History Files

European Kingdoms

Central Europe


Saxe-Ratzeburg (Saxony)
AD 1305 - 1689

Saxe-Mölln-Bergedorf and the duchy of 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.

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.

1361 - 1368

Erich II

1368 - 1401

Erich IV

Ruled a reunited Saxe-Lauenburg from 1401.


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

Duchy of Saxe-Ratzeburg (Saxe-Lauenburg)

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

1570 - 1575

Signed in 1570, the Stettin Peace Treaty stipulates that Sweden is supposed to return to Denmark its holding of Maasi Castle in the duchy of Ösel, along with its surrounding territory, but the act is delayed. John III of Sweden fails to respect the peace treaty and in 1575 he gives Maasi Castle to 'Duke Magnus of Saxe-Lauenburg', who is allied to Sweden (a problematical assertion as Franz I is the current duke. His son, the future Magnus II, is the probable candidate here).

Magnus arrives on Ösel in the same year, promptly taking over Maasi Castle and, somewhat later, the neighbouring Muhu island as well. While there, he imprisons the Danish Praetor Claus (Klaus) von Ungern but soon releases him and leaves Ösel.

As a response, Ungern surrounds the Swedish-held Maasi Castle. A few days later the city’s defenders surrender thanks to a large fire breaking out in the castle. As the Swedes had easily been able to capture it not once but twice, the castle is blown up in 1576 upon the orders of Frederik II of Denmark.

1581 - 1603

Magnus II

Briefly held Maasi Castle on Ösel?

1603 - 1619

Franz II

1619 - 1656


1656 - 1665

Julius Heinrich

1665 - 1666

Franz Erdmann

1666 - 1689

Julius Franz


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.


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


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-Lauenburg into personal union (annexation in all but name, which turns into fact in 1876).