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Duchy of Saxe-Eisenach

Herzogtum Sachsen-Eisenach
  Saxe-Eisenach from 1672, shown amongst the other 18th-century Ernestine duchies in Thuringia
Status State of the Holy Roman Empire (until 1806),
State of the Confederation of the Rhine
Capital Eisenach
Government Principality
Historical era Middle Ages
 Division of Erfurt
 Partitioned from
 Split between
    and Saxe-Altenburg
 Partitioned from
 Split between
    and Saxe-Weimar
 Partitioned from
 Merged to form
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Coat of arms of Saxony.svg Saxe-Coburg-Eisenach
Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach Flagge Grossherzogtum Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach (1813-1897).svg

Saxe-Eisenach (German : Sachsen-Eisenach) was an Ernestine duchy ruled by the Saxon House of Wettin. The state intermittently existed at three different times in the Thuringian region of the Holy Roman Empire. The chief town and capital of all three duchies was Eisenach.

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 (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.

Ernestine duchies duchy

The Ernestine duchies, also known as the Saxon duchies, were a changing number of small states that were largely located in the present-day German state of Thuringia and governed by dukes of the Ernestine line of the House of Wettin.

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.



In the 15th century, much of what is now the German state of Thuringia, including the area around Eisenach, was in the hands of the Wettin dynasty, since 1423 Prince-electors of Saxony. In 1485, the Wettin lands were divided according to the Treaty of Leipzig, with most of the Thuringian lands going to Elector Ernest of Saxony and his descendants. The Ernestine Wettins also retained the title of Elector. However, when Ernest's grandson John Frederick the Magnanimous revolted against Emperor Charles V during the Schmalkaldic War, he was defeated at the 1547 Battle of Mühlberg and deprived of the electorate in favour of his Wettin cousin Maurice. According to the Capitulation of Wittenberg he was only allowed to retain the lands in Thuringia.

States of Germany First-level administrative subdivisions of the Federal Republic of Germany

Germany is a federal republic consisting of sixteen states. Since today's Germany was formed from an earlier collection of several states, it has a federal constitution, and the constituent states retain a measure of sovereignty. With an emphasis on geographical conditions, Berlin and Hamburg are frequently called Stadtstaaten (city-states), as is the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen, which in fact includes the cities of Bremen and Bremerhaven. The remaining 13 states are called Flächenländer.

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.

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.

Ernestine duchies

After John Frederick's son Duke John Frederick II in 1566 had been banned by Emperor Maximilian II due to his involvement in the Grumbach feuds, the Ernestine duchy was at first ruled by his younger brother John William. According to the 1572 Division of Erfurt, he partitioned the lands among himself and his minor nephews, the sons of John Frederick II: He himself retained the Duchy of Saxe-Weimar, while the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Eisenach passed to John Casimir and John Ernest, under the regency of their cousin Elector Augustus of Saxony.

John Frederick II, Duke of Saxony Duke of Saxony

John Frederick II of Saxony, was Duke of Saxony (1554–1566).

The imperial ban was a form of outlawry in the Holy Roman Empire. At different times, it could be declared by the Holy Roman Emperor, by the Imperial Diet, or by courts like the League of the Holy Court (Vehmgericht) or the Reichskammergericht.

Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor King of the Romans, King of Hungary and Bohemia

Maximilian II, a member of the Austrian House of Habsburg, was Holy Roman Emperor from 1564 until his death. He was crowned King of Bohemia in Prague on 14 May 1562 and elected King of Germany on 24 November 1562. On 8 September 1563 he was crowned King of Hungary and Croatia in the Hungarian capital Pressburg. On 25 July 1564 he succeeded his father Ferdinand I as ruler of the Holy Roman Empire.

For the next three centuries the Ernestine lands were divided whenever the dukes had more than one son to provide for, and re-combined when they died without direct heirs, but all of the lands stayed in the Ernestine branch of the Wettin family. All descendants of John Frederick the Magnanimous in the male line bore the title "Duke of Saxony", whether or not they actually ruled any territory. Brothers sometimes ruled jointly, but usually there was a division of territory if there was more than one son to inherit. As a result, the Duchy of Saxe-Eisenach was separated from and subsumed into other Ernestine duchies several times. The actual territories included in the duchy changed with each creation, but always with the town of Eisenach as the core.

Duchies of Saxe-Eisenach

The first Duchy of Saxe-Eisenach was created in 1596, after the banned Duke John Frederick II had died in captivity and his surviving sons had come of age. Their Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Eisenach was split, whereby the younger John Ernest became Duke at Eisenach, while the elder John Casimir took his residence at Coburg. When in 1633 Duke John Casimir died without issue, the Wettin line in Saxe-Coburg died out, and John Ernest inherited it. Nevertheless, he himself also died heirless in 1638, and his territories were split between Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Altenburg, which had itself been separated from Saxe-Weimar in 1603.

