The history of the house of Saxe-Wettin teaches us that Theoderich I reigned about the year 950 as one of the governing princes of Germany and died in the year 982. His first successors were his son Dedo I, ruling (reigning) Count of Wettin, who died in 1009, followed by Dedo's son, Theoderich II, who was Count of Wettin and who died in 1034. Theoderich II's son Thimo was Count of Wettin from 1034 to 1103, and his brother Dedo II was administrator of Meissen. Some writers state that the latter was given Niederlausitz: he died not earlier than 1105. Dedo II died in 1075, his successor was his son Heinrich I, who was given Meissen and who died in 1103. His uncle Thimo followed him and combined the county of Wettin with Meissen; he died two years later, in 1105. Then his nephew Heinrich II (son of Heinrich I) succeeded him; he died in 1127. His successor was Konrad der Grosse (the Great), Thimo's son, who died in 1156.
In map 1 we see the extent of the territories of Konrad der Grosse in 1145; they are shown in carmine red. They comprise four parts: 1, the county of Wettin; 2, Osterland, where you can see Landsberg, then the main town, and Leipzig, Groitsch, Borna and Grimma; 3, Meissen with Torgau, Dresden (at that time not yet existent) and Freiberg, which was the capital then; 4, Niederlausitz with Luckau, Cottbus, Guben, etc. as you can see.
For the date of map 1 we had to choose the year 1145, because historians are not in agreement about the dates of the different acquisitions of the House of Wettin. Some maintain that Niederlausitz was acquired before Meissen, others that it was the other way round. We did not put a lot of writing into this map in order to avoid confusion. Its main purpose is to show the range and the development of each part clearly; an advantage which can only be attained with difficulty as you will be able to see later.
The possessions of the Margraves of Meissen are always shown in carmine red, all other branches of the House of Wettin have their own colours. We will avoid all historical and genealogical discussions; only sometimes will we indicate the names of the princes who possessed each state, which you see on the map at the time shown in the margin. Lovers of history can satisfy their desire for more information if they consult other historical works on Saxony. The aim of the present historical atlas is to accompany you during your studies.
Map no. 2
shows that the estates of Konrad der Grosse were reorganised after his death in 1156. Meissen, red, went to Otto; Niederlausitz, yellow, to Dietrich; the County of Wettin, green, to Heinrich; Brehna, violet, to Friedrich; and Groitsch with Rochlitz to Dedo.
Map no. 3
shows that in 1185 the house of Wettin was divided into four principalities: 1) Meissen, red, as at all times; 2) Groitsch-Rochlitz, which possessed Niederlausitz, brown; 3) Brehna, violet; and 4) Wettin, green.
Map no. 4
shows that with the extinction of the branch of Groitsch-Rochlitz in 1210, Groitsch and Niederlausitz went to the Margrave of Meissen, red; Brehna, violet and Wettin, green, still existed; Rochlitz, had been assigned as an imperial fief on the order of the emperor Otho IV.
Map no. 5
shows that in 1247 Wettin fell to Brechna (violet). In addition Heinrich, Margrave of Meissen, possessed Niedrlausitz and the whole Langravate of Thuringia (all in red). His son Albrecht possessed Pleissnerland (green), which he had received as a dowry in the year 1246 from the Emperor Friedrich II; in fact, one year before his father was given Thuringia by the same emperor.
Map no. 6
shows the rearrangement made in the year 1265 during the life of the aforesaid Margrave Heinrich, who retained Meissen and Niederlausitz (red), only. Dietrich possessed the Osterland in the name of the Margravate of Landsberg (yellow), and the Landgravate of Thuringia (blue) was in the possession of Albrecht dem Unartigen (the Nonconformist, the Degenerate), both were Heinrich's sons. The latter had surrendered Pleissnerland (green) to Heinrich. Brehna-Wettin (violet) still existed.
Map no. 7
shows the reorganisation of the house of Wettin in 1284. Heinrich der Erlauchte (the Illustrious) still governed Meissen, red. Friedrich Tutta had succeeded his father Dietrich to the Landgravate of Landsberg, and possessed Niederlausitz, both yellow. Thuringia (blue) was still in the possession of Albrecht dem Unartigen; when his son Heinrich, who had possessed Pleissnerland died in 1282 without heirs, this region reverted to the Emperor; nine years later the House of Wettin got it back and retained it from then on. You see that in 1284 Brehna-Wettin (violet) no longer existed.
