Augustus, Elector of Saxony

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Augustus

Lucas Cranach d. J. 004.jpg

Elector of Saxony
Reign 9 July 1553 11 February 1586
Predecessor Maurice
Successor Christian I
Born(1526-07-31)31 July 1526
Freiberg
Died 11 February 1586(1586-02-11) (aged 59)
Dresden
Consort Anne of Denmark
Agnes Hedwig of Anhalt
Issue
among others...
Christian I, Elector of Saxony
Elisabeth, Countess Palatine of Simmern
Dorothea, Duchess of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Anna, Duchess of Saxe-Coburg-Eisenach
House House of Wettin
Albertine Line
Father Henry IV, Duke of Saxony
Mother Catherine of Mecklenburg
Religion Lutheran

Augustus (31 July 1526 11 February 1586) was Elector of Saxony from 1553 to 1586.

Contents

First years

Augustus was born in Freiberg, the youngest child and third (but second surviving) son of Henry IV, Duke of Saxony, and Catherine of Mecklenburg. He consequently belonged to the Albertine branch of the House of Wettin. Brought up as a Lutheran, he received a good education and studied at the university of Leipzig. [1]

Henry IV, Duke of Saxony Duke of Saxony

Henry IV the Pious, Duke of Saxony was a Duke of Saxony from the House of Wettin. Succeeding George, Duke of Saxony, a fervent Catholic who sought to extinguish Lutheranism by any means possible, Henry established the Lutheran church as the state religion in his domains.

Catherine of Mecklenburg Duchess of Mecklenburg by birth, and by marriage Duchess of Saxony

Catherine of Mecklenburg, Duchess of Saxony, was the daughter of the Duke Magnus II of Mecklenburg and Sophie of Pomerania-Stettin. She married on 6 July 1512 in Freiberg Duke Henry the Pious of Saxony. The couple had six children:

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.

When Duke Henry IV died in 1541, he decreed that his lands should be divided equally between his two sons; but as his bequest was contrary to the Albertine Law, it was not carried out, and the dukedom passed almost intact to his elder son, Maurice. Augustus, however, remained on friendly terms with his brother, and to further his policy spent some time at the court of Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor, in Vienna. [1]

Maurice, Elector of Saxony Duke of Saxony and later Elector of Saxony

Maurice was Duke (1541–47) and later Elector (1547–53) of Saxony. His clever manipulation of alliances and disputes gained the Albertine branch of the Wettin dynasty extensive lands and the electoral dignity.

Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor king of Bohemia and Hungary

Ferdinand I was Holy Roman Emperor from 1558, king of Bohemia and Hungary from 1526, and king of Croatia from 1527 until his death in 1564. Before his accession, he ruled the Austrian hereditary lands of the Habsburgs in the name of his elder brother, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. Also, he often served as Charles' representative in Germany and developed useful relationships with German princes.

Vienna Capital city and state in Austria

Vienna is the federal capital and largest city of Austria, and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primate city, with a population of about 1.9 million, and its cultural, economic, and political centre. It is the 7th-largest city by population within city limits in the European Union. Until the beginning of the 20th century, it was the largest German-speaking city in the world, and before the splitting of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I, the city had 2 million inhabitants. Today, it has the second largest number of German speakers after Berlin. Vienna is host to many major international organizations, including the United Nations and OPEC. The city is located in the eastern part of Austria and is close to the borders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. These regions work together in a European Centrope border region. Along with nearby Bratislava, Vienna forms a metropolitan region with 3 million inhabitants. In 2001, the city centre was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In July 2017 it was moved to the list of World Heritage in Danger.

In 1544, Maurice secured the appointment of his brother as administrator of the bishopric of Merseburg; but Augustus was very extravagant and was soon compelled to return to the Saxon court at Dresden. Augustus supported his brother during the war of the Schmalkaldic League, and in the policy which culminated in the transfer of the Saxon electorate from John Frederick I, the head of the Ernestine branch of the Wettin family, to Maurice, head of the Albertine branch. [2]

Bishopric of Merseburg diocese

The Bishopric of Merseburg was an episcopal see on the eastern border of the medieval Duchy of Saxony with its centre in Merseburg, where Merseburg Cathedral was constructed. The see was founded in 967 by Emperor Otto I at the same time in the same manner as those of Meissen and Zeitz, all suffragan dioceses of the Archbishopric of Magdeburg as part of a plan to bind the adjacent Slavic ("Wendish") lands in the Saxon Eastern March beyond the Saale River more closely to the Holy Roman Empire.

