and her husband Albert Azzo II, Margrave of Milan. In 1070, Welf IV became Duke of Bavaria.

Welf II, Duke of Bavaria married Countess Matilda of Tuscany, who died childless and left him her possessions, including Tuscany, Ferrara, Modena, Mantua, and Reggio, which played a role in the Investiture Controversy. Since the Welf dynasty sided with the Pope in this controversy, partisans of the Pope came to be known in Italy as Guelphs (Guelfi).

The first genealogy of the Welfs is the Genealogia Welforum, composed shortly before 1126. A much more detailed history of the dynasty, the Historia Welforum, was composed around 1170. It is the earliest history of a noble house in Germany.

Bavaria and Saxony

Henry IX, Duke of Bavaria, from 1120 to 1126, was the first of the three dukes of the Welf dynasty called Henry. His wife Wulfhild was the heiress of the house of Billung, possessing the territory around Lüneburg in Lower Saxony. Their son, Henry the Proud, was the son-in-law and heir of Lothair II, Holy Roman Emperor and became also Duke of Saxony on Lothair's death.

Lothair left his territory around Brunswick, inherited from his mother of the Brunonids, to his daughter Gertrud. Her husband Henry the Proud became then the favoured candidate in the imperial election against Conrad III of the Hohenstaufen. Henry lost the election, as the other princes feared his power and temperament, and was dispossessed of his duchies by Conrad III.

Henry's brother Welf VI (1115–1191), Margrave of Tuscany, later left his Swabian territories around Ravensburg, the original possessions of the Elder House of Welf, to his nephew Emperor Frederick I, and thus to the House of Hohenstaufen.

The next duke of the Welf dynasty Henry the Lion (1129/1131–1195) recovered his father's two duchies, Saxony in 1142, Bavaria in 1156 and thus ruled vast parts of Germany. In 1168 he married Matilda (1156–1189), the daughter of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine, and sister of Richard I of England, gaining ever more influence. His first cousin, Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor of the Hohenstaufen dynasty, tried to get along with him, but when Henry refused to assist him once more in an Italian war campaign, conflict became inevitable.

Dispossessed of his duchies after the Battle of Legnano in 1176 by Emperor Frederick I and the other princes of the German Empire eager to claim parts of his vast territories, he was exiled to the court of his father-in-law Henry II in Normandy in 1180. He returned to Germany three years later.

Henry made his peace with the Hohenstaufen Emperor in 1185 and returned to his much diminished lands around Brunswick without recovering his two duchies. Bavaria had been given to Otto I, Duke of Bavaria, and the Duchy of Saxony was divided between the Archbishop of Cologne, the House of Ascania and others. Diminished lands did not prevent him from imprisoning Richard I on his return from the Third Crusade, and demanding a huge ransom in 1193. Henry died at Brunswick in 1195.

Brunswick and Hanover

Henry the Lion's son, Otto of Brunswick, was elected King of the Romans and crowned Holy Roman Emperor Otto IV after years of further conflicts with the Hohenstaufen emperors. He incurred the wrath of Pope Innocent III and was excommunicated in 1215. Otto was forced to abdicate the imperial throne by the Hohenstaufen Frederick II.[2] He was the only Welf to become Holy Roman Emperor.

Coat-of-arms of the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg

Henry the Lion's grandson Otto the Child became duke of a part of Saxony in 1235, the new Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg, and died there in 1252. The duchy was divided several times during the High Middle Ages amongst various lines of the House of Welf. The subordinate states had the legal status of principalities within the duchy, which remained as an undivided imperial fief. Each state was generally named after the ruler's residence, e.g., the rulers of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel originally lived in Wolfenbüttel.

Whenever a branch of the family died out in the male line, the territory was given to another line, as the duchy remained enfeoffed to the family as a whole rather than its individual members. All members of the House of Welf, male or female, bore the title Duke/Duchess of Brunswick-Lüneburg in addition to the style of the subordinate principality.[3] By 1705, the subordinate principalities had taken their final form as the Electorate of Hanover and the Principality of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, and these would become the Kingdom of Hanover and the Duchy of Brunswick after the Congress of Vienna in 1815.

Principality of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel

In 1269 the Principality of Brunswick was formed following the first division of the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg. In 1432, as a result of increasing tensions with the townsfolk of Brunswick, the Brunswick Line moved their residence to Wolfenbüttel Castle, thus the name Wolfenbüttel became the unofficial name of this principality. With Ivan VI of Russia the Brunswick line even had a short intermezzo on the Russian imperial throne in 1740. Not until 1754 was the residence moved back to Brunswick, into the new Brunswick Palace. In 1814 the principality became the Duchy of Brunswick, ruled by the senior branch of the House of Welf.

Principality of Calenberg – later Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg

Coat of Arms of the Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg (1708)

In 1432 the estates gained by the Principality of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel between the Deister and Leine split away as the Principality of Calenberg. In 1495 it was expanded around Göttingen and in 1584 went back to the Wolfenbüttel Line. In 1634, as a result of inheritance distributions, it went to the House of Luneburg residing at Celle Castle. In 1635 it was given to George, younger brother of Prince Ernest II of Lüneburg, who chose Hanover as his residence.

New territory was added in 1665, and in 1705 the Principality of Luneburg was taken over by the Hanoverians. In 1692 Duke Ernest Augustus from the Calenberg-Hanover Line acquired the right to be a prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire as the Prince-Elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg. Colloquially the Electorate was known as the Electorate of Hanover. In 1814 it was succeeded by the Kingdom of Hanover.

