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Brunswick Waterloo Medal

Waterloo 200

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/ Add Artefact by: Richard Tennant BCMH

Date added: 11 Aug 2016


The Principality of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel was a subdivision of the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg. Various dynastic lines of the House of Welf ruled Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel until the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806. In 1806 Duke Charles William Ferdinand was mortally wounded as a Prussian Field Marshal at the Battle of Auerstedt. After a short interregnum Brunswick was occupied from 1807 to 1813 by the French.

When the War of the Fifth Coalition broke out in 1809, his son, Frederick William, used this opportunity to create a corps of partisans with the support of the Austrian Empire. This corps was called the Black Brunswickers because they wore black uniforms in mourning for their occupied country. He financed the corps independently by mortgaging his principality in Oels, and made his way from Austrian Bohemia through the French-allied states of Saxony and Westphalia to the North Sea coast. He then fled to England to join forces with his brother-in-law, later to be King George IV. His troops were taken into British pay and the Duke was granted the rank of lieutenant general in the British Army on 1 July 1809. His corps of originally 2,300 soldiers was largely destroyed in battles in Spain and Portugal during the Peninsular War.

As a result of the Vienna Congress, the Duchy of Brunswick was created in 1814. When Napoleon returned in 1815, Frederick William raised fresh troops. He was killed by a gunshot whilst leading his men at the Battle of Quatre Bras on 16 June, the night after he had attended the Duchess of Richmond's ball in Brussels and left it happy to have a chance to show his fighting ability.

Brunswick provided a reasonable force to the Anglo-Allied Army at Waterloo – eight battalions, five squadrons of cavalry and two batteries of guns; this contingent of 6,244 men was equivalent to 9.5% of the total infantry and 8% of the overall total.

Brunswick Waterloo Medal

Uniformed bust of Archduke Friedrich Wilhelm of Brunswick, wearing medals, to left. BRAUNSCHEIG SEINEN KRIEGERN (Brunswick to its warriors) QUATRE BRAS WATERLOO around wreath, 1815 in the centre. Bronze 35 mm.

The Duke of Brunswick had been killed at Quatre Bras and his children were all minors. George III was head of the elder branch of the House of Brunswick/House of Welf, so the Prince Regent authorized this medal for its issue to the contingents from Brunswick which took part at the Battles of Quatre Bras and Waterloo.

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