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European Kingdoms

Central Europe

 

Saxe-Coburg (Saxony)
AD 1542 - 1553

The electorate of Saxe-Thuringen was a descendant of the once-much larger electorate of Saxony which in 1356 had been rebuilt in the form of Saxe-Wittenberg. The role of the senior Saxon duke as one of the seven electors of the Holy Roman empire was irrevocably confirmed in that year by the Golden Bull of Emperor Charles IV, which also decreed that the duke of Saxony should be imperial administrator of any territory which was subject to Saxon law in the absence of the emperor.

The death in 1422 of Elector Albert IV left his state without an heir, so Emperor Sigmund appointed his faithful servant, the Wettin noble, Friedrich IV of Meissen. Friedrich's descendants continued to rule Saxony until the end of the First World War. Duke Ernest became sole ruler of all of the Wettin territories in 1482. In 1485 he and his brother, Albert the Bold, agreed under the terms of the Treaty of Leipzig (or 'Partition of Leipzig') to divide their territories between them. The division was generally between the Saxon and Thuringian halves, with Ernest retaining the Saxon part as the prince-elector of the duchy of Saxe-Thuringen. Albert gained the Thuringian part as the duke of Saxe-Meissen.

Duke Ernest and his Ernestine line held the all-important title of prince-elector for only a few generations. The dukes of Saxe-Thuringen were heavily involved in the Protestant Reformation - Martin Luther was appointed by Duke Frederick III to the University of Wittenberg and was subsequently heavily protected by him. Ultimately, although they served the cause productively, the fortunes of the dukes themselves took a sharp downturn when defeated by the Holy Roman emperor in 1547. The title of prince-elector was transferred to Saxe-Meissen, while Saxe-Coburg had already been divided away for a younger brother of the ruling duke.

Duke John Frederick 'the Magnanimous' and John Ernest ruled Saxe-Thuringen jointly for the first decade following the death of their father, Duke John 'the Constant'. In 1542 John Frederick decided to rule alone, so the Franconian areas of the Wettin family lands (Coburg and Eisfeld) were divided from Saxe-Thuringen to form Saxe-Coburg for John Ernest. Upon the death of John Frederick in 1553, Saxe-Thuringen itself was divided to form Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Gotha.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Albrecht der Bär, Lutz Partenheimer (Böhlau Verlag, 2003, in German), and from External Links: the Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, and from Encyclopaedia.com, and Cranach Digital Archive (in German and English), and Special Collections (University of Arizona), and Triumph for the heretics: the Battle of Aussig, Alexander Querengässer (Medieval Warfare Medieval Warfare, Vol 5, No 2, Karwansaray BV, 2015, and available via JSTOR), and Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1911 Edition, and Saxe-Coburg (Worldstatesmen).)

1542 - 1553

John Ernest

Brother of John Fredk I of Saxe-Thuringen. First duke.

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. 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 Frederick of Saxe-Thuringen is distracted by his cousin, Duke Maurice of the Albertine Saxe-Meissen, invading his lands, and ultimately the league is defeated in the Schmalkaldic War. John is captured and is 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 while Saxe-Coburg is now free of interference from Saxe-Thuringen.

The Schmalkaldic League
The Schmalkaldic League was formed in 1531 during a meeting of German princes and dukes in the town of Schmalkalden in Thuringia.

1553

The death of John Ernest brings changes. Saxe-Thuringen is divided into Saxe-Gotha and Saxe-Weimar by the sons of John Frederick I. The eldest becomes Duke John Frederick II of Saxe-Gotha while also being the dominant authority in Saxe-Eisenach and Saxe-Coburg. It is the electorate of Saxe-Meissen which is now and remains the senior Saxon line, even eventually being elevated to the status of kingdom. Saxe-Coburg itself is no longer a separate division of Saxony until 1572.

