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Saxony (Saxons) (Germans)

At the time of the late Roman empire, the Germanic Saxon tribes could be found occupying a large swathe of territory between the North Sea coast of northern Germany, bordering on Frisia to the west, Angeln to the north, and what became the eastern march counties, such as the North March. It was from the North Sea coast that many Saxon groups emigrated to Britain in the fifth to early seventh centuries while a loose Saxon state began to form behind them. However, Saxons had been emigrating to Britain for some time, being settled by the Romano-British authorities as laeti. In some instances these groups later formed their own small kingdoms in Britain, or merged with newly arriving groups of Angles and Saxons.

The Franks under Charlemagne slowly conquered the pagan Saxon tribes between 782-804 (the Saxon Wars), subsuming them within the Frankish empire initially, but they eventually emerged in the form of a kingdom during the Carolingian fragmentation that followed. Subsequent centuries saw the territory divided or dispersed until the only piece which still bore the Saxon name was down in the south-eastern corner, far removed from the former heartland of Saxony at its height.

Old Saxony

The Saxons formed a loose state after the collapse of the Roman empire, and were relatively important in northern Germany during the Dark Ages. Their tribal collective was probably swelled by the absorption of other tribes, such as the Germanic Chauci, the Cherusci who were so important in AD 9, and lesser tribes such as the Angrivarii, Dulgubnii, and Warini. Together they formed a large coalition of tribes in the territory between modern Berlin and the northern Frisian coast, and were bordered to the north by the Angles. The Saxons, Angles and Jutes formed the bulk of the emigrants to Britain in the fifth and sixth centuries, although sizable numbers of Saxons remained behind.

(Additional information from The Oxford History of England: The English Settlements, J N L Meyers, and The Oxford History of England: Anglo-Saxon England, Sir Frank Stenton.)

1st century AD?

Vegdegg Odinson

Clearly a later Norse name.

AD 98

In his work on Greater Germania, the Roman writer Tacitus omits to mention the Saxons, although it is known that they occupy territory in upper western central Europe, in modern Schleswig-Holstein and north-west Germany, with the Frisians on their western flank and the Langobards to their immediate south.

Mandø Island
The islands between modern Denmark and Sweden were part of a little-known habitat for the early Suebic tribes of the Western Baltic Sea, including Mandø seen here, one of the islands in the Danish Wadden Sea off the south-west coast of Jutland

They should be accounted as part of 'the seven tribes of Jutland and Holstein', which include the Angles, Aviones, Eudoses, Nuitones, Reudigni, Suardones, and Warini, all of whom are part of the Suebic confederation. Their omission is startling, but the Suardones may supply the answer, thanks to similarities between the names (this is discussed in more detail on the Suardones page).

270s

The division of the Goths into two branches causes population movements which, among other things, sees the Germanic Chauci gradually overrun by the Saxons in their homeland against the north-western coast of Germany. The absorption of this group is probably only partly voluntary, and could also include the absorption of some of the 'seven tribes' mentioned in AD 98.

287 - 292

In the late third century, Heruli raid into Spain along with Alemanni and Saxons, possibly as a result of the Lower Rhine incursions of this year. Roman Emperor Maximianus is involved in heavy fighting on the Lower Rhine and also on the Upper Danube.

297

The Salii, or Salian Franks, seek Roman protection on the Batavian island after being expelled from their own lands by the Saxons. The Roman acceptance of their settlement there marks the beginning of the end for the Batavi as an identifiably separate people.

c.300 - c.375

According to the Codex Gothanus, the Langobards are subjugated by the Saxons around 300, but it seems that they later rise up under their own king, Agelmund. The reason may be the poor harvests that they suffer in the late fourth century. The Langobards begin to migrate southwards, but Ludo Moritz Hartmann suggests that they probably leave behind a sizable portion of their number, with these people being fully subsumed within the Saxon confederation and losing their name. The Angrivarii are also certainly subsumed within the confederation by this date, if not earlier.

Gelder

364 - 367

According to Ammianus Marcellinus, the Picts, Scotti, Saxons, and Attacotti (possibly part of a Damnonian confederation) attack Roman Britain in what seems to be a serious incursion in 364. Saxons and Frisians are also part of the great Barbarian Conspiracy of 367.

fl c.370s

Freawine

Later added to the list of kings of Angeln. Killed by the Myrging.

c.370s

While Freawine is included in later English royal genealogies as an ancestor figure, Wieg is shown as his son. However, in the story of Offa they are shown as contemporaries and enemies, suggesting that the genealogies arrange them in series, making them genealogically father and son in the manner of genealogies.

fl 400s

Guictglis

5th century

The Angrivarii remain in their homeland of the last five centuries, still part of the Saxon confederation. By now they are known by a variety of names, the Angarii, Aggeri, Aggerimenses, Angeri, Angerienses, or the Angri, but the name is also beginning to appear as that of their homeland, Engern (in the modern German states of Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia).

