Braunschweig History

Braunschweig has an unproven foundation date, but legend has it that it was a merger of two settlements. One founded by a saxon count Bruno II about 861 and the other founded by Count Dankward. Castle Dankwarderode, which still survives was named after him.

Braunschweig Coat of Arms
Braunschweig Coat of Arms

The names Bruno and Wik (a place where merchants rested and stored goods) were joined to form the town's original name of Brunswik.

The Duke Henry The Lion built the Cathedral and made Braunschweig the Capital of his state. His downfall came about when he arrogantly refused Emperor Frederick 1 Barbarossa military aid.

From the thirteenth to the middle of the seventeenth century Braunschweig was a member of the Hanseatic League. This League maintained a trade monopoly along the coast from the Baltic to the North Sea and was comprised of an alliance between trading cities and their guilds. It provided them with their protection, mutual aid and legal system.

Braunschweig became a cultural and political centre in the eighteenth century.

Braunschweig About 1900
Braunschweig About 1900

Towards the end of WW1, 15,000 servicemen from this region had lost their lives.

Braunschweig is the city where Adolph Hitler gained German citizenship; the Braunschweig State Government employed him in February 1932, which allowed him to become a German citizen. Braunschweig ultimately lost statehood when it fell under Nazi rule.

Today the Braunschweig region is the most inventive research and development area in the whole European Economic area and was named Germany's City of Science, 2007.
It is now the largest city in the south eastern part of Lower Saxony with a population of approximately 240,000 people. An international business centre it now exports and manufactures goods such as cars, cameras and pianos.

Braunschweig Present Day
Braunschweig Present Day

Braunschweig Notgeld

A fabled jester figure of the fourteenth century was the idea for some of the Braunschweig notgeld notes.

Legend has it that Till Eulenspiegal was born in Brunswik (later Braunschweig) and died in 1350 at Mölln, Schleswig-Holstein where his gravestone has been known since the sixteenth century.

He became a German folk hero in the fourteenth century and his name of Eulenspiegal means "Owlglass".

A book first printed in 1500 AD called "Ein kurzweiliges Buch von Till Eulenspiegel aus dem Lande Braunschweig" or "A Brief Book on Till Owlglass from Braunschweig Country" has been one of the most popular German books to have been translated into many other languages.

The book tells of Till the clown, a peasant trickster in a series of farcical tales. The stories are about a stupid but cunning individual who gets back at society through jokes and pranks that are often brutal, generally silly and sometimes obscene.

He shows his superiority and contempt to corrupt and condescending town authorities including the church. His character has featured in musical and literary works down through the centuries.

In the above mentioned book, tale 61 tells of Tills work for a master Baker. One evening his employer jokingly tells Till that he should bake owls and long tailed monkeys. Till fills the bakery with bread shaped like those two animals and his master is furious; he makes Till pay for the dough and dismisses him. Till takes the bread he has made in their animal shapes back to Braunschweig where he sells it for more money than he had to pay the Baker.

Some of the owl series of Notgeld notes of Braunschweig emanate from these tales.

Images of Braunschweig thanks to