British succession

Religion-driven politics placed Ernest Augustus's wife Sophia of the Palatinate in the line of succession to the British crown by the Act of Settlement 1701, written to ensure a Protestant succession to the thrones of Scotland and England at a time when anti-Catholic sentiment ran high in much of Northern Europe and Great Britain. Sophia died shortly before her first cousin once removed, Anne, Queen of Great Britain, the last sovereign of the House of Stuart.

Sophia's son George I succeeded Queen Anne and formed a personal union from 1714 between the British crown and the Electorate of Hanover, which lasted until well after the end of the Napoleonic Wars more than a century later, through the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire and the rise of a new successor kingdom. The British royal family became known as the House of Hanover.

Kingdom of Hanover

The "Electorate of Hanover" (the core duchy) was enlarged with the addition of other lands and became the Kingdom of Hanover in 1814 at the Congress of Vienna. During the first half of the nineteenth century, the Kingdom was ruled as personal union by the British crown from its creation under George III of the United Kingdom, the last elector of Hanover until the death of William IV in 1837.

At that point, the crown of Hanover went to William's younger brother, Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale under the Salic law requiring the next male heir to inherit, whereas the British throne was inherited by an elder brother's only daughter, Queen Victoria. Her offspring belong to the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha: in 1917 the name was changed to the House of Windsor.

The Kingdom of Hanover was lost in 1866 by Ernest Augustus's son George V of Hanover, Austria's ally during the Austro-Prussian War, when it was annexed by Prussia after Austria's defeat and became the Prussian province of Hanover. The Welfs went into exile at Gmunden, Austria, where they built Cumberland Castle.

Brunswick succession

Coat-of-arms of the Duchy of Brunswick

The senior line of the dynasty had ruled the much smaller principality of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, created the sovereign Duchy of Brunswick in 1814. This line became extinct in 1884. Although the Duchy should have been inherited by the Duke of Cumberland, son of the last king of Hanover, Prussian suspicions of his loyalty led the duchy's throne to remain vacant until 1913, when the Duke of Cumberland's son, Ernst August, married the daughter of Kaiser Wilhelm II and was allowed to inherit it. His rule there was short-lived, as the monarchy came to an end following the First World War in 1918.

The Welf dynasty continues to exist. The last member sitting on a European throne was Frederica of Hanover, Queen of Greece († 1981), mother of Queen Sofia of Spain and King Constantine II of Greece. Frederica's brother Prince George William of Hanover married Princess Sophie of Greece and Denmark, sister of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The House's head is Queen Frederica's nephew Ernst August, the third and present husband of Princess Caroline of Monaco.

Rulers of the House of Welf

House of Welf

Partitions under Welf rule

County of Altdorf
County of Auxerre
Raised to:
Kingdom of
Upper Burgundy

Annexed to the
Holy Roman
of the Rhine

Lordship of Lüneburg
Raised to:
Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Annexed to
House of
(1st creation)
(1st creation)
(2nd creation)
Lüneburg under
Ascanian rule

(2nd creation)
(1st creation)
(3rd creation)
(4th creation)
       (annexed Grubenhagen 1617)
(2nd creation)
Hanover in 1692
Electorate of Hanover
Annexed by
Annexed by Prussia

Table of rulers

Ruler Born Reign Death Ruling part Consort Notes
Elder House of Welf
Welf (I) 760 c.800-825 825 County of Altdorf Hedwig of Bavaria
four children
Eponymous founder of the family
Conrad I the Elder ? 825-864 864 County of Altdorf Adelaide of Tours
three children
Welf I ? 864-876 876 County of Altdorf Unknown
at least one child
Conrad II the Younger ? 864-876 876 County of Auxerre Waldrada of Worms
one child
Eticho c.850 876-911 c.911 County of Altdorf Egila
three children
Rudolf I 859 876-911 25 October 911 County of Auxerre
(until 888)

Kingdom of Upper Burgundy
(from 888)
Guilla of Provence
four children
First King of Burgundy, from 888.
Henry (I) of the
Golden Chariot
c.880 911-935 c.935 County of Altdorf Atha of Hohenwart
three children
Rudolf II 11 July 880 911-937 11 July 937 Kingdom of Upper Burgundy Bertha of Swabia
two children
Also King of Italy (922-926).
Rudolf I c.910 935-950 c.950 County of Altdorf Siburgis
at least one child
Conrad III the Peaceful 925 937-993 19 October 993 Kingdom of Upper Burgundy Adelaide of Bellay
one child

Matilda of France
four children
Rudolf II c.940 950-990 c.990 County of Altdorf Ita of Öhningen
three children
Henry (II) c.960 990-1000 15 November 1000 County of Altdorf Unmarried Left no descendants. He was succeeded by his brother.
Rudolf III the Pious 970 993-1032 6 September 1032 Kingdom of Upper Burgundy Agiltrude
no children

Ermengarde of Burgundy
28 June 1011
no children
After his childless death, the Kingdom was annexed by the Holy Roman Empire.
Welf II c.960 1000-1030 10 March 1030 County of Altdorf Imiza of Luxembourg
two children
Welf III 1007 1030-1055 13 November 1055 County of Altdorf Unmarried Also Duke of Carinthia. Left no descendants, and the lands passed to his nephews, sons of his sister Kunigunde.
Younger House of Welf
Welf IV c.1035/40 1055-1101 6 November 1101 County of Altdorf Ethelinde of Northeim
no children

