Rudolf I (Saxony-Wittenberg)

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Rudolf I of Saxe-Wittenberg

Rudolf I. (* around 1284 , † 12. March 1356 in Wittenberg ) from the family of Askanier was Duke of Saxony-Wittenberg and Elector and Erzmarschall of the Holy Roman Empire was from 1298 to 1356. For this he Margrave of Brandenburg 1320-1323 / 24.



Rudolf was the eldest son of Duke Albrecht II of Saxony-Wittenberg , who as elector had a prominent position in the Roman-German Empire. His mother was Agnes von Habsburg , a daughter of the German King Rudolf I. In 1291 he enfeoffed him with the county of Brehna . However, this was initially ruled by his father as guardian.

Heir under guardianship 1298

When his father died on August 25, 1298, Rudolf inherited his duchy of Saxony-Wittenberg and the right to be one of seven electors to elect the king. This was associated with the dignity of the arch marshal of the empire, who was allowed to carry the empire sword on ceremonial occasions .

Since he was still a minor, his mother took over the government in the duchy as guardian. During their time the expulsion of Jews from Wittenberg began. At this time Rudolf was given a step-by-step insight into the affairs of imperial politics at the court of his uncle, King Albrecht I.

At the Royal Court exercised Rudolf first be Erzamt from when he agreed that King Albert I, his sons Rudolf , Friedrich and Leopold on November 21, 1298 Total in trust with Austria, Styria and Krain belehnte.

Beginning of independent rule in 1302

With the assumption of government business from around 1302, he initially endeavored to achieve a further consolidation of the sovereignty. Above all, he had to deal with the cousins ​​of the Sachsen-Lauenburg line in order to secure the electoral dignity conferred by his father.

The increasing costs of his imperial policy forced him to hand over one right after the other. In 1306 he organized protective and defensive alliances with various cities, which the cities expanded independently in subsequent years.

King elections in 1308 and 1314

Election of Henry VII, to whom Rudolf of Saxony used his electoral vote

Of greater importance was his vote in the 1308 king election after his uncle Albrecht I was killed. After much back and forth, the election fell on November 27, 1308 to Count Heinrich von Luxemburg , who also received the vote of Rudolf I. In addition, Rudolf supported him with money and troops, so that he received the benevolence of the future emperor.

Already with this king's election the complication became apparent that in competition with Rudolf I of Saxony-Wittenberg, his Ascanic relatives from Saxony-Lauenburg had also been elected to Saxony under customary law and thus the vote since the estate was divided between Rudolf's father Albrecht II and his nephew in 1296 claimed in the king's election. The problem was initially solved by both voting for the same candidate.

When Emperor Heinrich died on August 24, 1313, Sachsenhausen near Frankfurt a. M. on October 19, 1314 the next royal election. For the first time, this election resulted in two different winners. Rudolf I gave his vote to a Habsburg, Friedrich III. , called the beautiful. Its opponent Ludwig the Bavarian also claimed the royal crown due to his election. This time Lauenburg gave his controversial vote for Ludwig, which led to a tie of 4: 4, whereby both sides claimed the election victory for themselves. In the battle of Mühldorf am Inn on September 28, 1322, Ludwig the Bavarian was able to assert himself as sole king.

Margrave of Brandenburg 1320 to 1324

In 1319 Rudolf took over the guardianship of the underage Margrave Heinrich II of Brandenburg . After he died in 1320, Rudolf himself claimed control of the march. He allowed himself to be worshiped by the stalls and ruled from Spandau .

King Ludwig, however, refused the loan, also to prevent too much power in his person. The Margrave of Brandenburg was also an elector and king elector. Ludwig enfeoffed his son Ludwig with the mark in 1323 . Rudolf left this in the early summer of 1324.

Power struggle with Emperor Ludwig

Further sanctions from the emperor continued to affect Rudolf so that Rudolf I and his brother Wenzel subordinated themselves to him for tactical reasons. It was an attempt to prove oneself as faithful followers of the new emperor. From now on, Rudolf followed the path of mediator in disputes between the princes and was able to establish various connections that were useful to him. One example is the Rhense Kurverein .

These connections also included the Pope, who banned Ludwig the Bavarian in 1324. The emperor then changed his mind about Rudolf I and gave him parts of the Lausitz region with the cities of Brietz , Fürstenwalde , Beeskow, etc. in the form of a 12-year lease.

Between 1333 and 1338 Rudolf founded the All Saints' Monastery in Wittenberg as a religious center of the duchy.

King's election in 1346

In the course of his further mediation efforts, his ties to the Prague court became more and more intense, which was made clear by the election of Emperor Charles IV (1347-1378) on July 11, 1346 . Its solemn coronation took place on November 26, 1346 in Bonn. Rudolf was the only elector there to personally attend the coronation ceremony.