1572

John William of Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Gotha has angered the emperor and even his own subjects by supporting the Catholic French against the Protestant Huguenots. The emperor has encouraged the surviving sons of John Frederick II of Saxe-Gotha to agitate against John William so that, by 1572, the 'Division of Erfurt' is concluded.

Therefore, as part of an ongoing German pattern of sub-dividing their imperial territories, Saxe-Gotha is partitioned to form the junior subdivisions of Saxe-Coburg (under John Casimir) and Saxe-Eisenach (under John Ernest).

Saxe-Coburg (Saxony)
AD 1572 - 1638

The death in 1422 of Elector Albert IV of Saxony left his state without an heir, so Emperor Sigmund appointed his faithful servant, the Wettin noble, Friedrich IV of Meissen. In 1485 Friedrich and his brother, Albert the Bold, agreed under the terms of the Treaty of Leipzig (or 'Partition of Leipzig') to divide their territories between them. The division was generally between the Saxon and Thuringian halves, with Ernest retaining the Saxon part as the prince-elector of the duchy of Saxe-Thuringen. Albert gained the Thuringian part as the duke of Saxe-Meissen.

The all-important title of prince-elector was transferred to Saxe-Meissen in 1547, while Saxe-Coburg had already been divided away for the duke's younger brother, John Ernest. The death of Duke John Frederick I in 1553 virtually coincided with the death of John Ernest, triggering a new phase in the complicated story of divisions and mergers. Saxe-Thuringen was divided to form Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Gotha (both in their initial guises), while Saxe-Coburg ceased to be an identifiably separate entity while it was ruled as part of Saxe-Gotha under Duke John Frederick II.

John William of Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Gotha then angered the Holy Roman emperor and even his own subjects by supporting the Catholic French against the Protestant Huguenots. The emperor encouraged the surviving sons of John Frederick II of Saxe-Gotha to agitate against him so that, by 1572, the 'Division of Erfurt' was concluded. Saxe-Gotha's initial phase of existence was ended when it was partitioned to form the junior subdivisions of Saxe-Coburg (now resurrected in its second guise) and Saxe-Eisenach.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Albrecht der Bär, Lutz Partenheimer (Böhlau Verlag, 2003, in German), and from External Links: the Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, and from Encyclopaedia.com, and Cranach Digital Archive (in German and English), and Special Collections (University of Arizona), and Triumph for the heretics: the Battle of Aussig, Alexander Querengässer (Medieval Warfare Medieval Warfare, Vol 5, No 2, Karwansaray BV, 2015, and available via JSTOR), and Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1911 Edition, and Saxe-Coburg (Worldstatesmen).)

1572 - 1633

John Casimir

Son of John Frederick II of Saxe-Gotha. Died childless.

1596

Having been under-age at accession, John Casimir and his brother, John Ernest of Saxe-Eisenach, had only achieved full authority over their domains in 1586. Now, ten years later, they agree to formally divide their territories, governing each of them without having to consult with the other brother.

Saxony's Coburg Castle
Saxony's Coburg Castle is first mentioned in 1056, being gained by the Wettins in 1353 and then enlarged to become one of the largest castles in German lands

1603

After one generation Saxe-Eisenach's holdings are handed out to the newly created Saxe-Altenburg and also to Saxe-Weimar. Saxe-Altenburg is part of Saxe-Gotha between 1672-1826, when it regains its autonomy and survives until the end of the First World War in 1918.

1630 - 1632

Sweden enters the Thirty Years' War in summer 1630, albeit without either Saxe-Meissen, Saxe-Lauenburg, or Saxe-Coburg taking part. As part of the military funding, tolls and food supplies secured in Swedish Prussia are pivotal assets.

The stance taken by the empire in opposition means invading Saxony itself, which drives Elector John George into the arms of the Protestant opposition (albeit in a half-hearted fashion). Saxe-Coburg also sides with the Swedes.