Judith of Flanders
three children
Son of Kunigunde of Altdorf and Albert Azzo II, Margrave of Milan, inherited his maternal family's possessions. Also Duke of Bavaria (1070-1077 and 1096-1101).
Welf V the Fat 1072 1101-1120 24 September 1120 County of Altdorf Matilda of Tuscany
no children
Left no children, and the county went to his brother. Also Duke of Bavaria.
Henry (III) the Black 1075 1120-1126 13 December 1126 County of Altdorf Wulfhilde of Saxony
eight children
Inherited by marriage possessions in the Luneburg, to the north.
Welf VI 1115 1126-1191 15 December 1191 County of Altdorf Uta of Schauenburg
two children
Children of Henry the Black, Welf VI and Henry the Proud divided their inheritance: Welf VI kept the original possessions to the south, and Henry the northern ones, besides inheriting his father's title of Duke of Bavaria (1136-38), and conquering also the title of Duke of Saxony (1137-1139) inherited from their mother. Welf VI would also go on to become Margrave of Tuscany and Duke of Spoleto (1152-1160 and 1167-1173).

In 1129, after Henry the Proud's defeat against Lothair III, Holy Roman Emperor, his sister Sophia was given a seat at Regensburg.[4]

From c.1150 until his death in 1167, Welf VI's son, Welf VII, was associated to his father, but predeceased him. After Welf VI's death, Altdorf was annexed to the Holy Roman Empire.

Henry (I) the Proud 1108 1126-1139 20 October 1139 Lordship of Lüneburg Gertrude of Süpplingenburg
one child
Sophia 1105 1129-1145 1145 County of Altdorf
(at Regensburg)
Berthold III, Duke of Zähringen
no children

Leopold, Margrave of Styria
four children
Welf VII 1135 c.1150-1167 12 September 1167 County of Altdorf Unmarried
Regency of Gertrude of Süpplingenburg (1139-1142) Inherited Brunswick from his mother after her death in 1143. Also Duke of Saxony (1142-1180) and Duke of Bavaria (1156-1180). When Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor, became king of Germany, he restored Bavaria to the Welf line.
Henry (II) the Lion 1129/31 1139-1195 6 August 1195 Lordship of Lüneburg Clementia of Zähringen
three children

Matilda of England
five children
Henry (III) the Elder 1173 1195-1213

28 April 1227 Lordship of Lüneburg

County Palatine of the Rhine
Agnes of Hohenstaufen
three children

Agnes of Landsberg
no children
Inherited the land jointly until 1213, when after William's death, they resigned this possessions in favor that William's son, the inheritor of the Luneburg property. Henry was Count Palatine of the Rhine (1195-1213), and Otto was Holy Roman Emperor (1212-1218).
Otto 1175 1195-1213 19 May 1218 Lordship of Lüneburg

Beatrice of Swabia
no children

Maria of Brabant
19 May 1214
no children

William Longsword 11 April 1184 1195-1213 12 December 1213 Lordship of Lüneburg Helena of Denmark
one child
Henry (IV) the Younger 1196 1212-1214 26 April 1214 County Palatine of the Rhine Unmarried After his death the Palatinate was inherited by the House of Wittelsbach, to which his sister Agnes had married.
Regency of Otto IV, Holy Roman Emperor (1213-1218) He was raised to Duke and recognised as such in 1235, by Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor
Otto I the Child
1204 1213–1252 9 June 1252 Brunswick-Lüneburg Matilda of Brandenburg
ten children
Albert I the Tall 1236 1252-1279 15 August 1279 Brunswick
(in Brunswick-Lüneburg until 1269)
Elisabeth of Brabant
no children

Alexia of Montferrat
seven children
Children of Otto I, they shared rule of the land until 1269. Albert became Prince of Brunswick and John a Prince of Luneburg.
John 1242 1252-1277 13 December 1277 Lüneburg
(in Brunswick-Lüneburg until 1269)
Liutgard of Holstein-Itzehoe
five children
All Welf lines continued to bear the title "Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg" between the division of 1269 and the end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806. This was an additional title to the representation of their actual territorial lordship. However, as this is a list of rulers, the list goes beyond the use of the title, going through all generations until the end of the noble family representation in the land, in 1918.
Regencies of Albert I, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (1277-1279) and Conrad of Brunswick-Lüneburg, Prince-Bishop of Verden (1277-1282) His rule was marked by several feuds, financed by pledges (Verpfändungen), involving border and property disputes with his neighbours. Otto restricted the rights of the knights and safeguarded public order.
Otto II the Strict
1266 1277-1330 10 April 1330 Lüneburg Matilda of Bavaria
five children
Henry I the Admirable August 1267 1279–1322 7 September 1322 Grubenhagen
(until 1291 in Brunswick)
Agnes of Meissen
sixteen children
Children of Albert I, ruled jointly. In 1291 divided the land: Henry received Grubenhagen, William Wolfenbüttel and Albert Göttingen. William died without descendants, and Albert reunited his land with his brother's. Wolfenbüttel became part of Göttingen.
William I 1270 1279-1292 30 September 1292 Wolfenbüttel
(until 1291 in Brunswick)
Elisabeth of Hesse
no children
Albert II the Fat 1268 1279-1318 22 September 1318 Göttingen
(until 1291 in Brunswick)
Rixa of Werle
ten children
Otto (I) the Mild 24 June 1292 1318–1344 30 August 1344 Göttingen Judith of Hesse
no children

