Braunschweig becomes residential city

A palace in Braunschweig

In the Late Middle Ages Braunschweig had achieved municipal independence. Hereupon the local lords relocated their residence to Wolfenbüttel. This was followed by a time of decline, mainly due to the dissolution of the Hanseatic League but also due to conflicts between the guilds and the patricians of the city as well as the Thirty Year’s War. This period ended in 1671 when a foreign force conquered Braunschweig and put it back under the rule of the Guelph Dukes. Through this the city lost its economic and political independence.

The Dukes return

In the year 1753 the ducal residence was relocated back to Braunschweig. A palace had been constructed there from 1718 onwards. The area of the ‘grey court ‘was chosen as a site. This was originally cultivated by the Cistercians of the Monastery Riddagshausen. Together with the Dukes nearly 4000 people belonging to the court moved to Braunschweig which resulted in the decline of Wolfenbüttel. The life style and the running of the court brought substantial changes and another boom to Braunschweig. The medieval landscape gave way to a new style of architecture.

Cohabitation changes

Even the understanding of family as the embodiment of security as we still know it today changed towards the end of the 18th century. Life in the houses of craftsmen and merchants was influenced by large purpose communities where everyone lived and worked together under one roof. Besides the owner of the house, his wife and children and further relatives, also journeymen, apprentices and servants lived in the household. It would take a long time for these conditions to change for common citizens. Privacy still remained a privilege of the wealthy.

Explanations and hints

Picture credits

  • Rekonstruktion E. Arnhold
  • Rekonstruktion von E. Arnhold und Dr. H. H. Grote