Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg

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Ernest II
Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
Ernst-II 1775.jpg
Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
Reign 1772–1804
Predecessor Frederick III
Successor Augustus
Spouse Princess Charlotte of Saxe-Meiningen
Issue Ernest, Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
Frederick IV
Prince Ludwig
House House of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
Father Frederick III, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
Mother Luise Dorothea of Saxe-Meiningen
Born (1745-01-30)30 January 1745
Died 20 April 1804(1804-04-20) (aged 59)

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.[1]

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.


In Meiningen on 21 March 1769, Ernest married Princess Charlotte of Saxe-Meiningen (cousin of his mother, Luise Dorothea, but much younger). They had four sons:



  1. ^ Lichtenberg, Georg Christoph (1992). Schriften und Briefe: Kommentar zu Band I und II (in German). Hanser Verlag. p. 432. ISBN 3-446-11971-X. 
Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
Born: 30 January 1745 Died: 20 April 1804
Preceded by
Frederick III
Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
Succeeded by