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John George I, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau.

John George I, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau (Harzgerode, 9 May 1567 - Dessau, 24 May 1618), was a German prince of the House of Ascania and ruler of the unified principality of Anhalt. From 1603, he was ruler of the principality of Anhalt-Dessau.

John George was the eldest son of Joachim Ernest, Prince of Anhalt, by his first wife Agnes, daughter of Wolfgang I, Count of Barby-Mühlingen.


After the death of his father in 1586, John George inherited the principality of Anhalt jointly with his younger brother Christian I and his five half-brothers according to the family law of the House of Ascania, which mandated no division of territories among the heirs. Because his half-brothers were still minors at the time of their accession, John George acted as regent.

In 1603 an agreement was drawn up between John George and his surviving brothers to divide the territories of the principality of Anhalt among them. John George received Anhalt-Dessau, as well as the Seniorat; nonetheless, he maintained a regency over all of the newly-created principalities until 1606, when his brothers took over the government in their lands. As a ruler, he maintained Reformation policies in his state and vigorously pursued the abolition of the traditional customs and liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church.

On 24 August 1617 at Schloss Hornstein (later Wilhelmsburg Castle) during the funeral of their sister Dorothea Maria, Duchess of Saxe-Weimar, John George and his younger brother Louis of Anhalt-Köthen created the Fruitbearing Society. The Prince of Köthen was appointed its first leader.

John George was much appreciated by his subjects and considered learned abroad, particularly in the subjects of astrology and alchemy. He possessed a remarkable library with over 3000 volumes.

Marriages and Issue

In Hedersleben on 22 February 1588 John George married Dorothea (b. 23 March 1561 - d. Dessau, 23 February 1594), daughter of John Albert VI, Count of Mansfeld-Arnstein. They had five children:

  1. Sophie Elisabeth (b. Dessau, 10 February 1589 - d. Liegnitz, 9 February 1622), married on 4 November 1614 to George Rudolph, Duke of Liegnitz.
  2. Anna Magdalena (b. Dessau, 29 March 1590 - d. Eschwege, 24 October 1626), married on 14 June 1617 to Otto, Hereditary Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel.
  3. Anna Marie (b. Dessau, 4 May 1591 - d. Dessau, 7 July 1637).
  4. Joachim Ernest, Hereditary Prince of Anhalt-Dessau (b. Dessau, 18 July 1592 - d. Dessau, 28 May 1615).
  5. Christian (b. Dessau, 23 February 1594 - d. Dessau, 13 April 1594).

In Heidelberg on 21 February 1595 John George married for a second time to Dorothea (b. Kaiserslautern, 6 January 1581 - d. Sandersleben, 18 September 1631), the only surviving child of John Casimir of Simmern, third son of Frederick III, Elector Palatine. They had eleven children:

  1. John Casimir, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau (b. Dessau, 7 September 1596 - d. Dessau, 15 September 1660).
  2. Anna Elisabeth (b. Dessau, 5 April 1598 - d. Tecklenburg, 20 April 1660), married on 2 January 1617 to William Henry, Count of Bentheim-Steinfurt.
  3. Frederick Maurice (b. Dessau, 18 February 1600 - d. Lyon, 25 August 1610).
  4. Eleonore Dorothea (b. Dessau, 16 February 1602 - d. Weimar, 26 December 1664), married on 23 May 1625 to William, Duke of Saxe-Weimar.
  5. Sibylle Christine (b. Dessau, 11 July 1603 - d. Hanau, 21 February 1686), married firstly on 26 December 1627 to Philipp Maurice, Count of Hanau-Münzenberg, and secondly on 13 May 1647 to Frederick Casimir, Count of Hanau-Lichtenberg.
  6. Henry Waldemar (b. Dessau, 7 November 1604 - d. Dessau, 25 September 1606).
  7. George Aribert (b. Dessau, 3 June 1606 - d. Wörlitz, 14 November 1643).
  8. Kunigunde Juliane (b. Dessau, 17 February 1608 - d. Rotenburg, 26 September 1683), married on 2 January 1642 to Hermann, Landgrave of Hesse-Rotenburg.
  9. Susanna Margarete (b. Dessau, 23 August 1610 - d. Babenhausen, 13 October 1663), married on 16 February 1651 to John Philip, Count of Hanau-Lichtenberg.
  10. Johanna Dorothea (b. Dessau, 24 March 1612 - d. Tecklenburg, 26 April 1695), married on 9 February 1636 to Maurice, Count of Bentheim-Tecklenburg (nephew of his brother-in-law William Henry).
  11. Eva Katharine (b. Dessau, 11 September 1613 - d. Dessau, 15 December 1679).
Preceded by
Joachim Ernest
Prince of Anhalt
with Christian I,
Bernhard (until 1596),
John Ernest (until 1601)
and Louis

Succeeded by
Principality partitioned in Anhalt-Dessau, Anhalt-Bernburg, Anhalt-Plötzkau, Anhalt-Zerbst and Anhalt-Köthen
Preceded by
Principality (re-)created
Prince of Anhalt-Dessau
Succeeded by
John Casimir


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