Christian I (Saxony-Merseburg)

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Duke Christian as a younger man in armor; Copper engraving
Duke Christian as a child with his mother, Electress Magdalena Sibylle of Saxony
Duke Christian in old age, wearing armor and sash; around the wreath is his motto “ Cum Deo et Die. "(Latin" With God and Time. ") Braided; Copper engraving, 2nd half of the 17th century.

Christian I of Saxony-Merseburg (born October 27, 1615 in Dresden , † October 18, 1691 in Merseburg ) was the founder of a sideline of the Albertine Wettins and first duke of the Saxon secondary school principality of Saxony-Merseburg . To distinguish him from his son, he is also called " Christian the Elder ".


Christian was the third son of Elector Johann Georg I of Saxony and his second wife Magdalena Sibylle , a daughter of Duke Albrecht Friedrich of Prussia .


Government in the Merseburg principality

Christian, who as a later son could hardly hope for his father's inheritance, was appointed in 1650 - after a four-week double wedding that had been arranged for him and his brother Moritz - to take care of the administration of the old monastery in Merseburg , entrusted to it by the electors in the course of the Reformation and postulated as administrator after his election by the cathedral chapter .

In his will of July 20, 1652, his father decreed the division of Albertine territory, which was carried out by the brothers who traveled to Dresden for the funeral of the electoral father on January 27, 1657 in the "Fraternal Friendship Main Comparison" against the resistance of the estates on April 22, 1657 in Dresden . The Stiftslande of the Hochstift Merseburg with the "Kitchen Office" as well as the offices, towns and castles Bad Lauchstädt , Schkeuditz , Lützen and Zwenkau as well as an erbländischen part with Brehna, Zörbig, Dobrilugk and Finsterwalde and the margraviate Niederlausitz , including the towns and castles Lübben came , Doberlug , Finsterwalde , Guben , Luckau , Calau and Spremberg , as Wettin secondary school to Christian, who thus became the first Duke of Saxe-Merseburg . After the Bibersteiner died out on October 16, 1667, the forest rulership, along with the town, castle and all chamber and vassal villages south of it, including Döbern on Electoral Saxony, which in the course of the division process of August 11, 1668, these areas also fell to Saxony -Merseburg resigned.

Duke Christian moved into Merseburg on September 30, 1653 with his wife, who was eight months pregnant, and his eldest daughter, who was barely two years old, and began to set up his own court. His court soon comprised 150 people.

As with the new residences of his brothers, a lot of building activity soon developed under Duke Christian, which led to a great economic boom in Merseburg. The Neumarktbrücke, which was destroyed in the course of the Thirty Years' War , was rebuilt, the Renaissance moated castle in Merseburg was renovated from 1689 and expanded according to the early Baroque taste of the time, and in 1661 the castle garden was laid out on the site of the old royal palace, separated by walls and moats . He also had the hunter's farm, the fishing yard, a pheasantry, a post office and the fish house built on the Gotthard pond. Christian also founded his own court chapel, had a library built and helped art and culture to flourish again. The important theologian Paul Gerhardt and Christoph Spätner also worked as Christian's court painters in the dwarf state. Delitzsch Castle was converted and expanded as a travel residence.

The dedication plaque for the "Theuren Christian", Duke of Sachsen-Merseburg

The legal and administrative system was also reorganized, the mill system, the police and the town order were changed. In 1679 the Neumarktmühle in Merseburg was repaired.

Between 1683 and 1685 he had the Fuhnedamm renewed and fortified between Zörbig and the Anhalt region of Radegast , making the marshland of the Fuhneaue accessible. The Theurer Christian road monument was therefore erected in 1688 in Christian's honor .

In Lower Lusatia he had Lübben Castle built as the administrative seat. In September 1673, however, he confirmed the guild articles of the shopkeeper's guild, which made it considerably more difficult for traveling merchants, especially Jews, to conduct trade in Niederlausitz.

