John Frederick II, Duke of Saxony

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John Frederick II
Johann Frederick II of Saxony.jpg
Duke of Saxony
Reign 3 March 1554 – November 1566
Predecessor John Frederick I
Successor John William
Elector of Saxony (questionable)
Reign 1554 – 1556 ?
Predecessor Maurice ?
Successor Augustus ?
Landgrave of Thuringia
Reign 1554 – November 1566
Predecessor John Ernest
Successor John William
Spouse Agnes of Hesse
Countess Palatine Elisabeth of Simmern-Sponheim
Issue John Casimir, Duke of Saxe-Coburg
John Ernest, Duke of Saxe-Eisenach
House House of Wettin
Ernestine Line
Father John Frederick I, Elector of Saxony
Mother Sybille of Cleves
Born (1529-01-08)8 January 1529
Torgau
Died 19 May 1595(1595-05-19) (aged 66)
Schloss Steyer, Upper Austria
Religion Lutheranism

John Frederick II of Saxony (8 January 1529 – 19 May 1595), was duke of Saxony, and briefly, Elector of Saxony (1554–1556).

He was the eldest son of John Frederick I, Elector of Saxony, and Sybille of Cleves.

Reign and military ambitions[edit]

After the Battle of Mühlberg (24 April 1547) and the capture of his father, John Frederick II, along with his brother John William, succeeded their father as the regents of the lands still retained by their family. After the death of their father (1554), the brothers amicably divided the lands that were inherited from their father; even so, John Frederick II, remained as the exclusive regent for the family possessions. And even though he received Eisenach and Coburg in the divisionary treaty, John Frederick II chose Gotha as his place of residence while serving as head of the family.

John Frederick's political aspirations were still directed towards the reinstatement of his family's right to the title of "Elector of Saxony," as well as the re-establishment of the lands that were lost due to his father's imprisonment. He briefly recovered the title of Elector of Saxony during 1554-1556, likewise he also reacquired the anger of the Emperor, Maximilian II, due to his involvement in several intrigues. In 1563 his prized general, Wilhelm von Grumbach attacked Würzburg, seized and plundered the city and compelled the chapter and the bishop to restore his lands. He was consequently placed under the imperial ban, but John Frederick II refused to obey the order of the Emperor Maximilian II to withdraw his forces. Meanwhile, Grumbach plotted the assassination of Saxon elector, Augustus; and proclamations were issued asking for assistance. Because of this, an end to alliances both inside and outside of Germany came about.

In November 1566 John Frederick was placed under the imperial ban, which had been placed against Grumbach earlier in the year, and Augustus marched against Gotha. Resistance from the people of Gotha was not forthcoming, and a mutiny led to the defeat of the town. Grumbach was delivered to his foes, and after being tortured, was executed at Gotha on 18 April 1567.

The Emperor imposed the Reichsacht (Imperial Ban) over John Frederick II, the current Elector of Saxony. The Reichsexekution, [more or less an intervention against a single ruler of a city state by an amalgamation of other city states in order to maintain the good of the entire empire] was also put into effect, in which John William, John Frederick's own brother, took part. After a siege of his castle in Gotha in 1566, John Frederick was eventually defeated and spent the rest of his life as an imperial prisoner. His possessions were confiscated by the emperor and handed over to John William, who became the sole ruler of the whole duchy of Saxony.

Marriage and children[edit]

In Weimar on 26 May 1555 John Frederick II married his first wife Agnes of Hesse, Dowager Electress of Saxony. Six months later she suffered a miscarriage and died, on 4 November 1555.

In Weimar on 12 June 1558 John Frederick II married his second wife Countess Palatine Elisabeth of Simmern-Sponheim, daughter of the later (1559) Frederick III, Elector Palatine. They had four sons:

  1. John Frederick (b. Weimar, 30 November 1559 – d. Weimar, 8 August 1560)
  2. Frederick Henry (b. Heldburg, 3 February 1563 – d. Eisenberg, 4 August 1572)
  3. John Casimir, Duke of Saxe-Coburg (b. Gotha, 12 June 1564 – d. Coburg, 16 July 1633)
  4. John Ernest, Duke of Saxe-Eisenach (b. Gotha, 9 July 1566 – d. Eisenach, 23 October 1638)

Succession[edit]

Later, the Emperor used the two surviving sons of John Frederick II against their uncle, John William; in 1572 the Division of Erfurt was made. The duchy of Saxony was divided into three parts. The older son, John Casimir, received Coburg, and the younger, John Ernest, received Eisenach. John William retained only the smaller part, the limited region of Weimar, but he added to his duchy the districts of Altenburg, Gotha and Meiningen. Since it has several Ernestine dynasties, Thuringia was also given in this division, the total possession of the Wettins (the duchy of Saxony) that had always bordered each other were no longer combined. From John William descends the house of Saxe-Weimar and the first house of Saxe-Altenburg, which separated later from Saxe-Weimar.

Ancestors[edit]

References[edit]

  • Karl August Engelhardt: Johann Friedrich der Mittlere, von Bösewichtern verblendet, in Gotha belagert, und bis an sein Ende gefangen (in der Reihe „Denkwürdigkeiten aus der sächsischen Geschichte, der vaterländischen Jugend gewidmet“). Gerlach, Dresden 1797 (Digitalisat).
  • Ernst Wülcker: Johann Friedrich, Herzog zu Sachsen. in: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie. Band 14, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1881, pp. 330–343.
  • Thomas Klein (1974), "Johann Friedrich II.", Neue Deutsche Biographie (NDB) (in German) 10, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, p. 530 
  • Joachim Kruse: Herzog Johann Friedrich II. der Mittlere von Sachsen (1529–1595) und das ernestinische Familienepitaph in St. Moriz, Coburg, vollendet 1598. vol. I. in: Jahrbuch der Coburger Landesstiftung 52 (2007) pp. 1–334.
John Frederick II, Duke of Saxony
Born: 8 January 1529 Died: 19 May 1595
Preceded by
John Frederick I
Duke of Saxony
1554–1566
Succeeded by
John William