406 - 409

The bulk of the Suevi cross the Rhine at Mainz in 406 in association with the Vandali and Alans. Some of the tribes of the Suevi confederation elect to remain behind in Germany, including the Alemanni and Warini. After this point the Warini probably come to be dominated by the growing Saxon confederation that fills the vacuum left by the departure of the Suevi.

c.440 - 500

Saxons who have emigrated to Britain advance along the Thames Valley and head north into the Chilterns to encroach on British territories. Some groups break off to settle the region around Londinium and become known as the Middel Seaxe and the Suther-ge. Other Saxon groups head southwards towards the Upper Thames Valley from the territory of the Middil Engle. The success of Hengist and Horsa in Kent encourages greater Saxon and Angle leaders to migrate to Britain as a way of escaping the increasing pressures of life in their native lands, squeezed between dominant Danes to the north and Frisians to the south.

Wieg / Wig

Son of Freawine. Later added to Baeldaeg's Folk.

Ket

Brother. Mentioned in Widsith.

c.450?

The Myrging are a Germanic clan descended from Saxons who occupy territory in modern Schleswig-Holstein, on the border with the Angles to the north. They become involved in a war with Offa, who kills two of the sons of Eadgils. Eadgils himself is subsequently killed by Ket and Wig, the sons of the Saxon prince, Freawine, perhaps allowing the Myrging to overrun the border district between Saxons and Angles until they are completely conquered by Offa. The Myrging are totally absorbed into the Angle tribal collective, probably disappearing as a distinguishable people under the rule of Angeltheow, who abolishes the title 'king of the Myrging'.

fl 463

Eadwacer

'King of the Saxons'.

463

Saxons are sailing along the English Channel, hunting for settlement locations along the Gaulish coast. Despite the official end of Roman interest in Britain, it seems that Gaul is still a more attractive (and richer) option. Eadwacer leads a band of Saxons to capture Angers, only to be dislodged by Childerich of the Franks, acting as an ally of the Roman domain of Soissons. The chances of being able to break through the increasing Frankish domination of northern Gaul are apparently fading, and Britain is perhaps becoming a more realistic proposition for invasion and settlement.

? - 477?

Ælle / Aelle

Possibly an important chieftain in Old Saxony.

c.475 - 495

Angles begin to arrive and take control of the lower east coast of Britain, where they intermingle with the Saxon descendants of Roman foederati.

477

FeatureÆlle and his sons, Cymen, Wlencing, and Cissa, land at Cymens ora and beat off the Britons who oppose their landing. These Saxons quickly become known as the Suth Seaxe, although it is possible that they are soon wiped out in a major defeat at the battle on Mons Badonicus.

486

Clovis of the Franks defeats, captures and executes Syagrius, the last Roman commander of Soissons. The Franks are now completely dominant in northern Gaul and Roman control has been thrown off. The death of Syagrius also sends a signal to the Saxons and other Germanic peoples that attempting to settle in Gaul is now hopeless. This would seem to be the single defining event that forces the Saxons to turn their attention to invading Britain instead.

c.500

Saxons move into British territory on the north bank of the Thames Estuary. They find that the Saxon descendants of Roman laeti have already been settled there for well over a century. Together these groups found the kingdom of the East Seaxe.

507

By this date, Saxon pressure from the north has slowly been forcing the Frankish peoples southwards from their original territory around Cologne and Cambrai, so that the northern border now lies along the Somme, giving them the same border as the former domain of Soissons.

The Old English poem Widsith seems not to mention the Suardones of Tacitus. The historian Johann Martin Lappenberg is the first modern scholar to connect the Suardones to the Sweodweras of Widsith, but if they are in fact the Saxons, then their fate is very much known as a major Northern European group which retains a recognisable identity for centuries, while their neighbouring tribes are eventually subsumed by the growing power and dominance of the Danes.

fl c.531

Hadugato

c.531 - 532

The Franks conquer the Thuringians to the immediate south-east of the Saxons. Portions of Thuringian territory are subsequently lost to the Saxons.

536

The Eucii, or Saxones Eucii, are associated with the Saxons by this point, which is when they become dependants of the Franks. Some scholars identify these people with the Jutes who have been settled in Britain for almost a century. Instead, these Eucii may be an obscure tribe known as the Euthiones who are also associated with the Saxons in a poem by Venantius Fortunatus (written in 583).

fl c.550s

Hulderic

fl c.550s

Alof the Great

Female leader.

early 600s

Boddic

fl c.627

Berthoald / Berthoala

Sighard

Dietrich

678 - 690

The English Bishop Wilfred arrives in Frisia and the Anglo-Saxon Christianisation of the Germanic lands begins, although the first mission is quickly aborted. A second attempt in 690 proves much more successful and for the best part of a century churchmen and monks crisscross the Channel or North Sea, intent on spreading the Christian faith amongst their Germanic cousins who border the Merovingian Frankish kingdom. There is special interest in the conversion of the German Saxons, whom the English consider their kinsfolk.

mid-700s

Wernicke

fl c.743 - 744

Theoderic / Theodoric

Captured in 744.

