Augustus, Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels

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Augustus, Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels

August Saxe-Weissenfels.jpg

Augustus, Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels
Born(1614-08-13)13 August 1614
Died 4 June 1680(1680-06-04) (aged 65)
Noble family House of Wettin
Spouse(s) Anna Maria of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Johanna Walpurgis of Leiningen-Westerburg
Father John George I, Elector of Saxony
Mother Magdalene Sibylle of Prussia

Augustus of Saxe-Weissenfels (Dresden, 13 August 1614 – 4 June 1680, Halle), was a Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels-Querfurt of the House of Wettin and administrator of the Archbishopric of Magdeburg.

Dresden Place in Saxony, Germany

Dresden is the capital city and, after Leipzig, the second-largest city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the border with the Czech Republic.


Saxe-Weissenfels was a duchy of the Holy Roman Empire from 1656/7 until 1746 with its residence at Weißenfels. Ruled by a cadet branch of the Albertine House of Wettin, the duchy passed to the Electorate of Saxony upon the extinction of the line.

House of Wettin noble family

The House of Wettin is a dynasty of German counts, dukes, prince-electors and kings that once ruled territories in the present-day German states of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. The dynasty is one of the oldest in Europe, and its origins can be traced back to the town of Wettin, Saxony-Anhalt. The Wettins gradually rose to power within the Holy Roman Empire. Members of the family became the rulers of several medieval states, starting with the Saxon Eastern March in 1030. Other states they gained were Meissen in 1089, Thuringia in 1263, and Saxony in 1423. These areas cover large parts of Central Germany as a cultural area of Germany.


He was the fourth (but second surviving) son of John George I, Elector of Saxony, and his second wife, Magdalene Sibylle of Prussia.

John George I, Elector of Saxony German noble

John George I was Elector of Saxony from 1611 to 1656.

Early life

On 23 January 1628, at the age of 13, August was appointed administrator of the Archbishopric of Magdeburg by its Chapter to replace the current holder of that title, Christian Wilhelm of Brandenburg. By that time, August had already served three years as coadjutor. Nevertheless, he could not assume his post: on 20 May 1631, after seven months of siege and plundering during the Sack of Magdeburg, the city was taken by the Imperial troops; the Catholic competitor for the diocese, Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria, assumed the title of archbishop and administrator of Magdeburg. The Peace of Prague (1635) confirmed his rule over the city, but three years later, Swedish troops expelled the Habsburg army and restored August as administrator as of 19 October 1638. August finally took full control of Magdeburg on 31 December 1642 after a neutrality treaty was concluded with the Swedish general Lennart Torstenson. He was then able to begin the reconstruction of the city.

Chapter (religion) body of clergy in Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Nordic Lutheran churches

A chapter is one of several bodies of clergy in Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Nordic Lutheran churches or their gatherings.

Coadjutor bishop position

A coadjutor bishop is a bishop in the Catholic, Anglican, and (historically) Eastern Orthodox churches whose main role is to assist the diocesan bishop in the administration of the diocese. The coadjutor is a bishop himself, although he is also appointed as vicar general. The coadjutor bishop is, however, given authority beyond that ordinarily given to the vicar general, making him co-head of the diocese in all but ceremonial precedence. In modern times, the coadjutor automatically succeeds the diocesan bishop upon the latter's retirement, removal, or death.

Sack of Magdeburg destruction of the Protestant city of Magdeburg on 20 May 1631 by the Imperial Army and the forces of the Catholic League

The Sack of Magdeburg, also called Magdeburg Wedding or Magdeburg's Sacrifice, was the destruction of the Protestant city of Magdeburg on 20 May 1631 by the Imperial Army and the forces of the Catholic League, resulting in the deaths of around 20,000, including both defenders and non-combatants. The incident is considered the worst massacre of the Thirty Years' War. Magdeburg, then one of the largest cities in Germany, having well over 25,000 inhabitants in 1630, did not recover its importance until well in the 18th century.

In 1643 August was accepted into the Fruitbearing Society at the behest of Louis I, Prince of Anhalt-Köthen.

Fruitbearing Society literary society

The Fruitbearing Society was a German literary society founded in 1617 in Weimar by German scholars and nobility. Its aim was to standardize vernacular German and promote it as both a scholarly and literary language, after the pattern of the Accademia della Crusca in Florence and similar groups already thriving in Italy, followed in later years also in France (1635) and Britain.

Louis I, Prince of Anhalt-Köthen German prince

Louis I of Anhalt-Köthen, was a German prince of the House of Ascania and ruler of the unified principality of Anhalt. From 1603, he was ruler of the principality of Anhalt-Köthen. He was also a founder of the first German Society.

Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels

In his will of 20 July 1652, Elector John George I ordered a division of the Albertine territories that was carried out on 22 April 1657 in Dresden. August inherited the towns of Weißenfels and Querfurt and became their first duke.

Weißenfels Place in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany

Weißenfels is the largest town of the Burgenlandkreis district, in southern Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. It is situated on the river Saale, approximately 30 km (20 mi) south of Halle.

Querfurt Place in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany

Querfurt is a town in the Saalekreis district, or Kreis, in southern Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. It is located in a fertile area on the Querne, 18 miles (29 km) west from Merseburg. In 2005, the town had a population of 12,935.

August also increased his incomes by taking over the administration of the County of Barby during the minority of Count August Ludwig. On 17 October 1659, however, the young count died shortly before attaining his majority. With him, the line of Barby became extinct. A dispute over his lands was resolved in favor of August seven years later (1666). In his will, the duke left Barby to his son Heinrich.

Barby, Germany Place in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany

Barby is a town in the Salzlandkreis district, in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. It is situated on the left bank of the River Elbe, near the confluence with the Saale, approx. 25 km (16 mi) southeast of Magdeburg. Since an administrative reform of 1 January 2010 it comprises the former municipalities of the Verwaltungsgemeinschaft Elbe-Saale, except for Gnadau, that joined Barby in September 2010.

Heinrich of Saxe-Weissenfels, Count of Barby German prince, Count of Barby

Heinrich of Saxe-Weissenfels, Count of Barby, was a German prince of the House of Wettin and count of Barby.

On 25 July 1660, August laid the first stone for his official residence, Schloss Neu-Augustusburg in Weissenfels. This castle was built in the same place as the old one, which had been devastated by Swedish troops. The duke died before the castle was finished.

On 15 July 1667, the sons of the late Duke Wilhelm of Saxe-Weimar offered August the presidency of the Fruitbearing Society. He accepted the office with its responsibility for fostering the work of artists and scientists. His activities as a patron left considerable debts for his descendants to deal with.

Marriages and issue

In Schwerin on 23 November 1647 August married Anna Maria of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. They had twelve children:

  1. Magdalene Sibylle (b. Halle, 2 September 1648 - d. Gotha, 7 January 1681), married on 14 November 1669 to Duke Frederick I of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg. She was an ancestor of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom.
  2. Johann Adolf I (b. Halle, 2 November 1649 - d. Weissenfels, 24 May 1697).
  3. August (b. Halle, 3 December 1650 - d. Halle, 11 August 1674), Provost of Magdeburg; married on 25 August 1673 to Charlotte of Hesse-Eschwege. Their only son was stillborn (24 April 1674).
  4. Christian (b. Halle, 25 January 1652 - killed in action at Mainz, 24 August 1689), General Field Marshal of the Saxon Electoral Army.
  5. Anna Maria (b. Halle, 28 February 1653 - d. Halle, 17 February 1671).
  6. Sophie (b. Halle, 23 June 1654 - d. Zerbst, 31 March 1724), married on 18 June 1676 to Karl, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst. Like her older sister Magdalene Sybille, she was an ancestor of Queen Victoria.
  7. Katharine (b. Halle, 12 September 1655 - d. Halle, 21 April 1663).
  8. Christine (b. Halle, 25 August 1656 - d. Eutin, 27 April 1698), married on 21 June 1676 to August Friedrich of Holstein-Gottorp, Prince-Bishop of Lübeck (son of Frederick III, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp, and his wife Duchess Marie Elisabeth of Saxony).
  9. Heinrich (b. Halle, 29 September 1657 - d. Barby, 16 February 1728); he inherited Barby.
  10. Albrecht (b. Halle, 14 April 1659 - d. Leipzig, 9 May 1692).
  11. Elisabeth (b.Halle, 25 August 1660 - d. Halle, 11 May 1663).
  12. Dorothea (b. Halle, 17 December 1662 - d. Halle, 12 May 1663).

In Halle on 29 January 1672, two years after the death of his first wife, August married Johanna Walpurgis of Leiningen-Westerburg. They had three sons:

  1. Frederick (b. Halle, 20 November 1673 - d. Dahme, 16 April 1715), he inherited Dahme.
  2. Maurice (b. Halle, 5 January 1676 - d. Szeged, Hungary, 12 September 1695).
  3. Stillborn son (1679).

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Regnal titles
New title Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels
Succeeded by
Johann Adolf I
Preceded by
August Ludwig
Count of Barby
Succeeded by
Religious titles
Preceded by
Leopold Wilhelm of Austria
as Catholic Administrator
Lutheran Administrator of Magdeburg
Secularised to Duchy of Magdeburg
Other offices
Preceded by
Wilhelm, Duke of Saxe-Weimar
Head of the Fruitbearing Society
No replacement