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Saxe-Jena (Saxony)
AD 1602 - 1641

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. Upon the death of Duke John Frederick I in 1553, Saxe-Thuringen itself was divided to form Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Gotha (both in their initial guises). The complicated story of divisions and mergers then saw the end of Saxe-Gotha's initial phase of existence in 1572, when it was partitioned to form the junior subdivisions of Saxe-Coburg (in its second guise) and Saxe-Eisenach.

In 1602, after one generation, Saxe-Eisenach's holdings were handed out to the newly created Saxe-Altenburg and to Saxe-Weimar. With the newly-matured sons of the late Frederick William II now demanding their inheritance from John II of Saxe-Weimar, he gave them Saxe-Altenburg while he retained the smaller creation of Saxe-Weimar-Jena, more usually known simply as Saxe-Jena. Politically-speaking, Saxe-Weimar essentially ceased to exist for the period between 1603-1641, with the focus shifting to Saxe-Jena.

(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.)

1602 - 1605

John II

Former duke of Saxe-Weimar. Died.

1605 - 1662

William

Son. Gained Saxe-Weimar (1641). Lands divided upon death.

1641

The combination of territories which has formed Saxe-Altenburg and Saxe-Weimar are, on 22 September 1641, divided into recreations of Saxe-Gotha (for two generations of dukes), Saxe-Weimar (for Duke William, son of John II of the first creation of Saxe-Weimar, after previously having held Saxe-Jena from 1620), and Saxe-Eisenach (for Albert IV).

Duke William of Saxe-Weimar
Duke William (shown here) and his brother Ernest confirmed the re-establishment of Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Gotha, but frequent later changes in holdings and possessions would make most maps irrelevent in a very short span of time

1644

Albert IV of Saxe-Eisenach dies without having produced an heir, just three years after assuming control of his territories. His titles and lands are divided between William in Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Jena, and his brother Ernest in Saxe-Gotha.

1662

Saxe-Eisenach reappears (for two generations), formed out of Saxe-Weimar following the death of Duke William. One of his four sons, Adolf William, receives it, although he has to share it with a younger brother, John George. Both Saxe-Jena (which lasts for another two generations), and Saxe-Marksuhl have also been or are now partitioned out of Saxe-Weimar.

1662 - 1678

Bernhard II

Son. Died.

1671 - 1672

With the untimely death in 1671 of the young and sickly William Augustus, Saxe-Eisenach goes to John George of Saxe-Marksuhl, who governs his territory from the small town of Marksuhl.

In the following year (1672) another death, this time of Frederick William III of Saxe-Altenburg, means that his heirless lands are partitioned. Saxe-Eisenach, still held by Saxe-Marksuhl, gains some territory out of this, Saxe-Jena has already been gained by Bernhard, brother of John Ernest II of Saxe-Weimar, and the rest of Saxe-Altenburg is gained by Ernest 'the Pious' of Saxe-Gotha.

The market place of Saxe-Marksuhl, with the castle tower in the background
Modern Marksuhl's immaculate market place is shown here, with the castle tower rising in the background as part of the home of the dukes of Saxe-Marksuhl

1678 - 1690

John William

Son. Died. Saxe-Jena is ended in a division of territories.

1678 - 1683

John Ernest II

Regent. Duke of Saxe-Weimar. Died.

1680

Saxe-Gotha is divided for the seven sons of Duke Ernst der Fromme ('the Pious'). It is 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.

1683 - 1686

John George

Regent. Duke of Saxe-Eisenach. Died.

1686

Duke John George of Saxe-Marksuhl and Saxe-Eisenach is killed in a hunting accident, just the year following the birth (in 1685) of Johann Sebastian Bach in his own domains. With the late duke's holdings being divided up amongst surviving relatives, Saxe-Eisenach now reappears again as an independent entity (for three generations), while Saxe-Jena requires a new regent.

1686 - 1690

William Ernest

Regent. Duke of Saxe-Weimar. Died.

1690

The death of the third and last duke of Saxe-Jena, the fifteen year-old John William, son of Bernard II, means that Saxe-Jena's brief existence as an independent territory is ended. Its lands are divided between Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Eisenach.