The first major victory of the Protestant forces in the war is at the Battle of Breitenfeld in September 1631, although the Saxon forces are routed during the engagement and Coburg is seized by a separate imperial force. The victory ensures that the northern German Protestant states will not be forced to reconvert to Catholicism by the Holy Roman empire.

French troops during the Thirty Years War
The onset of the Thirty Years War was marked by the newly-elected Holy Roman emperor, Ferdinand II, imposing religious uniformity on all his lands, which meant that all Protestants would have to covert - an impossible demand

1633

Saxe-Coburg's independence does not outlive its sole duke following his death in 1633. His lands and titles pass back to his brother who now holds Saxe-Coburg and Saxe-Eisenach in personal union.

1633 - 1638

John Ernest

Brother. Duke of Saxe-Eisenach. Died Childless.

1638 - 1680

John Ernest is the first and last duke of Saxe-Eisenach. His death without having produced any children during an otherwise happy second marriage with Christine of Hessen-Kassel means his lands are divided. Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Altenburg are the main beneficiaries.

In 1680, Saxe-Gotha is divided for the seven sons of Duke Ernst der Fromme ('the Pious'), being partitioned between (and into) Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, Saxe-Coburg (which re-emerges under one duke only), Saxe-Meiningen, Saxe-Römhild, Saxe-Eisenberg, Saxe-Hildburghausen (1680-1826), and Saxe-Saalfeld.

Saxe-Coburg (Saxony)
AD 1680 - 1699

The all-important title of prince-elector had been transferred to Saxe-Meissen in 1547, while Saxe-Coburg in its initial guise had already been divided away from Saxe-Thuringen for the duke's younger brother, John Ernest. The death of Duke John Frederick I in 1553 virtually coincided with the death of John Ernest, triggering a new phase in the complicated story of divisions and mergers. Saxe-Thuringen was divided to form Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Gotha (both in their own initial guises), with Saxe-Coburg ceasing to be an identifiably separate entity while it was ruled as part of Saxe-Gotha under Duke John Frederick II.

John William of Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Gotha then angered the Holy Roman emperor and even his own subjects by supporting the Catholic French against the Protestant Huguenots. The emperor encouraged the surviving sons of John Frederick II to agitate against him so that, by 1572, the 'Division of Erfurt' was concluded. Saxe-Gotha's initial phase of existence was ended when it was partitioned to form the junior subdivisions of Saxe-Coburg (now resurrected in its second guise) and Saxe-Eisenach.

This new iteration of Saxe-Coburg did not outlive its sole duke following his death in 1633. His lands and titles passed back to his brother who now held Saxe-Coburg and Saxe-Eisenach in personal union. His own death in 1633 meant that his expanded lands were divided. Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Altenburg were the main beneficiaries. In 1680, Saxe-Gotha (in its second guise) was divided for the seven sons of the late Duke Ernst 'the Pious'. The territory was split up into Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, Saxe-Coburg (its third iteration), Saxe-Meiningen, Saxe-Römhild, Saxe-Eisenberg, Saxe-Hildburghausen, and Saxe-Saalfeld. Albert V held both Saxe-Coburg and Sax-Saalfeld in personal union, with the duchies being governed separately under him.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Albrecht der Bär, Lutz Partenheimer (Böhlau Verlag, 2003, in German), and from External Links: the Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, and from Encyclopaedia.com, and Cranach Digital Archive (in German and English), and Special Collections (University of Arizona), and Triumph for the heretics: the Battle of Aussig, Alexander Querengässer (Medieval Warfare Medieval Warfare, Vol 5, No 2, Karwansaray BV, 2015, and available via JSTOR), and Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1911 Edition, and Saxe-Coburg (Worldstatesmen).)

1680 - 1699

Albert V

Son of Ernest I of Saxe-Gotha. Also held Saxe-Saalfeld.

