Elisabeth of Brandenburg, Duchess of Brunswick-Calenberg-Göttingen

Elisabeth von Brandenburg (* August 24, 1510 probably in Coelln, † May 25 1558 in Ilmenau) was a princess of the House of Hohenzollern and by marriage Duchess of Brunswick -Göttingen -Calenberg and since 1546 Countess and Mrs. Henneberg. It is considered a " Reformation Princess ", which the Reformation put together with the Hessian reformer Anton Corvinus in today's southern Lower Saxony.

Life and work

Early years (1510-1525)

Elizabeth was the third child and second daughter of the Elector Joachim I of Brandenburg and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of the Danish King John I. Her upbringing was strictly religious and humanistic.

At the age of not quite 15 years, she was married on July 7, 1525 in Szczecin with the widowed forty years older Duke of Brunswick -Göttingen -Calenberg, Erich I..

With the ideas of the Reformation it was already 1527 on native Brandenburg yard in touch when her mother first communion under both celebrated and so openly known to the doctrines of Luther. The violent reaction of Elizabeth's father, the " Protestantism " feared a transgression, his wife, came to the Wittenberg reformers who had to intervene on behalf of the Electress; likes the sympathy of the then seventeen -year-old Elisabeth have intensified with the new Reformation ideas.

Marriage to Eric I (1525-1540)

Despite the age difference, it was obviously a marriage without insurmountable conflicts, which might be due not least that Erich mostly stayed on the Erichsburg or festivals Calenberg, while Elizabeth was in her womb breeding Munden.

However, the marriage was not without blemish. So Elizabeth in 1528 made ​​as aggrieved wife of her husband's long-time mistress of the landed gentry, Anne of Rumschottel responsible for complications during her second pregnancy. She called her husband on to be burned as a witch Rumschottel of Anna, also sent himself spies and soldiers in the neighboring diocese of Minden to have them arrested in their hideout in Minden office building; but Anna escaped from Rumschottel. In Inquisition proceedings against alleged helpers Rumschottel of some of the accused women died after torture at the stake. Finally, Elizabeth forced herself by Erich I. a more profitable jointure ( Witwengut ) when her contract status through marriage: Instead of the prior Office Calenberg in the lower forest, which brought little revenue with lock Calenberg, Neustadt and Hanover, she was awarded the associated with higher revenue upper forest with the cities Munden, Northeim and Gottingen, who also gave her a greater political weight. The then finally unproblematic awaited birth of healthy male offspring Erich II had, quickly forgotten in both this dark chapter.

When Elizabeth visited her mother in 1534 Lichtenbergk, she met for the first time in person, Martin Luther, and since 1538 was the princess in regular correspondence with the Reformer. Again and again they provided him with cheese and wine; conversely found mulberry and fig tree seedlings as well as a German translation of the Bible with a personal dedication their way from Wittenberg to Munden.

Elizabeth settled on April 7, 1538 suffice the chalice for the laity and thus publicly expressed their belonging to the Lutheran faith. On 6 October, she put the Landgrave Philip of Hesse to their transfer to knowledge and fetched with the help of the evangelical pastor and reformer Antonius Corvinus from the near Witzenhausen by Munden. The obvious devotion to his wife to the Lutheran doctrine was Duke Eric I tolerant. Although the views of Luther disagreed with his Catholic and loyal to the emperor setting, but he admired the other hand, the courage of the Reformer.

Enforcement of the Reformation (1540-1545)

With the Elector John Frederick of Saxony Elisabeth knew another powerful ally on their side so that they received on the death of Eric I on July 30, 1540, despite the fierce resistance of Henry of Brunswick- Wolfenbüttel with Philip of Hesse, the tutelary government of the Principality. The five years of her tutelage, she used to be the enforcement of the Reformation and remediation of the royal household.

Antonius Corvinus was appointed superintendent of the Principality, based in Pattensen. The lawyer Justus von Waldhausen, who had studied at Wittenberg, was appointed on the recommendation of Luther to the royal council and later chancellor. The physician Burckard Mithoff and Hofrichter Justin Gobler and the Master Heinrich Campe completed the team with which the princess wanted to put their reformation work.

