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Herzogtum Sachsen
Duchy of Saxony
Stem duchy of the Frankish Empire,
State of the Holy Roman Empire

804 – 1260 Duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg
 
Duchy of Saxe-Lauenburg

Coat of arms

The stem duchy of Saxony in 1000

Guelf c12.jpg
Welf possessions in the 12th century,
showing the duchies of Saxony and Bavaria
Capital Not specified
Government Principality
Historical era Middle Ages
 - Formation of the Duchy
    by Charlemagne
804
 - Welfs ascended 1137
 - expanding conquests 1142
 - Welfic dynasty deposed
  -break-up of the
    old Duchy of Saxony
  -Ascanians enfeoffed
    with severely belittled
    younger D. of Saxony
  -further successor
    states include most
    of the old duchy








1180
 - Division among the
    heirs into
    Saxe-Lauenburg and
    Saxe-Wittenberg



1260
 - Division effective in 1296
Map of Central Europe from 919-1125, by William R. Shepherd. The stem duchies are: Saxony in yellow, Franconia in blue, Bavaria in green, Swabia in light orange, Lower Lotharingia in dark pink, Upper Lotharingia in light pink, and Thuringia in dark orange.

The mediæval Duchy of Saxony was a late Early Middle Ages "Carolingian stem duchy" covering the greater part of Northern Germany. It covered the area of the modern German states of Bremen, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, and Saxony-Anhalt and most of Schleswig-Holstein. Duke Henry the Lion occupied the area of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Contents

The Saxon people were one of the most robust groups in the late tribal culture of the times, and eventually bequeathed their tribe's name to a variety of more and more modern geo-political territories from Old Saxony near the mouth of the Elbe River, up the Elbe successively to eventually, the Kingdom of Saxony and the three Germany free states which bear the name today (see map at left).

Map showing the location of the three states, Lower Saxony in the northwest, Saxony-Anhalt in the center, and the Free State of Saxony in the southeast, within today's Germany

History

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Middle Ages

For the early history of the Saxons before incorporation into the Holy Roman Empire, see: Old Saxony

Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa and his allies, many of them vassals and former supporters of his paternal cousin Duke Henry III the Lion, had defeated the latter. In 1180 Frederick Barbarossa stripped Henry the Lion of his duchies of Saxony and Bavaria. In 1182 Henry the Lion and his wife Matilda Plantagenêt, the daughter of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine and sister of Richard Lionheart left from Stade to go into exile from the Holy Roman Empire in order to stay with Henry II of England.

Frederick Barbarossa partioned Saxony in some dozens of territories of imperial immediacy allotting each territory to that one of his allies who had conquered them before from Henry the Lion and his remaining supporters.

While in 1168 the Saxon clan of the Ascanians, allies of Frederick Barbarossa, had failed to install their family member Siegfried, Count of Anhalt, on the archepiscopal see of Bremen, the Ascanians prevailed twofoldly in 1180. The chief of the House of Ascania, Otto I, Margrave of Brandenburg, son of Albert the Bear, a maternal cousin of Henry the Lion, provided his sixth brother Bernard, Count of Anhalt, from then on Bernard III, Duke of Saxony, with the from then on so-called younger Duchy of Saxony (1180 - 1260), a radically belittled territory consisting of three unconnected territories along the river Elbe, from north west to south east, (1) Hadeln around Otterndorf, (2) around Lauenburg upon Elbe and (3) around Wittenberg upon Elbe. Except of the title, Duke of Saxony, Angria and Westphalia, which this younger Duchy of Saxony granted its rulers, even after its definite dynastic partition in 1296, this territory, consisting only of territorial fringes of the old Duchy of Saxony until 1180, had little in common with the latter. In 1260, with effect from 1296 on, its rulers split the younger Duchy into the Duchies of Saxe-Wittenberg (German: Herzogtum Sachsen-Wittenberg) and Saxe-Lauenburg (German: Herzogtum Sachsen-Lauenburg), the latter holding the unconnected two northern territories.

Otto and Bernard helped their second brother Siegfried, who since 1168 had called himself the Bishop Elect of Bremen, to gain the see of Bremen, with part of the diocesan territory being upgraded to form the Prince-Archbishopric of Bremen (German: Erzstift Bremen). Thus the Prince-Archbishopric of Bremen became - among many others - one of the successor states of the old Duchy of Saxony, holding only a small part of its former territory.