1697 - 1704

Poland is joined with Saxony in personal union under Elector Augustus for much of his reign in both lands. This temporarily ends when Stanislas Lesczynski, the Swedish candidate and ineffective vassal ruler, is placed in command of Polish lands while Augustus marshals his forces in Saxony.

Duke Albert V of Saxe-Coburg
Albert V, as the fifth of the sons of Ernest I, duke of Saxe-Gotha, but the second-oldest of them to outlive their father, gained Saxe-Coburg as his personal inheritance at the division of the territory in 1680

1699

The death of Albert V of Saxe-Coburg and Saxe-Saalfeld means that both territories are merged under the banner of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (which had, in effect, already existed in reality under Albert V since 1680, albeit in the form of a personal union, not a formal political merger). Since Albert has outlived his children, his brothers squabble over the inheritance, with John Ernest finally gaining the lands as the duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld.

Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (Saxony)
AD 1699 - 1826

The duchy of Saxe-Coburg had initially been formed in 1542 as a division of Saxe-Thuringen for the duke's younger brother, John Ernest. He died in 1553, in the same year as his older brother, triggering a new phase in the complicated Saxon story of divisions and mergers. Saxe-Thuringen was divided to form Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Gotha (both in their own initial guises), with Saxe-Coburg ceasing to be an identifiably separate entity while it was ruled as part of Saxe-Gotha under Duke John Frederick II. A second Saxe-Coburg was created in 1572 following the 'Division of Erfurt'. In fact this iteration of it gained parts of Saxe-Gotha during its reformation alongside the creation of Saxe-Eisenach.

This Saxe-Coburg did not outlive its sole duke following his death in 1633. His lands and titles passed to Saxe-Eisenach until the death of that ruler in 1638 meant that his expanded lands were divided. Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Altenburg were the main beneficiaries. In 1680, Saxe-Gotha (in its second guise) was divided for the seven sons of the late Duke Ernst 'the Pious'. This saw the creation or recreation of several territories within Saxony: Saxe-Eisenberg, Saxe-Meiningen, Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, Saxe-Coburg (its third iteration), Saxe-Römhild, Saxe-Hildburghausen, and Saxe-Saalfeld.

Albert V held both Saxe-Coburg and Sax-Saalfeld in personal union, with the duchies being governed separately under him. When he died in 1699 without having produced an heir who survived him, both territories were merged under the banner of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (which had, in effect, already existed under Albert V since 1680, albeit in the form of a personal union, not a formal political merger). His brothers squabbled over the inheritance, and it was the youngest, John Ernest, who finally gained the lands as the duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. The rulers of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld remained non-sovereign until 1735.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Albrecht der Bär, Lutz Partenheimer (Böhlau Verlag, 2003, in German), and from External Links: the Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, and from Encyclopaedia.com, and Cranach Digital Archive (in German and English), and Special Collections (University of Arizona), and Triumph for the heretics: the Battle of Aussig, Alexander Querengässer (Medieval Warfare Medieval Warfare, Vol 5, No 2, Karwansaray BV, 2015, and available via JSTOR), and Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1911 Edition, and Saxe-Coburg (Worldstatesmen).)

1699 - 1729

John Ernest

Youngest brother of Albert V of Saxe-Coburg.

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.

The personal union between Saxony and Poland is renewed on 8 August 1709 when Augustus regains the Polish throne. His victory at the Battle of Poltava has made it impossible for Stanislas Lesczynski to retain any pretence at kingship of Poland. Instead he retreats with his Swedish masters to Swedish-controlled Pomerania.

Capture of Malmo 1709
The capture of the town of Malmo in 1709 by Count Magnus Stenbock was probably one of the last Swedish victories of the Great Northern War as Russia and her allies defeated the Swedes later the same year

1707

The death of Duke Christian of Saxe-Eisenberg without any male heir means that the inheritance of his lands is disputed by his brothers and their descendants. The issue is more notable than the usual inheritance disputes, even being named as the 'Coburg-Eisenberg-Römhild inheritance dispute'. It takes until 1735 to fully iron out, with Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg and Duke Frederick II being the main beneficiary.

