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Saxe-Zeitz (Saxony)
AD 1656 - 1718

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 Maurice of Saxe-Zeitz held Zeitz itself, but apparently little else. He decided to demolish the medieval bishop's castle in Zeitz and construct a Baroque palace in its place. Schloss Moritzburg (the 'palace of Maurice's town') was completed in 1678, in time for the duke to breath his last inside it, just three years later.

(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 - 1681

Maurice

Son of John George I of Saxe-Meissen.

1681 - 1718

Maurice William

Son. Acceded aged 16. Outlived all heirs.

1681 - 1684

John George III

Cousin and regent. Elector of Saxony.

1683

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.

Jan Sobieski of Poland at the end of the siege of Vienna in 1683
Jan Sobieski is pictured here, having played a vital part in lifting the Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1683 with perhaps the largest cavalry charge in history, consisting of 20,000 mounted men

1702 - 1710

Sweden moves fast to try and knock Saxony and Poland out of the Great Northern War by occupying large areas of Poland. Warsaw is captured on 14 May 1702, and a Polish-Saxon army is again defeated, this time at the Battle of Kliszów in July 1702. Following this disaster, Kraków falls to the invaders and the Swedes place a vassal ruler on the Polish throne while Elector Augustus marshals his forces in Saxony.

Duke Maurice William of Saxe-Zeitz attempts to seek out Swedish support in his cause to have his lands recognised as an independent imperial entity, but instead Swedish troops occupy Zeitz for a time in 1709.

Eventual victory falls to Russia, Poland, and Denmark in 1721, when the Treaty of Nystad ends the Swedish Scandinavian empire. The personal union between Saxony and Poland is renewed on 8 August 1709 when Augustus regains the Polish throne. His victory at the Battle of Poltava has made it impossible for the vassal king to retain any pretence of ruling Poland. Instead he retreats with his Swedish masters to Swedish-controlled Pomerania.

Capture of Malmo 1709
The capture of the town of Malmo in 1709 by Count Magnus Stenbock was probably one of the last Swedish victories of the Great Northern War as Russia and her allies defeated the Swedes later the same year

1710

Frederick August

Son of Maurice William and heir. Died.

1715

Frederick Henry

Brother of Maurice William and new heir. Died.

1718 - 1814

Duke Maurice William 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 I. 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.