Duke of Saxony
Duke of Saxony

Henry IV the Pious, Duke of Saxony (German: Heinrich der Fromme) (16 March 1473, in Dresden – 18 August 1541, in Dresden) was a Duke of Saxony from the House of Wettin. Succeeding his brother George, Duke of Saxony, a fervent Catholic who sought to extinguish Lutheranism by any means possible, Henry established the Lutheran church as the state religion in his domains.[1]


Henry was the second son of Albert, Duke of Saxony, and his wife Sidonie Podiebrad, princess of Bohemia. When Albert died in 1500, his eldest son George succeeded to the Duchy of Saxony, and Henry became Lord of Friesland.

Saxon rule of Friesland was disturbed by constant revolts. Consequently, Henry, who was of a rather inert disposition, gave up his title there. In 1505 Henry ceded Friesland to George, in return for an annuity and the districts of Wolkenstein and Freiberg, where Henry made his residence.

In 1517, Martin Luther posted the Ninety-five Theses which sparked the Reformation in Germany, and a few years later Henry adopted the Evangelical faith. George remained a devout Catholic. Only two of George's sons survived to adulthood, John and Frederick, but they both predeceased him without issue. When Frederick died in 1539, the Lutheran Henry became heir presumptive to the Duchy under the Act of Settlement of 1499. To prevent a Protestant succession, George tried to override his father's will, disinherit Henry, and bequeath the Duchy to Ferdinand, brother of Charles V. However, George died only two months later, and Henry succeeded to the Duchy aged 66. He made Lutheranism the state religion of the Duchy of Saxony but reigned for only two years.

Marriage and children

In Freiberg, on 6 July 1512, Heinrich married Catherine of Mecklenburg, daughter of Duke Magnus II of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. They had six children:



  1. ^ Keen, Ralph (1991). "Defending the Pious: Melanchthon and the Reformation in Albertine Saxony, 1539". Church History. 60 (2): 160. doi:10.2307/3167524.

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Henry IV, Duke of Saxony
Born: 16 March 1473 Died: 18 August 1541
Preceded by Duke of Saxony
Succeeded by