Agnes of Brandenburg-Salzwedel
no children
Sons of Albert II, ruled jointly. After Otto's death Magnus and Ernest divided the land: Magnus received Wolfenbüttel and Ernest Göttingen.
Ernest I 1305 1318–1367 24 April 1367 Göttingen Elizabeth of Hesse
three children
Magnus I the Pious 1304 1318–1344 1369 Göttingen Sophia of Brandenburg-Stendal
eight children
1344-1369 Wolfenbüttel
Henry II Before 1296 1322–1351 After 1351 Grubenhagen Jutta of Brandenburg-Stendal
four children

Helvis of Ibelin
six children
Sons of Henry I, ruled jointly.
Ernest I 1297 1322–1361 9 March 1361 Grubenhagen Adelheid of Everstein-Polle
June 1335
nine children
William 1298 1322–1360 1360 Grubenhagen Unmarried
John I Before 1296 1322–1325 After 1367 Grubenhagen Unmarried
Otto III 1296 1330–1352 19 August 1352 Lüneburg Matilda of Mecklenburg
three children
Sons of Otto II, ruled jointly. After Otto's death in 1352, William ruled alone. His death without descendants precipitated the Lüneburg War of Succession in 1370.
William II the Elder c.1300 1330–1369 23 November 1369 Lüneburg Hedwig of Ravensberg
7 April 1328
one child

After 1387
one child

Sophia of Anhalt-Bernburg
12 March 1346
no children

Agnes of Saxe-Lauenburg
no children
Albert I c.1339 1361–1383 1383 Grubenhagen Agnes of Brunswick-Lüneburg
one child
Sons of Ernest I, ruled jointly. John II abdicated 1364 to join the clergy and Albert became sole ruler.
John II c.1339 1361–1364 18 January 1401 Grubenhagen Adelheid of Everstein-Polle
June 1335
nine children
Frederick I 1350 1361–1421 1421 Grubenhagen
(at Osterode)
Adelaide of Anhalt-Zerbst
(d. before 1421)
one child
Otto (II) the Evil 1330 1367–1394 13 November 1394 Göttingen Margarethe of Jülich-Berg
two children
Magnus II of the Necklace (Torquatus) 1304 1369–1373 25 July 1373 Wolfenbüttel
(with Lüneburg)
Katherine of Anhalt-Bernburg
eight children
Inherited Wolfenbüttel from his father. However, the Lüneburg War of Succession allowed his succession also in this duchy. However, the War of Succession brought, after his death, the dukes of Saxe-Wittenberg to the government.
After the death of Magnus II with the Necklace, a treaty (the Reconciliation of Hanover) was agreed between the widow of Magnus II and her sons and the claimers, Albert of Saxe-Wittenberg and his uncle Duke Wenceslaus I of Saxe-Wittenberg: the estates of the Principality were to pay homage both to the Welfs and to the Ascanians, and the two noble houses would govern the state alternately. Initially, the land would be given to the two Ascanians from Wittenberg, and after their death it would go to the sons of the fallen Duke Magnus II.

After their death, rule of the Principality was to revert to the Ascanians. In order to underpin the agreement, in 1374 Albert of Saxe-Lüneburg married Catharina, the widow of Magnus II. The treaty also envisaged the creation of a statutory body representing the estates, which was to supervise the treaty. However, 1373–1388 would be the only period in which a Brunswick-Luneburg land was not ruled by a Welf:

In the wake of his death, Elector Wenceslas appointed Bernard, his brother-in-law, as co-regent involved him in the government. But his younger brother Henry did not agree with this ruling, and after vain attempts to reach an agreement, the fight flared up again in the spring of 1388. Elector Wenceslas had to assemble an army without the help of Bernard, supported by the town of Lüneburg. From Winsen an der Aller, he wanted to attack Celle, which was held by Henry and his mother. During the preparations Elector Wenceslas fell seriously ill and died shortly thereafter. According to legend, he was poisoned.

Lüneburg continued the preparations, formed an alliance with the Bishop of Minden and Count of Schaumburg and set up his own army. On 28 May 1388, battle was joined at Winsen an der Aller; it ended in victory for Henry. According to the provisions of the Treaty of Hanover from the year 1373, after the death of Wensceslas, the Principality passed to the House of Welf. In 1389, an inheritance agreement between the Welfs and the Ascanians was concluded, the treaty of 1374 was abolished, and the Principality was secured for the Welfs.

Frederick I 1357 1373–1400 5 June 1400 Wolfenbüttel Anna of Saxe-Wittenberg
two children
Children of Magnus II. As the eldest, Frederick inherited Wolfenbuttel alone, while his younger brothers held Luneburg sinceits recovery in 1388. After Frederick I's childless death in 1400, the remaining brothers exchanged feuds until 1428.
Henry (I) the Mild 1355 1388–1416 14 October 1416 Lüneburg Sophia of Pomerania
11 November 1388
two children

Margaret of Hesse
30 January 1409
one child
1400-1409 Wolfenbüttel
Bernard I between 1358 and 1364 1388–1409

11 June 1434 Lüneburg Margaret of Saxe-Wittenberg
three children
1409-1428 Wolfenbüttel
Regency of Frederick I, Duke of Brunswick-Osterode (1383-1401)
Eric I the Winner c.1383 1383–1427 28 May 1427 Grubenhagen Elisabeth of Brunswick-Göttingen
six children
Otto (III) the One-Eyed 1380 1394–1463 6 February 1463 Göttingen Agnes of Hesse
one child
With no male heirs, after his death Göttingen is absorbed by Calenberg.
William (III & I) the Victorious 1392 1416–1428 25 July 1482 Lüneburg Cecilia of Brandenburg
30 May/6 June 1423
two children

