Francis I, Duke of Saxe-Lauenburg

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Francis I
Duke of Saxe-Lauenburg
Reign 1543 – 1571
Predecessor Magnus I
Successor Magnus II
Duke of Saxe-Lauenburg
Reign 1573 – 1581
Predecessor Magnus II
Successors Francis II and Maurice (joint rule)
Consort Sibylle of Saxony
Issue
more...
Magnus II
Francis II
Henry
Maurice
Frederick
House House of Ascania
Father Magnus I
Mother Catherine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
Born 1510
Died 19 March 1581
Buxtehude
Religion Lutheranism

Francis I of Saxe-Lauenburg (1510 – 19 March 1581, Buxtehude) was the eldest child and only son of Duke Magnus I of Saxe-Lauenburg and Catherine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (1488 – 29 July 1563, Neuhaus), daughter of Duke Henry IV the Evil of Brunswick and Lunenburg (Wolfenbüttel). Francis I succeeded his father in 1543 as duke of Saxe-Lauenburg, but resigned in favour of his major son Magnus II in 1571. Two years later he reascended and was succeeded by Francis II in 1581.

Life[edit]

With his thriftiness Francis I deeply plunged Saxe-Lauenburg into debts, to this end he pawned most of the ducal demesnes to his creditors.[1] In 1550 Francis I wielded his influence to make the chapter of the neighbouring Prince-Bishopric of Ratzeburg elect his 7-year-old son Magnus as coming prince-bishop, however, the capitular canons refused.

Heavily indebted and with no further need for good relations with the prince-bishopric Francis I looted Ratzeburg Cathedral in 1552. In 1558 he conquered the prince-episcopal Bridgettine Monastery of Marienwohlde near Mölln, looted and demolished the cloister, forced its vassal farmers to swear him loyalty and pay him dues, and started overfelling in the monasterial woods, selling the timber abroad.[2]

In 1571 – highly indebted – Francis I resigned in favour of his eldest son Magnus II, who had promised to redeem the pawned ducal demesnes with funds he gained as Swedish military commander and by his marriage to a Swedish princess. However, Magnus did not redeem pawns but further alienated ducal possessions, which ignited a conflict between Magnus and his father and brothers Francis (II) and Maurice as well as the estates of the duchy, further escalating due to Magnus' violent temperament.

In 1573 Francis I deposed Magnus and reascended to the throne while Magnus fled to Sweden, the homeland of his wife Sophia Vasa of Sweden. The following year Magnus hired troops in order to take Saxe-Lauenburg with violence. Francis II, an experienced military commander in imperial service, and Duke Adolphus of Holstein-Gottorp, then Lower Saxon Circle Colonel (Kreisobrist), helped Francis I to defeat Magnus. In return Saxe-Lauenburg had to cede the bailiwick of Steinhorst to Adolphus' Holstein-Gottorp in 1575. Francis II again helped his father to inhibit Magnus' second military attempt to overthrow his father in 1578.[3] Francis I then made Francis II his vicegerent actually governing the duchy.

In 1581 - shortly before he died and after consultations with his son Prince-Archbishop Henry of Bremen and Emperor Rudolph II, but unconcerted with his other sons Magnus and Maurice - Francis I made his third son Francis II, whom he considered the ablest, his sole successor, violating the rules of primogeniture.[4] This severed the anyway difficult relations with the estates of the duchy, which fought the ducal practice of growing indebtedness.[5]

Marriage and issue[edit]

On 8 February 1540 Francis I married in Dresden Sibylle of Saxony (Freiberg, *2 May 1515 – 18 July 1592*, Buxtehude), daughter of Henry IV, Duke of Saxony. They had the following children:

Illegitimate children with Else Rautenstein were:

  • Franz Rautenstein (*? – after 26 December 1618*)
  • Katharina Rautenstein (*1565 – 1587*), ∞ in 1579 Johann Grotjan

Ancestry[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Cordula Bornefeld, "Die Herzöge von Sachsen-Lauenburg", in: Die Fürsten des Landes: Herzöge und Grafen von Schleswig, Holstein und Lauenburg [De slevigske hertuger; German], Carsten Porskrog Rasmussen (ed.) on behalf of the Gesellschaft für Schleswig-Holsteinische Geschichte, Neumünster: Wachholtz, 2008, pp. 373-389, here p. 379. ISBN 978-3-529-02606-5
  2. ^ Cordula Bornefeld, "Die Herzöge von Sachsen-Lauenburg", in: Die Fürsten des Landes: Herzöge und Grafen von Schleswig, Holstein und Lauenburg [De slevigske hertuger; German], Carsten Porskrog Rasmussen (ed.) on behalf of the Gesellschaft für Schleswig-Holsteinische Geschichte, Neumünster: Wachholtz, 2008, pp. 373-389, here p. 379. ISBN 978-3-529-02606-5
  3. ^ Cordula Bornefeld, "Die Herzöge von Sachsen-Lauenburg", in: Die Fürsten des Landes: Herzöge und Grafen von Schleswig, Holstein und Lauenburg [De slevigske hertuger; German], Carsten Porskrog Rasmussen (ed.) on behalf of the Gesellschaft für Schleswig-Holsteinische Geschichte, Neumünster: Wachholtz, 2008, pp. 373-389, here p. 381. ISBN 978-3-529-02606-5
  4. ^ Cordula Bornefeld, "Die Herzöge von Sachsen-Lauenburg", in: Die Fürsten des Landes: Herzöge und Grafen von Schleswig, Holstein und Lauenburg [De slevigske hertuger; German], Carsten Porskrog Rasmussen (ed.) on behalf of the Gesellschaft für Schleswig-Holsteinische Geschichte, Neumünster: Wachholtz, 2008, pp. 373-389, here p. 380. ISBN 978-3-529-02606-5
  5. ^ Cordula Bornefeld, "Die Herzöge von Sachsen-Lauenburg", in: Die Fürsten des Landes: Herzöge und Grafen von Schleswig, Holstein und Lauenburg [De slevigske hertuger; German], Carsten Porskrog Rasmussen (ed.) on behalf of the Gesellschaft für Schleswig-Holsteinische Geschichte, Neumünster: Wachholtz, 2008, pp. 373-389, here p. 380. ISBN 978-3-529-02606-5
Francis I, Duke of Saxe-Lauenburg
Born: 1510 Died: 19 March 1581 in Buxtehude
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Magnus I
Duke of Saxe-Lauenburg
1543 – 1571
resigned in favour of his son Magnus II
Succeeded by
Magnus II
Preceded by
Magnus II
Duke of Saxe-Lauenburg
1573/1574 – 1581
deposed Magnus II by force
with Francis II (son) (1578 – 1581)
Succeeded by
Francis II and
Maurice

as Administrators of Saxe-Lauenburg