1710

The popular but luxuriously-living Duke Henry of Saxe-Römhild dies without an heir, leaving behind him large debts. His estate is auctioned to the highest bidder in order to meet those debts, with Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld appearing to be the main winner in territorial terms.

1729 - 1745

Christian Ernest II

Son. Sovereign duke from 1735. Died.

1729 - 1745

Francis Josias

Half-brother and co-ruler. Sole ruler from 1745.

1740 - 1748

The War of the Austrian Succession is a wide-ranging conflict which 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.

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.

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 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.

1745 - 1764

Francis Josias

Was co-ruler. Regent for Ernest II of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach.

1756 - 1763

The Third Silesian War is sparked by Prussia pre-emptively invading Saxony and temporarily occupying it as part of the Seven Years War. Saxon resources are channelled into Prussian hands while Frederick the Great pursues his war against Austria. When the Treaty of Hubertusburg is signed in 1763 to end the war, Saxony is forced to renounce its claim on Silesia.

1764 - 1800

Ernest Frederick

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.

1800 - 1806

Francis Frederick Anton

Son. Died 6 days before Confederation of the Rhine start.

1806 - 1807

Ernest III continues the numbering from Ernest II, duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg in 1772-1804. Ernest I had been 'the Pious', ruler of the refounded Saxe-Gotha in 1641-1675.

The formal end of the Holy Roman empire is declared under the dictates of the French Emperor Napoleon I. However, the Austrian empire retains most of its eastern possessions and is (to an extent) a continuation of the Holy Roman empire in all but name.

Prussians at the Battle of Jena in 1806
The once-formidable army of Frederick the Great was thoroughly beaten in just a month of campaigning by Napoleon Bonaparte, losing the descisive battle of Jena (shown here) and surrendering Stettin to just eight hundred French troops, making it necessary to overhaul Prussia's entire army after 1806

In the autumn of 1806, Napoleon Bonaparte heavily defeats Prussia and the Fourth Coalition, and liberates Prussia's holdings in Poland, forming them into an imperial satellite state. Prussia's ally in the campaign, Saxony, is left without any information on Prussia's subsequent aims so it agrees a separate peace with Napoleon.

It is forced to join his Confederation of the Rhine, losing some territory in Thuringia to the new kingdom of Westphalia, while gaining Cottbus from Prussia and being elevated on 11 December as the kingdom of Saxony. Saxe-Coburg itself is occupied by French forces between January and July 1807.

1806 - 1826

Ernest III

Son. Deposed by French (1807). Gained Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

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 German lands of 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.

Map of Confederation of German States AD 1815
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 - above that is a map of the new post-wars Confederation of German States (click or tap on map to view full sized)

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.

Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (Saxony)
AD 1826 - 1918

Formed in 1542, the duchy of Saxe-Coburg had a chequered early existence. It was dissolved no less than twice as an independent entity before any permanence emerged. Initially formed as a division of Saxe-Thuringen, it was part of a redistribution of territories in 1553, before a new Saxe-Coburg reappeared in 1572 as part of the 'Division of Erfurt'. This version did not outlive its sole duke following his death in 1633. His lands and titles passed to Saxe-Eisenach until the death of that ruler in 1638 meant that his expanded lands were divided.

In 1680, Saxe-Gotha (in its own second guise) was divided for the seven sons of the late Duke Ernst 'the Pious'. This saw the creation or recreation of several territories within Saxony: Saxe-Eisenberg, Saxe-Meiningen, Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, Saxe-Coburg (its third iteration), Saxe-Römhild, Saxe-Hildburghausen, and Saxe-Saalfeld. When the ruling Albert V died in 1699 without having produced an heir who survived him, his territories were merged under the banner of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. His brothers squabbled over the inheritance, and it was the youngest, John Ernest, who finally gained the lands as the duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld.

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. It was held in personal union (one ruler but two separate and individual local offices of governance). In the process, the new sovereign duchy lost Saxe-Altenburg to Saxe-Hildburghausen. However, it was the source of some important marriages into other European monarchies, and it survived until 1918.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Albrecht der Bär, Lutz Partenheimer (Böhlau Verlag, 2003, in German), and from External Links: the Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, and from Encyclopaedia.com, and Cranach Digital Archive (in German and English), and Special Collections (University of Arizona), and Triumph for the heretics: the Battle of Aussig, Alexander Querengässer (Medieval Warfare Medieval Warfare, Vol 5, No 2, Karwansaray BV, 2015, and available via JSTOR), and Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1911 Edition, and Saxe-Coburg (Worldstatesmen).)

1826 - 1844

Ernest I

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

1830

Following his attempt to restore the Ancien Régime in full, the July Revolution overthrows King Charles X of France, and he abdicates in favour of his ten year-old grandson, Henri, duke of Bordeaux. The revolution also results in some instability in Belgium, Hessen-Homburg, and Saxony. Saxony's unrest results in a change to the constitution in 1831, and the appointment of a younger, more relevant co-regent (Frederick Augustus instead of his father, Prince Maximilian), creating a constitutional monarchy to replace the former feudal organisation.

July Revolution of 1830
The July Revolution of 1830 in France fed on long-held and growing resentments and inequalities, while also sparking several smaller but similar revolts across Europe

1836 - 1853

Prince Ferdinand

Younger brother. Ferdinand II of Portugal.

1831 - 1865

Prince Leopold

Youngest brother. Leopold I of the Belgians.

1839

Prince Francis Albert

Second son of Ernest I. m Queen Victoria of Britain.

1844 - 1893

Ernest II

Brother. Supported German unification. Died childless.

1849

The 'May Uprising' takes place because King Frederick Augustus of Saxony has rowed back on some of his earlier, more liberal acts. He is forced to flee Königstein Fortress, although within a few days the uprising has been crushed by Saxon and Prussian troops and he is able to return.

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.

Austro-Prussian War 1866
Austria's slow-moving forces were outpaced by Prussia's fully modern army during the Austro-Prussian War, which decided the power balance in Central Europe, as shown in this oil by Georg Bleibtreu

1868 - 1871

The exile of Queen Isabella of Spain to France starts a remarkable chain of events. Isabella's abdication on 25 June 1870 leads to the Franco-Prussian War when France refuses to accept the possibility of the Prussian Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen gaining the Spanish throne.

French troops are humiliated by Prussia's ultra-modern army, and by Saxony's allied troops which are ably commanded by its future king, Albert. The siege of Paris by the combined German forces brings about the downfall of its empire. Following the victory, the Second Reich (Germanic empire) is declared by Prussia, which now displaces Austria as the main Germanic power, as well as being the dominant power throughout central and Western Europe.

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

Franc-Prussian War 1870-1871
The Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871 swept away any surviving myth of the greatness of France's military capabilities when the highly modernised Prussian forces drove them back to the gates of Paris

1887 - 1918

Prince Ferdinand

Grandson of Prince Ferdinand. Ferdinand of Bulgaria.

1893 - 1900

Alfred

Son of Prince Francis Albert & Victoria of Britain.

1884

Leopold

Brother. Duke of Albany. Died before accession.

1899

Albert

Son of Albert. Attempted suicide & died after a scandal.

1900 - 1918

Charles Edward

Son of Leopold. Duke of Albany. Lost duchy in 1918.

1914

The German empire moves swiftly to support its ally, Austria-Hungary, in a long-anticipated Great War (later more readily known as the First World War, or World War I). At the start it is successful against the Russian invasion of Prussia, routing their army at the Battle of Tannenberg, and in the west its armies reach the northern outskirts of Paris (occupying Luxembourg along the way) before they are stopped by the armies of Britain and France, together with the small Belgian army.