Matilda of Holstein-Pinneberg
one child
Sons of Henry the Mild, ruled jointly. In 1428 they exchanged, with their uncle Bernard I, Lüneburg for Wolfenbüttel. In 1432 founded the Principality of Calenberg, a split-off from Lüneburg, and left the remaining Wolfenbüttel to his brother Henry IV. After the latter's death William took his lands. In 1463, attached the Principality of Göttingen to Calenberg. In 1473, William also annexed Wolfenbüttel.
1428–1432 Wolfenbüttel
1432–1482 Calenberg
(with Göttingen from 1463,
and Wolfenbüttel from 1473)
Henry (II) the Peaceful 1411 1416–1428 7 December 1473 Lüneburg Helena of Clèves
one child
1428-1473 Wolfenbüttel
Otto II 1396 1421-1452 1452 Grubenhagen
(at Osterode)
Schonetta of Nassau-Weilburg
one child
After his death, Osterode returned to Grubenhagen.
Regency of Otto II, Duke of Brunswick-Osterode (1427-1440) Sons of Eric I, were under regency until 1440, when they divided Grubenhagen. Henry kept Heldenburg Castle, and Albert Herzberg Castle, but kept the joint rule at Osterode am Harz and Einbeck. Ernest didn't participate in the division, and abdicated in 1464, to become a canon in Halberstadt.
Henry III 1416 1427–1464 20 December 1464 Grubenhagen
(at Heldenburg from 1440)
Margaret of Żagań
before 27 June 1457
two children
Albert II 1 November 1419 1427–1485 15 August 1485 Grubenhagen
(at Herzberg)
Elisabeth of Waldeck
15 October 1471
two children
Ernest II 1418 1427–1466 1466 Grubenhagen Unmarried
Otto IV the Lame ? 1434–1446 1446 Lüneburg Elisabeth of Eberstein
one child
Ruled jointly. Their rule was marked by major building work to Celle Castle and also by numerous reforms which improved the legal situation of farmers vis-a-vis their local lords. Frederick abdicated to his sons and went to a monastery, but after the death of his son Otto, he left the monastery and resumed his rule.
Frederick II the Pious 1418 1434–1457

19 March 1478 Lüneburg Magdalene of Brandenburg
3 July 1429
three children
Otto V the Magnanimous 1439 1457–1471 9 January 1471 Lüneburg Anne of Nassau-Siegen
25 September 1467
two children
Children of Frederick II, ruled jointly. Bernard was also Prince-Bishop of Hildesheim.
Bernard II 1437 1457–1464 1464 Lüneburg Matilda of Holstein-Pinneberg
no children
Regency of Albert II, Duke of Brunswick-Grubenhagen (1464-1479) With his uncle Albert, officialized the division of Grubenhagen. However, his death without descendants allowed his cousins (sons of Albert) to reunite Grubenhagen.
Henry IV 1460 1464–1526 6 December 1526 Grubenhagen
(at Heldenburg)
Elisabeth of Saxe-Lauenburg
26 August 1494
no children
Regency of Anne of Nassau-Siegen (1478-1486) Son of Otto V. As he opposed to the newly elected Emperor Charles V, the latter deposed him from the duchy and gave it to his sons.
Henry (III) the Middle 15 September 1468 1478–1520 19 February 1532 Lüneburg Margaret of Saxony
27 February 1487
seven children

Anna von Camp
no children
Frederick III the Turbulent 1424 1482–1485 7 July 1503 Calenberg Anna of Brunswick-Grubenhagen-Einbeck
After 1460
no children

Margaret of Rietberg
10 May 1483
no children
Imprisoned by his brother William, who took his place.
William (IV & II) the Younger 1425 1482–1485 7 July 1503 Wolfenbüttel Elizabeth of Stolberg-Wernigerode
three children
Inherited Wolfenbüttel from his father. Joined Calenberg to his domains in 1485, when he imprisoned his brother. Abdicated to his sons in 1491.
1485–1491 Calenberg
(with Wolfenbüttel)
Philip I 1476 1485–1551 4 September 1551 Grubenhagen
(at Herzberg; from 1526 all Grubenhagen)
before 1509
one child

Catherine of Mansfeld-Vorderort
nine children
Son of Albert V, in 1526 reunited Grubenhagen under his hands.
Eric I the Elder 16 February 1470 1491-1540 30 July 1540 Calenberg Katharina of Saxony
no children

Elisabeth of Brandenburg
7 July 1525
four children
Sons of William V, ruled jointly. In 1494, they divided their lands. Henry retained Wolfenbüttel and Eric retained Calenberg.
Henry (IV) the Elder 14 June 1463 1491–1494 23 June 1514 Calenberg Catherine of Pomerania-Wolgast
nine children
1494–1514 Wolfenbüttel
Henry (V) the Younger 10 November 1489 1514–1568 11 June 1568 Wolfenbüttel Maria of Württemberg
eight children

Sophia of Poland
22/25 February 1556
no children
He was the last Catholic of his family. Under him the medieval fortress (Burg) was rebuilt into a castle (Schloss); he was a passionate opponent of the Lutherans, and driving force behind the Catholic alliance established against the Schmalkaldic League; the disinheritance of a third son could not be carried out.
Otto (VI & I) 24 August 1495 1520–1549 11 August 1549 Lüneburg
(from 1527 in Harburg)
Meta von Camp
no children
Sons of Henry VII, ruled jointly. Otto abdicated in 1527 and founded his own estate, the Lordship of Harburg, which passed to his own descendants. Ernest was a champion of the Protestant cause during the early years of the Protestant Reformation. Francis started his co-rulership in 1536, and abdicated three years later to rule in his own estate, the Principality of Gifhorn, which was reannexed to Lüneburg after his death as he left no descendants.
Ernest I the Confessor 27 June 1497 1520–1546 11 January 1546 Lüneburg Sophia of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
2 June 1528
seven children
Francis 23 November 1508 1536–1539 23 November 1549 Lüneburg Clara of Saxe-Lauenburg
29 September 1547
Amt Neuhaus
seven children
Regencies of Elisabeth of Brandenburg and Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse (1540-1545) During his regency, his mother implemented the Reformation in Calenberg. She also wrote a "government manual" for Eric, with important advice that should serve him as a guide. Left no descendants, and Calenberg was annexed to Wolfenbüttel.
Eric II 10 August 1528 1540–1584 17 November 1584 Calenberg Sidonie of Saxony
17 May 1545
Hann. Münden
no children

Dorothea of Lorraine
26 November 1575
no children
Council of Regency (1546–1555) Left no descendants. The land passed to his brothers.
Francis Otto 20 June 1530 1546–1559 29 April 1559 Lüneburg Elizabeth Magdalene of Brandenburg
no children
Otto II 25 September 1528 1549-1603 26 October 1603 Lüneburg
(in Harburg)
Margaret of Schwarzburg-Leutenberg
8 September 1551
four children

Hedwig of East Frisia
8 October 1562
twelve children
Ernest III 17 December 1518 1551–1567 2 April 1567 Grubenhagen Margaret of Pomerania-Wolgast
9 October 1547
one child
Left no male descendants. The land passed to his brother Wolfgang.
Henry (VI) 1533 1559–1598 19 January 1598 Lüneburg
(from 1569 in Dannenberg)
Ursula of Saxe-Lauenburg
seven children
Brothers of Francis Otto, ruled jointly. In 1569 Henry founded the duchy of Dannenberg, which left to his own descendants. William ruled alone from 1569.
William V the Younger 4 July 1535 1559–1592 20 August 1592 Lüneburg Dorothea of Denmark
12 October 1561
fifteen children
Wolfgang 6 April 1531 1567–1595 14 May 1595 Grubenhagen Dorothea of Saxe-Lauenburg
10 December 1570
Osterode am Harz
no children
Like most of his predecessors, he had financial problems, so he was often forced to sell or pledge major parts of his possession and he had to demand high taxes. As he left no male descendants, the land passed to his brother Philip.
Julius 29 June 1528 1568–1589 3 May 1589 Wolfenbüttel Hedwig of Brandenburg
25 February 1560
eleven children
In 1584 absorbes the Principality of Calenberg. By embracing the Protestant Reformation, establishing the University of Helmstedt, and introducing a series of administrative reforms, Julius was one of the most important Brunswick dukes in the early modern era.
Ernest II 31 December 1564 1592–1611 2 March 1611 Lüneburg Unmarried Left no descendants. The land passed to his brother, Christian.
Henry Julius 15 October 1564 1589–1613 30 July 1613 Wolfenbüttel Dorothea of Saxony
26 September 1585
one child

Elizabeth of Denmark
19 April 1590
ten children
In 1596 occupied Grubenhagen.
Philip II 2 May 1533 1595–1596 4 April 1596 Grubenhagen Clara of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
1 July 1560
no children
As he left no male descendants, the land had no heir and was occupied by the Principality of Wolfenbüttel.
Grubenhagen annexed to Wolfenbüttel, and then definitely to Lüneburg
Julius Ernest 11 March 1571 1598-1636 26 October 1636 Lüneburg
(at Dannenberg)
Maria of East Frisia
1 September 1614
two children

Sybille of Brunswick-Lüneburg
two children
Left no descendants. The short-lived Dannenberg principality reverted to Lüneburg.
William Augustus 15 March 1564 1603-1642 30 March 1642 Lüneburg
(in Harburg)
Unmarried Sons of Otto II, ruled together in Harburg. After William Augustus' death, the lordship reunited with Lüneburg.
Otto III 20 March 1572 1603-1641 4 August 1641 Lüneburg
(in Harburg)
Hedwig of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
14 April 1621
no children
Christopher 21 August 1570 1603-1606 7 July 1606 Lüneburg
(in Harburg)
Elisabeth of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
28 October 1604
no children
Regency of Elizabeth of Denmark (1616-1622) Children of Henry Julius. Frederick Ulirch inheriteed the major duchy, and Sophie Hedwig a seat at Spiegelberg. Because of his alcoholism, Frederick Ulrich was deposed by his own mother, with the help of her brother, Christian IV of Denmark. She took the regency in his name. During her regency, Elizabeth lost in 1617 the Principality of Grubenhagen and left the government business for Anton von Streithorst, who nearly ruined the state by minting coins from cheap metals and thus causing inflation. Because of the bad situation of the state, the king of Denmark had Frederick take control of the government again. Frederick didn't leave descendants, and his lands passed to collateral lines of the Lüneburg Welfs.
Frederick Ulrich 5 April 1591 1613–1634 11 August 1634 Wolfenbüttel Anna Sophia of Brandenburg
4 September 1614
no children
Sophia Hedwig 13 June 1592 1613–1642 13 January 1642 Wolfenbüttel
(at Spiegelberg)
Ernest Casimir I, Count of Nassau-Dietz
8 June 1607
two children
Christian the Elder 9 November 1566 1611-1633 8 November 1633 Lüneburg
(with Grubenhagen from 1617)
Unmarried Absorbed Grubenhagen from Wolfenbüttel. As he left no descendants, the land passed to his brother, Augustus. Grubenhagen is definitively annexed to Lüneburg.
Augustus the Elder 18 November 1568 1633–1636 1 October 1636 Lüneburg (and Grubenhagen) Unmarried No legitimate issue. The land passed to his brother, Frederick IV.
George 17 February 1582 1634–1641 2 April 1641 Calenberg Anne Eleonore of Hesse-Darmstadt
14 December 1617
eight children
Younger son of William VI. Inherited Calenberg from his cousin Frederick Ulrich, who had left no descendants. Abdicated to his son in 1641.
Augustus the Younger 10 April 1579 1634–1666 17 September 1666 Wolfenbüttel Clara Maria of Pomerania-Barth
13 December 1607
two children