743 - 744

The Carolingian mayors of the Merovingian palace, Pepin the Short and Carloman, march first against the Bavarians and then against the Saxon leader, Theoderic, for his non-payment of annual tribute.

775

According to the Royal Frankish Annals, the lands of the Angrivarii are conquered in this year by Charlemagne. The Angrian commanders conclude a separate peace agreement with the Carolingian empire near Bückeburg, removing themselves from the destructive Carolingian-Saxon wars to follow.

fl c.777 - 810

Widukind / Withukund the Great

Chief antagonist against Charlemagne.

777 - 778

Charlemagne's Frankish empire subdues the Saxons.

782

The Saxon Wars begin against the Carolingian empire.

785

After several rebellions against Charlemagne, Widukind accepts Christianity and along with many of his people is baptised at Attigny.

Charlemagne at Paderborn
Charlemagne receives the surrender of the Saxons at Paderborn

fl c.785 - 811

Abo

790 - 804

The Saxons rebel against Carolingian overlordship.

804 - c.832

The Saxon Wars come to an end with the Carolingian empire annexing the Saxon state. The Franks now move northwards, finding themselves on the border with the Danes, who immediately respond to their threat by erecting defensive works.

Dukes of Saxony (Hattonids)
c.AD 832 - 840

Banzleib of the Hattonid family was a mid-ninth century Frankish magnate in the Carolingian empire. When north-western Germany was organised as the duchy of Saxony, he was appointed by Louis the Pious as the count and margrave of the Saxon people, but he later supported the wrong side in the civil war which arose between Louis' sons. Banzleib was dispossessed in 840 and may have been killed in battle.

By this time, the former Angrivarii tribe are believed to have been known as the Angrarii of Engern, one of three subdivisions of Saxony, the others being Westfalahi and Ostfalahi (all of which are in the modern German states of Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia). Their steady transformation from Germanic tribe to German province over the course of seven centuries provides a revealing insight into the early days of the creation of modern Germany.

832? - 840

Banzleib

Count of Maine (832). Dispossessed.

840

The county is granted to Warin, abbot of Corvey. He presumably holds the title until c.850.

840 - c.850?

Warin

Abbot of Corvey.

Duchy & Kingdom of Saxony (Ottonians / Liudolfings)
c.AD 850 - 962

c.850

Liudolf

after 852 - 880

Bruno

876

The death of Louis the German results in his territory being divided between his three sons. This is something that he had already foreseen, and portions of territory had been appointed to each of them in 865. Now in a peaceful succession, Carloman inherits Bavaria and the Ostmark, Louis the Younger gains Franconia, Saxony, and Thuringia, while Charles the Fat succeeds to Rhaetia and Swabia. As the oldest son, Carloman also retains de facto dominance over the Eastern Franks as a whole.

880 - 912

Otto the Illustrious

881 - 882

Charles the Fat succeeds as titular head of the Frankish Empire, holding the position as Emperor Charles III. He is crowned by Pope John VIII. In the following year, 882, Louis the Younger dies and Charles, as the last remaining of the three brothers, inherits his territories of Bavaria, Franconia, Saxony, and Thuringia, thereby reuniting East Francia following its division in 876.

888 - 918

Under Otto, Saxony emerges as one of the more powerful stem duchies in East Francia (under the kings of Germany), once the formal split is made between East and West Franks.

912 - 936

Henry I the Fowler

King of Germany (918-936).

936 - 974

Otto I the Great

Son. King of Germany (936). King of Italy (961). HRE (962).

946 - 955

Agapetus is a surprisingly strong-willed Pope for this period. He appeals to Otto I to end the stranglehold of Alberic II of Spoleto over the papacy. The appeal has little immediate effect, until after Otto gains much greater power in 962.

948

Otto secures the powerful duchy of Swabia for his son, Ludolph.

953

Feeling that his position is threatened by his father's marriage to Adelaide, heiress of Italy, Ludolph of Swabia joins forces with his brother-in-law, Conrad the Red, duke of Lorraine, in revolt. Ludolph is supported by the Swabians, but Conrad fails to gain the same support from his own subjects. Otto I and Henry I of Bavaria defeat the rebellion. The following year, Ludolph is deprived of his title.

962 -1024

Otto's line continues as Holy Roman Emperors.

Duchy of Saxony (Billungs)
AD 962 - 1106

962 - 973

Hermann Billung

973 - 1011

Bernard I

1011 - 1059

Bernard II

1059 - 1072

Ordulf

1072 - 1106

Magnus

1079

With the removal of Swabia from the control of the former rival for the imperial title, Rudolph of Rheinfelden, the Swabian Hohenstaufen family of nobles gains the duchy through Frederick's marriage to Agnes of Germany, granddaughter of Henry I the Black (former Franconian emperor). Frederick is opposed by Rudolph's son, Berthold, while the latter is in exile in Saxony.