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.

Schmalkaldic League

The Schmalkaldic League ; was a military alliance of Lutheran princes within the Holy Roman Empire during the mid-16th century. Although originally started for religious motives soon after the start of the Reformation, its members later came to have the intention that the League would replace the Holy Roman Empire as their focus of political allegiance. While it was not the first alliance of its kind, unlike previous formations, such as the League of Torgau, the Schmalkaldic League had a substantial military to defend its political and religious interests. It received its name from the town of Schmalkalden, which is located in modern Thuringia.

Marriage and children

In Torgau on 7 October 1548 Augustus was married to Anna, daughter of King Christian III of Denmark and Dorothea of Saxe-Lauenburg. They took up residence at Weissenfels. The couple had fifteen children:

Torgau Town in Saxony, Germany

Torgau is a town on the banks of the Elbe in northwestern Saxony, Germany. It is the capital of the district Nordsachsen.

Anne of Denmark, Electress of Saxony Electress consort of Saxony

Anne of Denmark was a Danish princess from the House of Oldenburg. Through her marriage with Augustus of Saxony she became Electress of Saxony. She was renowned for her knowledge of plants and her skill in the preparation of herbal remedies, and contributed to the development of farming and horticulture in Saxony. She was a major influence in the introduction of orthodox Lutheranism and played a role in the decision to persecute Calvinists.

Christian III of Denmark King of Denmark and Norway

Christian III reigned as King of Denmark from 1534 until his death, and King of Norway from 1537 until his death. During his reign, Christian established Lutheranism as the state religion within his realms as part of the Protestant Reformation.

  1. John Henry (b. Weissenfels, 5 May 1550 – d. Weissenfels, 12 November 1550).
  2. Eleonore (b. Wolkenstein, 2 May 1551 – d. Wolkenstein, 24 April 1553).
  3. Elisabeth (b. Wolkenstein, 18 October 1552 – d. imprisoned in Heidelberg, 2 April 1590), married on 4 June 1570 to Count Palatine Johann Casimir of Simmern; they were separated in 1589.
  4. Alexander (b. Dresden, 21 February 1554 – d. Dresden, 8 October 1565), Hereditary Prince of Saxony. [3]
  5. Magnus (b. Dresden, 24 September 1555 – d. Dresden, 6 November 1558).
  6. Joachim (b. Dresden, 3 May 1557 – d. Dresden, 21 November 1557).
  7. Hector (b. Dresden, 7 October 1558 – d. Dresden, 4 April 1560).
  8. Christian I (b. Dresden, 29 October 1560 – d. Dresden, 25 September 1591), successor of his father in the Electorship.
  9. Marie (b. Torgau, 8 March 1562 – d. Torgau, 6 January 1566).
  10. Dorothea (b. Dresden, 4 October 1563 – d. Wolfenbüttel, 13 February 1587), married on 26 September 1585 to Duke Heinrich Julius of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel.
  11. Amalie (b. Dresden, 28 January 1565 – d. Dresden, 2 July 1565).
  12. Anna (b. Dresden, 16 November 1567 – d. imprisoned in Veste Coburg, 27 January 1613), married on 16 January 1586 to Duke John Casimir, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Eisenach; they divorced in 1593.
  13. Augustus (b. Dresden, 23 October 1569 – d. Dresden, 12 February 1570).
  14. Adolf (b. Stolpen, 8 August 1571 – d. Dresden, 12 March 1572).
  15. Frederick (b. Annaberg, 18 June 1575 – d. Annaberg, 24 January 1577).