1918

All German monarchies are abolished upon the defeat of the German empire in the First World War. King Frederick Augustus voluntarily abdicates his throne. Saxony is recreated as a constituent part of the new federal Germany and its future fortunes are to be tied to this new political creation. Coburg and Gotha are formally detached under the new regime. The Hereditary Kings of Saxony retain their titles, as do the Hereditary Dukes of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, but no particular ongoing claim to their lost throne.

Hereditary Dukes of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (Saxony)
AD 1918 - Present Day
Incorporating Hereditary Dukes of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Koháry

As with many of the German principalities during the early modern period, Saxony suffered badly from the territorial divisions which were inherent within the Holy Roman empire. In the early nineteenth century 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. It was held in personal union (one ruler but two separate and individual local offices of governance). In the process, the new sovereign duchy lost Saxe-Altenburg to Saxe-Hildburghausen. However, it was the source of some important marriages into other European monarchies, and it survived until 1918.

By that time Napoleon Bonaparte and his 'First Empire' France had terminated the Holy Roman empire in 1806, heavily defeated Prussia and the Fourth Coalition, and left the 'Electorate of Saxony' without a standing ally. Battered by events, the now-kingdom of Saxony was heavily punished at the end of the Napoleonic Wars for its involvement with France. Even though it had been presented with no choice in the matter it still lost half its territory to Prussia. The defeat of the French 'Second Empire' in 1871 made it possible for Prussia to create the new German empire, with Saxony as one of its subservient subjects. In this guise it was dragged into the First World War in 1914 and terminated in 1918. King Frederick Augustus III voluntarily abdicated his throne and Saxony was recreated as a constituent part of the new federal Germany.

The House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Koháry is the Catholic cadet branch of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. This was founded following the marriage between Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (second son of Duke Francis Frederick Anton of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfied, 1800-1806) and Princess Maria Antonia Koháry de Csábrág. The Koháry family had been one of the three largest landowners in Hungary prior to the world wars. Among the line's descendants were the last four kings of Portugal (Pedro V, Luís I, Carlos I, and Manuel II), and the last three tsars of Bulgaria (Ferdinand I, Boris III, and Simeon II). Hereditary claimants are shown below in red text and on a shaded background to differentiate them from the main line of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from A History of Poland from its Foundation, M Ross, from The History of the Baltic Countries, Zigmantas Kiaupa, Ain Mäesalu, Ago Pajur, & Gvido Straube (Eds, Estonia 2008), from The Campaigns of Napoleon, David Chandler (Weidenfeld & Nicolson Ltd, London, 1996), from The Last Kaiser: William the Impetuous, Giles Macdonogh (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2001), from Germany - The Tides of Power, Michael Balfour (Routledge, 2004), and from External Links: Encyclopaedia.com, and Cranach Digital Archive (in German and English), and Special Collections (University of Arizona), and Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1911 Edition, and Royal Musings, and The road to World War Two (Reuters), and The Saxon Royal Succession (Eurohistory).)

1918 - 1954

Charles Edward

Hereditary duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

1918 - 1921

Prince Philip

Heir to Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Koháry. Died.

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, including Baden, Bavaria, Hesse, Lippe, Saxony, and Württemberg.

Saxony becomes the 'Free State of Saxony'. As a direct descendant of Britain's Queen Victoria, Charles Edward is now deprived of his British peerages and titles for having served in the German imperial army.

Spartacist Uprising of 1919
The Spartacist Uprising of radical socialists in 1919 was a general strike which began on 4 January and lasted for nine days as the last act of the German Revolution

1921 - 1934

Prince Pedro Augusto

Nephew of Prince Philip of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Koháry.