Duchy of Saxony (Supplinburgs)
AD 1106 - 1127

1106 - 1127

Lothar II of Germany

HRE (1125-1137).

Duchy of Saxony (Welfs)
AD 1127 - 1138

Henry the Proud brought Saxony under the control of the Welfs through his marriage to an heiress of the Billungs, former dukes of Saxony. There came to be some conflict in Saxony between the Hohenstaufen and Welf dukes. The former went on to become HREs while the latter seemed to lose out and were granted the duchy of Brunswick as compensation.

1127 - 1138

Henry II (IV) Welf, the Proud

Duke Henry XI of Bavaria.

Duchy of Saxony (Ascanians)
AD 1138 - 1142

1138 - 1142

Albert I the Bear

Gained the margraviate of North March & formed Brandenburg.

Duchy of Saxony (Welfs)
AD 1142 - 1180

1142 - 1180

Henry III (V) Welf, the Lion

Son of Henry the Proud. Duke Henry XII of Bavaria.

1164

Despite Pomerania already being Christianised, and increasingly Germanised, bishops and dukes from the Holy Roman empire continue to mount expeditions into Pomerania. The Battle of Verchen in 1164 makes Pomerania a vassal of Henry the Lion.

Henry the Lion and Matilda
Henry's second marriage was to Matilda, daughter of Henry II of England

1180

Henry refuses to follow his cousin, HRE Frederick Barbarossa, into war in Lombardy. In punishment for this the duchy is reduced by the emperor. Westphalia is handed to the archbishop of Cologne, complete with most parts of Angria (the former Angrivarii tribal lands), while the duchies of Brunswick and Lüneburg remain under the control of the Welfs. Pomerania is taken by Barbarossa. The Ascanian dukes receive the Saxon ducal title, but they have their base further east in Lusatia and Thuringia, near the Elbe, resulting in the name of Saxony migrating eastwards.

Duchy of Saxony (Ascanians)
AD 1180 - 1272

The Ascanian dukes received the Saxon ducal title during the deposition of the former duke, Henry the Lion, by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. The vast Saxon lands were broken up during this process, with the western sections being handed over to the archbishop of Cologne while the duchies of Brunswick and Lüneburg remained under the hand of the Welfs. The Ascanians had their base further east in Lusatia and Thuringia, near the Elbe, resulting in the name of Saxony migrating eastwards. The name Angria, a region formed by the tribal Angrivarii which had emerged as one of the central three regions of Saxony, thereafter became obsolete.

1180 - 1212

Bernard III

Count of Anhalt.

1212 - 1260

Albert II

Margrave of Brandenburg (1205-1260).

1260 - 1272

John I

Son. Ruled Saxe-Lauenberg from after 1272.

1260 - 1298

Albert III

Brother. Ruled jointly. Ruled Saxe-Wittenberg from after 1272.

1272 - 1356

At some point after 1272, John and Albert divide their Saxony between them. Saxe-Lauenberg is formed in the west while Saxe-Wittenberg is formed in the east. The combined duchy is the seat of one of the prince-electors of the Holy Roman empire, so there is some conflict between the two divisions as to who should retain the position.

In 1314 they are on opposite sides of a double election and eventually the Saxe-Wittenbergers under Rudolf II succeed in gaining the upper hand. To distinguish Rudolf from other, now lesser, dukes of Saxony, he uses the title of Elector of Saxony.

Duchy of Saxe-Lauenburg
AD 1272 - 1689

Following the division of the duchy of Saxony by John I and Albert III, Saxe-Lauenburg (or Saxe-Lauenberg in some sources) formed the western half of the territory while Saxe-Wittenberg formed the eastern half. Both duchies claimed the title of prince-elector of the Holy Roman empire until the Saxe-Lauenburgers gained the upper hand in 1314. A further division fractured the duchy even further.

1272 - 1285

John I

Former duke of Saxony.

1285 - 1305

John II

Son. Ruled Saxe-Mölln-Bergedorf from 1305.

1296 - 1305

Albrecht III

Brother. Ruled jointly. Ruled Saxe-Ratzeburg from 1305.

1296 - 1305

Erich I

Brother. Ruled jointly. Ruled Saxe-Ratzeburg from 1305.

1305

In 1305 the three brothers divide their territory into Saxe-Mölln-Bergedorf and Saxe-Ratzeburg.

Duchy of Saxe-Mölln-Bergedorf

Saxe-Mölln-Bergedorf and Saxe-Ratzeburg were created in 1305 from a division of lands within the already-reduced duchy of Saxe-Lauenburg.

1305 - 1321

John II

Former duke of Saxe-Lauenburg.

1321 - 1343

Albrecht IV

1343 - 1356

John III

1356 - 1370

Albrecht V

1370 - 1401

Erich III

1401

This senior Lauenberg line becomes extinct with the death of Erich, and the territory is joined with that of Saxe-Ratzeburg.

