History Files

Please help the History Files

Contributed: 175

Target: 400

Totals slider

The History Files still needs your help. As a non-profit site, it is only able to support such a vast and ever-growing collection of information with your help, and this year your help is needed more than ever. Please make a donation so that we can continue to provide highly detailed historical research on a fully secure site. Your help really is appreciated.

European Kingdoms

Central Europe


Saxe-Merseburg (Saxony)
AD 1656 - 1738
Incorporating Saxe-Merseburg-Lauchstädt, Saxe-Merseburg-Spremberg, & Saxe-Merseburg-Zörbig

The Wettin Duke Ernest of Saxony became sole ruler of all of the remaining eastern Saxon territories in 1482. In 1485 he and his brother 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 of dukes in Saxe-Thuringen held the all-important title of prince-elector for only a few generations. The junior branch in Saxe-Meissen gained the prestigious title and position for itself by politically outmanoeuvring Saxe-Thuringen during the divisive Schmalkaldic War.

Subsequently the situation regarding territorial divisions in both halves of Saxony became increasingly complicated. In 1656, what was now the electorate of Saxe-Meissen sub-divided itself to create Saxe-Merseburg, Saxe-Weissenfels, and Saxe-Zeitz. The agreement was confirmed by Elector John George II and his brothers in 1657, with the aim being to avoid fratricidal disputes over the succession.

None of the new sub-states would last for too long, with the territories being drawn back into Saxe-Meissen. Before that, though, Duke Christian I of Saxe-Merseburg held Merseburg itself, plus four cities and their castles which included Bad Lauchstädt, which was given to a son in 1684 to produce the cadet line of Saxe-Merseburg-Lauchstädt, Lützen, Schkeuditz, and Zwenkauand.

Also included was half of three towns (Brehna, Finsterwalde, and Zörbig - the latter being given to a son in 1691 to produce the cadet line of Saxe-Merseburg-Zörbig), along with the margraviate of Lower Lusatia which brought with it the towns and castles of Calau, Dobrilugk, Finsterwalde, Guben, Luckau, Lübben, and Spremberg - the latter being given to a son in 1694 to produce the minor cadet line of Saxe-Merseburg-Spremberg. The domain of Forst with its attached castles and villages was added through inheritance in 1668.


(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.)

1656 - 1691

Christian I

Son of John George I of Saxe-Meissen.


John III of Poland and Charles V of Lorraine lift the siege of Vienna on 12 September, with support from Elector John George III of Saxony. The victory ends Ottoman expansion in Europe by drawing a metaphorical line in the sand.

Duke Christian I of Saxe-Merseburg
Duke Christian I of Saxe-Merseburg inherited his appendage of Saxony during the territorial hand-outs of 1656, and he continued the process of division within his own small domains by creating Saxe-Merseburg-Lauchstädt in 1684

1684 - 1690

In attempting to provide for his surviving sons both during and after his lifetime, Christian I grants Saxe-Merseburg-Lauchstädt to Philipp. He is able to develop and expand the castle in the city of Lauchstädt, but his military career intervenes when he is killed at the Battle of Fleurus in 1690. His title and territory reverts back to Christian I.

1691 - 1715

Upon the death of Duke Christian I, his territories and titles are inherited by his son, Christian II. However, a small cadet division is created for another son, August, which is known as Saxe-Merseburg-Zörbig. The division ends upon the death of August in 1715, although August's widow and young child are permitted lifetime occupancy of his castle.

1691 - 1694

Christian II

Younger son, heir through his brother's death.

1694 - 1731

The cadet line of Saxe-Merseburg-Spremberg is formed when Henry, son of Christian I, receives the town of Spremberg, presumably as part of the territorial settlement following the death of Henry's brother, Christian II. The line is short-lived as Henry himself produces no male heirs, and turns out to be the last duke of an independent Saxe-Merseburg itself following his death in 1738.


Christian III

Son. Acceded aged 13. Died of smallpox 25 days later.

1694 - 1731

Maurice William

Brother. Acceded aged 6. Died aged 43 without an heir.

1694 - 1712

Erdmuthe Dorothea

Mother and regent.


The city of Spremberg suffers a great fire. Duke Henry, who governs Saxe-Merseburg-Spremburg, supports the subsequent rebuilding work, bestowing various privileges upon craftsmen which later leads to a burgeoning of trade and prosperity in the city.

Spremberg in Saxony
The city of Spremberg came to Saxe-Merseberg through the inheritance of the margraviate of Lower Lusatia, and was handed to a son of Christian I to form the junior line of Saxe-Merseburg-Spremberg between 1694-1731

1731 - 1738


Son of Christian I. No male heir. Regained by Saxe-Meissen.

1738 - 1814

Duke Henry is the last of his particular line, barring two daughters who are ineligible to succeed him. Instead, for the first time since 1656, his title passes back into the hands of the senior branch, Saxe-Meissen and Elector Frederick Augustus II.

In 1814 Prussia gains Saxe-Weissenfels, Saxe-Merseburg, and Saxe-Zeitz from a Saxony which has been reduced due to its unavoidable role in assisting Napoleon Bonaparte and his Confederation of the Rhine during the Napoleonic Wars.

Images and text copyright © all contributors mentioned on this page. An original king list page for the History Files.