Map no. 8
shows that, on the death of Friedrich Tutta in 1291, all his possessions fell to Diezman, son of Albrecht dem Unartigen, who still lived and still owned Thuringia (blue), Diezman also received Pleissnerland from the Emperor - (all his possessions are yellow). At that time Friedrich, son of Heinrich dem Erlauchten (the Illustrious) ruled in Dresden over Meissen (red). In 1290 Wettin belonged to Magdeburg and Brehna reverted to the Emperor.
Map no. 9
shows that Lausitz was lost in the year 1307; it had been sold within Diezman's lifetime to the Margrave of Brandenburg. When in 1307 Diezman died without heirs, his possessions fell to his father Albrecht dem Unartigen, Landgrave of Thuringia (blue), who finally died in 1314 after a 49-year reign. Meissen (red), was held by the same Friedrich, son of Heinrich dem Erlauchten.
Map no. 10
shows that in 1314, on Albrecht's death, Thuringia, Osterland and Pleissnerland fell to Friedrich Margrave of Meissen, who now ruled the remaining possessions of the House of Wettin. This union lasted for 35 years.
Map no. 11
shows that in 1346 on the death of Friedrich dem Ernsthaften (the Serious), his states were divided between three sons: Friedrich der Strenge (the Strict) got Osterland and Pleissnerland together with Coburg (yellow), Balthasar got Thuringia together with Hildburghausen (blue), and Wilhelm Meissen (red).
Subsequently a land exchange took place between Friedrich and Wilhelm, which historians, however, have not recorded clearly enough to allow us to provide a map of it.
Map no. 12
shows that in 1423 Friedrich der Streitbare (the Belligerent) received the Duchy of Saxony together with the Electorate from Emperor Sigismund, King of Hungary. At that time this prince possessed Meissen, Kahla, Roda etc, (all his territories are red); Wilhelm II owned Osterland and Pleissnerland (yellow), and Friedrich der Friedfertige (the Peace-loving), son of Balthasar (who had died in 1406) Thuringia (blue).
Map no. 13
shows that when in 1425 Wilhelm II died without an heir, all his territories fell to the first Elector Friedrich dem Streitbaren. All these states (red) consisted of Meissen, the Electorate of Saxony, of Osterland and Pleissnerland, of Kahla, Roda, Saalfeld and Coburg etc, of Lausitz, the four cities Görlitz, Sorau, Beeskow and Storkow (red). Thuringia together with Sangerhausen and Hildburghausen were still in the possession of Friedrich dem Friedfertigen.
Map no. 14
In 1482 Wilhelm, son of Friedrich dem Friedfertigen (the Peace-loving) died without an heir, and so Thuringia fell to Elector Ernst, third Elector and son of Friedrich dem Sanftmütigen (the Gentle). Thus all the possessions of the House of Wettin were united for the third time (see maps 1 and 10). The first union lasted for 110 years, the second for 35 years and the third for three years only. Since that time all princes of the House of Wettin have had the title of Prince of Saxony.
Map no. 15
["The Partition of Leipzig". The older brother Ernst received the Duchy of Wittenberg, as Elector. He divided the rest of their late father's territories into two parts, and allowed his younger brother Albrecht to choose. Albrecht chose Meissen and eastern Saxony, to Ernst's disappointment.]
shows the famous partition in 1485; Ernst, third Elector signed away a large part of his states to his brother Albert. Beside the Electorate of Saxony the Elector received a part of Thuringia with Altenburg, the district of Neustadt and Voigtland, the towns Colditz, Grimma, Eilenburg, Düben and Torgau (blue). Albert got everything shown in red: Meissen, Osterland, part of the Pleissnerland and Thuringia together with Sangerhausen. The two brothers shared the four towns Görlitz, Sorau, Beeskow and Storkow (violet) and the proceeds of the Freiberger mines.