Duchy of Saxe-Ratzeburg

Saxe-Mölln-Bergedorf and Saxe-Ratzeburg were created in 1305 from a division of lands within the already-reduced duchy of Saxe-Lauenburg.

1305 - 1308

Albrecht III

Former duke of Saxe-Lauenburg.

1305 - 1361

Erich I

Brother. Ruled jointly until his brother's death.

1361 - 1368

Erich II

1368 - 1401

Erich IV

Ruled a reunited Saxe-Lauenburg from 1401.

1401

The line of dukes in Saxe-Mölln-Bergedorf dies out and the territory is rejoined to Saxe-Ratzeburg.

Duchy of Saxe-Lauenberg (Saxe-Ratzeburg)

Saxe-Mölln-Bergedorf and Saxe-Ratzeburg were rejoined in 1401 under the latter line of dukes.

1401 - 1412

Erich IV

Former duke of Saxe-Ratzeburg.

1412 - 1436

Erich V

1412 - 1436

John IV

Ruled jointly.

1436 - 1463

Bernhard III

1463 - 1507

John V

1507 - 1543

Magnus I

1543 - 1581

Franz I

1581 - 1603

Magnus II

1603 - 1619

Franz II

1619 - 1656

August

1656 - 1665

Julius Heinrich

1665 - 1666

Franz Erdmann

1666 - 1689

Julius Franz

1689

The duchy passes out of Saxon hands to the Welfs in the form of Georg Wilhelm, duke of Brunswick, elector of Hanover, and father of the future George I of England.

1814

The duchy is united with the kingdom of Denmark within the German Confederation.

1866

Prussia fights the Austro-Prussian War against Austria, essentially as a decider to see which of the two powers will be dominant in Central Europe. Prussia gains the newly-created kingdom of Italy as an ally in the south and several minor German states in the north. Austria and its southern German allies are crushed in just seven weeks (giving the conflict its alternative title of the Seven Weeks' War), and Prussia is now unquestionably dominant. Bismark oversees the seizure of four of Austria's northern German allies, the kingdom of Hanover, the electorate of Hessen-Kassel, and the duchy of Nassau, along with the free city of Frankfurt. Prussia also subsumes Schleswig and Holstein, and forces Saxe-Lauenberg into personal union (annexation in all but name, which turns into fact in 1876).

Duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg
AD 1272 - 1356

Following the division of the duchy of Saxony by John I and Albert III, Saxe-Lauenburg formed the western half of the territory while Saxe-Wittenberg formed the eastern half. Both duchies claimed the title of prince-elector of the Holy Roman empire until the Saxe-Lauenburgers gained the upper hand in 1314.

1272 - 1298

Albert III

Former duke of Saxony.

1298 - 1356

Rudolf I

1356

Rudolf I's successor, Rudolf II, gains the title of prince-elector and his duchy is accordingly raised in its level of importance to become the electorate of Saxony.

Electorate of Saxony (Saxe-Wittenberg)
AD 1356 - 1806

The title of the duchy of Saxony had passed to the margraves of Meissen, a march county between the original Saxon lands and Poland. Later Saxony was situated east and south of the original duchy, while the former territory eventually became known as Upper Saxony, and was subsumed within Westphalia. The later lands around the Lower Elbe became Lower Saxony, and this is where the name survived until the end of the German empire.

As with many German states, territory continued to be divided with formal and permanent divisions between heirs, and some of these were never undone by succeeding generations. In fact, there could sometimes be as many dukes as there were heirs. The complicated divisions and swapping of territory and names are not covered in detail here but are covered in brief, below.

1356 - 1370

Rudolf II

Former duke of Saxe-Wittenberg.

1370 - 1388

Wenzel / Wenceslaus

1388 - 1419

Rudolf III

Died 1419.

1419 - 1422

Albert III

Electorate of Saxony (Wettins)

1423 - 1428

Frederick I the Warlike

Duke & elector.

1428 - 1464

Frederick II the Gentle

Elector. Ruled in absentia?

1445 - 1482

William III

In Thuringia. Rival duke of Luxemburg (1439-1482).

1464 - 1485

Ernest

Elector. Founder of the Ernestine Line in Saxe-Thuringen.

1464 - 1485

Albert the Bold

Duke. Founder of the Albertine Line in Saxe-Meissen.

1485

The electorate's territory is divided between Ernest and Albert. Ernest's line, in Saxe-Thuringen, holds the electorship for a few generations before the Albertines gain precedence in Saxe-Meissen.

Saxe-Altenberg is also created in 1602, and is part of Saxe-Gotha between 1672-1826, when it regains its autonomy and survives until the end of World War I in 1918. Saxe-Gotha and Saxe-Weimar are divisions of Saxe-Thuringen created in 1553.

Electorate of Saxony (Saxe-Thuringen)

Duke Ernest was the senior of the two Wettins who divided the electorate in 1485, with his branch holding the title of prince-elector (although only for a few generations. The junior branch was Saxe-Meissen.