Coronation meal of Emperor Charles IV.

His close ties to Charles IV brought him the Altmark with the Elbe as the border against Brandenburg in 1347 . In addition, in 1348 he received the Imperial Forest near Frankfurt an der Oder for his expenses as elector . Under his direction, Johann and Albrecht I of Mecklenburg obtained the title of imperial prince. However, this initially positive relationship should not be seen as a complete connection to Charles IV. Because when the emperor confirmed the Mark Brandenburg , the Lausitz and the electoral dignity to the Wittelsbacher Ludwig I, the "Brandenburger" in 1350, this aroused Rudolf's displeasure and he withdrew from the Prague court.

Only a donation from the Walchenhof on the Lesser Quarter of Prague reconciled Rudolf I with the Brandenburger and Karl IV.

Golden Bull 1356

This further bond with Charles IV brought him the greatest success of his reign. In the "bulla aurea Saxonica" exhibited in Prague on October 6, 1355, Saxony-Wittenberg was expressly and definitively confirmed as elector. In addition, it was stipulated that the line of succession is based on the law of the first-born and, where this cannot be done, the line of succession passes to the next older brother. The electoral prince is only allowed to bear the dignity at the age of 18 and only exercise the state government at the age of 21. The Ascanians of Sachsen-Lauenburg, who in 1349 had displeased Charles IV when they elected Günther von Schwarzburg as the opposing king with their controversial electoral vote , finally lost their claims to the electoral dignity through this bull. Only Rudolf and his heirs from Sachsen-Wittenberg were henceforth " Elector and Arch-Marshal of the Holy Roman Empire". This definition found its way again in the Golden Bull of Charles IV of 1356.


Rudolf I died on March 12, 1356 in Wittenberg, where he was first buried in the Franciscan Church and in 1883 transferred to the Castle Church.

Marriages and children

In his first marriage he married Margravine Jutta (Brigitte) von Brandenburg († May 9, 1328 in Wittenberg), daughter of Margrave Otto V, the Tall One of Brandenburg . He had eight children with her:

  • Albert († young July 4, 1329);
  • Johann († young in Wittenberg);
  • Anna (mentioned 1309; † 1328/29 Wittenberg) ⚭ Bernhard of Poland († around 1356);
  • Rudolf II (around 1307; † December 6, 1370) ⚭ Countess Elisabeth von Lindow-Ruppin ;
  • Elisabeth († 1353) ⚭ before June 22, 1344 Waldemar I , Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst († September 3, 1367);
  • Agnes († January 4, 1338) ⚭ Bernhard III. , Prince of Anhalt-Bernburg (around 1300; † August 20, 1348);
  • Otto († March 30, 1350) ⚭ Elisabeth von Braunschweig-Lüneburg († 1384) (daughter of Wilhelm von Braunschweig-Lüneburg and Hedwig von Ravensberg); Son: Albrecht († 1385);
  • Beatrix († after February 26, 1345 Coswig Monastery) ⚭ January 27, 1337 Albrecht II , Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst (* 1306; † July 1362).

In his second marriage, he married on August 28, 1328 Kunigunde of Poland (around 1298, † April 9, 1333 in Wittenberg), daughter of King Władysław I Ellenlang of Poland and Hedwig von Kalisch , widow of the Silesian Duke Bernhard II of Schweidnitz († 1326). With her he had a son:

  • Miesko (also Mesico, Miesco) (* around 1330; † 1350) ⚭ Eudoxia.

In his third marriage in 1333 he married Agnes von Lindow (* around 1300; † 9 May 1343 in Wittenberg), daughter of Count Ulrich I von Lindow, widow of Princes Wizlaw von Rügen († 1325) and Heinrich von Mecklenburg († 1329) . He had three children with her:

  • Wilhelm († young);
  • Wenzel (* around 1337; † 1388 Celle ) ⚭ January 23, 1367 Cäcilie (Siliola) of Carrara (* around 1350 † between 1430 and 1434) daughter of Francesco Carrara of Padua;
  • Helene († April 2, 1367) ⚭ 1353 Johann I von Hardeck , burgrave of Magdeburg.


Web links

Commons : Rudolf I. von Sachsen-Wittenberg  - collection of pictures

Individual evidence

  1. ad Caroli IV. Bullam auream Saxon. RI VIII n.2264, in: Regesta Imperii Online. Retrieved July 12, 2018 .
predecessor Office successor
Albrecht II. Duke of Saxony-Wittenberg and Elector
Rudolf II.
Henry II Margrave of Brandenburg
(de facto)
Ludwig I.