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* The Reader is requested to turn also to the Addenda at the end of
The House of Brunswick possesses such well-founded claims to antiquity and importance, that it has engaged a more than ordinary share of the attention of genealogists and historians. The celebrated Leibnitz in particular, who passed the last forty years of his life at the court of the Dukes of Hanover, became the architect of a monument, which this family were ambitious of raising to the glory of their name. His labours were published in several volumes ; and laid the foundation of Eccard's Origenes Guelficæ, in five volumes folio.*
In latter days, our very learned and elegant countrynian, Gibbon, has drawn from this fountain a Disquisition on the Antiquities of the House of Brunswick, which has been published among his posthumous works, but was unluckily left unfinished.
“ An English subject,” says Gibbon, “ may be prompted by a just and liberal curiosity, to investigate the origin and story of the House of Brunswick, which after an alliance with the daughters of our kings, has been called by the voice of a free people, to the legal inheritance of the crown. From George the First, and his father, the first Elector of Hanover, we ascend in a clear and re
* Muratori illustrated the Italian branch in his Antichita Estense. VOL. I.
gular series, to the first Duke of Brunswick and Lunenburgh, who received his investiture from Frederick the Second, about the middle of the thirteenth century. If these ample possessions had been the gift of the emperor to some adventurous soldier, to some faithful client, we might be content with the antiquity and lustre of a noble race, which had been enrolled nearly 600 years among the princes of Germany. But our ideas are raised, and our prospect is opened by the discovery, that the first Duke of Brunswick was rather degraded than adorned by his new title, since it imposed the duties of feudal service on the free and patrimonial estate, which alone had been saved in the shipwreck of the more splendid fortunes of his house. His ancestors had been invested with the powerful duchies of Bavaria and Saxony, which extended far beyond their limits in modern geography: from the Baltic Sea to the confines of Rome they were obeyed, or respected, or feared; and in the quarrels of the Guelphs and Gibellines, the former appellation was derived from the name of their progenitors, in the female line. But the genuine masculine descent of the Princes of Brunswick must be explored beyond the Alps : the venerable tree, which has since overshadowed Germany and Britain, was planted in the Italian soil. As far as our sight can reach, we discern the first founders of the race in the Marquises of Este, of Liguria, and perhaps of Tuscany. In the eleventh century, the primitive stem was divided into two branches; the elder migrated to the banks of the Danube and the Elbe; the younger more humbly adhered to the neighbourhood of the Adriatic: the Dukes of Brunswick, and the Kings of Great Britain, are the descendants of the first; the Dukes of Ferrara and Modena were the offspring of the second.*"
The Marquises of Tuscany.
An old charter of the reign of Charlemagne, and the beginning of the ninth century, bas casually preserved the memory of Boniface the Bavarian, the count or governor of Lucca, the father of the Marquises of Tuscany; and the first probable ancestor of the house of Este and Brunswick. His official title describes him as one of the principal ministers and nobles of the kingdom of Italy.t The province entrusted to his command was that of Lucca, one of the most fertile and fortunate spots of Italy. I
Gibbon's Posthumous Works, vol. ii. p. 637. + Ibid.
# Ibid. p. 646.
His son Boniface the Second, approved himself worthy of his name and honours. The example and impunity of treason could never tempt his loyalty; and while the empire of Lewis the Pious was relaxed by weakness, or agitated by discord, Boniface asserted the glory of the French and the Christian arms. He had been intrusted with the defence of the maritime coast and the Isle of Corsica, against the Mahometans of Africa, and his right to command the service of the neighbouring counts, may entitle him to the appellation of Duke or Marquis of Tuscany, which was assumed by his descendants. He incurred the vengeance of Lothaire, King of Italy, by taking the part of his step-mother, the Empress Judith, wife of Lewis the Pious. On this account he retired to France, where his exile was alleviated by the most honourable employments. But there is reason to believe, that he ended hiş days in the government of Lucca. *
His son and successor, Adalbert the First, has a more unquestionable right to the appellation of Duke and Marquis of Tuscany. John VIII. a Pope of an active and ambitious spirit, complains most bitterly of the two marquises, or tyrants, of Lambert of Spoleto, and of Adalbert of Tuscany, who were brothers in alliance, in arms, and in sacrilege. They solicited the aid of the miscreant Saracens, invaded the ecclesiastical state, entered the city, profaned the churches, extorted an oath of fidelity from the Romans, and dared to imprison the successor of St. Peter. The Pope excommunicated these two marquises, whom he styled the enemies of God and man. But some political events gave a new turn to affairs; and the sins of these powerful men were obliterated by a reconciliation. t
To him succeeded his son Adalbert the Second, distinguished by the epithet of The Rich. He married Berta, a widow of Theobald, a Count of Provence, daughter of Lothaire, King of Austrasia, or Lorraine, who was the great grandson of Charlemagne. He died at Lucca in a mature age; and his real or imaginary virtues are inscribed on his tomb. “ We are,” continues Gibbon, “ solicited to believe that he was formidable to his enemies, liberal to his soldiers, just to his subjects, and charitable to the poor ; that his memory was embalmed in the tears of a grateful people; and that the public happiness was buried in his grave. An epitaph is a feeble evidence of merit; yet an epitaph on the dead may prove
* Gibbon's Posthumous Works, vol. ii.