1485 - 1486

Ernest

Elector. Founder of the Ernestine Line.

1486 - 1525

Frederick III the Wise

Elector.

1525 - 1532

John the Constant

Elector.

1532 - 1547

John Frederick I the Magnanimous

Elector.

1542 - 1553

John Ernest

In Coburg.

1546 - 1547

Holy Roman Emperor Charles V sees the tide of conversions to Protestant rites as a move by the many princes and lords of the empire to gain more autonomy from imperial governance. Many of them, organised by Elector John Frederick I of Saxony and Duke Philip I of Hesse, had formed the Schmalkaldic League when meeting at the town of Schmalkalden in Thuringia in 1531. Now that Charles has returned from his war in Italy, the two sides concentrate their forces, with Charles intent on destroying the Protestant league. Elector John is distracted by his cousin, Duke Maurice of the Albertine Saxe-Meissen, invading his lands in Ernestine Saxony, and ultimately the league is defeated. John is captured and forced to sign the Capitulation of Wittenberg, losing both his status as an elector and some of his lands to Maurice. The Albertines retain the electorship permanently.

1553

Saxe-Thuringen is divided into Saxe-Gotha and Saxe-Weimar.

1572

Saxe-Gotha is partitioned to form Saxe-Coburg and Saxe-Eisenach.

1602

After one generation Saxe-Eisenach's holdings are handed out to the newly created Saxe-Altenberg and Saxe-Weimar.

1633

Saxe-Coburg doesn't outlive its sole duke, going Saxe-Eisenach.

1640 - 1680

Saxe-Gotha re-emerges (for two generations of dukes). Saxe-Eisenach also re-emerges for just four years before being divided up between Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Gotha.

1656

Saxe-Merseburg, Saxe-Weissenfels, and Saxe-Zeitz are created.

1662

Saxe-Eisenach reappears (for two generations) out of Saxe-Weimar. Both Saxe-Jena (which lasts for two generations), and Saxe-Marksuhl are also partitioned out of Saxe-Weimar.

1671

Saxe-Eisenach goes to Saxe-Marksuhl.

1680

Saxe-Eisenberg is created for one generation. Saxe-Meiningen is also created. Saxe-Gotha re-emerges (for two generations of dukes) and is partitioned between (and into) Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (1680-1825), Saxe-Coburg (which re-emerges under one duke only), Saxe-Meiningen, Saxe-Römhild, Saxe-Eisenberg, Saxe-Hildburghausen (1680-1826), and Saxe-Saalfeld.

1686

Saxe-Eisenach reappears (for three generations).

1690

Saxe-Jena is divided between Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Eisenach.

1699

Saxe-Coburg and Saxe-Saalfeld are merged, becoming Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld.

1707

Saxe-Eisenberg goes to Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg.

1710

Saxe-Römhild goes to Saxe-Meiningen.

1718

Saxe-Zeitz goes to the electorate of Saxony.

1738

Saxe-Merseburg goes to the kingdom of Saxony.

1741

Saxe-Eisenach goes to Saxe-Weimar, which is renamed Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach. It survives until 1918. One of its most notable grand dukes is Prince Bernhard, who serves as governor-general of Luxembourg in 1831.

1826

The wife of Duke Ernest III of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld is heiress to Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, so when her father dies, the latter title falls to Ernest as Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

Saxe-Altenburg is detached from Saxe-Gotha and passes to Saxe-Hildburghausen. The duke of Saxe-Hildburghausen takes this title in place of his previous title, and Saxe-Hildburghausen passes to Saxe-Meiningen. Saxe-Meiningen is renamed Saxe-Meiningen-Hildburghausen. It also survives until 1918.

Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha

The wife of Duke Ernest III of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld was the heiress to Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg. When her father died in 1826 the latter title fell to Ernest as Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. In the process, the new sovereign duchy lost Saxe-Altenburg to Saxe-Hildburghausen. However, it was the source of some importance marriages into other European monarchies, and survived until 1918.

1826 - 1844

Ernest I

First duke. Formerly Ernest III of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld.

Prince Ferdinand

Younger brother. Ferdinand II of Portugal (1836-1853).

Prince Leopold

Youngest brother. Leopold I of the Belgians (1831-1865).

Prince Francis Albert

Second son of Ernest I. m Queen Victoria of England (1839).

1844 - 1893

Ernest II

Brother.

1866

Prussia fights the Austro-Prussian War against Austria, essentially as a decider to see which of the two powers will be dominant in Central Europe. Austria and its southern German allies are crushed in just seven weeks (giving the conflict its alternative title of the Seven Weeks' War), and Prussia is now unquestionably dominant. Bismark oversees the seizure of four of Austria's northern German allies, and forces Saxe-Lauenberg into personal union (annexation in all but name, which turns into fact in 1876). The new, Prussian-dominated North German Confederation gains members in Saxe-Altenburg, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Saxe-Meiningen, Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, and the kingdom of Saxony, among many others.

