Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
||This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the German Wikipedia. (September 2012)|
|Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg|
|Spouse||Princess Charlotte of Saxe-Meiningen|
|Ernest, Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
|House||House of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg|
|Father||Frederick III, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg|
|Mother||Luise Dorothea of Saxe-Meiningen|
30 January 1745|
|Died||20 April 1804
Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (Gotha, 30 January 1745 – Gotha, 20 April 1804), He was the third but second surviving son of Frederick III, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg and Luise Dorothea of Saxe-Meiningen. The death of his older brother Frederick in 1756 made him the heir to the duchy of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg.
The Duchess Luise Dorothea was intensely worried about the training of her surviving sons, Ernest and her youngest son August, and had them educated by a selected group of teachers. During 1768–1769 both princes took an educational journey to the Netherlands, England and France, and Ernest met important people in Politics, Science and Arts.
In 1772 his father died, and Ernest inherited the duchy of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg. He was interested as liberal and enlightened rulers versatile artistically and scientifically and developed a purposeful regime. He promoted the Educational System, the Economy, Theatre, Art collections and Libraries as well as the Natural Sciences in his duchy, which reached thereby in the top place of the Saxony Duchies in Thuringia. Privately, he was interested particularly in Astronomy and Physics. He appointed competent specialists in all these areas like mechanic and clockmaker Johann Andreas Klindworth, to whom he granted the title of court mechanic.
For his special interests he had the services of the important astronomer Franz Xaver von Zach for Gotha. With him, he established the Observatory of Gotha (Sternwarte Gotha), which developed into a European centre of Astronomy. His will stated that this institution should represent the only visible indication of his existence. It succeeded to such an extent, that Gotha despite its size was thought of as a place that important people of the time should visit. One such person was Goethe who visited several times.
Since 1774 he was a Freemason in the Zinnendorf system and member of the Gotha Lodge Zum Rautenkranz; in 1775 was appointed Grand Master of the Landesloge of Germany (Zinnendorf system). In 1783 Ernest became a member of the Bavarian Illuminati under the name of Quintus Severus and/or Timoleon, and in 1784 he was created Supervisor of Abessinien (a name for Upper Saxony). In 1787, he granted Adam Weishaupt, the founder of this secret society, asylum in Gotha. As a freemason he was buried wrapped in a white cloth on the park island.
- Ernest (b. Gotha, 27 February 1770 – d. Gotha, 3 December 1779).
- Emil Leopold August, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (b. Gotha, 23 November 1772 – d. Gotha, 27 May 1822), known as Augustus.
- Frederick IV, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (b. Gotha, 28 November 1774 – d. Gotha, 11 February 1825).
- Ludwig (b. Gotha, 21 October 1777 – d. Gotha, 26 October 1777).
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Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-AltenburgBorn: 30 January 1745 Died: 20 April 1804
|Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg