History Files

European Kingdoms

Central Europe


Saxe-Lauenburg (Saxony)
AD 1272 - 1305

At some point after 1272, John I and Albert III divided their Saxony between them. The duchy of Saxe-Lauenburg (or Saxe-Lauenberg in some sources) was formed in the west while Saxe-Wittenberg was formed in the east. The combined duchy was the seat of one of the prince-electors of the Holy Roman empire, so there was some conflict between the two divisions as to who should retain the position. In 1314 they were 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 adopted the title 'Elector of Saxony'.

Saxe-Lauenburg held two unconnected territories as part of its division of the duchy.

In some records the numbering of princely officeholders for the Saxons is restarted from scratch at this point, although this habit was not universally followed. It has not been used in the list below, although the restarted alternatives are offered in parentheses. The system was not always properly observed even so: Albert IV (III) - known colloquially as Albert the Poor - of the electorate of Saxony in 1419 ignores similar (and earlier) numbering in Saxe-Lauenburg.

1272 - 1285

John I

Former duke of Saxony (1260). Abdicated.

1285 - 1288

John abdicates his position in favour of his three sons, all of whom are still minors. In theory at least Saxony overall is still governed between the three new dukes and their uncle, Albert III of Saxe-Wittenberg. Albert, though, has already positioned himself as the senior figure in this relationship. Just three years later he requests of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph I of Habsburg that his son (another Rudolf) be named as the official elector of Saxony.

1285 - 1305

John II

Son. Ruled Saxe-Mölln-Bergedorf from 1305.

1290 - 1296

Albert III of Saxe-Wittenberg gains the county of Brehna for 'his' Saxony in 1290, shortly after its control has reverted to the empire following the extinction of its rulers. In 1295 he gains the county of Gommern, the same year in which he agrees with Wenceslas II of Bohemia to elect Adolf of Nassau-Weilburg as the next emperor. This is the last time that Albert is officially noted as working alongside his three nephews of Saxe-Lauenburg (still minors), with them all being classed as joint electors. The division of Saxony is confirmed by 1296.

1296 - 1305

Albert IV (III)

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

1296 - 1305

Eric I

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


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

Duchy of Saxe-Mölln-Bergedorf
AD 1305 - 1401

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.


The two princes of Saxony - Rudolf I of Saxe-Wittenberg and John II of Saxe-Mölln-Bergedorf - are on opposite sides of a double election. Eventually the Saxe-Wittenbergers under Rudolf succeed in gaining the upper hand. To distinguish himself from other, now lesser, dukes of Saxony, Rudolf adopts the title 'Elector of Saxony'.

1321 - 1343

Albert V (IV)

1343 - 1356

John III

1355 - 1356

Emperor Charles IV issues his Golden Bull at the end of 1355. It lays down the redrafted laws for the Holy Roman empire, one of which stipulates the role of primogeniture, ensuring that only the eldest son or the valid next in line succeeds to a title and its territory.

Rudolf I and Saxe-Wittenberg are confirmed as the elector and electorate of Saxony respectively. Saxe-Lauenburg in its currently-divided format as Saxe-Mölln-Bergedorf and Saxe-Ratzeburg now formally loses any right to the role, along with the privileges it confers. Rudolf dies in March 1356, but his son is able to succeed him as prince-elector of Saxony.

1356 - 1370

Albert VI (V)

1370 - 1401

Eric III


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