Prince Ferdinand

Grandson of Ferdinand. Ferdinand of Bulgaria (1887-1918).

1893 - 1900

Alfred

Son of Prince Francis Albert & Victoria of England.

Leopold

Brother. Duke of Albany. Died before accession.

1900 - 1918

Carl Eduard

Son.

1918

All German monarchies are abolished upon the defeat of the German empire in World War I. Saxony is recreated as a constituent part of the new federal Germany and its future fortunes would be tied to this new political creation.

1918 - 1954

Carl Eduard

Hereditary duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha

1954 - 1998

Prince Friedrich Josias

Son. Born 29 November 1918.

1998 - Present

Prince Andreas

Son. Born 21 March 1943.

Prince Hubertus Michael

Son and heir. Born 16 September 1975.

Electorate of Saxony (Saxe-Meissen)

Duke Albert was the junior of the two Wettins who divided the electorate in 1485, with his branch gaining the title of prince-elector after a few generations had passed. The senior branch was Saxe-Thuringen.

1485 - 1500

Albert the Bold

Duke. Founder of the Albertine Line.

1500 - 1539

George the Bearded

Son.

Frederick

Younger brother and grand master of the Teutonic Knights.

1473 - 1541

Henry the Pious

1541 - 1553

Maurice / Moritz

Elector of Saxony from 1547.

1546 - 1547

Holy Roman Emperor Charles V sees the tide of conversions to Protestant rites as a move by the many princes and lords of the empire to gain more autonomy from imperial governance. Many of them, organised by Elector John Frederick I of Saxe-Thuringen and Duke Philip I of Hesse, had formed the Schmalkaldic League when meeting at the town of Schmalkalden in Thuringia in 1531. Now that Charles has returned from his war in Italy, the two sides concentrate their forces, with Charles intent on destroying the Protestant league. Elector John is distracted by his cousin, Duke Maurice, invading his lands in Ernestine Saxony, and ultimately the league is defeated. John is captured and forced to sign the Capitulation of Wittenberg, losing both his status as an elector and some of his lands to Maurice. The Albertines retain the electorship permanently.

1553 - 1586

Augustus

1586 - 1591

Christian I

1591 - 1611

Christian II

1611 - 1656

John George I

1630 - 1632

Sweden enters the Thirty Years' War in summer 1630. As part of the military funding, tolls and food supplies secured in Swedish Prussia are pivotal assets. The first major victory of the Protestant forces in the war is at the Battle of Breitenfeld in September 1631, which ensures that the northern German Protestant states will not be forced to reconvert to Catholicism. The forces of Sweden and Saxony force the Catholic League's line to collapse, and serious casualty numbers are inflicted on the armies of the Holy Roman empire, Hungary and Croatia. Tragically for Sweden, the king is killed at the Battle of Lützen on 6 November 1632. Axel Gustafson Oxenstierna, governor-general of Swedish Prussia, becomes supreme commander of the Swedish troops in Germany and then regent for the king's daughter, Christina.

1656

Saxe-Meissen is partitioned by John George's successors into a smaller Saxe-Weissenfels, Saxe-Merseburg, and Saxe-Zeitz. Now reduced, Saxe-Meissen continues to retain the electorship.

1656 - 1680

John George II

1680 - 1691

John George III

1691 - 1694

John George IV

1694 - 1734

Frederick Augustus I

Also Augustus II the Strong, first Saxon king of Poland-Lithuania.

1697 - 1704

Poland is joined with Saxony in personal union under Augustus.

1702 - 1710

Sweden moves fast to try and knock Saxony and Poland out of the Great Northern War by occupying large areas of Poland. However, victory falls to Russia, Poland and Denmark in 1721, when the Treaty of Nystad ends the Swedish Scandinavian empire.

1718

The electorate gains Saxe-Zeitz.

1734 - 1763

Frederick Augustus II

Son. Also king of Poland-Lithuania.

1738

The electorate gains Saxe-Merseburg.

1740 - 1741

The duke of Courland is exiled by the new Russian regime but continues to claim to rule. The landowners ignore him and Frederick Augustus II announces his son, Count Carl of Saxony, as the next duke.

1740 - 1748

The War of the Austrian Succession is a wide-ranging conflict that encompasses the North American King George's War, two Silesian Wars, the War of Jenkins' Ear, and involves most of the crowned heads of Europe in deciding the question of whether Maria Theresa can succeed as archduke of Austria and, perhaps even more importantly, as Holy Roman Emperor. Austria is supported by Britain, the Netherlands, the Savoyard kingdom of Sardinia, and Saxony (after an early switchover), but opposed by an opportunistic Prussia and France, who had raised the question in the first place to disrupt Habsburg control of central Europe, backed up by Bavaria and Sweden (briefly). Spain joins the war in an unsuccessful attempt to restore possessions lost to Austria in 1715.

