George William, Elector of Brandenburg

George William, Elector of Brandenburg

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George William of Brandenburg (November 13, 1595 – December 1, 1640), of the Hohenzollern dynasty, was margrave
Margrave
A margrave or margravine was a medieval hereditary nobleman with military responsibilities in a border province of a kingdom. Border provinces usually had more exposure to military incursions from the outside, compared to interior provinces, and thus a margrave usually had larger and more active...

 and elector
Prince-elector
The Prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire were the members of the electoral college of the Holy Roman Empire, having the function of electing the Roman king or, from the middle of the 16th century onwards, directly the Holy Roman Emperor.The heir-apparent to a prince-elector was known as an...

 of Brandenburg
Brandenburg
Brandenburg is one of the sixteen federal-states of Germany. It lies in the east of the country and is one of the new federal states that were re-created in 1990 upon the reunification of the former West Germany and East Germany. The capital is Potsdam...

 and duke of Prussia from 1619 until his death. His reign was marked by ineffective governance during the Thirty Years' War
Thirty Years' War
The Thirty Years' War was fought primarily in what is now Germany, and at various points involved most countries in Europe. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history....

. He was the father of the Frderick William, the "Great Elector"
Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg
|align=right|Frederick William was Elector of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia – and thus ruler of Brandenburg-Prussia – from 1640 until his death. A member of the House of Hohenzollern, he is popularly known as the "Great Elector" because of his military and political prowess...

.

Early life


Born in Cölln
Cölln
In the 13th century Cölln was the sister town of Old Berlin , located on the southern Spree Island in the Margraviate of Brandenburg. Today the island is located in the historic core of the central Mitte locality of modern Berlin...

 on the Spree
Spree
The Spree is a river that flows through the Saxony, Brandenburg and Berlin states of Germany, and in the Ústí nad Labem region of the Czech Republic...

, George William was the son of John Sigismund, Margrave of Brandenburg and Anna of Prussia
Anna of Prussia
Duchess Anna of Prussia and Jülich-Cleves-Berg was the daughter of Albert Frederick, Duke of Prussia, and Marie Eleonore of Cleves. She became the spouse of John Sigismund, Elector of Brandenburg.-Biography:...

. His maternal grandfather was Albert Frederick, Duke of Prussia
Albert Frederick, Duke of Prussia
Albert Frederick was duke of Prussia from 1568 until his death. He was a son of Albert of Prussia and Anna Marie of Brunswick-Lüneburg. He was the second and last Prussian duke of the Ansbach branch of the Hohenzollern family.-Duke of Prussia:...

.

In 1616 George William married Elisabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate
Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate (1597-1660)
Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate was the wife of George William, Elector of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia, and the mother of Frederick William of Brandenburg, the "Great Elector".- Biography :...

. Their only son Frederick William
Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg
|align=right|Frederick William was Elector of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia – and thus ruler of Brandenburg-Prussia – from 1640 until his death. A member of the House of Hohenzollern, he is popularly known as the "Great Elector" because of his military and political prowess...

 later became known as the "Great Elector
Prince-elector
The Prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire were the members of the electoral college of the Holy Roman Empire, having the function of electing the Roman king or, from the middle of the 16th century onwards, directly the Holy Roman Emperor.The heir-apparent to a prince-elector was known as an...

". Of his two daughters, the eldest, Louise Charlotte
Louise Charlotte of Brandenburg
Louise Charlotte von Brandenburg , was a Duchess consort of Courland. She was politically active during her tenure as duchess consort....

, married Jacob Kettler, Duke of Courland
Jacob Kettler
Jacob Kettler was a Baltic German Duke of the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia . Under his rule, the duchy was brought to its greatest peak in wealth and engaged in colonization.- Life :...

, and the younger, Hedwig Sophie
Hedwig Sophia of Brandenburg
Hedwig Sophia of Brandenburg was Landgravine consort and Regent of Hesse-Kassel. Daughter of George William, Elector of Brandenburg and Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate, she married in 1649 to William VI, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel...

, married William VI, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel
William VI, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel
William VI, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel , known as William the Just, was Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel from 1637 to 1663.-Life:...

.

Rule


In 1619 George William inherited the Margravate of Brandenburg and the Duchy of Prussia. He paid his feudal homage in person to the King of Poland, Zygmunt Waza, in September of 1621 in Warsaw
Warsaw
Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

 (the Duchy of Prussia was a fief of the Kingdom of Poland at the time). The homage was renewed in 1633 after the election of a new Polish king, Władysław IV Waza.

During the Thirty Years' War
Thirty Years' War
The Thirty Years' War was fought primarily in what is now Germany, and at various points involved most countries in Europe. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history....

, George William tried to remain neutral between the Roman Catholic forces of the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 and the Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 principalities. As his sister Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg
Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg
Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg was a German princess and queen consort of Sweden.She was the daughter of John Sigismund, Elector of Brandenburg, and Anna, Duchess of Prussia, daughter of Albert Frederick, Duke of Prussia....

 was queen of Sweden
Swedish Empire
The Swedish Empire refers to the Kingdom of Sweden between 1561 and 1721 . During this time, Sweden was one of the great European powers. In Swedish, the period is called Stormaktstiden, literally meaning "the Great Power Era"...

, George William had to maneuver between requests of assistance from his Protestant brother-in-law King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden
Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden
Gustav II Adolf has been widely known in English by his Latinized name Gustavus Adolphus Magnus and variously in historical writings also as Gustavus, or Gustavus the Great, or Gustav Adolph the Great,...

 and his own Protestant counsellors on one side and his Catholic chancellor Count Adam von Schwarzenberg on the other.