Soon after his marriage, Augustus desired a more imposing establishment. The result was that Maurice made more generous provision for his brother, who acted as Regent of Saxony in 1552 during the absence of the elector. Augustus was on a visit to Denmark when by Maurice's death in July 1553 he became elector of Saxony. [4]

A regent is a person appointed to govern a state because the monarch is a minor, is absent or is incapacitated. The rule of a regent or regents is called a regency. A regent or regency council may be formed ad hoc or in accordance with a constitutional rule. "Regent" is sometimes a formal title. If the regent is holding his position due to his position in the line of succession, the compound term prince regent is often used; if the regent of a minor is his mother, she is often referred to as "queen regent".

Denmark constitutional monarchy in Europe

Denmark, officially the Kingdom of Denmark, is a Nordic country and the southernmost of the Scandinavian nations. Denmark lies southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and is bordered to the south by Germany. The Kingdom of Denmark also comprises two autonomous constituent countries in the North Atlantic Ocean: the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Denmark proper consists of a peninsula, Jutland, and an archipelago of 443 named islands, with the largest being Zealand, Funen and the North Jutlandic Island. The islands are characterised by flat, arable land and sandy coasts, low elevation and a temperate climate. Denmark has a total area of 42,924 km2 (16,573 sq mi), land area of 42,394 km2 (16,368 sq mi), and the total area including Greenland and the Faroe Islands is 2,210,579 km2 (853,509 sq mi), and a population of 5.8 million.

Saxony State in Germany

Saxony, officially the Free State of Saxony, is a landlocked federal state of Germany, bordering the federal states of Brandenburg, Saxony Anhalt, Thuringia, and Bavaria, as well as the countries of Poland and the Czech Republic. Its capital is Dresden, and its largest city is Leipzig.

Elector of Saxony

Augustus as depicted on a 1582 thaler, minted in Dresden Augustus - 1582 thaler.JPG
Augustus as depicted on a 1582 thaler, minted in Dresden

The first care of the new elector was to come to terms with John Frederick, and to strengthen his own hold upon the electoral position. This object was secured by a treaty made at Naumburg in February 1554, when, in return for the grant of Altenburg and other lands, John Frederick recognized Augustus as elector of Saxony. The elector, however, was continually haunted by the fear that the Ernestines would attempt to deprive him of the coveted dignity, and his policy both in Saxony and the wider Holy Roman Empire was coloured by this fear. In imperial politics Augustus acted upon two main principles: to cultivate the friendship of the Habsburgs, and to maintain peace between the contending religious parties. To this policy may be traced his share in bringing about the religious Peace of Augsburg treaty in 1555, his tortuous conduct at the diet of Augsburg eleven years later, and his reluctance to break entirely with the Calvinists. [4] His policy of religious peace was also promoted by the marriage he negotiated between his niece Anna and the then-Catholic Prince of Orange, at the time one of the chief Habsburg vassals in the Netherlands, in 1561.[ citation needed ] On one occasion only did he waver in his allegiance to the Habsburgs. In 1568 a marriage was arranged between Johann Casimir, son of Frederick III, Elector Palatine, and Elisabeth, Augustus' own daughter. For a time it seemed possible that the Saxon elector would support his son-in-law in his attempts to aid the revolting inhabitants of the Spanish Netherlands. Augustus also entered into communication with the Huguenots; however, his aversion to foreign complications prevailed, and the incipient friendship with the elector Palatine soon gave way to serious dislike. Although a sturdy Lutheran, the elector hoped at one time to unite the Protestants. He continually urged them to consider the necessity of giving no cause of offence to their opponents, and he favoured the movement to get rid of the clause in the Peace of Augsburg concerning ecclesiastical reservation, which was offensive to many Protestants. His moderation, however, prevented him from joining those who were prepared to take strong measures to attain this end, and he refused to jeopardize the concessions already won. [4]

Religious policies

August von Sachsen (painting by Lucas Cranach the Younger, 1572, Stadt- und Bergbaumuseum in Freiberg) Lucas Cranach d. J. 012.jpg
August von Sachsen (painting by Lucas Cranach the Younger, 1572, Stadt- und Bergbaumuseum in Freiberg)