War of the Austrian Succession
The War of the Austrian Succession saw Europe go to war to decide whether Maria Theresa would secure the throne left to her by her father, but several other issues were also decided as a wide range of wars were involved in the overall conflict

The War of Jenkins' Ear pitches Britain against Spain between 1739-1748. The Russo-Swedish War, or Hats' Russian War, is the Swedish attempt to regain territory lost to Russia in 1741-1743. King George's War is fought between Britain and France in the French Colonies in 1744-1748. The First Carnatic War of 1746-1748 involves the struggle for dominance in India by France and Britain. Henry Pelham, leader of the English government in Parliament, is successful in ending the war, achieving peace with France and trade with Spain through the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. Austria is ultimately successful, losing only Silesia to Prussia.

1746

The electorate gains Saxe-Weissenfels.

1763 - 1806

Frederick Augustus III Christian Leopold

Son.

1791

On 3 May, the Polish constitution gives formal sanction to the union with Lithuania, removing the process of electing kings and making the crown hereditary again under the Saxon dynasty.

1806

The electorate is elevated to a kingdom by France's Napoleon Bonaparte on 11 December.

Map Kingdom of Saxony
AD 1806 - 1918

Raised to a kingdom by France, the new king also found himself in command of the grand duchy of Warsaw, which was created in personal union with Saxony, reviving the eighteenth century relationship between the two countries. By 1814, the Napoleonic Wars had been brought to a conclusion, apart from the Hundred Days of 1815, and Saxony was heavily punished for its involvement with France, even though it had been presented with no choice in the matter. Prussia, intent on empire-building, halved the kingdom, taking the territory for itself. The duchies of Saxe-Merseburg, Saxe-Weissenfels and Saxe-Zeitz were lost.

However, the practice of sub-dividing Saxony's surviving territories had been continued, so that the grand duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, and the duchies of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, Saxe-Meiningen, Saxe-Hildburghausen, and Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld all existed alongside the kingdom of Saxony.

1806 - 1827

Frederick Augustus I Christian Leopold

Survived Napoleonic Wars but lost half of kingdom to Prussia.

1813 - 1814

In March 1813, the grand duchy of Warsaw is occupied by Russia while the allies continue to push the French army ever further westwards. The Battle of Leipzig in Saxony in October of the same year frees Germany from French influence, setting up a climax to the war in 1814. The Congress of Poland is formed by the victorious powers at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, and Polish territory is effectively re-partitioned, removing it once again from Saxon control.

French defend against Prussians. Leipzig 1813
French grenadiers of the line defend against an attack by Prussian infantry in the three-day Battle of Leipzig in October 1813, dubbed the 'Battle of the Nations' due to the number of states involved, in this 1914 painting by Richard Knötel

1826

The wife of the duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld is heiress to Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, so the latter title falls to Saxe-Coburg as Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. The duke's second son, Albert, marries (in 1839) to Queen Victoria of England, while his elder son inherits the duchy. Saxe-Altenburg is detached from Saxe-Gotha and passes to Saxe-Hildburghausen. The latter duke exchanges this for his old territory, which passes to Saxe-Meiningen.

1827 - 1836

Anthony Clement

1836 - 1854

Frederick Augustus II

1854 - 1873

John / Johann

1866

Prussia fights the Austro-Prussian War against Austria, essentially as a decider to see which of the two powers will be dominant in Central Europe. Austria and its southern German allies are crushed in just seven weeks (giving the conflict its alternative title of the Seven Weeks' War), and Prussia is now unquestionably dominant. Bismark oversees the seizure of four of Austria's northern German allies, and forces Saxe-Lauenberg into personal union (annexation in all but name, which turns into fact in 1876). The new, Prussian-dominated North German Confederation gains members in Saxe-Altenburg, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Saxe-Meiningen, Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, and the kingdom of Saxony, among many others.

1871

The kingdom is annexed as part of the German empire by Prussia. Ironically, Prussia itself had originally been created out of the margraviate of Brandenburg, which the original dukes of Saxony helped create. Saxony now occupies the position of a sub-kingdom.

1873 - 1902

Albert the Good

1902 - 1904

George

1904 - 1918

Frederick Augustus III

Last king of Saxony.

1918

All German monarchies are abolished upon the defeat of the German empire in World War I. Saxony is recreated as a constituent part of the new federal Germany and its future fortunes would be tied to this new political creation.

Hereditary Kings of Saxony (Wettins)
AD 1918 - Present Day

1918 - 1932

Friedrich Augustus III

1919

Germany adopts the democratic 'Weimar constitution' following the abolition of the German empire. This new Germany consists of the former German kingdoms and duchies, all of which have now been abolished, which include Baden, Bavaria, Hesse, Lippe, Saxony and Württemberg.

George

Eldest son.

1932 - 1968

Frederick Christian

Second son. Margrave of Meissen.

1968 - Present

Maria Emanuel

Son. Margrave of Meissen.