The deposed ducal House of Welf could maintain its allodial possessions, which did not remain part of the severely belittled younger Duchy of Saxony after the enfeoffment of the Ascanians. The Welfic possessions were elevated to the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg(also Brunswick and Lunenburg) in 1235. This duchy continued to use the old Saxon coat-of-arms showing the Saxon Steed in argent on gules, while the Ascanians adopted for the younger Duchy of Saxony their family colours, a barry of ten, in sable and or, covered by a crancelin of rhombs bendwise in vert.

Members of the Welfic cadet branch House of Hanover later became prince-electors of Brunswick-Lüneburg (as of 1692/1708), kings of Great Britain, Ireland (both 1714), the United Kingdom (1801) and Hanover (1814).

Territories seceded from Saxony following its break-up in 1180

A number of seceded territories gaining even imperial immediacy, while others only changed their liege lord on the occasion.

See also

Notes and references



Herzogtum Sachsen
Duchy of Saxony
Stem duchy of the Frankish Empire,
State of the Holy Roman Empire
File:Old Saxony
804–1296 File:Coat of arms of
 
[[File:|20px|Duchy of Saxe-Lauenburg]]

File:Coat of arms of Lower

Coat of arms until 1180*

The stem duchy of Saxony in 1000

File:Guelf
Welf possessions in the 12th century,
showing the duchies of Saxony and Bavaria
Capital Not specified
Government Principality
Historical era Middle Ages
 - Formation of duchy
    by Charlemagne

804
 - Welfs ascendancy 1137
 - Expanded by conquest 1142
 - Welfs deposed,
    Ascanians enfeoffed
    with severely
    belittled duchy



1180
 - John I and Albert II
    co-rulers;
 - Competences divided

1260
1269, 1272 and 1282
 - Definite partition into
    Saxe-Lauenburg and
    Saxe-Wittenberg


1296
 - Wittenbergs extinct;
    reunification failed

1422
*[citation needed]
File:Central Europe,
Map of Central Europe from 919-1125, by William R. Shepherd. The stem duchies are: Saxony in yellow, Franconia in blue, Bavaria in green, Swabia in light orange, Lower Lotharingia in dark pink, Upper Lotharingia in light pink, and Thuringia in dark orange.

The medieval Duchy of Saxony was a late Early Middle Ages "Carolingian stem duchy" covering the greater part of Northern Germany. It covered the area of the modern German states of Bremen, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, and Saxony-Anhalt and most of Schleswig-Holstein. Duke Henry the Lion occupied the area of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

The Saxon people were one of the most robust groups in the late tribal culture of the times, and eventually bequeathed their tribe's name to a variety of more and more modern geo-political territories from Old Saxony near the mouth of the Elbe River, up the Elbe successively to eventually, the Kingdom of Saxony and the three Germany Länder (Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Free State of Saxony) which bear the name today (see map at left).
File:Three states called
Map showing the location of the three states, Lower Saxony in the northwest, Saxony-Anhalt in the center, and the Free State of Saxony in the southeast, within today's Germany

Contents

History

Middle Ages

For the early history of the Saxons before incorporation into the Holy Roman Empire, see: Old Saxony

Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa and his allies, many of them vassals and former supporters of his paternal cousin Duke Henry III the Lion, had defeated the latter. In 1180 Frederick Barbarossa stripped Henry the Lion of his duchies of Saxony and Bavaria. In 1182 Henry the Lion and his wife Matilda Plantagenêt, the daughter of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine and sister of Richard Lionheart left from Stade to go into exile from the Holy Roman Empire in order to stay with Henry II of England.

Frederick Barbarossa partioned Saxony in some dozens of territories of imperial immediacy allotting each territory to that one of his allies who had conquered them before from Henry the Lion and his remaining supporters.

While in 1168 the Saxon clan of the Ascanians, allies of Frederick Barbarossa, had failed to install their family member Siegfried, Count of Anhalt, on the archepiscopal see of Bremen, the Ascanians prevailed twofoldly in 1180. The chief of the House of Ascania, Otto I, Margrave of Brandenburg, son of Albert the Bear, a maternal cousin of Henry the Lion, provided his sixth brother Bernard, Count of Anhalt, from then on Bernard III, Duke of Saxony, with the from then on so-called younger Duchy of Saxony (1180–1296), a radically belittled territory consisting of three unconnected territories along the river Elbe, from north west to south east, (1) Hadeln around Otterndorf, (2) around Lauenburg upon Elbe and (3) around Wittenberg upon Elbe. Except of the title, Duke of Saxony, Angria and Westphalia, which this younger Duchy of Saxony granted its rulers, even after its definite dynastic partition in 1296, this territory, consisting only of territorial fringes of the old Duchy of Saxony until 1180, had little in common with the latter.