The hostility between the Albertines and the Ernestines gave Augustus serious trouble. A preacher named Matthias Flacius held an influential position in ducal Saxony, and taught a form of Lutheranism different from that taught in the Electorate of Saxony. This breach was widened when Flacius began to make personal attacks on Augustus, to prophesy his speedy downfall, and to incite Duke John Frederick to make an effort to recover his rightful position. Associated with Flacius was a knight, Wilhelm von Grumbach, who, not satisfied with words only, made inroads into the Electorate of Saxony and sought the aid of foreign powers in his plan to depose Augustus. After some delay Grumbach and his protector, John Frederick, were placed under the imperial ban, and Augustus was entrusted with its execution. His campaign in 1567 was short and successful. John Frederick surrendered, and passed his time in prison until his death in 1595; Grumbach was taken and executed; and the position of the elector was made quite secure. The form of Lutheranism taught in the Electorate of Saxony was that of Melanchthon, and many of its teachers and adherents, such as Caspar Peucer and Johann Stössel, afterwards called Crypto-Calvinists, were favoured by the elector. [4] The Crypto-Calvinists were confident that they would be able to bring Augustus over to their Calvinizing positions by convincing Augustus that they were in fact merely loyal Lutherans, when in fact they were working to introduce Calvinist views of the Lord's Supper, and the doctrine of predestination at the University of Wittenberg.[ citation needed ]

Augustus at first was deceived. Spurred on by his wife the matter reached a climax in 1574, when letters were discovered, which, while revealing a hope to bring over Augustus to Calvinism, cast some aspersions upon the elector and his wife. Augustus ordered the leaders of the Crypto-Calvinists to be seized, and they were tortured and imprisoned. [4] He restored genuine Lutheranism to Saxony and began to work on a way to bring unity among Lutherans by commencing a process that would lead to the publication, in 1580, of the Lutheran Book of Concord. Augustus personally sponsored the publication of the Book of Concord, a book containing the various Lutheran Confessions of faith, which was signed by over 8,100 ministers and professors and nearly 30 territories, states and cities in Germany.[ citation needed ] This strict form of Lutheranism was declared binding upon all the inhabitants of Saxony, and many persons were banished from the country. The change in Saxony, however, made no difference to the attitude of Augustus on imperial questions. In 1576 he opposed the proposal of the Protestant princes to make a grant for the War against the Ottoman Empire conditional upon the abolition of the clause concerning ecclesiastical reservation, and he continued to support the Habsburgs. [4]

Territorial expansion

Much of the elector's time was devoted to extending his territories. In 1573 he became guardian to the two sons of John William, duke of Saxe-Weimar, and in this capacity was able to add part of the county of Henneberg to the Electorate of Saxony. His command of money enabled him to take advantage of the poverty of his neighbours, and in this way he secured Vogtland and the county of Mansfeld. In 1555 he had appointed one of his nominees to the bishopric of Meissen, in 1561 he had secured the election of his son Alexander as bishop of Merseburg, and three years later as bishop of Naumburg; and when this prince died in 1565 these bishoprics came under the direct rule of Augustus. [4]

Second marriage and death

On 1 October 1585 the Electress Anna died. Three months later, on 3 January 1586, in the city of Dessau, Augustus married secondly with Agnes Hedwig, a daughter of Joachim Ernest, Prince of Anhalt. [4] The bride was only 13 years; the groom, almost 60. August died one month after his new marriage, and was buried at Freiberg Cathedral. His only surviving son, Christian I, was his successor.

Writing and collections

Augustus wrote a small work on agriculture entitled Künstlich Obstund Gartenbüchlein. [4] He was famous for his various museum collections, including the finest collection of arms and weapons in Northern Europe, paintings, and an extensive collection of tools. In 1560 he founded the Dresden Kunstkammer, the predecessor of the present day State Collections. One of his possessions, a clockwork automaton called the Mechanical Galleon is now in the British Museum. This table decoration played music, told the time and showed Augustus and the other six electors parading before the Roman Emperor. [5]

Ancestors

Augustus, Elector of Saxony
Born: 31 July 1526 Died: 11 February 1586
Preceded by
Maurice
Elector of Saxony
1553–1586
Succeeded by
Christian I

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