FANDOM


House of Wettin
Banner of Saxony (1^1)
Country Saxony
Titles
Founder Thiedericus
Final ruler Multiple sovereigns until today
Current head Michael, Prince of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
Founding year January 1, 900; 1120 years ago (900-01-01)
Ethnicity German
Cadet branches In order of seniority:

Ernestine:

Albertine:

The House of Wettin is a dynasty of German counts, dukes, prince-electors (Kurfürsten) and kings that once ruled the area of today's German states of Saxony (953 years), the Saxon part of Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia for more than 800 years. Agnates of the House of Wettin have, at various times, ascended the thrones of Great Britain, Portugal, Bulgaria, Poland, Saxony, and Belgium; of these, only the British and Belgian lines retain their thrones today. (See list of members.)

Origins: Wettin of Saxony Edit

The oldest member of the House of Wettin who is known for certain is Dietrich I von Wettin, also known as Thiedericus, or as Thierry I of Liesgau (died c. 982). He was most probably based in the Liesgau (located at the western edge of the Harz). Around 1000, the family acquired Wettin Castle, after which they named themselves. Wettin Castle is located in Wettin in the Hosgau on the Saale River. Around 1030, the Wettin family received the Eastern March as a fief.[1]

The prominence of the Wettin family in the Slavic marches caused Emperor Henry IV to invest them with the March of Meissen as a fief in 1089. The family advanced over the course of the Middle Ages: in 1263 they inherited the landgraviate of Thuringia (though without Hesse), and in 1423 they were invested with the Duchy of Saxony, centred at Wittenberg, thus becoming one of the prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire.

Ernestine and Albertine Wettins Edit

Coat of arms of Wettin House Albert Line

Albertine Wettin's coat of arms with the standard arms at the center.

The family divided into two ruling branches in 1485 when the sons of Frederick II, Elector of Saxony, divided the territories hitherto ruled jointly.

The elder son Ernest, who had succeeded his father as Prince-elector, received the territories assigned to the Elector (Electorate of Saxony) and Thuringia, while his younger brother Albert obtained the March of Meissen, which he ruled from Dresden. As Albert ruled under the title of "Duke of Saxony", his possessions were also known as Ducal Saxony.

The older, Ernestine branch remained predominant until 1547 and played an important role in the beginnings of the Protestant Reformation. Their predominance ended in the Schmalkaldic War, which pitted the Protestant Schmalkaldic League against Emperor Charles V. Although itself Protestant, the Albertine branch rallied to the Empire's cause; Charles V rewarded them by forcing the Ernestines to sign away their rights to the Electoral title and lands to the Albertines. The Ernestine line was thereafter restricted to Thuringia, and its dynastic unity swiftly crumbled.

The Albertine Wettin maintained most of the territorial integrity of Saxony, preserving it as a significant power in the region, and using small appanage fiefs for their cadet branches, few of which survived for significant lengths of time. The Ernestine Wettin, on the other hand, repeatedly subdivided their territory, creating an intricate patchwork of small duchies and counties in Thuringia.

The junior Albertine branch ruled as Electors (1547–1806) and Kings of Saxony (1806–1918) and also played a role in Polish history: two Wettin were Kings of Poland (between 1697–1763) and a third ruled the Duchy of Warsaw (1807–1814) as a satellite of Napoleon. After the Napoleonic Wars, the Albertine branch lost about 40% of its lands, including the old Electorate of Saxony, to Prussia, restricting it to a territory coextensive with the modern Saxony (see Final Act of the Congress of Vienna Act IV: Treaty between Prussia and Saxony 18 May 1815).

Dresden-Hofkirche-Gruft

Catholic members of the Wettin dynasty buried in the crypt chapel of the Katholische Hofkirche, Dresden.

The House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Edit

The senior Ernestine branch lost the electorship to the Albertine in 1547, but retained its holdings in Thuringia, dividing the area into a number of smaller states. One of the resulting Ernestine houses, known as Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld until 1826 and Saxe-Coburg and Gotha after that, went on to contribute kings of Belgium (from 1831) and Bulgaria (1908–1946), as well as furnishing husbands to queens regnant of Portugal (Prince Ferdinand) and the United Kingdom (Prince Albert). As such, the British and Portuguese thrones became possessions of persons who belonged to the House of Wettin.

From King George I to Queen Victoria, the British Royal family was variously called Hanover, Brunswick and Guelph. In the late 19th century, Queen Victoria charged the College of Heralds in England to determine the correct personal surname of her late husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha—and, thus, the proper surname of the royal family upon the accession of her son. After extensive research they concluded that it was Wettin, but this name was never used, neither by the Queen nor by her son or grandson, King Edward VII and King George V; they were simply called 'Saxe-Coburg-Gotha'.

Severe anti-German sentiment during World War I led some influential members of the public quietly to question the loyalty of the Royal Family, because they had a German or German-sounding name. Advisors to King George V again searched for an acceptable surname for the British royal family, but Wettin was rejected as "unsuitably comic". By Order in Council, the name of the British royal family was legally changed to Windsor, prospectively for all time.

Branches of the House of Wettin and its agnatic descentEdit

Saxe Wettin Dynasty Family Tree

Family Tree of the House of Wettin, the royal & ducal house of Saxony, and later Great Britain, Belgium, Portugal, and Bulgaria

See also Edit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Lexikon des Mittelalters, vol. IX, col. 50, Munich 1969–1999

External links Edit

Commons-logo
Wikimedia Commons has media related to:


This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at House of Wettin. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.