1547-1618 Saxony, 1648-1694

Saxony, 1618-1648

In 1611, Duke-Elector JOHN GEORGE I. (-1656) had succeeded to the throne of Electoral Saxony. He pursued a foreign policy of leaning on the Habsburg Dynasty, which may be explained by his suspicion of other leading protestant powers (Brandenburg, Palatinate) as much as by his conviction that the opportunities offered to him (the Imperial crown, offered by the protestant princes in 1617; the crown of Bohemia and its adjacent territories, 1618) would both be too much to stomach and result in Saxony having to face a conflict with the powerful Habsburg dynasty. So Lutheran Electoral Saxony was a reliable ally of the Habsburgs; in 1619 Duke-Elector John George I. (in an electoral council where the protestants, for the first time, held a majority) cast his vote for the Habsburg candidate, Ferdinand II.
In 1620, Electoral Saxony joined the Bavarian-Austrian invasion of Bohemia; the Saxon troops occupied the LAUSITZ and SILESIA. The LAUSITZ was treated as a Saxon pawn, Silesia returned to Habsburg rule. From 1620 to 1629, Electoral Saxony remained neutral, while the surrounding territories suffered from the devastating 30 Years War.
In 1629, Emperor Ferdinand II. piblished the EDICT OF RESTITUTION, ordering all church property which had been confiscated after 1555 to be returned to the Catholic Church. Electoral Saxony had to regard this as a threat, although Emperor Ferdinand, in the moment, did not intend to enforce the edict against his hitherto loyal ally.
In 1630 Swedish troops under Gustavis Adolphus landed in Pomerania and entered the war theatre. The Swedish troops pressed on Saxony to sign a treaty of alliance (signed Sept. 11th 1631); Saxony was most attractive to the Swwedes, as the rich country hitherto had escaped the war and therefore was most suited to feed the Swedish army (in the 30 Years War, the armies lived off the land they occupied). The battles of Breitenfeld (1631) and Lützen (1632) were fought on the periphery of Saxon territory. When the Swedes were defeated in the BATTLE OF NÖRDLINGEN in 1634, the Habsburg diplomacy succeeded in signing a separate peace treaty with Saxony (1635); the Emperor formally ceded the LAUSITZ over to John George I. and promised the Archdiocesis of Magdeburg to the latter. However, this treaty did not include the Swedes, whose troops now entered Saxony; the country suffered more than in the preceding years. From 1641, Sweden concentrated her efforts on Saxony. The Saxons suffered defeats in the BATTLES OF LEIPZIG 1642 and of JANKOWITZ 1645. A truce was signed, which in 1646 was altered into a permanent peace treaty; it came costly for Saxony.
The TREATY OF WESTPHALIA did not fulfil Saxon expectations, as Saxony only acquired parts of the Magdeburg territory permanently, the larger part temporarily (until 1680, from when the city and territory fell to archrival Brandenburg).
While the 30 Years War had caused less devastation than in Thuringia, Silesia and Brandenburg, Saxony had suffered severe damage; the city of Leipzig had been besieged and taken five times.

John George I. of Saxony, from EB 1911, in English, 55 lines, text partially garbled
Die Wettiner (the Wettin Dynasty), by Sven Wetzig, in German
Johann Georg I. von Sachsen, from Wer war wer im Dreissigjährigen Krieg ?, in German, illustrated, detailed Slaget vid Leipzig 1642, from I16-IB16 Kamratten, in Swedish
Defensivvertrag zu Prag, 1635 (Defensive Treaty of Prague), from Geschichte des Hohen Fläming by Martin Opitz, in German
30jähriger Krieg, from Quellen und Lesestoffe Dresdner Heidedörfer, Radeberger Land und Sachsen, in German
DOCUMENTS Paulus Jenisius, Annaberger Chronik, 1611-1620, 1621-1630, 1631-1640, 1641-1650
Edict of Restitution, 1629, from The Crown and the Cross, in English
Medal : Centenary of the Augsburg Confession; Duke Johann Georg of Sachsen (1630), from Medal Web, Collection Benjamin Weiss
Medal : Conference at Leipzig (1631), from Medal Web, Collection Benjamin Weiss
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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