Dorothea of Anhalt-Zerbst
26 October 1623
five children

Elisabeth Sophie of Mecklenburg
two children
Younger son of Henry (VI). Inherited Wolfenbüttel from his cousin Frederick Ulrich, who had left no descendants. In 1643 he moved into the Residence at Wolfenbüttel, was the founder of a barock theatre and the Bibliotheca Augusta.
Frederick IV 28 August 1574 1636–1648 10 December 1648 Lüneburg Unmarried As he left no descendants, the land passed to a nephew, Christian Louis, son of Frederick's brother George.
Christian Louis 25 February 1622 1641–1648 15 March 1665 Calenberg Sophia Dorothea of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg
9 October 1653
no children
In 1648 inherited the Principality of Lüneburg from his uncle Frederick IV, he gave Calenberg to his younger brother George William, and instead ruled the larger territory of Lüneburg.
1648-1665 Lüneburg
George William 26 January 1624 1648–1665 28 August 1705 Calenberg Éléonore Desmier d'Olbreuse
one child
When his brother, Christian Louis died childless in 1665, George William inherited Luneburg. He then gave Calenberg to his next brother, John Frederick. At his death without male descendants, the land passed to his son-in-law, the Elector of Hanover. Lüneburg is annexed to Hanover.
1665-1705 Lüneburg
Lüneburg definitely annexed to Hanôver
Rudolf Augustus 16 May 1627 1666–1704 26 January 1704 Wolfenbüttel Christiane Elizabeth of Barby-Mühlingen
three children

Rosine Elisabeth Menthe
no children
Sons of Augustus II, the eldest two ruled jointly from 1685 to 1702. The youngest, Ferdinand Albert, ruled from the town of Bevern. According to reports dating to 1677, Rudolf Augustus slashed a way through the Lechlum Forest, the Alten Weg ("Old Way"), later the "Barock Road" between the Lustschloss of Antoinettenruh via the little barock castle [later the Sternhaus] to the Großes Weghaus at Stöckheim; in 1671 captured the town and fortress of Brunswick. After the death of Rudolf Augustus, Anthony Ulrich returned to the throne and ruled alone. A politician, art lover and poet, he founded a museum named after him in Brunswick; he had also Salzdahlum Castle built.
Anthony Ulrich 4 October 1633 1685-1702

27 March 1714 Wolfenbüttel Elizabeth Juliana of Schleswig-Holstein-Sønderburg-Nordborg
17 August 1656
thirteen children
Ferdinand Albert I 22 May 1636 1666-1687 23 April 1687 Wolfenbüttel
(at Bevern)
Christine of Hesse-Eschwege
25 November 1667
six children
John Frederick 25 April 1625 1665–1679 18 December 1679 Calenberg Benedicta Henrietta of the Palatinate
30 November 1668
three children
Brother of Christian Louis and George William. As he left no male heirs, the land passed to his younger brother, Ernest Augustus.
Ernest Augustus I 20 November 1629 1679–1692 23 January 1698 Calenberg Sophia of the Palatinate
30 September 1658
seven children
Youngest son of George. Brother of Christian Louis, George William and John Frederick. In 1692, he was appointed Prince-elector by Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor, thus raising the House of Welf to electoral dignity. The old Principality of Calenberg thus adopted the new name of Electorate of Hanover.
1692-1698 Electorate of Hanover
George I Louis 28 May 1660 1698–1705 11 June 1727 Electorate of Hanover Sophia Dorothea of Brunswick-Lüneburg
22 November 1682
(annulled 1694)
two children
The electorship became effective under his rule. In 1705 reunited his father-in-law's princedom of Lüneburg to the Electorate. In 1714 was chosen for King of Great Britain, starting a personal union between Hanover and this new country. Lüneburg was definitely annexed to the Electorate. Thus the Wolfenbüttel was the remaining old land of Brunswick-Lüneburg that remained separate.
Augustus William 8 March 1662 1714–1731 23 March 1731 Wolfenbüttel Christine Sophie of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
no children

