Kingdom of Saxony

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Kingdom of Saxony

Königreich Sachsen  (German)
1806–1918
Motto: Providentiae Memor
"Providence Remember"
Anthem: Various, none official
Gott segne Sachsenland (1815)

Sachsenlied ("Gott sei mit dir mein Sachsenland", 1842)
Konigreich Sachsen 1895.jpg
The Kingdom of Saxony in 1895
German Empire - Saxony (1871).svg
The Kingdom of Saxony within the German Empire
StatusState of the Confederation of the Rhine
(1806–1813)
State of the German Confederation
(1815–1866)
State of the North German Confederation
(1867–1871)
Federal state of the German Empire
(1871–1918)
Capital Dresden
Common languages Upper Saxon German
Religion
Lutheran, but monarchs were Roman Catholic
Government Constitutional monarchy
King  
 1806–1827
Frederick Augustus I
 1904–1918
Frederick Augustus III
Minister-President  
 1831–1843
Bernhard von Lindenau
 1918
Rudolf Heinze
Legislature Landtag (1831–1918)
 Upper Chamber
"First Chamber"
 Lower Chamber
"Second Chamber"
Historical era Napoleonic Wars / WWI
 Established
20 December 1806
 Disestablished
13 November 1918
Area
191014,993 km2 (5,789 sq mi)
Population
 1910
4,806,661
Currency Saxon Thaler,
(1806–1857)
Saxon Vereinsthaler,
(1857–1873)
German Goldmark,
(1873–1914)
German Papiermark
(1914–1918)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Flag of Electoral Saxony.svg Electorate of Saxony
Saxony Flag of Saxony.svg
Today part ofFlag of Germany.svg  Germany
Flag of Poland.svg  Poland

The Kingdom of Saxony (German : Königreich Sachsen), lasting between 1806 and 1918, was an independent member of a number of historical confederacies in Napoleonic through post-Napoleonic Germany. The kingdom was formed from the Electorate of Saxony. From 1871 it was part of the German Empire. It became a Free state in the era of Weimar Republic in 1918 after the end of World War I and the abdication of King Frederick Augustus III of Saxony. Its capital was the city of Dresden, and its modern successor state is the Free State of Saxony.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol in Italy, the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

German Confederation association of 39 German states in Central Europe from 1815 to 1866

The German Confederation was an association of 39 German-speaking states in Central Europe, created by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 to coordinate the economies of separate German-speaking countries and to replace the former Holy Roman Empire, which had been dissolved in 1806. The German Confederation excluded German-speaking lands in the eastern portion of the Kingdom of Prussia, the German cantons of Switzerland, and the French region of Alsace, which was predominantly German speaking.

Electorate of Saxony State of the Holy Roman Empire, established when Emperor Charles IV raised the Ascanian duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg to the status of an Electorate 1356

The Electorate of Saxony was a state of the Holy Roman Empire established when Emperor Charles IV raised the Ascanian duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg to the status of an Electorate by the Golden Bull of 1356. Upon the extinction of the House of Ascania, it was feoffed to the Margraves of Meissen from the Wettin dynasty in 1423, who moved the ducal residence up the river Elbe to Dresden. After the Empire's dissolution in 1806, the Wettin Electors raised Saxony to a territorially reduced kingdom.

Contents

History

Napoleonic era and the German Confederation

Before 1806, Saxony was part of the Holy Roman Empire, a thousand-year-old entity that had become highly decentralised over the centuries. The rulers of the Electorate of Saxony of the House of Wettin had held the title of elector for several centuries. When the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved in August 1806 following the defeat of Emperor Francis II by Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz, the electorate was raised to the status of an independent kingdom with the support of the First French Empire, then the dominant power in Central Europe. The last elector of Saxony became King Frederick Augustus I.

Holy Roman Empire Varying complex of lands that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe

The Holy Roman Empire was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western and Central Europe that developed during the Early Middle Ages and continued until its dissolution in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars. The largest territory of the empire after 962 was the Kingdom of Germany, though it also came to include the neighboring Kingdom of Bohemia, the Kingdom of Burgundy, the Kingdom of Italy, and numerous other territories.

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.

Prince-elector members of the electoral college of the Holy Roman Empire

The Prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire, or Electors for short, were the members of the electoral college that elected the Holy Roman Emperor.

