Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg, (Herzog v. Braunschweig-Luneburg) (October 9, 1735 - 1806) was a German military general born in WolfenbŘttel, Germany. He is a recognized master of the modern warfare of the mid-18th century, a cultured and benevolent despot in the model of Frederick the Great, and was married to the sister of George III. In his youth, he travelled throughout Holland, France and various parts of Germany, giving him an unusually wide and thorough education.
His first military experience was in the North German campaign of 1757, under the Duke of Cumberland. He gained great fame at the Battle of Hastenbeck with his gallant charge at the head of an infantry brigade.
French Revolutionary Wars
In the early summer of 1792, Ferdinand was poised with military forces at Coblenz. After the Girondins had managed for France to declare war on Austria, voted onApril 20, 1792, the Catholic Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II and the Protestant King of Prussia Frederick William II had combined armies and put them under Brunswick's command.
The "Brunswick Proclamation" or "Brunswick Manifesto" that he now issued from Coblenz on July 25, 1792 threatened war and ruin to soldiers and civilians alike, should the Republicans injure Louis XVI and his family. His avowed aim was
- "to put an end to the anarchy in the interior of France, to check the attacks upon the throne and the altar, to reestablish the legal power, to restore to the king the security and the liberty of which he is now deprived and to place him in a position to exercise once more the legitimate authority which belongs to him."
Additionally, the manifesto threatened the French public with instant punishment should they resist the Imperial and Prussian armies, or the reinstatement of the monarchy.
The proclamation was intended to threaten the French public into submission; it had exactly the opposite effect. It helped begin the French Revolutionary Wars.
In Paris, Louis XVI was generally believed to be in treacherous correspondence with the Austrians and Prussians already, and the Republicans became more vocal in the early summer of 1792. It remained for the Duke of Brunswick's proclamation to assure the downfall of the monarchy by his proclamation, which was being rapidly distributed in Paris by July 28 apparently by the monarchists, who badly misjudged the effect it would have (See text in link). The "Brunswick Manifesto", and seemed to furnish the agitators with a complete justification for the revolt that they were already planning. The first violent action was carried out on August 10, when the Palace of the Tuileries was stormed.
After the French Revolutionary Wars
The Duke of Brunswick had served in the Seven Years War and was made a Prussian general in 1773. After he succeeded to his title in 1780, he was made field marshal in 1787, and commanded the Prussian army that successfully and rapidly invaded the United Provinces (The Dutch Republic) and restored the authority of the House of Orange) He was less successful against the highly motivated citizen's army that met him at Valmy. Having secured Longwy and Verdun without serious resistance, but unexpectedly finding that he was heavily outnumbered at Valmy, he turned back with a mere skirmish and evacuated France. When he counterattacked the Revolutionary French who had invaded Germany, in 1793, he recaptured Mainz, but resigned in 1794 in protest at interference by Frederick William II of Prussia.
He returned to command the Prussian army in 1806 but was routed by Napoleon's marshal Davout at Auerstedt and died of the wounds he received.
- Text of the Proclamation of the Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg, 1792 (http://history.hanover.edu/texts/bruns.htm)
- Encyclopaedia Britannica 1911: Brunswick, Karl Wilhelm ferdinand, Duke of (http://73.1911encyclopedia.org/B/BR/BRUNSWICK_KARL_WILHELM_FERDINAND_DUKE_OF.htm)