1694-1740 Saxony, 1789-1815

Saxony, 1740-1789

FREDERICK AUGUSTUS II. had become Duke Elector of Saxony in 1733. In the same year he had been elected King AUGUSTUS III. of Poland; however he had to compete with another elected Polish King, Stanislas Lesczinsky. In the ensuing War of Polish Succession, Augustus III. prevailed, thanks to the Austrian and Russian forces.
At the court of Frederick Augustus, HEINRICH VON BRÜHL quickly rose to occupy a dominant position. In 1738 he was granted the privilege to exclusively present in the ducal council; in 1738/1740 rival councillors were dismissed. In 1746 he was appointed PRIME MINISTER, an office created for von Brühl. His critics accused him of enriching himself at the duchy's expense, of intriguing to monopolize power and of manipulating the Duke Elector / King, of pursuing a policy ruinous to the Duchy.
When Emperor Charles VI. died in 1740, without a son, Saxony, despite previously having recognized the PRAGMATIC SANCTION (Treaty of Vienna, 1733), joined Bavaria and Prussia in not recognizing the succession of Maria Theresia. While Bavarian troops invaded Upper Austria and Prussian troops occupied Silesia, Saxon troops invaded Bohemia. Prague was taken on November 26th 1741. However, when a peace treaty was signed, Prussia gained Silesia, while Saxony failed to gain any territory. Von Brühl was disillusioned of Prussia's intentions toward Saxony and now worked toward establishing an anti-Prussian alliance. In the Second Silesian War (1744-1745), Saxon troops fought alongside Austrian troops against the Prussians; the BATTLES OF HOHENFRIEDBERG (June 4th 1745) and of KESSELSDORF (Dec. 15th 1745), however, though hard fought, were lost, and Saxony's capital Dresden had to surrender. Peace conditions were humiliating; Saxony did not lose any territory, but had to pay an indemnity of 1,000,000 Taler.
The population for Saxony in 1750 is estimated at 1.3 million.
The so-called DIPLOMATIC REVOLUTION of 1756, in which France entered into an anti-Prussian alliance with Austria, Russia, Sweden had long been striven for by Saxon diplomacy. Saxony-Poland, however, at this point of time, was not to join this alliance, as King Frederick II. of Prussia, well-informed by Saxon cabinet secretary Menzel, invaded and defeated Saxony in a preventive war (1756). Saxony surrendered on October 16th; Prussia confiscated Saxon treasure and revenue and pressed the entire Saxon army into Prussian service. During the ensuing SEVEN YEARS WAR, Saxony at times was the theatre of war. Saxon The war resulted in population loss, severe damage and financial ruin. Only after Prussia suffered defeats at the hands of the Russian army, could Saxony reenter the war and send newly raised troops into the field against Prussia. The Saxon military contribution, however, was of little significance. In 1763, the TREATY OF HUBERTUSBURG was signed, at a Saxon palace plundered and destroyed by the Prussians in 1760. Saxony's lack of weight in international diplomacy was expressed by the fact that Prussia's Frederick the Great, by refusing to negotiate with Saxon prime minister von Brühl, in effect influenced the representation and policy of Saxony. The treaty confirmed the status quo ante.
Although Saxony had not lost any territory, the Seven Years War had been the worst disaster the country had suffered since the Thirty Years' War; during the 7 Years War, the Prussians had pressed 48,000,000 Talers in contributions (designated as such) out of the Saxons; the complete figure is higher. Now, von Brühl lost his political power; the office of prime minister was abolished. THOMAS VON FRITSCH became the most influential Saxon politician; he promoted economic reconstruction, the reduction of state debt. A newly established RESTAURATION COMMISSION was placed in charge. Frederick Augustus III. and his former prime minister, Heinrich von Brühl, both died in 1763. FREDERICK CHRISTIAN, son of Frederick Augustus II., died the same year. As Frederick Christian's son, Frederick Augustus III., was still a minor, Frederick Christian's brother XAVER was appointed regent (1763-1768). However, Poland needed an adult king; in 1765, the Saxon diplomacy declared that the Personal Union, for the moment, could not be upheld. FREDERICK AUGUSTUS III. was declared mature in 1768.
Reconstruction took time; in 1774 Saxony again registered a budget surplus. Since 1764, the State Economy, Manufacture and Commerce Commission collected statistical data; prices were offered for inventions and technical improvements. In agriculture, new fodder plants (clover etc.) were cultivated, fertilizer used. In 1765 the FREIBERG MINING ACADEMY was founded; an ACADEMY OF THE FINE ARTS had been established in Dresden in 1764. A DUCAL VETERINARIANS SCHOOL (1780), an INSTITUTE FOR THE DEAF-MUTES (1778) followed. A number of scholarly societies were founded. Of significant importance for the development of the German secondary school system (in the coming century) was the establishment of the first REALSCHULE in Dresden 1784. It had been conceived as an alternative to the traditional gymnasium; while the latter focussed on the classic languages, the curriculum of the realschule was to include modern languages and place higher emphasis on mathematics and sciences.
In 1777, Duke-Elector Maximilian III. Joseph of Bavaria died, without children. Frederick Augustus III. of Saxony was among those who raised claims on the inheritance, in competition with Emperor Joseph II. and Karl Theodor of Pfalz-Neuburg. The War of Bavarian Succession ensued; Austrian troops occupied parts of Bavaria. Prussia's King Frederick the Great, in order to block Austrian expansion, signed a convention with Saxony on April 2nd 1778. This war, for the larger part, was fought on the diplomatic front; among others, territorial swaps were discussed. After negotiations failed, the war was fought on Bohemian territory, Saxon troops fighting alongside the Prussians. In 1779, the PEACE OF TESCHEN was signed; Karl Theodor inherited Bavaria; Austria annexed the Innviertel, Saxony received a compensation of 6 million guilders, to be paid by Bavaria.

Die Wettiner (the Wettin Dynasty), by Sven Wetzig, in German
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
Article Treaty of Hubertusburg, from aeiou
Article War of Bavarian Succession, from aeiou
Schloss Hubertusburg, from Wermsdorf Webpage, in German, illustrated
Biography of Heinrich von Bruehl, from SLUB Dresden, illustrated, in German; from Columbia Encyclopedia, in English, 8 lines
Battle of Kesselsdorf, from Carlyle, History of Frederick the Great ( Projekt Gutenberg), in English
Saxon Uhlans 1730-63. on NPI, by Vlad Gromoboy
Artikel Ephraimiden (Prussian War Coinage struck in Leipzig by Ephraim in 1756), from DBNL, scroll down for Ephraimiden; in Dutch
Zur Situation in Sachsen nach dem Siebenjahrigen Kriege (On the Situation of Saxony after the 7 Years War), from Quellen und Lesestoffe Dresdner Heidedörfer, Radeberger Land und Sachsen, in German
On the costs of the Seven Years War : Siebenjähriger Krieg, from Preussen Web, in German
DOCUMENTS Poem : Johann Philipp Lorenz Withof, Der grosse Koenigliche Friede zu Hubertusburg, from Projekt Gutenberg, in German
REFERENCE Reiner Gross, Geschichte Sachsens (History of Saxony), Berlin : Edition Leipzig 2001, in German [G]
Helen Watanabe-O'Kelly, Religion and the Consort : two Electresses of Saxony and Queens of Poland, 1697-1757, pp.252-275 in : Clarissa Campbell Orr, Queenship in Europe, 1660-1815. The Role of Consort, Cambridge : UP 2004, KMLA Lib.Sign. 940.09 076q

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on December 26th 2002, last revised on February 22nd 2006

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