Following the defeat of Saxony's ally Prussia at the Battle of Jena in 1806, Saxony joined the Confederation of the Rhine, and remained within the Confederation until its dissolution in 1813 with Napoleon's defeat at the Battle of Leipzig. Following the battle, in which Saxony — virtually alone of all the German states — had fought alongside the French. King Frederick Augustus I was deserted by his troops, taken prisoner by the Prussians [1] and considered to have forfeited his throne by the allies, who put Saxony under Prussian occupation and administration. This was probably more due to the Prussian desire to annex Saxony than to any crime on Frederick Augustus's part, and the fate of Saxony would prove to be one of the main issues at the Congress of Vienna. In the end, 40% of the Kingdom, including the historically significant Wittenberg, home of the Protestant Reformation, was annexed by Prussia, but Frederick Augustus was restored to the throne in the remainder of his kingdom, which still included the major cities of Dresden and Leipzig. The Kingdom also joined the German Confederation, the new organization of the German states to replace the fallen Holy Roman Empire.

Kingdom of Prussia Former German state (1701–1918)

The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom that constituted the state of Prussia between 1701 and 1918. It was the driving force behind the unification of Germany in 1871 and was the leading state of the German Empire until its dissolution in 1918. Although it took its name from the region called Prussia, it was based in the Margraviate of Brandenburg, where its capital was Berlin.

Confederation of the Rhine confederation of client states of the First French Empire

The Confederation of the Rhine was a confederation of client states of the First French Empire. It was formed initially from 16 German states by Napoleon after he defeated Austria and Russia at the Battle of Austerlitz. The Treaty of Pressburg, in effect, led to the creation of the Confederation of the Rhine, which lasted from 1806 to 1813.

Battle of Leipzig 1813 Napoleonic battle

The Battle of Leipzig or Battle of the Nations was fought from 16 to 19 October 1813, at Leipzig, Saxony. The coalition armies of Russia, Prussia, Austria, and Sweden, led by Tsar Alexander I of Russia and Karl Philipp, Prince of Schwarzenberg, decisively defeated the French army of Napoleon I, Emperor of the French. Napoleon's army also contained Polish and Italian troops, as well as Germans from the Confederation of the Rhine. The battle was the culmination of the German campaign of 1813 and involved 600,000 soldiers, 2,200 artillery pieces, the expenditure of 200,000 rounds of artillery ammunition and 127,000 casualties, making it the largest battle in Europe prior to World War I.

Austro-Prussian War and the German Empire

During the 1866 Austro-Prussian War, Saxony sided with Austria, and the Saxon army was generally seen as the only ally to bring substantial aid to the Austrian cause, having abandoned the defense of Saxony itself to join up with the Austrian army in Bohemia. This effectiveness probably allowed Saxony to escape the fate of other north German states allied with Austria — notably the Kingdom of Hanover — which were annexed by Prussia after the war. The Austrians and French insisted as a point of honour that Saxony must be spared, and the Prussians acquiesced. Saxony nevertheless joined the Prussian-led North German Confederation the next year. With Prussia's victory over France in the Franco-Prussian War of 1871, the members of the Confederation were organised by Otto von Bismarck into the German Empire, with WIlliam I as its emperor. John, as Saxony's incumbent king, was subordinate and owed allegiance to the Emperor, although he, like the other German princes, retained some of the prerogatives of a sovereign ruler, including the ability to enter into diplomatic relations with other states.

Austro-Prussian War conflict

The Austro-Prussian War or Seven Weeks' War was a war fought in 1866 between the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia, with each also being aided by various allies within the German Confederation. Prussia had also allied with the Kingdom of Italy, linking this conflict to the Third Independence War of Italian unification. The Austro-Prussian War was part of the wider rivalry between Austria and Prussia, and resulted in Prussian dominance over the German states.

Austrian Empire monarchy in Central Europe between 1804 and 1867


The Austrian Empire was a Central European multinational great power from 1804 to 1867, created by proclamation out of the realms of the Habsburgs. During its existence, it was the third most populous empire after the Russian Empire and the United Kingdom in Europe. Along with Prussia, it was one of the two major powers of the German Confederation. Geographically, it was the third largest empire in Europe after the Russian Empire and the First French Empire. Proclaimed in response to the First French Empire, it partially overlapped with the Holy Roman Empire until the latter's dissolution in 1806.

