Albrecht the Courageous

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Albrecht the Courageous, around 1491
Monument in honor of the liberation of Albrecht in 1455
Wedding of Albrecht; Mural from the 19th century in the Albrechtsburg Castle in Meißen
Albrecht the Courageous (Dresden, Fürstenzug )

Albrecht the Courageous (Latin Albertus Animosus ; * July 31, 1443 in Grimma ; † September 12, 1500 in Emden ) was Duke of Saxony , governor of Friesland and founder of the Albertine line of the House of Wettin . In 1472 he acquired the Silesian Duchy of Sagan as a fief . In his capacity as Margrave of Meissen he is also known as Albrecht III. counted.


Albrecht was born as the younger son of Elector Friedrich the Meek of Saxony on July 31, 1443 in Grimma Castle.

At the age of eleven, he and his older brother Ernst were kidnapped in the Saxon Prince Robbery by Kunz von Kauffungen from Altenburg Castle in 1455 . He was already giving samples of the presence of mind that later earned him the honorable nickname of the courageous .

Albrecht spent part of his youth at the court of Emperor Friedrich III. in Vienna . On November 11, 1459 he was married to Zdena ( Sidonie ), the daughter of the Bohemian King George of Podebrady , in Eger . This sealed the Treaty of Eger , which was signed on April 25, 1459 . The consummation of the marriage ( supplement ) did not take place until May 11, 1464 at Tharandt Castle.

Albrecht's application for the Bohemian crown after the death of his father-in-law in 1471 was unsuccessful. When his father died in 1464, the two brothers Ernst and Albrecht joined the government. In 1468 both began the large-scale reconstruction of the residential palace in Dresden and in 1471 with the construction of another residential palace in Meißen in place of the older castle, which was called Albrechtsburg from 1676 . In 1472 he acquired the Silesian Duchy of Sagan from Duke Johann II of Sagan , which remained with his descendants until 1549.

On March 5, 1476, Albrecht began a pilgrimage of several months in Dresden with 119 companions via Altenburg, Weimar, Nuremberg, Munich, the Brenner Pass, Florence, Rome to Venice, from where the group of pilgrims took the ship to Jaffa (part of today's Tel Aviv- Jaffa ) translated in order to cover the rest of the way to Jerusalem from there. The group returned via Venice, from where they returned to Dresden on December 5th via the Imperial Court in Vienna. There is a report about the trip by his land rent master Hans von Mergenthal († 1488), who was the owner of the Marienthal manor near Zwickau until 1478 .

The acquisition of the Landgraviate of Thuringia to the Mark Meissen (1483) gave rise to the Leipzig partition treaty of August 26, 1485. The two main lots were Meissen and Thuringia. But whoever received the former because it had nicer cities and richer vassals should pay the other 100,000 guilders in cash. Albrecht chose Meissen, half of the 100,000 guilders he paid in cash and half by relinquishing the Jena office . From that moment on there was a tension between the two lines, which 60 years later led to a break under Albrecht's grandson Moritz .

Each of the brothers was entitled to the full right to mint even after the division of the country. Duke Albrecht minted together with his Wettin relatives in the mints of Freiberg , Leipzig (here also under a single name), Langensalza , Zwickau , Schneeberg , Frohnau , Colditz (here also with his mother - see also Margarethengroschen ), Gotha , and Wittenberg .

The dukes Ernst and Albrecht created together with their uncle Wilhelm III. a completely new coin system due to the Leipzig coin reform of April 4, 1465. The result was a new type of penny, the horn penny . Since the horn egg consisted of alloyed silver, but the population did not lose their distrust of alloys, it was replaced in 1474 by the smaller pointed egg made of fine silver.

Loyal to the Habsburgs , he was given by Emperor Friedrich III. appointed "mighty marshal and standard-bearer", fought against Charles the Bold of Burgundy in 1475 and led the imperial army against King Matthias of Hungary in 1480 and 1487 , but was unable to achieve anything because the emperor left him without support.

In 1488 he went to liberate Maximilian I, who had been captured by the citizens of Bruges , against rebellious Flanders . Maximilian transferred the governorship of the Netherlands to him , and as a reward for coping with it and as compensation for the costs incurred, he received the inheritance of Friesland in 1498, which he first had to subjugate by force of arms. During his warlike ventures in West Friesland , Albrecht was represented in Saxony by his son Georg the Bearded .

When Albrecht rushed to Leipzig to attend a state parliament , the Frisians rose again and besieged his second son Heinrich, who had been left behind, in Franeker . Albrecht freed Heinrich at the head of a relief army, but died on September 12, 1500 in Emden after the conquest of Groningen after an epidemic broke out in the Saxon army. He was buried in the cathedral in Meissen , but his heart and entrails rest in the large church in Emden.

The unrest in Friesland culminated in the Saxon feud from 1514 to 1517.


In Saxony he improved the judiciary and the police . Dresden had been Albrecht's residence since the partition (before that he was mostly at Tharandt Castle ). Albrecht's frequent absence and the spending of large sums on the service of the emperor, however, were disapproved of by the estates.

His will (actually a contract of inheritance dated February 18, 1499, signed by the later emperor on December 12, 1500 with the consent of his sons Georg the Bearded and Henry the Pious and with the involvement of a rural estate committee in Maastricht ) is the first attempt to establish the Primogeniture succession in To introduce Saxony . It was determined, among other things, that Georg should inherit the Meissnian-Thuringian lands and Heinrich those in Friesland. In the event that one should lose his land, the other should give him a piece of his. However, if one brother were to inherit the other's lands, the eldest son should follow alone and only accept a portion of the land's income for his brothers.

The Albrechtsburg in Meißen, which he started, bears his name.



Pedigree of Albrecht the Courageous

Friedrich II (1310–1349)
⚭ 1328
Mathilde of Bavaria (1313–1346)

Heinrich VIII von Henneberg-Schleusingen

Jutta von Brandenburg

Magnus II. (1324–1373)

Catherine of Anhalt-Bernburg

Wartislaw VI. (1345–1394)
⚭ 1363
Anna of Mecklenburg-Stargard

Albrecht II of Austria (1298–1358)
⚭ 1324
Johanna von Pfirt (1300–1351)

Bernabò Visconti (1323–1385)
⚭ 1350
Beatrice della Scala (–1384)


Algirdas (1296–1377)
⚭ around 1350
Juliana Aleksandrovna Tverskaja (~ 1330– ~ 1392)

Great grandparents

Margrave Friedrich III. (1332–1381)
⚭ 1346
Katharina von Henneberg (1334–1397)

Duke Heinrich I of Braunschweig-Lüneburg (1355–1416)

Sophie of Pomerania (1370–1406)

Duke Leopold III. (1351–1386)
⚭ 1365
Viridis Visconti of Milan (1350–1414)

Ziemowit IV.

Alexandra of Lithuania


Elector Friedrich I of Saxony (1370–1428)
⚭ 1402
Katharina von Braunschweig-Lüneburg (1395–1442)

Duke Ernst the Iron (1377–1424)
⚭ 1412
Cimburgis of Masovia (1394 / 97–1429)


Elector Friedrich II. (1412–1464)
⚭ 1431
Margaretha of Austria (1416–1486)

Albrecht the Courageous


Web links

Commons : Albrecht der Beherzte  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. Langenn, Albrecht der Beherzte, 111–116.
  2. Printed by Johann Burckhardt Mencke , Scriptores rerum Germanicarum II, Leipzig 1728, 2103–2112.
  3. Walther Haupt: Sächsische Münzkunde (1974), p. 85
predecessor Office successor
Friedrich III. Duke of Saxony