Albertine Saxony
Saxony, 1618-1648

Saxony, 1547-1618

In the SCHMALKALDIC WAR (1546-1547), Duke MAURICE acquired Electoral Saxony (Kursachsen). With the exception of some Thuringian territory, the lands the WETTIN DYNASTY owned before the Leipzig partition of 1485 were reunited under his rule. Maurice's policy now focused on gaining the recognition of his new subjects in Electoral Saxony, dealing with the problem of continued Ernestine claims on Electoral Saxony, and the highly sensitive situation developing within the Empire, where Charles V. wanted to harmonize religious policy.
Duke Alberts testament of the indivisibility of the lands of the Albertine line of the Wettin Dynasty (of 1499) now applied for the entire territory, from now on referred to as Electoral Saxony. A unified diet (LANDTAG) was held, attended by the leading Lutheran theologians (Melanchthon, Bugenhagen); Lutheranism confirmed as state confession, the organisation of Lutheran institutions (Consistoria) standardized. Duke Maurice was fully recognized by his new subjects.
On the Imperial Diet in Augsburg, Emperor Charles V. proposed the acceptance of a Church Ordonnance, prepared by a joint commission of two Catholic and two Lutheran theologians. The matter was hotly disputed; Duke Maurice after giving a conditional approval, withdrew from the diet. In March 1548 the Emperor proclaimed a version of the Church Ordonnance, revised at the request of Catholic bishops, as binding for the Lutheran territories. Maurice now retracted his approval; the Saxon Lutheran theologians rejected the document outright.
In this highly sensitive situation, Duke Maurice took up contact with an alliance of Northern German Lutheran princes established in 1550. Maurice's troops, in the name of the Emperor, laid siege to the city of MAGDEBURG; the city surrendered on November 6th 1551. Having left the Emperor under the impression that he still loyally stood to him, in 1551-1552 he negotiated a treaty of alliance which bound King Henry II. of France with Germany's Lutheran princely opposition, now headed by himself - the balance of powers within Germany was restored; now, Charles V. regarded Duke-Elector Maurice as a traitor.
Duke Maurice took command of the troops the various princes of the Lutheran league had raised and marched southward, taking the city of Augsburg on April 3rd 1552. Then the Lutheran princes demanded the Emperor to release Count Philip of Hessen and Duke John Frederick of imprisonment; in May they marched off in the direction of Innsbruck, where the Emperor resided. As Imperial troops failed to stop the advance, the Emperor fled. The TREATY OF PASSAU was signed August 2nd 1552, which contained the outline for the PEACE OF AUGSBURG of 1555.
Maurice disbanded his troops and took command of the Imperial troops in the campaign against the Turks. When Count Albrecht Alkibiades of Brandenburg-Kulmbach caused trouble by marching his troops into the Duchy of Braunschweig (Brunswick), Maurice took command of the troops of the alliance of Lutheran princes opposing him. Duke Maurice died from a wound received in battle (1553), at the young age of 32, having left his lasting mark on the history of Electoral Saxony as well as on Germany as a whole.
Maurice was succeeded by his brother AUGUSTUS I. (1553-1586). In September 1553 a treaty was signed with Count Albrecht Alkibiades of Brandenburg- Kulmbach, ending the hostilities with this foe. In 1554 a treaty was signed ending the claims of the Ernestine line, which were granted monetary compensation for their losses of 1547. The PEACE OF AUGSBURG 1555 formally recognized the legality of Saxony's Lutheran state confession. Electoral Saxony held the presidency within the SAXON CIRCLE (one of the 12 Imperial circles).
Augustus, who had inherited a duchy heavily indebted, in decades of peaceful rule, increased state revenues, paid off debt and filled up the treasure box; his son Christian I. inherited, along with country and title, 2 million guilders. A major source of revenue were Saxony's mines (silver, tin, copper); new mining ordonnances had been passed in 1554, 1571 and 1575; some of the mines were operated in the name of the duke himself. Metal processing industry flourished, too; the city of Leipzig was a major center of trade, the LEIPZIG FAIRS attracting merchants from near and far. The cities of Leipzig and Dresden had a population of 15,000 each.
Under Augustus, the former princebishoprics of Meissen, Merseburg and Naumburg/Zeitz were fully integrated into the Saxon state, church property confiscated, in 1556/1569 the VOGTLAND acquired by purchase, other smaller territories acquired from the Ernestinian Line and from the Counts of Henneberg. When the County of Mansfeld (rich in mines) was partitioned, Saxony acquired its share. In foreign policy, Duke Albrecht leant on the Habsburg Dynasty, a policy which provided Saxony with the serenity necessary for her economy to flourish.
In 1557, the Ducal Library was founded, in 1560 a Chamber of the Arts established; in the residence of Dresden a lot of construction was going on (AUGUSTUSBURG 1568-1573), in Elbe Renaissance style, often under Italian architects.
The Council of Trent had ended in 1563; the Saxon Lutheran Church in 1571 adopted the WITTENBERG CATECHISM. Among protestant theologians, a dispute had erupted between orthodox Lutherans and so-called crypto-Calvinists, the catechism also intended to distance Saxony's christians from Calvinism.
In 1586, Augustus died, and was succeeded by his son CHRISTIAN (1586-1591). He and his councillor NIKOLAUS KRELL introduced to Saxony what is referred to as the SECOND REFORMATION. Orthodox Lutherans lost in political influence, a pro-reformed party gained. Saxony deviated from the policy of leaning on Habsburg, promoted the policy of reconciliation between the Lutheran territories and the Calvinist Counts palatinate. A school policy reform reduced the influence of the Lutheran church over the schools. The practise of EXORCISM was prohibited (1591). Duke-Elector Christian I. died in 1591; his son Christian II. (1591-1611) was still a minor. The orthodox Lutheran party regained control; Calvinist tendencies were fought. The DIET OF TORGAU in 1592 decided to oust all Calvinists from positions in administration, jurisdiction, education and the church. Councillor Krell, who had promoted Calvinism, was accused, sentenced and executed in 1601, the year when the regency ended.
In 1608, the PROTESTANT UNION was founded as an alliance of protestant princes, Electoral Saxony being one of the union's most prominent members. The peace within the Empire was threatened; the JUELICH SUCCESSION DISPUTE (since 1609) was observed with concern by both the Catholic and the Protestant sides.
In 1611, Duke-Elector Christian II. died, succeeded by JOHN GEORGE I. (1611-1656).

Biografie August von Sachsen (biography of Augustus), from BBKL, in German, 20 lines, bibliography
Die Wettiner (the Wettin Dynasty), by Sven Wetzig, in German
Moritz von Sachsen (Maurice of Saxony), from Leipzig Lexikon, in German, 26 lines; from MDR, in German, illustrated, detailed ; from BBKL, in German, 47 lines, bibliography
REFERENCE Reiner Gross, Geschichte Sachsens (History of Saxony), Berlin : Edition Leipzig 2001

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on December 23rd 2002, last revised on November 12th 2004

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