Kingdom of Hanover German kingdom established in 1814

The Kingdom of Hanover was established in October 1814 by the Congress of Vienna, with the restoration of George III to his Hanoverian territories after the Napoleonic era. It succeeded the former Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg, and joined 38 other sovereign states in the German Confederation in June 1815. The kingdom was ruled by the House of Hanover, a cadet branch of the House of Welf, in personal union with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until 1837. Since its monarch resided in London, a viceroy handled the administration of the Kingdom of Hanover.

End of the kingdom

Wilhelm I's grandson Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated in 1918 as a result of a revolution set off in the days before Germany's defeat in World War I. King Frederick Augustus III of Saxony followed him into abdication and the erstwhile Kingdom of Saxony became the Free State of Saxony within the newly formed Weimar Republic.

<i>Kaiser</i> title of authority

Kaiser is the German word for "emperor". Like the Bulgarian, Serbian and Russian word Tsar, it is directly derived from the Roman emperors' title of Caesar, which in turn is derived from the personal name of a branch of the gens (clan) Julia, to which Gaius Julius Caesar, the forebear of the first imperial family, belonged. In general the German title was only used for rulers over kings (König). Although the British monarchs styled "Emperor of India" were also called Kaisar-i-Hind in Hindi and Urdu, this word, although ultimately sharing the same Latin origin, is derived from the Greek: Καῖσαρ (kaisar), not the German Kaiser.

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

Frederick Augustus III of Saxony king of Saxony

Frederick Augustus III was the last King of Saxony (1904–1918) and a member of the House of Wettin.

Government

The 1831 Constitution of Saxony established the state as a parliamentary monarchy.

King

The king was named as head of the nation. He was required to follow the provisions of the constitution, and could not become the ruler of any other state (save by blood inheritance) without the consent of the Diet, or parliament. [2] The crown was hereditary in the male line of the royal family through agnatic primogeniture, though provisions existed allowing a female line to inherit in the absence of qualified male heirs. [3] Added provisions concerned the formation of a regency if the king was too young or otherwise unable to rule, as well as provisions concerning the crown prince's education. [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".

Any acts or decrees signed or issued by the king had to be countersigned by at least one of his ministers, who thus took responsibility for them. Without the ministerial countersignature, no act of the king was to be considered valid. [5] The king was given the right to declare any accused person innocent, or alternately to mitigate or suspend their punishment or pardon them (but not to increase penalties); such decrees did not require ministerial co-signature. [6] He was also given supreme power over religious matters in Saxony. [7] He appointed the president of the upper house of the Diet, together with a proxy from among three candidates suggested by that house, [8] and appointed the president and proxy of the lower house, as well. (See below.)

The king was given sole power to promulgate laws, and to carry them into effect, and only by his consent could any proposal for a law be advanced in the Diet. [9] He equally had authority to issue emergency decrees and even to issue non-emergency laws that he found needful or "advantageous," though such instruments required the counter-signature of at least one of his ministers, and had to be presented to the next Diet for approval. He could not, however, change the constitution itself or the electoral laws in this manner. [10] He was permitted to veto laws passed by the Diet (though he was required to give his reasons for so doing, in each instance), or to send them back with proposed amendments for reconsideration. [11] He was permitted to issue extraordinary decrees to obtain money for state expenditures refused by the Diet, through the Supreme Court, though such decrees could only last for one year. [12] He was permitted to dissolve the Diet, though new elections for the lower house had to be held within six months; he was also permitted to convoke extraordinary sessions of the legislature at his discretion. [13]

From 1697 the Electors of Saxony became Roman Catholic in order to accept the crowns of Poland and Lithuania, of which they were kings until 1763. The royal family remained Roman Catholic, ruling over a domain that was 95% Protestant.

Ministry

The ministry was defined in the constitution as consisting of six departments, all of which were made responsible to the Diet: [14]

Members of the ministry had the right to appear in either chamber of the Diet at will, and there to participate in debate, but upon a division of the house they had to withdraw. [15]

Bill of Rights

A Bill of Rights was included in the constitution. It incorporated: [16]

Legislature

The Diet, or legislature was divided into two houses, which were constitutionally equal in their rights and status, and neither house was to meet without the other. [17]

The upper chamber consisted of the following: [18]

Members of this house held their seats so long as they remained qualified to do so under the constitution, or in certain cases until they had reached the age of sixty or participated in three sessions of the Diet. [19]

The lower house of the Diet consisted of: [20]

