1648-1694 Saxony, 1740-1789

Saxony, 1694-1740

John George IV. died in 1694, after only three years of rule, succeeded by FREDERICK AUGUSTUS I. (1694-1733), called 'Augustus the Strong'. The conflict between Duke and Estates, which had begun under John George IV., continued; in 1709 the Land's Deputation was abolished, in 1711 the authority of the estates limired. In 1728 a LANDTAG ORDONNANCE was published, which prescrived the composition, procedure and authority of the Saxon Estates; the ordonnance was to remain in force until 1831.
In 1696, Polish King Jan Sobieski, the hero of Vienna, died. As Poland was an elective monarchy, Duke Frederick Augustus declared his candidacy for the Polish crown. On June 27th 1697, he was elected. In order to qualify for the Polish crown, Frederick Augustus I., as a private individual, converted to Catholicism, after signing a document in which he guaranteed Lutheranism as state confession in Saxony. The election had been costly, and was financed by ceding border territory such as Quedlinburg as a pawn, and by selling the claim to the inheritance of Sachsen-Lauenburg. As part of his coronation oath, Frederick Augustus had promised to restore Livonia (lost to Sweden in 1621) to the Polish crown. This brought Saxony in conflict with Poland's traditional enemy, Sweden. Swedish King Charles XI. had died in 1697, and was succeeded by his sin Charles XII., still a minor. Sweden's neighbours regarded the moment having arrived to strike against Sweden and regain lost territory; Denmark, Saxony-Poland and Russia were to sign an alliance when Charles XII. took command of his army, forced Denmark to stay out of the war, defeated the Russian forces and then turned on Poland. In the humiliating PEACE OF ALTRANSTÄDT 1706, Frederick Augustus had to resign his Polish crown. After Charles was defeated at Poltava in 1709, Frederick Augustus resumed his rule (1710-1733).
In Saxony, a state bureaucracy was established - a Secret Cabinet in c.1704, in 1706 a General War Tribunal, in 1707 an Auditioning College, in 1718 a State Construction Authority. Saxony was presented by permanent diplomatic missions in Vienna, Copenhagen, London, Stockholm, Berlin, Paris etc.; Dresden was King Frederick Augustis' main residence. Mercantilist policy, in the years after the Swedish threat had been dealt with, resulted in a reduction of state debt. Frederick Augustus supported Johann Friedrich Boettger's experiments, which succeeded in the production of PORCELAIN. The Ducal Saxon Porcelein Manufacture at Meissen (1710) was the first European factory to produce porcelein of a quality matching that of chinaware. In 1700 Saxony introduced the GREGORIAN CALENDAR. Silk industry had been established in Saxony in 1675, In 1703 the COLLEGE OF COMMERCE was established, as an office to supervise production and trade. Plans of a Saxon-Polish colonial policy failed because of the Great Northern War.
Frederick Augustus modelled his court after that of Versailles; ballet, theatre, opera performances, balls attracted artists and noblemen from far beyond the Saxon borders. Just as Louis XIV., Frederick Augustus had maitresses, which had a political function at the court, the first and most important being AURORA VON KÖNIGSMARCK. Frederick had a number of illegitimate children, of which Maurice de Saxe, son of Aurora von Koenigsmarck, later would gain fame as French general.
After the humiliating Treaty of Altranstaedt, the Saxon army was reformed and enlarged (30,000 men in 1717). JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH lived and composed in the prospering city of Leipzig, famous for her fairs.
Frederick Augustus I. pursuied a policy of religious toleration, permitted the settlement of Jews and of Moravian Brethren in Saxony.
In 1733, Frederick Augustus I. died. In Saxony, he was succeeded by FREDERICK AUGUSTUS II.; the latter also declared his candidacy for the Polish crown, where he faced a challenger in Stanislas Lesczynski, who under Charles XII. (1704-1710) briefly had worn the Polish crown. While France supported the latter, Austria and Russia firmly stood behind the Saxon; the WAR OF POLISH SUCCESSION ensued (1733-1735). The Austro-Russian-Saxon forces prevailed; Frederick Augustus II. succeeded his father in Poland as well (1735-1763).

See Great Northern War
See War of Polish Succession

Die Wettiner (the Wettin Dynasty), by Sven Wetzig, in German
Illustrated biography of Augustus II. (as King of Poland; Duke Elector Frederick Augustus I. of Saxony), from Polish Kings
Illustrated biography of Augustus III. (as King of Poland; Duke Elector Frederick Augustus II. of Saxony), from Polish Kings
Article Augustus III., from EB 1911, in English, 30 lines
August der Starke - Sachsens Sonnenkönig (Augustus the Strong - Saxony's Sun King), from MDR, in German, illustrated, 46 lines (actually a movie review); from BBKL, in German, 11 lines, bibliography; from Dresden Online, in German, 22 lines
Article Altranstädt, from EB 1911, in English, 8 lines
Treaty of Altranstädt, 1706, from Military History Encyclopedia on the Web, 3 lines
Biographies of Böttger, Johann Friedrich, from DAF Kurse - Menschen, in German, illustrated, detailed; from Lutherstadt Wittenberg, in German, 25 lines
Staatliche Porzellan Manufaktur Meissen, website, English version
Saxon Army in the War of Polish Succession, by Vlad Gromoboy
Notes on the Saxon Army, 1700-1717, by Dan Schorr
Saxon Auxiliary Corps 1735, from NPI, by Vlad Gromoboy

Das Kurfürstentum Sachsen und die grosse europäische Politik (The Electorate of Saxony and Grand European Politics), posted by H.J. Haupt, in German
DOCUMENTS Paulus Jenisius, Annaberger Chronik 1691-1700, 1701-1710, 1711-1720, 1721-1730, 1731-1740
REFERENCE Reiner Gross, Geschichte Sachsens (History of Saxony), Berlin : Edition Leipzig 2001
Selma Stern, The Court Jew, A Contribution to the History of Absolutism in Europe, NY (1950) : Transaction Books 1985, especially pp.72-86 (on Bernd Lehmann), pp.144-145

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First posted on December 24th 2002, last revised on November 12th 2004

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