Map no. 16
["The Capitulation of Wittenberg"]
shows the changes in 1548. In 1547 Johann Friedrich der Großmütige (the Generous), the Sixth Elector, was captured by the army of Emperor Karl V at Mühlberg an der Elbe, was imprisoned, and deprived of his Electorate, which the Emperor then assigned to Moritz the grandchild of Albert, who already possessed the Margravate of Meissen and everything shown in red in map 13. Johann Friedrich kept only what is shown in blue in map 16. From now on everything shown in red belonged to the Seventh Elector Moritz. These possessions were Meißen, the Electorate of Saxony, a district of Thuringia, Osterland, Pleissnerland, Altenburg, Eisenberg and Camburg; the five walled cities Colditz, Grimma, Eilenburg, Düben and Torgau; also the four cities of the Lausitz, Görlitz, Sorau, Beeskow and Storkow and the mines of Freiberg, of which he was the exclusive possessor.
Map no. 17
shows that in 1554 August, eighth Elector who succeeded his father Moritz had returned Altenburg, Eisenberg and Camburg to the Ernestine line, which, at that time, had split into two branches; one possessed Eisenach and Coburg (yellow), the other Altenburg, Eisenberg and Camburg and everything shown in blue.
Map no. 18
shows that in 1585 the possessions of the Elector of Saxony (red) were augmented by all of Voigtland, by the district of Neustadt and several other districts which August had bought, and by part of the County of Henneberg. At that time the Ernestine Line was divided into three branches: 1) Eisenach and Coburg (yellow), 2) Weimar and Gotha (blue), and 3) Altenburg (orange-yellow).
Map no. 19
shows that in 1635 the territories of the Elector of Saxony (red) were increased by Ober- and Niederlausitz, with Gommern etc. At that time the domains of the Bishoprics of Meissen and Naumburg and of their Chapter at Wurzen (shown here by a cinnabar-red border) were administered by the Elector; both his sons were administrators of Merseburg and Zeitz. At that time the Ernestine Line had divided into four branches: 1) Gotha, violet, which had inherited Coburg ; 2) Eisenach, yellow; 3) Weimar, blue; and 4) Altenburg, orange-yellow.
Map no. 20
shows that in 1662 the domains of the Bishoprics and Chapter of Meissen, Naumburg and Wurzen were united with the territories of the Elector, who also gained several districts bordering Bohemia, e.g. Wolkenstein, Stollberg etc., also the County of Barby etc.
Elector Johann Georg I who had acquired Ober- and Niederlausitz, and who reigned for 45 years and still lived at that time, had given the Herrschaft of Weissenfels to his son August, with the area of Treffurt, yellow; this branch survived for 92 years.
The secular Bishopric of Merseburg was a sovereign principality at that time, (shown in aqua) and held by Christian I, another son of Johann Georg I. The area of Dobrilugk in Niederlausitz belonged to the Prince of Merseburg, whose line survived 82 years.
Moritz, third son of Johann Georg I, was sovereign prince of Zeitz (green), his line survived 60 years. There were four sovereign princes of the Albertine, and six of the Ernestine line. Thus there were a total of ten states and ten sovereign princes from the house of Saxe-Wettin. 1) Jena, brown; 2) Eisenach, yellow; 3) Marksuhl, cinnabar; 4) Weimar, blue; 5) Altenburg, orange-yellow and 6) Gotha, violet.
Map no. 21
shows how the divisions and subdivisions of the possessions of the house of Saxe-Wettin stood in 1675. Those of the Electors, red, were still approximately the same as in the year 1662. The three Principalities of Weissenfels, Merseburg and Zeitz still were still the same as in 1662. The Ernestine line counted ten sovereign princes, namely: Jena, brown; Weimar, blue; and Marksuhl, to which Eisenach had been assigned, cinnabar. Gotha, which had acquired Altenburg, was divided into seven branches: 1) Saalfeld, cinnabar [again]; 2) Coburg, orange-yellow; 3) Hildburghausen, aqua; 4) Römhild, black; 5) Meinungen, green; 6)Eisenburg, which possessed Camburg, black and 7) Gotha, violet.
Thus we see that in 1675 the possessions of the House of Saxe-Wettin were carved up into fourteen separate states, ruled by fourteen independent princes.