A proxy was to also be chosen for each representative, who would take the representative's place, should they be incapacitated, absent, resign or be removed. [21] Each representative was elected for nine years; however, approximately one-third were required to resign their seats every three years (the exact figures were set in the constitution, and determined by lot at the commencement of the first session of the Diet), though all were eligible for immediate re-election. [22] The lower house was to nominate four members, of whom the king was to choose one to be president of that house, and another to be his proxy. [23]

Members of the Diet must be at least 30 years of age; electors must be 25 years of age, not have been convicted of any offense in a court of law, not have their personal estate financially encumbered in any way, and not be under guardianship. [24]

The Diet was required to consider any business laid before it by the king, before proceeding to any other business. [25] Members were to vote their consciences, and were not to accept instructions from their constituents. [26] Members were granted full freedom of speech in the chambers, but were not permitted to insult each other, the king, any member of the royal family or the parliament. Members who violated any of these rules could be disciplined by their respective house, up to and including permanent expulsion with ineligibility for re-election. [27] The Diet could propose the formation of new laws or changes in existing ones, but no bill could be brought forward without the king's express consent. [28] Conversely, no new law could be enacted, without the Diet's consent. [29]

Bills could be passed by a simple one-third-plus-one vote in both houses of the Diet; a majority vote was not necessary in either house. [30] Any bill rejected or amended must contain a statement of why it was rejected or amended. [30] No new taxes could be imposed without the Diet's consent, [31] though the king was permitted to bypass this in certain instances. [12] The parliament could impeach members of the ministry by unanimous vote of both houses; [32] ministers so impeached were to be tried by a special court; the decision of this court was final, and even the king's right of pardon did not extend to persons convicted by it. [33]

In the wake of the tumultuous 1848 revolutions, Saxony's Landtag extended voting rights (though still maintaining property requirements) and abolished voting-taxes. In 1871, Saxony was incorporated into the German Empire and more voting rights were gradually extended. By the early 1900s, Saxony's local politics had settled into a niche in which Social-Democrats, Conservatives, and National-Liberals were splitting the share of votes and Landtag seats three ways. (In 1909: Social-Democrats won 27% of seats, Conservatives won 31% of seats, "National-Liberals" won 31% of seats). Voter participation was high (82% in 1909).

Judiciary

The judiciary was made independent of the civil government, [34] The High Court of Judiciature, created in Sections 142 to 150 was also given authority to rule upon "dubious" points in the constitution; its decision was decreed to be final, and was protected from royal interference. [35]

See also

Related Research Articles

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References

  1. Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Saxony"  . Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  2. Constitution of Saxony, Sections 5 and 138.
  3. Constitution of Saxony, Sections 6-7.
  4. Constitution of Saxony, Sections 9-15.
  5. Constitution of Saxony, Section 43.
  6. Constitution of Saxony, Section 52.
  7. Constitution of Saxony, Section 57.
  8. Constitution of Saxony, Section 67.
  9. Constitution of Saxony, Sections 85 and 87.
  10. Constitution of Saxony, Section 88.
  11. Constitution of Saxony, Sections 94, 112 and 113.
  12. 1 2 Constitution of Saxony, Section 103.
  13. Constitution of Saxony, Sections 115 and 116.
  14. Constitution of Saxony, Section 41.
  15. Constitution of Saxony, Section 134.
  16. Constitution of Saxony, Sections 27-37.
  17. Constitution of Saxony, Section 62.
  18. Constitution of Saxony, Section 63.
  19. Constitution of Saxony, Section 66.
  20. Constitution of Saxony, Section 68.
  21. Constitution of Saxony, Section 69.
  22. Constitution of Saxony, Section 71.
  23. Constitution of Saxony, Section 72.
  24. Constitution of Saxony, Section 74.
  25. Constitution of Saxony, Section 80.
  26. Constitution of Saxony, Section 81.
  27. Constitution of Saxony, Section 83.
  28. Constitution of Saxony, Section 85.
  29. Constitution of Saxony, Section 86.
  30. 1 2 Constitution of Saxony, Section 92.
  31. Constitution of Saxony, Section 96.
  32. Constitution of Saxony, Section 141
  33. Constitution of Saxony, Sections 142 to 150.
  34. Constitution of Saxony, Sections 44 and 47.
  35. Constitution of Saxony, Section 153.

Coordinates: 51°03′N13°44′E / 51.050°N 13.733°E / 51.050; 13.733