Division of Altenburg

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The Division of Altenburg (German: Altenburger Teilung) was the division of the Meissen lands[1] of Altenburg between the two brothers Frederick II, Elector of Saxony and Duke Wilhelm III in 1445.[2] The division caused hostilities between Frederick and Wilhelm. The two brothers attempted to reconcile, but eventually the division led to a war between the two brothers known as the Saxon Brother War (German: Sächsischer Bruderkrieg).[3] The Saxon Brother War began in 1446 and lasted for five years, until the Peace of Naumburg was negotiated in 1451.[3] Following the peace, the subsequent Treaty of Eger in 1459,[4] and the deaths of Frederick II and Wilhelm III, the two sons of Frederick II eventually gained control of the land of both their father and Wilhelm III.

Family situation[edit]

The House of Wettin and its line of Saxon princes gained a large amount of land over the years mainly through inheritance, including the Landgraviate of Thuringia, the Margraviate of Meissen, the Duchy of Saxony and the Electorate of Saxony. Frederick I was the Elector of Saxony and Margrave of Meissen and ruled over all of the lands except for the lands in Thuringia. Frederick I's cousin Frederick of Thuringia was Landgrave of Thuringia and ruled over those lands.[5] Frederick I, had seven children including four sons. He ruled over his lands until his death in 1428. With his death, his four sons Frederick, William, Henry, and Sigismund took control of his land. Henry then died in 1435, and Sigismund was forced to renounce his claims and later became the Bishop of Würzburg in 1440. This led to only two sons, Frederick and William, now ruling over their family's land. As the oldest, Frederick held the Electorate of Saxony and some land around Wittenberg in his own right, while he controlled the remainder of the land jointly with William. This continued peacefully and without serious incident until 1440. In 1440, Frederick of Thuringia died childless and the two brothers inherited extensive land within Thuringia as well as the title of Landgrave of Thuringia.[6]


The division of this new land in Thuringia could not be agreed upon, and on 16 July 1445 the two remaining brothers tried to partition the land between them in the Division of Altenburg. When Frederick II chose the western part and not the Margraviate of Meissen on September 26, 1445 in Leipzig, William rejected the division. On December 11 of the same year they attempted to reconcile in the monastery of Neuwerk in Halle (Saale) in what was known as the Hallescher Machtspruch (English: the Power Dictat of Halle). The Archbishop of Magdeburg Frederick III of Beichlingen, the Margrave Frederick II of Brandenburg and the Landgrave Ludwig II of Hesse actively participated as judges, however the two brothers failed to reach a peaceful resolution. This split led to a war between the two brothers in 1446 known as the Saxon Brother War, or the Sächsischer Bruderkrieg.[3] The brothers would fight until the peace reached at Naumburg on January 27, 1451.[3] Later, in the Treaty of Eger, elector Frederick II, Duke Wilhelm III, and the King of Bohemia George of Podebrady fixed the borders between Bohemia and Saxony. This border is still current and is one of the oldest existing borders in Europe.

When Frederick II died in 1464,[7] his two sons Ernest and Albert inherited his land. When Duke Wilhelm III died in 1482, Ernest annexed Thuringia and returned it to Frederick's original line. Ernest then shared many of his lands in a second division with his brother, Albert, because of the Treaty of Leipzig on August 26, 1485.[8][7] In this second division of the Wettin lands between Ernest and Albert, known as the Division of Lepzig, Altenburg fell to Ernest, together with the Electorate, Grimma, the Mutschener Pflege, Leisnig, Thuringia and the Vogtland. From this time on, Altenburg was historically connected with Thuringia. Following the multiple divisions and Saxon Brother War, the Saxons lost much of their power among the various German families and houses.[5]


  1. ^ In 1089, the Margraviate of Meissen became the honor of the house of Wettin's possessions and remained as such even after it had been incorporated into the electorate of Saxony in 1423.
  2. ^ Historische Commission bei der Königl. Akademie der Wissenschaften, p. 778.
  3. ^ a b c d Historische Commission bei der Königl. Akademie der Wissenschaften, p. 779.
  4. ^ The Treaty of Eger in westernmost Bohemia, between elector Frederick II, Duke Wilhelm III and the king of Bohemia, George of Podebrady, fixed the borders between Bohemia and Saxony.
  5. ^ a b Carlyle, p.308
  6. ^ Carlyle, p.309
  7. ^ a b Sacher
  8. ^ Ganse