On November 25, 1659, he granted Count Erdmann Leopold von Promnitz permission to accept Protestant religious refugees from Silesia , mainly from the principalities of Sagan and Glogau , in his possession of Neudorf, and granted them city rights. It was renamed Christianstadt in his honor .

Difficult relationship with course Saxons

After the new Albertine supply principalities on Electoral Saxon soil had already caused irritation to the eldest brother Johann Georg II of Saxony , who saw the primogeniture and the power-political unity of the electoral state in danger with these splits and therefore was reluctant to approve sovereignty rights to his brothers now also his son and successor, Christian's nephew, Elector Johann Georg III. To bring Saxony-Merseburg back under Electoral Saxon suzerainty. So Johann Georg III. Revoked previous agreements, which had subjected the Merseburg duke to several country residents, which led to open conflict under Christian's successor.

In the fruitful society

In 1655, Duke Christian I was accepted into the Fruitful Society by Duke Wilhelm IV of Saxe-Weimar . This gave him the company name of the coroner and the motto the praise of honor . As an emblem he was given ivy wrapped around a pyramid . Duke Christian's entry can be found in the Koethen Society Register under no.643.

Death and burial

Duke Christian I died on October 18, 1691 at the age of 75 and was buried in a pewter coffin in the princely crypt of Merseburg Cathedral . His eldest son Christian succeeded him on the throne. Like his father, however, Christian I had given apanages to his three later sons before his death and assigned them their own residences.

Marriage and offspring

His only marriage was on November 19, 1650 in Dresden with Christiana von Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg , the daughter of Philip, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg from his marriage to Sophie Hedwig von Sachsen-Lauenburg .

He had the following children with his wife:

In addition, recent research confirms a not insignificant number of illegitimate children from his connections to mistresses , which, however, was by no means unusual.


Pedigree of Christian I of Saxony-Merseburg

Heinrich the Pious (1473–1541)
⚭ 1512
Catherine of Mecklenburg (1487–1561)

Christian III (1503–1559)
⚭ 1525
Dorothea von Sachsen-Lauenburg (1511–1571)

Joachim II (1505–1571)
⚭ 1524
Magdalene of Saxony (1507–1534)

Georg von Brandenburg-Ansbach (1484–1543)
⚭ 1525
Hedwig von Münsterberg-Oels (1508–1531)

Friedrich V of Brandenburg (1460–1536)
⚭ 1479
Sofia Jagiellonka (1464–1512)

Erich I (1470–1540)
⚭ 1525
Elisabeth of Brandenburg (1510–1558)

Johann von Jülich-Kleve-Berg (1490–1539)
⚭ 1510
Maria von Jülich-Berg (1491–1543)

Ferdinand I (1503–1564)
⚭ 1521
Anna of Bohemia and Hungary (1503–1547)

Great grandparents

Elector August of Saxony (1526–1586)
⚭ 1548
Anna of Denmark (1532–1585)

Elector Johann Georg von Brandenburg (1525–1598)
⚭ 1548
Sabina von Brandenburg-Ansbach (1529–1575)

Duke Albrecht of Prussia (1490–1568)
⚭ 1550
Anna Maria of Braunschweig (1532–1568)

Duke Wilhelm V (1516–1592)
⚭ 1546
Maria of Austria (1531–1581)


Elector Christian I of Saxony (1560–1591)
⚭ 1582
Sophie of Brandenburg (1568–1622)

Duke Albrecht Friedrich of Prussia (1553–1618)
⚭ 1573
Marie Eleonore von Jülich-Kleve-Berg (1550–1608)


Elector Johann Georg I of Saxony (1585–1656)
⚭ 1607
Magdalena Sibylle of Prussia (1586–1659)

Christian I of Saxe-Merseburg


Web links

Commons : Christian I.  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
predecessor Office successor
Administration by the Electorate of Saxony Proposed Administrator of Merseburg
1650 / 53 - 1691
risen in the duchy of Saxony-Merseburg
predecessor Office successor
emerged from Kursachsen and Merseburg Duke of Saxe-Merseburg
1656 / 57 - 1691
Christian II