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Henry the Lion, the sixth duke of Bavaria, though a minor at that time, took part in the above war under the guardianship of his uncle Guelph; and at length became the most powerful prince in the Empire. His possessions were bounded by the German ocean on the north, the Elbe on the east, on the south by Italy, and on the west by the Rhine. This excited the jealousy of the Emperor Frederick I. surnamed Barbarossa; who stripped him of all his dominions, after putting him to the ban of the empire, because he refused to appear, on being summoned to the diet, upon the pretext of his having oppressed his subjects, and committed many outrages against his neighbours. After some time, however, he excited the compassion of the Emperor, and prevailed upon him to promise that the territories of Brunswick and Lunenburgh should be protected, on behalf of his children. He had two wives; the first was Clementia of Zeninghen, the second Matilda, or Maude, daughter of the English King, Henry II. and after obtaining the above assurance from the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, he retired to England; where he was hospitably entertained by his father-in-law; and where his wife Matilda bore him a fourth son, Henry Otho, who succeeded his father, and is often called the first Duke of Brunswick-Lunenburgh.
This Prince, being vigorously supported by the English king Richard Caur de Lion, and by Pope Innocent III. was elected Emperor, in opposition to Frederick II. son of Frederick Barbarossa; while Philip duke of Suabia, elected King of the Romans, who was a third competitor, found a powerful patron in the King of France; and remained undisputed master of the empire, after many desperate conflicts: which obliged Henry Otho to seek refuge in England. Philip, however, was soon after basely assassinated; of which Otho was no sooner apprized, than he hastened to Halberstadt, where his election was renewed by the princes of Saxony, Misnia, and Thuringia; after which he conciliated the adverse faction, by his marriage with Beatrice, the daughter of Philip, the murdered Regent. This prince was a native of England, being born at Winchester in 1184: he became one of the hostages for his great friend and protector, Richard I. of England, during the cruel imprisonment of that prince by Leopold Duke of Austria; but was at last solemnly deposed, at the Pope's instigation, and compelled to seek a retreat in Brunswick; where he died, after a short and unfortunate reign. In William, his grandson, the son of Henry the Lion, and Matilda, eldest daughter of Henry II. of England, was united the Saxon and Norman blood.
His son, Otho the Young, is generally called the first Duke of Brunswick-Lunenburgh, though some say that his father, and others his grandfather, was the first that bore that title; nor is it possible to decide which opinion is correct, though the probability seems to be, that Henry, called Otho IV. afterwards Emperor, was the first Duke of Brunswick-Lunenburgh, and resigned that title to his brother upon his own elevation to the empire. On the death of Henry Count Palatine, in 1227, William, having died in 1213, his nieces, Agnes and Hermengarde, daughters of Henry, having sold Brunswick to the Emperor Frederick III. ; Otho the Young seized that duchy, and entered into an alliance with the Danish king Waldemar II. against the Emperor, but was defeated, and taken prisoner. He then submitted to the Emperor, his former enemy, whom he assisted so vigorously against the Pope, that, being moved with the generosity of his conduct, Frederick consented to acknowledge him Duke of Brunswick; on account of which, it appears probable, he has often been supposed to have been the first duke of
Brunswick. His eldest son, John, was the founder of the House of Lunenburgh.
Albert, called the Great, the son of Otho the Young, succeeded his father in 1252. twice married, first to Eliza of Brabant, and afterwards to Adelaide of Montfort. This prince conquered Wolfenbuttel, and having taken Gerard, Archbishop of Mentz, and Conrad, Count of Eberstein, prisoners, barbarously commanded the latter to be hung up by the feet. He is nevertheless said to have been a valiant prince; and died of a wound received in a battle which he fought against the Marquis of Misnia.