1933 - 1945

The Third Reich ('third empire' of Germany, which claims the first (Holy Roman) and second (German) empires as its forebears in order to attain a level of legitimacy) is established under Adolf Hitler's dictatorial Nazi rule, sweeping away the Weimar republic.

The Nazi invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939 is the trigger for the Second World War. With both France and Great Britain pledged to support Poland, both countries have no option but to declare war on 3 September. Hitler subsequently commits suicide in his bunker on 30 April 1945 as Soviet Russian forces overrun Berlin. Nazi Germany surrenders unconditionally on 7 May to the Allies at General Eisenhower's HQ at Rheims in France.

1934 - 1945

Prince Rainer

Nephew of Prince Pedro of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Koháry.

1945 - 2010

Prince Johannes Heinrich

Son. Heir to Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Koháry. Died.

1954 - 1998

Prince Frederick Josias

Son of Charles Edward. Born 29 November 1918.

1987

Prince Johannes Albert

Direct descendant of King Fredk Aug III. Heir to Saxony.

1989 - 1990

With the weakening of the Soviet Union and increased calls for reform, the Berlin Wall is pulled down by the people of both halves of the divided city, the East German border guards taking no action to stop them. The following year, the two Germanies are reunited on 3 October.

Fall of the Berlin Wall
The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was a popular move that was generally people-driven and spontaneous, following the general collapse of the Soviet empire which backed East Germany's police state

1998 - Present

Prince Andreas

Son. Born 21 March 1943.

1999

With no children of his own, and with his previous nominated heir, Prince Johannes Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (grandson of King Frederick Augustus III of Saxony), having predeceased him, Marie Emanuel of Saxony selects Alexander of Saxe-Gessaphe. Born Alexander Affif, he is the son of Princess Anna of Saxony and Roberto Afif, although their marriage is considered to be contrary to traditional Saxon laws where dynastic inheritance is concerned. The Afif (or Gessaphe) family had provided Lebanon with its Assaf provincial rulers between 1306-1591.

2002

Maria Emanuel's brother, Albert, changes his mind about agreeing to the selection of Prince Alexander of Saxe-Gessaphe as selected successor as head of the Saxon royal house. Two other family members back him up, but Maria Emanuel continues to view Alexander as his rightful successor until his own death in 2012.

2010

The death of Prince Johannes Heinrich of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Koháry in April 2010 means that a distant cousin becomes heir to the title. The late prince's uncle, Philipp, and his descendants from his morganatic marriage with Sarah Aurelia Halasz have already been barred from the inheritance. The new holder is Simeon II, hereditary king of Bulgaria.

2010 - 2012

Simeon II

Cousin to Johannes H. Of Bulgaria. Born 16 June 1937.

2012

Simeon nominally cedes his rights (and those of his children) to leadership of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Koháry to his sister, Marie Louise. In the same eventful year, Maria Emanuel of Saxony dies in July 2012, Prince Albert assumes the position of head of the royal house before he too dies three months later. Alexander of Saxe-Gessaphe assumes the role for which he was chosen, but is rivalled by Albert's favourite for the succession, Prince Rüdiger.

Simeon II of Bulgaria with his new wife in 1962
Bulgaria's new prime minister in 2001 (and soon-to-be head of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Koháry) was hereditary king of Bulgaria, Simeon II, here seen on his wedding day on 21 January 1962 to Doña Margarita Gómez-Acebo y Cejuela of Spain

2012 - Present

Marie Louise

Sister of Simeon II. Heir to Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Koháry.

2015

Prince Rüdiger's claim as head of the Saxon royal family remains unsubstantiated, and is anyway invalid. Even so, Prince Alexander's succession remains disputed. A statement is issued by the three most senior surviving Ernestine branches of the Saxon royal family (the Ernestines having descended from the lesser Saxe-Thuringen side of the family). In that statement all three branches withdraw any remaining support from Alexander. The issue remains unresolved.

Prince Hubertus Michael

Son of Andreas and heir. Born 16 September 1975.