John George, Elector of Brandenburg

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John George
John George, Elector of Brandenburg (Oil on canvas by Lucas Cranach the Younger, 1564)
Elector of Brandenburg
Reign3 January 1571 – 8 January 1598
Predecessor Joachim II Hector
Successor Joachim Frederick
Born(1525-09-11)11 September 1525
Died8 January 1598(1598-01-08) (aged 72)
Spouse Sophie of Legnica
Sabina of Brandenburg-Ansbach
Elisabeth of Anhalt-Zerbst
Issue Joachim Frederick, Elector of Brandenburg
George Albert
Magdalena Sabina
Erdmuthe, Duchess of Pomerania
Anna Maria, Duchess of Pomerania
Sophie, Electress of Saxony
Christian, Margrave of Brandenburg-Bayreuth
Magdalena, Landgravine of Hesse-Darmstadt
Joachim Ernst, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach
Agnes, Duchess of Pomerania and Saxe-Lauenburg
Frederick IX, Margrave of Brandenburg
Elisabeth Sophia, Duchess of Saxe-Lauenburg
Dorothea Sibylle, Duchess of Brieg
George Albert II, Margrave of Brandenburg
John, Bishop of Havelberg
John George
House Hohenzollern
Father Joachim II Hector, Elector of Brandenburg
Mother Magdalena of Saxony
Religion Lutheran
John George and his second consort, Sabine of Ansbach Johann Georg.jpg
John George and his second consort, Sabine of Ansbach

John George of Brandenburg (11 September 1525 – 8 January 1598) was a prince-elector of the Margraviate of Brandenburg (1571–1598).



A member of the House of Hohenzollern, he was the son of Joachim II Hector, Elector of Brandenburg, and his first wife Magdalena of Saxony.

Faced with large debts of 2.5 million guilder accumulated during the reign of his father, John George instituted a grain tax which drove part of the peasantry into dependence on a nobility that was exempt from taxation. He had Jews expelled from Brandenburg in 1573, stripped of their assets and prohibited from returning. Though a staunch Lutheran opposed to the rise of Calvinism, he permitted the admission of Calvinist refugees from the wars in the Spanish Netherlands and France. On 13 July 1574, he founded the Berlinisches Gymnasium zum Grauen Kloster, the first humanistic educational institution in Berlin. He was succeeded by his son Joachim Frederick.

Upon the death of his kinsman Albert I, Duke of Prussia in 1568, the Duchy of Prussia was inherited by the latter's underage son Albert Frederick. John George's father was a co-inheritor of the Duchy of Prussia. In 1577 the Brandenburg electors became co-regent with Duke Albert Frederick of Prussia.

Family and children

John George was married three times.

His first wife was Princess Sophie of Legnica (ca. 1525 – 6 February 1546), whom he married in 1545. They had one child together:

  1. Joachim Frederick (27 January 1546 – 18 July 1608)

Secondly, he married Margravine Sabina of Brandenburg-Ansbach (12 May 1529 – 2 November 1575), daughter of George, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach, in 1548. They had the following children: [1] [2]

  1. George Albert (19 February 1555 – 8 January 1557)
  2. John (1557 – died young), twin with Albert
  3. Albert (1557 – died young), twin with John
  4. Magdalena Sabina (1559 – died young)
  5. Erdmuthe (26 June 1561 – 13 November 1623), married in 1577 to Duke John Frederick of Pomerania
  6. Marie (1562 – died young)
  7. Hedwig (1563 – died young)
  8. Magdalena (1564 – died young)
  9. Margaret (1565 – died young)
  10. Anna Maria (3 February 1567 – 4 November 1618), married in 1581 to Duke Barnim X of Pomerania
  11. Sophie (6 June 1568 – 7 December 1622), married in 1582 to Elector Christian I of Saxony

Thirdly, he married Princess Elisabeth of Anhalt-Zerbst (15 September [ O.S. 5 September] 1563 – 5 October 1607) in 1577. They had the following children:

  1. Christian (30 January 1581 – 30 May 1655)
  2. Magdalena (7 January 1582 – 4 May 1616), married in 1598 to Landgrave Louis V of Hesse-Darmstadt
  3. Joachim Ernest (22 June 1583 – 7 March 1625)
  4. Agnes (17 July 1584 – 26 March 1629), married:
    1. in 1604 Duke Philipp Julius of Pomerania;
    2. in 1628 Duke Francis Charles of Saxe-Lauenburg
  5. Frederick (22 March 1588 – 19 May 1611)
  6. Elisabeth Sophia (13 July 1589 – 24 December 1629), married:
    1. in 1613 to Reichsfürst (Prince) Janusz Radziwiłł;
    2. on 27 February 1628 to Duke Julius Henry of Saxe-Lauenburg
  7. Dorothea Sibylle (19 October 1590 – 9 March 1625), married in 1610 to Duke John Christian of Brieg
  8. George Albert (20 November 1591 – 29 November 1615)
  9. Sigismund (20 November 1592 – 30 April 1640)
  10. John (13 July 1597 – 23 September 1627), Bishop of Havelberg
  11. John George (4 August 1598 – 27 January 1637)


John George's ancestors in three generations
John George, Elector of BrandenburgFather:
Joachim II Hector, Elector of Brandenburg
Paternal Grandfather:
Joachim I Nestor, Elector of Brandenburg
Paternal Great-grandfather:
John Cicero, Elector of Brandenburg
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Margaret of Thuringia
Paternal Grandmother:
Elisabeth of Denmark
Paternal Great-grandfather:
John of Denmark
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Christina of Saxony
Magdalena of Saxony
Maternal Grandfather:
George, Duke of Saxony
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Albert, Duke of Saxony
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Sidonie of Poděbrady
Maternal Grandmother:
Barbara Jagiellon
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Casimir IV Jagiellon
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Elisabeth of Austria

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John George, Elector of Brandenburg
Born: 22 September 1525 Died: 8 January 1598[aged 72]
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Joachim II Hector
Elector of Brandenburg
Succeeded by
Joachim Frederick