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John George I, Elector of Saxony

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John George I, Elector of Saxony

John George I
John George I in 1652, portrait by Franz Luycx
Elector of Saxony
Reign 23 June 1611 – 8 October 1656
Predecessor Christian II
Successor John George II
Born (1585-03-05)5 March 1585
Died 8 October 1656(1656-10-08) (aged 71)
Dresden ?
Spouse Sibylle Elisabeth of Württemberg
Magdalene Sibylle of Prussia
Issue Sophie Eleonore, Landgravine of Hesse-Darmstadt
Marie Elisabeth, Duchess of Holstein-Gottorp
John George II, Elector of Saxony
August, Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels
Christian I, Duke of Saxe-Merseburg
Magdalene Sibylle, Duchess of Saxe-Altenburg
Maurice, Duke of Saxe-Zeitz
House House of Wettin
Father Christian I, Elector of Saxony
Mother Sophie of Brandenburg
Religion Lutheranism

John George I (German: Johann Georg I.) (5 March 1585 – 8 October 1656) was Elector of Saxony from 1611 to 1656.


  • Biography 1
  • Assessment 2
  • Family and children 3
  • Ancestors 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6


Born in Christian I and Sophie of Brandenburg.[1] He belonged to the Albertine line of the House of Wettin.

Engraving of John George I, Elector of Saxony

John George succeeded to the electorate in 23 June 1611 on the death of his elder brother, Christian II. The geographical position of the Electorate of Saxony rather than her high standing among the German Protestants gave her ruler much importance during the Thirty Years' War. At the beginning of his reign, however, the new elector took up a somewhat detached position. His personal allegiance to Lutheranism was sound, but he liked neither the growing strength of Brandenburg nor the increasing prestige of the Palatinate; the adherence of the other branches of the Saxon ruling house to Protestantism seemed to him to suggest that the head of the Electorate of Saxony should throw his weight into the other scale, and he was prepared to favour the advances of the Habsburgs and the Roman Catholic party.[1]

Thus John George was easily induced to vote for the election of Bohemia by promising that he should be undisturbed in his possession of certain ecclesiastical lands. Carrying out his share of the bargain by occupying Silesia and Lusatia, where he displayed much clemency, the Saxon elector had thus some part in driving Frederick V, elector palatine of the Rhine, from Bohemia and in crushing Protestantism in that country, the crown of which he himself had previously refused.[1]

Gradually, however, he was made uneasy by the obvious trend of the imperial policy towards the annihilation of Protestantism, and by a dread lest the ecclesiastical lands should be taken from him; and the issue of the edict of restitution in March 1629 put the capstone to his fears. Still, although clamouring vainly for the exemption of the electorate from the area covered by the edict, John George took no decisive measures to break his alliance with the emperor. He did, indeed, in February 1631 call a meeting of Protestant princes at Leipzig, but in spite of the appeals of the preacher Matthias Hoe von Hohenegg (1580–1645) he contented himself with a formal protest.[1]

Monument to John George in Johanngeorgstadt.


Preceded by
Christian II
Elector of Saxony
Succeeded by
John George II


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Chisholm 1911, p. 459.
  2. ^ in: Genealogy Database by Herbert StoyanSibylle Elisabeth v.Württemberg [retrieved 4 October 2014].
  3. ^ Wettin line (Albertine branch) in: [retrieved 4 October 2014].
  4. ^ in: Genealogy Database by Herbert StoyanHerzogin Magdalena Sibylla v.Preussen [retrieved 4 October 2014].



  1. Stillborn son (Dresden, 18 July 1608).
  2. George II, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt.
  3. Marie Elisabeth (b. Dresden, 22 November 1610 – d. Husum, 24 October 1684), married on 21 February 1630 to Frederick III, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp.
  4. Christian Albert (b. Dresden, 4 March 1612 – d. Dresden, 9 August 1612).
  5. John George II (b. Dresden, 31 May 1613 – d. Freiberg, 22 August 1680), successor of his father as Elector of Saxony.
  6. Augustus (b. Dresden, 13 August 1614 – d. Halle, 4 August 1680), inherited Weissenfels as Duke.
  7. Christian I (b. Dresden, 27 October 1615 – d. Merseburg, 18 October 1691), inherited Merseburg as Duke.
  8. Magdalene Sibylle (b. Dresden, 23 December 1617 – d. Schloss Altenburg, 6 January 1668), married on 5 October 1634 to Crown Prince Christian, eldest son and heir of King Christian IV of Denmark; and secondly on 11 October 1652, to Frederick William II, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg.
  9. Maurice (b. Dresden, 28 March 1619 – d. Moritzburg, 4 December 1681), inherited Zeitz as Duke.
  10. Henry (b. Dresden, 27 June 1622 – d. Dresden, 15 August 1622).

In Magdalene Sibylle, daughter of Albert Frederick, Duke of Prussia. They had ten children:[4]

  1. Stillborn son (Dresden, 20 January 1606).[2][3]

In Sibylle Elisabeth, daughter of Frederick I, Duke of Württemberg. She died in the birth of their only child:

John George was married twice. In addition to his successor Augustus (1614–1680), Christian (died 1691) and Maurice (died 1681).[1]

Family and children

Although not without political acumen, John George was not a great ruler; his character appears to have been harsh and unlovely, and he was addicted to drink and other diversions such as hunting.[1]


[1] Still letting his troops fight in a desultory fashion against the imperialists, John George again negotiated for peace, and in May 1635 he concluded the important

Nevertheless he soon took the offensive. Marching into Bohemia the Saxons occupied Wallenstein, who drove them back into Saxony. However, for the present the efforts of Gustavus Adolphus prevented the elector from deserting him, but the position was changed by the death of the king at Lützen in 1632, and the refusal of Saxony to join the Protestant league under Swedish leadership.[1]

battle of Breitenfeld, but were routed by the imperialists, the elector himself seeking safety in flight.[1]


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