Sophie Amalie of Holstein-Gottorp
no children

Elisabeth Sophie Marie of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderborg-Norburg
no children
Son of Anthony Ulrich. Ruler of the only land that was still not in Hanoverian lands, to which it would never belong.
George II Augustus 30 October / 9 November 1683O.S./N.S. 1727–1760 25 October 1760 Electorate of Hanover Wilhelmina Charlotte Caroline of Brandenburg-Ansbach
22 August / 2 September 1705O.S./N.S.
ten children
In personal union with Great Britain.
Louis Rudolph 22 July 1671 1731–1735 1 March 1735 Wolfenbüttel Christine Louise of Oettingen-Oettingen
22 April 1690
three children
Left no male heirs, and his land passed to a collateral line.
Ferdinand Albert II 29 May 1680 1687-1735

2 September 1735 Wolfenbüttel
(in Bevern)

Antoinette Amalie of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
15 October 1712
thirteen children
From the line of Brunswick-Bevern. Grandson of Augustus II.
Charles I 1 August 1713 1735–1773 26 March 1780 Wolfenbüttel Philippine Charlotte of Prussia
2 June 1733
thirteen children
Founder of the Collegium Carolinum in Brunswick, the porcelain makers of Fürstenberg, the fire office; in 1753 the Residence was moved to Brunswick.
George III William Frederick 4 June 1738 1760-1811 29 January 1820 Electorate of Hanover Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
8 September 1761
fifteen children
In personal union with Great Britain.
Charles II William Ferdinand 9 October 1735 1773–1806 10 November 1806 Wolfenbüttel Augusta of Great Britain
16 January 1764
seven children
Due to financial problems, was obliged to replace his father. He was the head of the Prussian Army; died in the Battle of Jena; because his son and heir died young, and two other sons were not eligible, rule passed to his youngest son.
With the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, the title of Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg ceased to exist. However, its successor states continued.
Frederick William the Black Duke 9 October 1771 1806–1807

16 June 1815 Wolfenbüttel

Marie Elisabeth Wilhelmine of Baden
1 November 1802
three children
Duke of Oels/Silesia, the "Black Duke"; recruited a Freikorps (volunteer corps), the Black Brunswickers, at the outbreak of the War of the Fifth Coalition in Bohemia in 1809, and made his way via Brunswick to the North Sea and then on to Great Britain.
On the Eve of Napoleonic era, in 1807 the Duchy was briefly annexed to the Kingdom of France, to appear again in 1813 as Duchy of Brunswick.
George IV Augustus Frederick 12 August 1762 1811–1830 26 June 1830 Electorate of Hanover
(until 1814)
Kingdom of Hanover
(from 1814)
Caroline Amelia Elizabeth of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
8 April 1795
one child
In personal union with the United Kingdom. Named regent of his father due to his illness, succeeding him after his death in 1820. Left no male descendants. The land passed to his brother.
Regency of George IV of the United Kingdom (1815-1823) On the eve of the July Revolution of 1830, Charles was in Paris, and did not manage to keep the duchy for himself; his brother William took over with the agreement of the people and his international neighbours.
Charles II 30 October 1804 1815–1830 18 August 1873 Brunswick Unmarried
William Henry 21 August 1765 1830–1837 20 June 1837 Kingdom of Hanover Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen
13 July 1818
four children
In personal union with the United Kingdom. Usually numbered IV as King of Hanover and the United Kingdom. As he left only illegitimate descendants, the land passed to his brother.
William 25 April 1806 1830–1884 18 October 1884 Brunswick Unmarried Brother of Charles II.
Victoria 24 May 1819 1837–1901 22 January 1901 United Kingdom Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
10 February 1840
St James's Palace
nine children
End of personal union with the United Kingdom, as in this country the successor in 1837 was Queen Victoria (in Hanover the Salic Law was still active).
Ernest Augustus 5 June 1771 1837–1851 18 November 1851 Kingdom of Hanover Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
29 May 1815
three children
George V Frederick 27 May 1819 1851–1866 12 June 1878 Kingdom of Hanover Marie of Saxe-Altenburg (I)
18 February 1843
three children
He was the last king of Hanover, as his reign ended with the Unification of Germany.
Hanôver annexed to the German Empire
Regencies of Prince Albert of Prussia (1885-1906) and Duke John Albert of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1906-1913) His regency came to an end on 1 November 1913 when Ernest Augustus, Crown Prince of Hanover's son, was permitted to ascend to Duchy following his marriage to Princess Victoria Louise of Prussia. In 1918, with the abolition of the monarchy, all nobles titles were equally abolished.
Ernest Augustus 17 November 1887 1913–1918 30 January 1953 Brunswick Victoria Louise of Prussia
24 May 1913
five children

Family trees

Welf family tree 12th century

Welf family tree 18th century to present

Some direct ancestors (fathers and sons) of the present generation are:

See also


  1. ^ Jones, B. (2013). Dictionary of World Biography. Canberra, Australia: Australian National University. p. 356. ISBN 9781922144492.
  2. ^ Canduci, pg. 294
  3. ^ Riedesel, Friedrich Adolf (1868). von Eelking, Max (ed.). Memoirs, and Letters and Journals, of Major General Riedesel During His Residence in America. Vol. 1. Translated by Stone, William L. Albany: J. Munsell. p. 29. I remain ever, Your affectionate Charles, Duke of Brunswick and Lüneburg. Brunswick, February 14, 1776. To Colonel Riedesel.
  4. ^ "Sophia von Bayern. In: Genealogie Mittelalter: Mittelalterliche Genealogie im Deutschen Reich bis zum Ende der Staufer". Retrieved 2016-04-27.