, , , , , , , , , ,

The children of Charles Wilhelm Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Princess Augusta of Great Britain.

Charles Georg August, Hereditary Prince of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (February 8, 1766 – September 20, 1806) the eldest son, was named heir apparent, but suffered from a significant learning disability and was regarded as “well-nigh imbecile,” as well as blind.

Charles Georg August, Hereditary Prince of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel

Nevertheless, he was married in 1790 to Louise of Orange-Nassau, daughter of Willem V, Prince of Orange, and Wilhelmina of Prussia. A gentle, good-hearted woman, called Loulou in the family, who remained devoted to him to the end. Louise was reportedly more of a nurse than a spouse to him, who was described as totally dependent of her. In 1791, she commented in a letter in which she expressed no lamentation about the fact that her marriage was childless and rather seemed pleased with it. He died childless at the age of 40 in 1806, two months before his father.

Louise of Orange-Nassau

Augusta of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (Augusta Caroline Friederika Luise; December 3, 1764 – September 27, 1788) On October 15, 1780, at the age of 15, Augusta was married in Brunswick to future king Friedrich I of Württemberg the son of Friedrich II Eugene, Duke of Württemberg and mother of the future Wilhelm I of Württemberg.

Friedrich, not assured the throne of because of the possibility of heirs being born ahead of him, determined to make a career abroad. His sister Sophie was married to Tsesarevich Paul, future Emperor of Russia. In 1782, Friedrich accompanied Sophie and her husband to Russia. Pleased with the well-spoken and confident young man, the Empress Catherine II appointed Frederick Governor-General of Eastern Finland, with his seat at Viipuri.

Augusta of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel

Augusta joined her husband in Vyborg, Russia. The next five years, the couple would become the parents of four children. However, Augusta and Frederick did not have a happy marriage. During a visit to Saint Petersburg in December 1786, Augusta fled to the apartments of Empress Catherine II to ask for protection. She alleged that Friedrich was bisexual, that he had a coterie of young noblemen, and that he was violent towards her. A horrified Catherine gave Augusta asylum in her palace and sent word to Friedrich that it would be best for him to leave Russia, at least for the time being.

Friedrich I, King of Württemberg

Before he left, Friedrich made it known through Sophie to the Empress Catherine II that he regarded his wife to be as of “poor character” as she behaved with too much informality with servant-lads, grooms and aides, and that the “violence” she accused him of was only his insistence that she should behave with adequate reserve towards them, in keeping with what was regarded as suitable for a woman of her high rank.

After Augusta’s father had refused to countenance a divorce, and with Augusta showing clear signs of proving her husband right in the matter of behavior with men of lower rank, Empress Catherine II found it necessary to make arrangements for her removal from the palace. She gave Augusta the use of one of her Imperial estates, in Kullamaa Parish to the south-west of Tallinn, Estonia. Augusta was put in the custody of Wilhelm von Pohlmann (1727 – 1796), a former hunt-master. Augusta quickly began a sexual relationship with her custodian, and soon became pregnant by him.

On September 27, 1788, aged 23, Augusta went into premature labour with a stillborn child, followed by hemorrhaging. Pohlmann refused to send for a doctor or any other medical help, fearful that his illegitimate relationship to her would be exposed. Augusta died of blood loss. She was hurriedly buried in an unmarked grave in the church at Koluvere. Brief letters were then written to the Empress Catherine and to Augusta’s father in Brunswick, blandly announcing her death and giving the cause as the breaking of a blood vessel.

The second son, Georg Wilhelm Christian (1769–1811), suffered from an even more severe learning disability than his elder brother. He was declared incapacitated and was excluded from the succession. He never married.

The couple’s third son was August (1770–1822). He was blind and was also excluded from the succession. He also never married.

The fourth son, Friedrich Wilhelm (October 9, 1771 – June 16, 1815) briefly ruled the state of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel from 1806 to 1807 and again from 1813 to 1815. He was the cousin and brother-in-law (from 8 April 1795) of his friend George IV, Prince Regent of the United Kingdom (from 1811).

Friedrich Wilhelm, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel

He joined the Prussian army in 1789 as a captain and participated in battles against Revolutionary France. In 1805, after his uncle, Friedrich August, Duke of Oels, had died childless, Friedrich Wilhelm inherited the Duchy of Oels, a small mediatized principality in Silesia subordinate to the King of Prussia.

On November 1, 1802, in Karlsruhe, Friedrich Wilhelm married Princess Marie Elisabeth of Baden (1782– 1808), daughter of Charles Ludwig, Hereditary Prince of Baden. The couple had three children. Marie died of puerperal fever four days after giving birth to a stillborn daughter.

Princess Marie Elisabeth of Baden

Friedrich Wilhelm became the reigning Duke of Brunswick upon the death of his father in 1806. After the defeat of Prussia in the Fourth Coalition, his newly inherited Duchy of Brunswick remained under the control of France. However, the duchy was formally incorporated into the short-lived Napoleonic Kingdom of Westphalia in 1807. Friedrich Wilhelm fled to his parents-in-law in Bruchsal in the Grand Duchy of Baden, which had remained a sovereign state after the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806 by Emperor Franz II, where he lived for the next few years.

Friedrich Wilhelm William returned to Brunswick in December 1813, after Prussia had ended French domination in Brunswick-Lüneburg. When Napoleon returned to the political scene in 1815 during the Hundred Days, Friedrich Wilhelm raised fresh troops. He was killed by a gunshot at the Battle of Quatre Bras on June 16, 1815, the night after he had attended the Duchess of Richmond’s ball in Brussels and left it happy to have a chance to show his fighting ability.

Part III will address the younger daughter Caroline of Brunswick, who was married in 1795 to her first cousin, the future George IV of the United Kingdom, and bore him a daughter, the ill-fated Princess Charlotte of Wales.