1740-1789 Saxony, 1815-1830

Saxony, 1789-1815

FREDERICK AUGUSTUS III. had succeeded his father as Duke-Elector of Saxony in 1763 and assumed power after being declared of age in 1768. Regent Xaver had declared to, for the time being, to waiver a possible continuation of the PERSONAL UNION between Saxony and Poland in 1765. The Saxon government, in 1772 and again in 1793-1795, had to observe the PARTITION OF POLAND, a country the Duchy of Saxony had underheld close ties with between 1694 and 1763.
The last decades of the 18th century had seen a flourishing manufacture industry and the emergence of the first factories. The Saxon government had registered budget surplusses, public debt had been reduced. When the French Revolution erupted in 1789; Saxony was in a relatively good position. However, the last two years had brought misharvests, and the peasants were restless. News of the events in France were published in newspapers, such as Wieland's TEUTSCHER MERKUR, and in pamphlets. Peasants took matters in their own hands and, breaking the law, hunted deer, hares, wild boars that grazed on their fields, not only chasing them off, but hunting them on ground belonging to nobles, the church, the state. In May 1790 the administration had lost control of the situation; only when stern measures were undertaken in July, control was reestablished. In order to reduce tension, the stock of wildlife was drastically cut down.
CHRISTIAN BENJAMIN GEISSLER had published a series of pamphlets critical of the feudal system. On July 22nd 1790 a group of peasants refused corvee; on August 3rd a peasant uprising began, quickly expanding over much of Saxony.By August 23rd they were 8,000 men strong, poorly armed and badly organized. General HEINRICH ADOLF VON BOBLICK, in command of a force 5,600 men strong, suppressed the rebellion within a week; the ringleaders were arrested and severely punished. A law was passed in which antifeudal acts were descrbed as subversive and threatened by severe punishment.
The ideas of the French Revolution, however, were discussed in publications.
In 1792, Saxony stayed out of the Prussian-Austrian alliance which aimed at the restoration of France's absolute monarchy. Friedrich August rejected the Polish crown, offered to him in 1792; on Oct. 19th 1792 Saxony joined the Imperial War against France, contributing a force of 6,000.
During the REICHSDEPUTATIONSHAUPTSCHLUSS of 1803, Saxony made no territorial gain. Saxon troops fought alongside the Prussians in the BATTLES OF JENA AND AUERSTÄDT in 1806, where they were defeated by the French; large parts of Saxony were occupied by the French, French-style reforms introduced in the occupied area. On Dec. 11th 1806 the TREATY OF POSEN was signed; Saxony had to pay 25 million Francs in contributions and joined the CONFEDERATION OF THE RHINE. The reform policy begun under the French military administration was not continued. The population of Saxony in 1810 is given at 2,276,000.
When the map of Germany was reorganized again in 1806, Saxony was elevated to a KINGDOM. It gained COTTBUS (previously Prussian) but lost minor territories on its western border. However when in 1807 a Polish state was restored in the form of the GRAND DUCHY OF WARSAW, Saxony's King Frederick Augustus was chosen as its Grand Duke, the old Polish-Saxon Personal Union thus being restored. In regard to foreign policy, Saxony became a loyal ally of Napoleon, until the very end. During the BATTLE OF LEIPZIG 1813, which was fought on Saxon territory (500,000 combattants, 126,000 fatalities), entire regiments of the Saxon army went over to the Allies. Saxony joined in a number of French Campaigns, amongst others the campaigns against Prussia and Russia in 1807, against Austria in 1809 and against Russia in 1812. A number of Saxons joined in the German resistance against Napoleon, most notably Prussian Major FERDINAND VON SCHILL (a Saxon by birth) and patriotic poet THEODOR KÖRNER who, with other Saxon volunteers, had joined LÜTZOW'S CORPS and fell in the struggle.
King Frederick Augustus I. was taken prisoner in the Battle of Leipzig. In Saxony a provisorical allied government was established, first under Russian PRINCE REPNIN-WOLKONSKI (Oct. 21st 1813-Nov. 10th 1814), then under Prussian FREIHERR VON DER RECKE and General VON GAUDI. The King resumed his rule only on July 6th 1815. Immediately after the Battle of Leipzig, from the regiments which had changed sides a new Saxon Volunteer Corps was formed which joined the continued fight against the French. In 1815 the regiment was ordered to split, according to the home of the soldiers (Prussian Saxony or Rest-Saxony); the order caused a revolt in the regiment (May 2nd 1815, at Liege).
In 1813/1815, Prussia aimed at annexing entire Saxony; in the end, Prussia gained the northern half of Saxony (with 2/3 of the population), and in compensation, a part of Poland, the Grand Duchy of Posen.

Die Wettiner (the Wettin Dynasty), by Sven Wetzig, in German
Biography of Frederick Augustus III. / I., Duke Elector, since 1806 King of Saxony, from infoplease, in English, 7 lines; from EB 1911, in English, 46 lines, text garbled; from Leipzig Lexikon, in German, 26 lines
The Saxon Army 1810-1813, from Napoleon Series
The Saxon Army 1802-1815, from warflag.com
Schwerpunkte deutscher und sachsischer Geschichte im 19. Jahrhundert, from Freie Presse, in German
Radeberger Land und Sachsen während der Freiheitskriege, from Quellen und Lesestoffe der Dresdner Heidedörfer, Radeberger Land und Sachsen, in German
DOCUMENTS Vertrag von Posen, Dec. 11th 1806 (Treaty of Posen), from Documentarchiv, in German
Uniforms, Kingdom of Saxony, 1807-1813, from Histofig
Rheinbund Statistics of 1810, from Napoleon Online
Hamburgh Mail, June 22, 1815 : reports movement of the Prussian army in Saxony, posted by Napoleon Bonaparte Internet Guide
The Weekly Messenger, Dec 31, 1813, reports on actions the Saxon army took, posted by Napoleon Bonaparte Internet Guide
The Weekly Messenger, Oct. 8 1813, reports the reinforcement of French troops in Saxony, posted by Napoleon Bonaparte Internet Guide
New England Palladium & Commercial Advertiser -- Boston, July 13, 1813, mentions the Duke of Saxony meeting Napoleon; posted by Napoleon Bonaparte Internet Guide
Essex Register, Salem MA, June 22, 1814, reports on Prussian claims on Saxony, posted by Napoleon Bonaparte Internet Guide
The Weekly Messenger, Boston Dec 10 1813, on troops movements in Saxony, posted by the Napoleon Bonaparte Internet Guide
REFERENCE Reiner Gross, Geschichte Sachsens (History of Saxony), Berlin : Edition Leipzig 2001

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First posted on December 26th 2002, last revised on November 12th 2004

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