Despite his attempts at neutrality, George William was forced by Gustavus Adolphus
Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden
Gustav II Adolf has been widely known in English by his Latinized name Gustavus Adolphus Magnus and variously in historical writings also as Gustavus, or Gustavus the Great, or Gustav Adolph the Great,...

 to join the Protestant forces in 1631. His rule was largely weak and ineffective, as much of government responsibilities in Brandenburg-Prussia
Brandenburg-Prussia
Brandenburg-Prussia is the historiographic denomination for the Early Modern realm of the Brandenburgian Hohenzollerns between 1618 and 1701. Based in the Electorate of Brandenburg, the main branch of the Hohenzollern intermarried with the branch ruling the Duchy of Prussia, and secured succession...

 was turned over to Schwarzenberg as the country suffered greatly during the war. Protestant and Catholic troops alike burned and plundered the region and the population was decimated there as it was throughout the German states.

With his brother-in-law Gustavus dead in 1632, George William maintained the Swedish alliance until after the Swedish defeat at the Battle of Nordlingen
Battle of Nördlingen (1634)
The Battle of Nördlingen was fought on 27 August or 6 September , 1634 during the Thirty Years' War. The Roman Catholic Imperial army, bolstered by 18,000 Spanish and Italian soldiers, won a crushing victory over the combined Protestant armies of Sweden and their German-Protestant allies .After...

 on 6 September 1634. At that point, George William withdrew Brandenburg from the war and signed the Peace of Prague
Peace of Prague (1635)
The Peace of Prague of 30 May 1635 was a treaty between the Habsburg Emperor Ferdinand II and the Electorate of Saxony representing most of the Protestant states of the Holy Roman Empire...

 with Emperor Ferdinand II
Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor
Ferdinand II , a member of the House of Habsburg, was Holy Roman Emperor , King of Bohemia , and King of Hungary . His rule coincided with the Thirty Years' War.- Life :...

 on 30 May 1635. Leaving Schwarzenberg in charge of the government, George William withdrew in 1637 to the relatively safe region of the Duchy of Prussia, where he lived in retirement until his death at Königsberg
Königsberg
Königsberg was the capital of East Prussia from the Late Middle Ages until 1945 as well as the northernmost and easternmost German city with 286,666 inhabitants . Due to the multicultural society in and around the city, there are several local names for it...

 in 1640.

Ancestors

George William's ancestors in three generations
George William, Elector of Brandenburg Father:
John Sigismund, Elector of Brandenburg
John Sigismund, Elector of Brandenburg
John Sigismund was a Prince-elector of the Margraviate of Brandenburg from the House of Hohenzollern. He also served as a Duke of Prussia.-Elector of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia:...

Paternal Grandfather:
Joachim Frederick, Elector of Brandenburg
Joachim Frederick, Elector of Brandenburg
Joachim III Frederick , of the House of Hohenzollern, was Prince-elector of the Margraviate of Brandenburg from 1598 until his death.-Biography:...

Paternal Great-grandfather:
John George, Elector of Brandenburg
John George, Elector of Brandenburg
John George of Brandenburg was a Prince-elector of the Margraviate of Brandenburg and a Duke of Prussia...

Paternal Great-grandmother:
Sophie of Legnica
Sophie of Legnica
Sophie of Legnica was a daughter of Duke Frederick II of Legnica, Brzeg and Wohlau and his second wife Sophie of Brandenburg-Ansbach-Kulmbach ....

Paternal Grandmother:
Catherine of Brandenburg-Küstrin
Catherine of Brandenburg-Küstrin
Catherine of Brandenburg-Küstrin was a Princess of Brandenburg-Küstrin by birth and Electress of Brandenburg by marriage.- Life :...

Paternal Great-grandfather:
John, Margrave of Brandenburg-Küstrin
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Catherine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
Catherine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, Margravine of Brandenburg-Küstrin
Catherine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel was a Princess of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel by birth and by marriage Margravine of Brandenburg-Küstrin.- Life :...

Mother:
Anna of Prussia
Maternal Grandfather:
Albert Frederick, Duke of Prussia
Albert Frederick, Duke of Prussia
Albert Frederick was duke of Prussia from 1568 until his death. He was a son of Albert of Prussia and Anna Marie of Brunswick-Lüneburg. He was the second and last Prussian duke of the Ansbach branch of the Hohenzollern family.-Duke of Prussia:...

Maternal Great-grandfather:
Albert, Duke of Prussia
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Anna Marie of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Anna Marie of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Anna Marie of Brunswick-Lüneburg wasa Duchess of Brunswick-Lüneberg by birth and by marriage Duchess of Prussia....

Maternal Grandmother:
Marie Eleonore of Cleves
Marie Eleonore of Cleves
Marie Eleonore of Cleves was a Duchess consort of Prussia as the wife of Albert Frederick, Duke of Prussia. She was the eldest child of Wilhelm, Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg and Maria of Austria.- Family :...

Maternal Great-grandfather:
Wilhelm, Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg
Wilhelm, Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg
William of Jülich-Cleves-Berg was a Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg .William was born in and died in Düsseldorf. He was the only son of John III, Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg, and Maria, Duchess of Jülich-Berg. William took over rule of his father's estates upon his death in 1539...

Maternal Great-grandmother:
Archduchess Maria of Austria

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