German duchy

Saxe-Altenburg (German: Sachsen-Altenburg) was one of the Saxon duchies held by the Ernestine branch of the House of Wettin in present-day Thuringia.[1] 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.

History

  Saxe-Altenburg in the 19th century, shown in relation to the Kingdom of Saxony (  pale yellow)
Castle of Altenburg

The duchy had its origins in the medieval Burgraviate of Altenburg in the Imperial Pleissnerland (Terra Plisensis), a possession of the Wettin Margraves of Meissen since 1243. Upon a partition treaty of 1485, Altenburg fell to Ernst, Elector of Saxony, the progenitor of the Ernestine Wettins.[2] After the Division of Erfurt in 1572 among Duke Johann Wilhelm of Saxony and his nephews, Altenburg fell to his Duchy of Saxe-Weimar.

When Johann Wilhelm's son and successor Friedrich Wilhelm I died in 1602, the Duchy of Saxe-Weimar passed to his younger brother Johann II. In 1603 Frederick William's eldest son Johann Philipp received the newly created Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg as compensation. It was an Imperial State in its own right, with a vote in the Reichstag, for much of the 17th century until the extinction of its ruling line in 1672 when it was inherited by Ernest I the Pious, the Duke of Saxe-Gotha, who had married the heiress.

Saxe-Altenburg thereafter remained part of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg until the extinction of that house in 1825, when Gotha and Altenburg were divided up, with Gotha going to the Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld and Altenburg to the Duke of Saxe-Hildburghausen, who in exchange gave up Hildburghausen to the Duke of Saxe-Meiningen. This family ruled the duchy until the end of the monarchies in the course of the German Revolution of 1918–19. The succeeding Free State of Saxe-Altenburg was incorporated into the new state of Thuringia in 1920.

Saxe-Altenburg had an area of 1,323 km2 (510 sq. mi.) and a population of 207,000 (1905). Its capital was Altenburg.

The Saxe-Altenburg line became extinct following the death of Prince George Moritz in 1991. The leadership of the house passed to Michael, head of the genealogically more senior house of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach.

Dukes of Saxe-Altenburg

Elder line

Line extinct, inherited by Saxe-Gotha, thereupon Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg

Junior line

Heads of the Ducal House of Saxe-Altenburg, post monarchy

In 1991 the Saxe-Altenburg line became extinct in the male line. Its representation was merged with the one of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach.

Two branches descend from duke Ernest the Pious, the father of the progenitor of the Saxe-Altenburg branch: Saxe-Meiningen and Saxe-Coburg and Gotha; according to old Wettin family law, they would have divided the actual territories between them (as happened to Gotha and Altenburg in 1826).

Secondary residences of the Dukes of Saxe-Altenburg

See also

Notes

  1. ^ "The Ernestine Line's Saxon Duchies" (Web). Historical Atlas. Tacitus Historical Atlas. Retrieved 2007-05-19.
  2. ^ Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Saxe-Altenburg" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

References

External links