Otto and Bernard helped their second brother Siegfried, who since 1168 had called himself the Bishop Elect of Bremen, to gain the see of Bremen, with part of the diocesan territory being upgraded to form the Prince-Archbishopric of Bremen (German: Erzstift Bremen). Thus the Prince-Archbishopric of Bremen became - among many others - one of the successor states of the old Duchy of Saxony, holding only a small part of its former territory.

The deposed ducal House of Welf could maintain its allodial possessions, which did not remain part of the severely belittled younger Duchy of Saxony after the enfeoffment of the Ascanians. The Welf possessions were elevated to the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg (also Brunswick and Lunenburg) in 1235. This duchy continued to use the old Saxon coat-of-arms showing the Saxon Steed in argent on gules, while the Ascanians adopted for the younger Duchy of Saxony their family colours, a barry of ten, in sable and or, covered by a crancelin of rhombs bendwise in vert, symbolising the Saxon dukedom.

In 1269, 1272 and 1282 the co-ruling brothers John I and Albert II gradually divided their governing competences within the then three territorially unconnected Saxon areas (Hadeln, Lauenburg and Wittenberg), thus preparing a partition.

After John I had resigned in 1282 in favour of his three minor sons Eric I, John II and Albert III, followed by his death three years later, the three brothers and their uncle Albert II continued the joint rule in Saxony.

In 1288 Albert II applied at King Rudolph I for the enfeoffment of his son and heir Duke Rudolph I with the Palatinate of Saxony, which ensued a long lasting dispute with the eager clan of the House of Wettin. When the County of Brehna was reverted to the Empire after the extinction of its comital family the king enfeoffed Duke Rudolph. In 1290 Albert II gained the County of Brehna and in 1295 the County of Gommern for Saxony. King Wenceslaus II of Bohemia succeeded in bringing Albert II in favour of electing Adolf of Germany as new emperor: Albert II signed an elector pact on 29 November 1291 that he would vote the same as Wenceslaus. On 27 April 1292 Albert II, with his nephews still minor, wielded the Saxon electoral vote, electing Adolf of Germany.

The last document, mentioning the joint government of Albert II with his nephews as Saxon fellow dukes dates back to 1295.[1] The definite partitioning of the Duchy of Saxony into Saxe-Lauenburg (German: Herzogtum Sachsen-Lauenburg), jointly ruled by the brothers Albert III, Eric I and John II and Saxe-Wittenberg (German: Herzogtum Sachsen-Wittenberg), ruled by Albert II took place before 20 September 1296. The Vierlande, Sadelbande (Land of Lauenburg), the Land of Ratzeburg, the Land of Darzing (today's Amt Neuhaus), and the Land of Hadeln are mentioned as the separate territory of the brothers.[2] Albert II received Saxe-Wittenberg around the eponymous city and Belzig. Albert II thus became the founder of the Ascanian line of Saxe-Wittenberg.

Members of the Welf cadet branch House of Hanover later became prince-electors of Brunswick-Lüneburg (as of 1692/1708), kings of Great Britain, Ireland (both 1714), the United Kingdom (1801) and Hanover (1814).

Territories seceded from Saxony following its break-up in 1180

A number of seceded territories gaining even imperial immediacy, while others only changed their liege lord on the occasion.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Cordula Bornefeld, "Die Herzöge von Sachsen-Lauenburg", in: Die Fürsten des Landes: Herzöge und Grafen von Schleswig, Holstein und Lauenburg [De slevigske hertuger; German], Carsten Porskrog Rasmussen (ed.) on behalf of the Gesellschaft für Schleswig-Holsteinische Geschichte, Neumünster: Wachholtz, 2008, pp. 373-389, here p. 375. ISBN 978-3-529-02606-5
  2. ^ Cordula Bornefeld, "Die Herzöge von Sachsen-Lauenburg", in: Die Fürsten des Landes: Herzöge und Grafen von Schleswig, Holstein und Lauenburg [De slevigske hertuger; German], Carsten Porskrog Rasmussen (ed.) on behalf of the Gesellschaft für Schleswig-Holsteinische Geschichte, Neumünster: Wachholtz, 2008, pp. 373-389, here p. 375. ISBN 978-3-529-02606-5


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