He was succeeded by his three sons, who divided his dominions. Henry founded the house of Grubenhagen; William, that of Brunswick Wolfenbuttel; and Albert the eldest, surnamed the Fat, who was the next duke of Brunswick-Lunenburgh. This prince married Richsa of Mecklenburgh, by whom he had five sons, Magnus the Elder, Otho the Liberal, the friend of the Emperor Lewis of Bavaria, Albert Bishop of Halberstadt, Henry Bishop of Hildesheim, and Ernest surnamed the Rich, founder of the House of Gottingen. Otho governed, jointly with his brothers Magnus and Ernest, who, when he died in 1334, divided their dominions. Magnus the Elder acquired Landberg, Sangerhausen, and Petersberg, by his marriage with Sophia of Brandenburg. Albert, though a bishop, was a celebrated warrior, and became involved in great difficulties through a league formed against him by the other princes of the empire. To Magnus the Elder succeeded Magnus, called Torquatus, from his wearing a silver chain round his neck. He disputed the succession of Lunenburgh with Albert duke of Saxony; and being put to the ban of the empire, proved victorious, but was afterwards slain in a single combat, by Otho, Count of Schauenburgli.
By his wife Catharine of Brandenburgh, he left four sons; Frederick, afterwards emperor, who was murdered in 1400; Otho, Archbishop of Bremen; Henry, first duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttle; and Bernard his successor, who acquired the county of Homberg: he married Margaret of Saxony, united the city of Ultzer to Lunenburgh, and engaged in many ruinous wars with the Moravian Margraves.
After his death, in 1434, Frederick the Just succeeded conjointly with Otho the Lame; he yielded the government to Bernard, his eldest son: but the young prince dying in 1464, he was succeeded by his brother Otho the Magnanimous, who married Anne of Nassau, and died in 1471, leaving two sons, Henry Junior, and William, who died a minor. This prince was universally beloved for his bravery, and inflexible justice in punishing bands of robbers, from which he cleared his country.
Upon Otho's death, his father Frederick the Religious was compelled to resume the government, and was a blessing to his country, till he died, in 1478, when his grandson, Henry Junior, became the ward of his mother; who, although she had, after the death of Otho the Magnanimous, married Philip, Count of Cortzen Elnbogen, returned to Zell upon the death of her father-in-law, and became regent for the young prince, Henry Junior; who, when he came of age, engaged in several wars, particularly in conjunction with John, bishop of Hildesheim, against his two cousins, Henry Senior, and Eric I. Duke of Calenberg, over whom they obtained a complete victory, near the town of Peine, in the year 1519; in which Eric and the Bishop of Minden, together with William the brother of Henry of Brunswick, were taken prisoners. The Emperor Charles V. interposed, and commanded that all hostilities should cease, and that the noble prisoners should be set at liberty; but the conquerors absolutely refused to comply with the Emperor's mandate.
This refusal provoked Charles to proscribe them: in consequence of which, Henry Junior divided his possessions among his children; and, by voluntarily resigning the government, preserved the duchy from the rapacious designs of his opponents, who were not authorized, by the laws of the Empire, to carry the severe sentence upon the father, into execution against the sons, who had not incurred the displeasure of the Emperor.
He died at Paris in 1532, leaving three daughters and five sons; the fourth of which, Ernest the Pious, of Zell, ultimately succeeded to the dukedom: he declared himself in favour of the Reformation, and recommended the Lutheran doctrine to his people, without the least attempt to compel them to assent, for, being himself convinced by reason, he thought it his duty to publish those arguments which determined his opinion, that every one of his subjects might have the same opportunity of examining the weak foundation upon which the pretensions of the Romish church were built. His candour and moderation had the desired effect, and men began to examine into the rise and progress of the Romish ecclesiastical monarchy ; liberty from which they had before been precluded. Reason soon prevailed, and Ernest, with great satisfaction, saw the greatest part of his subjects profess themselves Lutherans. In consequence of this, the Pope procured a motion to be made, in the diet held at Spires, in 1529, to put the ban of the empire, which had been declared against Luther, into execution, and also to include in it all who had adopted his religious principles. His Holiness, however,
however, completely failed: for Ernest, with many other members of the Empire, protested against this extension of the ban,