Map no. 22
shows the changes in the Ernestine line in 1699. (The Albertine line was still as in 1662 and 1675.) In 1690 Jena had been passed to a Prince of Marksuhl. In 1698 Marksuhl-Eisenach came to this new Prince of Jena; in 1691 this constituted one state only (brown). Coburg passed to Saalfeld, which had acquired the name of Coburg-Saalfeld (orange-yellow). At that time there were still twelve sovereign princes of the House of Saxe-Wettin.
Map no. 23
shows that in 1747 after the extinction of the branches of Zeitz, Merseburg and Weissenfels, these three countries were united with the possessions of the Elector Friedrich August II, King of Poland.
The Ernestine line consisted at that time of 5 branches: Weimar, blue; Gotha, violet; Meinungen, green; Hildburghausen, aqua and Coburg-Saalfeld, orange-yellow.
Map no. 24.
shows that in 1808 Friedrich August, who had become King of Saxony in 1806, had received Cottbus and Peitz, and lost the County of Mansfeld, Gommern, Barby, Treffurth etc.. In addition, he was Duke of Warsaw.
The possessions and the subdivisions of the Ernestine line are still as in 1747.
Map no. 25.
shows how small the kingdom of Saxony has become after the contract of assignment of 18 May 1815. Warsaw, too, is lost. What still belongs to the King of Saxony is shown in red.
Gotha (violet), is still the same, as are Meinungen (green), Hildburghausen (aqua), and Coburg-Saalfeld (orange-yellow);however, Weimar has expanded at the expense of the King of Saxony by taking over part of the Neustädter district, with the Herrschaft of Blankenhain and some other areas, Weimar had also got parts of Erfurt and Fulda.
Map no. 26.
The last three overlays of this series bring the "Historischer Atlas von Sachsen" up to the present day. These overlays use the boundaries shown in the "Historischer Atlas von Sachsen", and the assignments of territories shown in Andrée's Handatlas; except that they follow the latter for the northern boundaries of the Kingdom of Saxony (the older work seems to have been unduly pessimistic about the Assignment of 18 May 1815). There are many minor differences between the two works, and I believe that Andrée's is likely to be the more accurate; but I have generally followed the older work, for the sake of consistency with the other overlays.
In 1826, the Ernestine lands included five members of the Imperial Circle of Upper Saxony, each with a vote in the Reichstag. These were based on the territories of Weimar, Eisenach, Altenburg, Gotha and Coburg.
They were divided into five monarchies (as seen on the previous overlay, for 1815). The Grand Duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach comprised (nominally) three-eights of the Ernestine lands, and two of the above-mentioned votes. The other four states were all ruled by descendants of Elisabeth Sophie, daughter of one Ernestine Duke and wife of another. These were the Duchy of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, with two votes; the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld with one vote; the Duchy of Saxe-Hildburghausen; and the Principality of Saxe-Meiningen.
In 1826 the ruling line of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg died out, and its territories and votes were redistributed among the three surviving ducal houses descended from Elisabeth Sophie, with extensive rearrangements of their territories. The Grand Duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (blue) was not affected by these changes (it had acquired the district of Neustadt from the Kingdom of Saxony in the Assignment of 1815, though this is not shown in the map for that year). The Duke of Saxe-Hildburghausen (aqua) was transferred to Altenburg, acquiring a Reichstag vote. The Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (orange-yellow) exchanged Saalfeld for Gotha and a second vote. The Prince of Saxe-Meiningen (green) acquired Saalfeld and Hildburghausen and became a duke. Much of this information is from the Ernestine duchies article in Wikipedia.
Map no. 27.
In 1919, after the First World War, there were revolutions in the eight Thuringian monarchies: the Ernestine Grand-Duchy and three Duchies, the Principalities of Schwarzburg-Rudostadt and Schwarzburg-Sonderhausen (which since 1909 had been in dynastic union), and the two Reuss principalities. Seven and a half off these states, with parts of Prussia, merged to form Thuringia; the southern part of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha merged with Bavaria. So the Ernestine states are not shown on this overlay.
The Kingdom of Saxony continued to exist, though no longer as a kingdom.
Map no. 28.
By 1952, the former Kingdom of Saxony (and all the former Ernestine territories except the southern part of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha) were parts of Russian-controlled East Germany. In that year the state of Saxony was abolished, its territory divided among three districts.