Times of the Lion and the Emperor
During the second half of the 12th century Henry the Lion made Braunschweig the centre of his power and ensured the further development of the city. He built churches, dried out the marshland east of the river Oker and founded the new district Hagen. After his death, Braunschweig developed into the biggest and most influential inland city of Northern Germany through the initiative of its citizens and the support of the Emperor. Otto IV., the son of Henry the Lion, bestowed many privileges upon the citizens, i.e. the exemption from import duties within the whole empire. And at last the city was able to compete with major medieval cities like Cologne and Frankfurt. In the year 1247 Braunschweig joined the Hanseatic League as the third city after Lübeck and Hamburg.
A changing city
In the Late Middle Ages Braunschweig was known as one of the most turbulent cities in Europe besides Paris and Ghent with repeated revolts by its citizens. The so-called ‘Braunschweiger Schichten’ between 1375 and 1380 led to a temporary exclusion from the Hanseatic League. But despite riots and Black Death epidemics Braunschweig continuously kept growing. Around 1500 15.000 people were already living in the city.
Heating in the Middle Ages
The early medieval farmhouses and city dwellings were heated with an open hearth surrounded by stones. This was also used for cooking. The smoke simply evaporated through gaps or open patches in the ceiling. Later on funnel-shaped flues over the fireplace directed the smoke outside through a hole in the roof.
Hygiene in the Middle Ages
With population rising and house construction becoming much denser hygiene in the city became a considerable problem.
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.
A palace in Braunschweig
Napoléon Bonaparte waged wars of conquest throughout the whole of Europe. After the defeat of the Prussians he founded the Kingdom of Westphalia. Braunschweig was occupied by the French and received a new constitution. This met with quite some resistance. During the wars of liberation Braunschweig troops entered the city in 1813 and restored the old Dukedom of Braunschweig.
Heating in the 20th century
Many flats were heated with potbelly stoves (Kanonenofen) well into the 20th century. These were wrought-iron ovens with a flue that were fired with coals. Their cylindrical shape was similar to that of canons (hence canon ovens in German) which gave them their name. In those days there was no running hot water in the houses. Bathing ovens heated the water up to a suitable temperature for bathing or doing the washing up. These ovens were mostly fired with coal or wood, but rarely with heating oil. Later on boilers were used instead.
Destruction and new growth
After World War II Braunschweig lay completely in ruins. 90 % of the city centre and 50 % of the manufacturing plants were destroyed. It took decades alone to remove all the debris.