Coburg Place in Bavaria, Germany

Coburg is a town located on the Itz river in the Upper Franconia region of Bavaria, Germany. Long part of one of the Thuringian states of the Wettin line, it joined Bavaria by popular vote only in 1920. Until the revolution of 1918, it was one of the capitals of the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. Through successful dynastic policies, the ruling princely family married into several of the royal families of Europe, most notably in the person of Prince Albert, who married Queen Victoria in 1840. As a result of these close links with the royal houses of Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Coburg was frequently visited by the crowned heads of Europe and their families.


Saxe-Coburg was a duchy held by the Ernestine branch of the Wettin dynasty in today's Bavaria, Germany.

Saxe-Altenburg duchy

Saxe-Altenburg was one of the Saxon duchies held by the Ernestine branch of the House of Wettin in present-day Thuringia. It was one of the smallest of the German states with an area of 1323 square kilometers and a population of 207,000 (1905) of whom about one fifth resided in the capital, Altenburg. The territory of the duchy consisted of two non-contiguous territories separated by land belonging to the Principality of Reuss. Its economy was based on agriculture, forestry, and small industry. The state had a constitutional monarchical form of government with a parliament composed of thirty members chosen by male taxpayers over 25 years of age.

Eisenach City Palace, finished in 1748 City palace - Stadtschloss - Eisenach - Thuringia - Germany.jpg
Eisenach City Palace, finished in 1748

In the course of the partition of the Saxe-Weimar lands among the sons of late Duke John II in 1640, the eldest brother William of Saxe-Weimar gave the re-established Duchy of Saxe-Eisenach to his younger brother Albert IV, while the youngest Ernest received the Duchy of Saxe-Gotha. However, Duke Albert died without heirs in 1644, and Saxe-Eisenach was then divided between Saxe-Gotha and Saxe-Weimar, ruled by his brothers.

Albert IV, Duke of Saxe-Eisenach Duke of Saxe-Eisenach

Albrecht, Duke of Saxe-Eisenach, was a ruler of the duchy of Saxe-Eisenach. He was the seventh son of Johann, Duke of Saxe-Weimar, and Dorothea Maria of Anhalt. His regnal name Albert IV derives from the numbering of the duchy of Saxony as a whole, not specifically to the succession in Saxe-Eisenach.

Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Gotha Duke of Saxe-Gotha and Saxe-Altenburg

Ernest I, called "Ernest The Pious", was a duke of Saxe-Gotha and Saxe-Altenburg. The duchies were later merged into Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg.


Saxe-Gotha was one of the Saxon duchies held by the Ernestine branch of the Wettin dynasty in the former Landgraviate of Thuringia. The ducal residence was erected at Gotha.

For nearly 20 years the residence of Eisenach was part of Saxe-Weimar. However, when Duke Wilhelm of Saxe-Weimar died in 1662, he left four children: John Ernest, Adolf William, John George and Bernard. The second eldest, Adolf William, received Eisenach. He had to share this, however, with his younger brother John George, who finally accepted the receipt of an income from the duchy of Saxe-Eisenach and made his residence in the small town of Marksuhl. Adolf William had five sons, but the first four died soon after birth. In 1668 he died, just before of the birth of his fifth son, Willam Augustus, who became the new Duke of Saxe-Eisenach from his birth, under the guardianship of his uncle John George. A sickly boy, he died in 1671 at only two years old, and John George became Duke of Saxe-Eisenach.

Saxe-Eisenach assumed its final shape in 1672, following the death of Frederick William III of Saxe-Altenburg and the partition of his lands. The line of Johann Georg I ruled Saxe-Eisenach for 69 years, until Duke Wilhelm Heinrich died heirless in 1741. Duke Ernest Augustus I of Saxe-Weimar, Wilhelm's second cousin, inherited Saxe-Eisenach; he and his successors ruled Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Eisenach in personal union until 1809, when the duchies were formally merged into the Duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach.

Dukes of Saxe-Eisenach

First creation

Created in 1572 as Saxe-Coburg-Eisenach
1596 divided into Saxe-Coburg and Saxe-Eisenach

Divided between Saxe-Altenburg and Saxe-Weimar

Second creation

Divided between Saxe-Gotha and Saxe-Weimar

Third creation

Line extinct

Personal union with Saxe-Weimar

Merged with Saxe-Weimar into Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach

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