The name given to several areas in Germany
The original Saxony is the area of northern Germany that was home to
those members of the Saxon
tribe who didn't go off to conquer England
During the period 777
, the Frank
ish king Charlemagne
Saxons' territory part of his empire (incidentally converting them to Christianity).
Saxony became a duchy, tucked in between Friesland
and the Elbe
rivers, with Thuringia
its southern borders. Its capital was Minden
, today a center for
Lower Saxony ceased to exist as a single entity after the 1180 defeat
of Duke Henry III (aka "Heinrich der Löwe"), who had rebelled
against Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa.
The victors split up his lands and the area merged into the general Medieval
German patchwork. Some of the most important states in the area were
The Kingdom of Prussia absorbed the states of northern Germany one
by one during the 19th Century, absorbing the last, Hannover, in 1866.
After World War II, Lower Saxony was reconsolidated into the West
German state of Niedersachsen, and it remains a state of a reunified
The most important cities in Niedersachsen are:
A far different Saxony emerged as a result of feudal
that Charlemagne's vassal
s in (Lower) Saxony were given for protecting
(and extending) their Eastern borders. Several "marches" were set up between
the Elbe and Oder
rivers. When Saxony was parceled out in 1180,
the "Saxon East March" at the foot of the Erzgebirge
was given to one
of Frederick's allies, the Wettin
family. Saxony was an "electorate",
that is, its ruler cast one of the votes to choose a Holy Roman Emperor.
In 1485 the electorate (which had absorbed Thuringia by then) was
divided between two Wettin brothers, Ernest, and Albert. The two
branches of the family were bitter rivals. Ernest's branch had the
electorate until their defeat in 1547 during the Schmalkadic War, a
run-up to the Thirty Years' War.
Albertine Saxony then got the electorate. From 1697 to 1795,
the Elector of Saxony was also the King of Poland. The Electorate
was elevated to a kingdom after Napoleon Bonaparte's 1806 dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire (which did not allow its princes to style themselves as "kings"). Although Frederick
Augustus had backed the wrong side, the Congress of Vienna allowed him to remain a king after
ceding a great deal of territory to Prussia.
Ernestine Saxony underwent several divisions into what were then called
the "Saxon Duchies". These formed and re-formed with alarming regularity,
but there were four left by 1826:
The area was another patchwork, discontinuous pieces of land belonging
to the various duchies as well as other states.
In 1871, The Saxon duchies were absorbed, along with the Kingdom of
Saxony, into the newly-formed German Empire. After World War I
the former kingdom was its own state, and the duchies were consolidated
into the state of Thuringia. A Saxon city, Weimar, served as
the capital to the doomed republic set up in the war's wake.
Under the influence of the Soviet Union, the area was re-formed into
several East German districts, each with one of the major
cities at its center. After the 1990 reunification of Germany,
popular sentiment caused the reconstitution of the "Freistaat Sachsen".
Another state, Sachsen-Anhalt, contains the remainder of the former kingdom.
The most important cities of Saxony are
Saxony has its own pottery center, Meissen
European History Atlas
, Breasted et. al., Denoyer-Geppert