Wednesday, 31 May 2017

The Electors of Saxony - From Protection to Protestation (Germany)

Elector Frederick III of Saxony was born in 1463 as oldest son of Elector Ernest of Saxony. In 1486 he became Elector of Saxony and soon he was able to become financially independent. In 1502 he founded the University of Wittenberg. The political aim of the Elector was the strengthening of the territorial princes and the weakening of Emperor and Pope. Thus he became one of the most important supporters of Martin Luther's reformatory ideas, which confronted the excesses of the papacy. His persistence and repulsion against military conflicts later earned him the name Frederick the Wise. In 1519 he rejected the imperial dignity and supported the election of Charles V. With his death in 1525 the last resistance against a war with the peasants died.

Special Postmark showing Frederick III's Epitaph
 at the Castle Church in Wittenberg

Although Frederick the Wise is especially known for his support of Martin Luther, he was deeply held in Catholicism and established the third largest relic collection of its time at the Castle Church in Wittenberg. He also had little personal contact with Luther. But in his deathbed accepted the communion in Lutheran form.

UNESCO World Heritage 
Hartenfels Castle was the residence of the Electors of Saxony and the place where Frederick was born. It is the most important castle in Germany in the style of the Early Renaissance. In 1544 the first newly built Protestant church in the World was consecrated by Martin Luther at Hartenfels Castle.

On the UNESCO Tentative List

After Frederick III's death his brother, Johann the Steadfast, became the new Elector of Saxony. Just like his brother he supported Martin Luther, but unlike him he supported also Luther's religious ideas and became a close friend of the reformer. In 1527 he became the bishop of the newly founded Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Saxony, in 1529 he was a part of the Protestation at Speyer and in 1531 he became one of the leaders of the Schmalkaldic League. Johann the Steadfest died in 1532.

This is not a postcard, but a picture from the Internet.

Elector John Frederick I of Saxony, also known as Johann the Magnanimous, became the successor of his father. Like him he was one of the leaders of the Schmalkaldic League, but after his defeat in the Schmalkaldic War in 1547 he was imprisoned and lost the electoral dignity. In 1552 he was released from captivity and became Duke of Saxony. John Frederick I died in 1554.

This is not a postcard, but a picture from the Internet.

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