History Files

European Kingdoms

Central Europe


Saxe-Weimar (Saxony)
AD 1553 - 1918

The electorate of Saxe-Thuringen was a descendant of the electorate of Saxony which had been reconstituted in 1356 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 1356 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, 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 Wettin 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 the duke's younger brother. Upon the death of John Frederick I in 1553, Saxe-Yhuringen 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.)

1554 - 1573

John William

Son of John Frederick I of Saxe-Thuringen.


Saxe-Gotha is partitioned to form the junior subdivisions of Saxe-Coburg and Saxe-Eisenach.


After one generation Saxe-Eisenach's holdings are handed out to the newly created Saxe-Altenberg and Saxe-Weimar. Saxe-Altenberg 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.


Saxe-Coburg doesn't outlive its sole duke, going Saxe-Eisenach.

1640 - 1680

Saxe-Gotha re-emerges (for two generations of dukes). Saxe-Eisenach also re-emerges for just four years before being divided up between Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Gotha.


Saxe-Merseburg, Saxe-Weissenfels, and Saxe-Zeitz are created.


Saxe-Eisenach reappears (for two generations) out of Saxe-Weimar. Both Saxe-Jena (which lasts for two generations), and Saxe-Marksuhl are also partitioned out of Saxe-Weimar.


Saxe-Eisenach goes to Saxe-Marksuhl.


Saxe-Gotha is divided for the seven sons of Duke Ernst der Fromme ('the Pious'). Saxe-Eisenberg is created for one generation. Saxe-Meiningen is also created. Saxe-Gotha re-emerges (for two generations of dukes) and is partitioned between (and into) Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (1680-1825), Saxe-Coburg (which re-emerges under one duke only), Saxe-Meiningen, Saxe-Römhild, Saxe-Eisenberg, Saxe-Hildburghausen (1680-1826), and Saxe-Saalfeld.


Saxe-Eisenach reappears (for three generations).


The duchy of Saxe-Lauenburg 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.


Saxe-Jena is divided between Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Eisenach.


Saxe-Coburg and Saxe-Saalfeld are merged, becoming Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld.


Saxe-Eisenberg goes to Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg.


Saxe-Römhild goes to Saxe-Meiningen.


Saxe-Zeitz goes to the electorate of Saxony.


Saxe-Merseburg goes to the electorate of Saxony.


Saxe-Eisenach goes to Saxe-Weimar, which is renamed Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach . It survives until 1918. One of its most notable grand dukes is Prince Bernhard, who serves as governor-general of Luxembourg in 1831.

Princess Anna of Prussia
Princess Maria Anna Friederike (Anna), daughter of Prince Charles of Prussia and Princess Marie of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, married Prince Frederick William I of Hessen-Kassel in 1853 but, as his second wife following the tragic death of his first during childbirth, she found the relationship to be loveless, if productive (oil on canvas by Franz Xaver Winterhalter) (click or tap on image to view full sized)


The wife of Duke Ernest III of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld is heiress to Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, so when her father dies, the latter title falls to Ernest as Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

Saxe-Altenburg is detached from Saxe-Gotha and passes to Saxe-Hildburghausen. The duke of Saxe-Hildburghausen takes this title in place of his previous title, and Saxe-Hildburghausen passes to Saxe-Meiningen. Saxe-Meiningen is renamed Saxe-Meiningen-Hildburghausen. It also survives until 1918.