Already in 1542 the Calenberger church order was written for all of Calenberg- Göttingen; this was followed by a thorough visitation of churches dated 17 November 1542 to 30 April 1543 at the Elisabeth also took part personally. A monastery Regulation of November 4, 1542 regulated the evangelical transformation of monasteries. 1544 Hofgerichtsordnung was adopted to organize the legal relationships in the country. In addition, the Princess wrote by hand numerous hymns and a final letter to her subjects, which it should strengthen in the faith.

When her son Erich was to marry in 1544, the already promised to him in childhood Anna of Hesse, daughter of the Hessian Landgrave Philip, fell in love that in which likewise minded Lutheran Sidonie, the sister of the Saxon Duke and later Elector Moritz of Saxony. At the urging of her son, Elizabeth broke off the engagement with his friend Hessian court, and a year later married Erich on May 17, 1545 years her senior, Sidonie.

In a government manual Elisabeth gained important advice that should serve as a guide for her son who now own the following reign.

Disappointed hopes and lonely last years (1545-1558)

1546, a year after the accession of her son Eric II, Elizabeth joined with Count Poppo XII. Henneberg (1513-1574), younger brother of the husband of her eldest daughter, the marriage, which she retained the regency over her body breeding Munden.

With great care she followed the turning of her son to the Catholic faith, of which he hoped to opportunities in the imperial court. He took 1548 the Augsburg Interim and shrink from a detention of the Reformer Corvinus and the stalemate Waldensian preacher Walter Hoiker (also stool called ) from 1549 to 1552 in the Fixed Calenberg not go back, which together with 140 priests in 1549 at the Synod of Munden had asked bitterly against the interim.

Against all odds, succeeded the Duchess in 1550, her daughter Anna Maria to marry the 40 -year-older Duke Albert I of Brandenburg -Ansbach, with which Elizabeth was in friendly correspondence contact for a long time. In a marriage book she wrote on key pieces of advice for the upcoming marriage of their daughter, Anna Maria.

1553, after the Battle of Sievershausen, Elisabeth was driven by Duke Henry of Brunswick -Wolfenbüttel, the nephew of her late husband, of Munden and fled to Hanover. In 1555 she moved into the Thuringian Ilmenau in the county of Henneberg, where they took the spring one last time at hand and a book of consolation for widows wrote that should accompany them in their grief.

With horror she had to witness her son in 1557 their youngest daughter Catherine Lutheran befitting married with Catholic Upper Viscount William of Rosenberg, to provide them economically. However, when Elisabeth opened on the difficult path to the wedding after Munden, she found out that Eric had intentionally called her a wrong date and that the marriage had long since completed. After the announcement of the marriage contract she was surprised that she was supposedly keep their Lutheran faith and that they could employ in their court for himself a Lutheran pastor.

The sources report that Elizabeth a year later, in 1558, completely exhausted and died heartbroken in Ilmenau. A project funded by their children epitaph of Innsbruck sculptor Siegmund book Linger with her image is located since 1566 in the St. Giles Chapel at St. John's Church to Schleusingen. On the pedestal is found next to a Latin dedication of their children, a book authored by her own poem: First of all I am Jesus Christ / all-time gewest the highest good. / Through His Spirit gave me the courage, / That I 'm christian ermannt / And planted His Word into this country.


Elizabeth had one son and three daughters from his first marriage with Duke Eric I of Brunswick -Calenberg:

  • Elisabeth ( born April 8, 1526 † August 19, 1566 ) ∞ ( 1543) Georg Ernst Graf von Henneberg ( 1511-1583 )
  • Eric II, Duke of Brunswick- Calenberg ( born August 10, 1528 but † November 17, 1584 )
  • Anna Maria ( * April 23, 1532, † March 20, 1568 ) ∞ ( 1550) Albrecht the Elder, Margrave of Brandenburg -Ansbach, Duke of Prussia ( 1490-1568 ).
  • Catherine ( * 1534, † May 10 1559 ) ∞ ( 1557) Wilhelm von Rosenberg, Upper Viscount of Bohemia ( 1535-1592 )