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Among the mountains of Lusatia, in the south of the Saxon province of Bautzen, there exist to this day about 50,000 Wends, ossessing characteristics and speaking a language of their own. These curious people are the relics of a vast Slavonic horde which, appearing on the borders of the kingdom of the Hermunduri or #. about the 4th century, pressed into their territories on the downfall of that kingdom in the 6th century, and settled themselves between the Spree and the Saale. They were known as the Sorbs or Sorabi, and the country, which included the whole of the modern kingdom of Saxony, was called Sorabia. Warlike and persistent, their influence has never been obliterated, and, though conquered, their stock has neither been exterminated nor absorbed. They were skilled in agriculture and cattle-breeding, and soon improved the fertile soil of their new settlements. Some writers are disposed to recognize their influence in the strong bent to agricultural and industrial pursuits which has ever since characterized the inhabitants of this part of Germany ; and less doubtful traces have been left in the popular superstitions and legends, and in the local names. For more than a hundred years after their first collision with the German kingdom the Sorbs repulsed all attacks, but in 928 Henry the Fowler, the first Saxon emperor, crossing, the Elbe, devastated the land of the Daleminzians, and built the strong castle of Misnia or Meissen, which thenceforward formed the centre of a gradually increasing mank against the heathen. For two hundred years the office of margrave of Meissen was nothereditary, but in 1123 Count Conrad of Wettin obtained the succession for his house, and founded a line of princes whose descendants still occupy the throne. It is said, though on very doubtful grounds, that Conrad was a scion of the family of the old Saxon hero Wittekind. In 1156, when Conrad abdicated and set the pernicious example of dividing his lands among his sons, his possessions extended from the Neisse and the Erzgebirge to the Harz and the Saale. During these two centuries the state of the country had but slowly improved. The Sorbs had been reduced to a condition of miserable serfdom, and the best land was in the hands of Frankish peasants who had been attracted by its fertility. Agriculture was encouraged by the ecclesiastics, especially by Bishop Benno, who occupied the see of Meissen (founded in 961) about the time of the conquest of England by the Normans. In the reign of Otto the Rich (1157–1190, the first silver mines were discovered, and the famous mining town of Freiberg founded. Trade also received its first encouragement; the great fairs of Leipsic were protected ; and roads were made and towns fortified with the produce of the mines. Otto's grandson, Henry the Illustrious (1221–1288), whose mother Jutta was a Thuringian princess, reunited most of Conrad's lands by inheriting part of Thuringia (the rest went to the duke of Brabant) and the Pleissnerland, as the district on both banks of the upper course of the Pleisse was called. He too lost the chance of founding a magnificent kingdom in the heart of Germany, by subdividing his territories, which stretched in a compact mass from the Werra to the Oder and from the mountains of Bohemia to the Harz. The consequences of this policy of subdivision, which was followed by his successors, were bitter family feuds and petty wars, seriously hampering the development of..the country. Frederick the Grave (1324–1347) was the last prince of the house of Wettin who was sole ruler of all the ancestral lands of his house. The next powerful figure is Frederick the Warlike, who became margrave in i881. Besides the Mark he possessed the Osterland, the territory to the north-west of the present kingdom, stretching from the Saale at Weissenfels to the #. at Torgau, and embracing the plain of Leipsic. Frederick, in whose reign the university of Leipsic was founded, had acquired his surname by his energetic support of Sigismund, especially in the Hussite wars. As we have seen, that emperor's desire to attach to himself so powerful an ally led him to bestow the vacant electoral duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg upon the margrave in 1423. Despite the troublous state of public affairs, the internal prosperity of the land had steadily advanced. Most of the chief towns had by this time been founded,—Leipsic, Erfurt, Zwickau, and Freiberg being the most conspicuous. Chemnitz had begun its textile industry. The condition of the peasants was still far below that of the burghers of the towns; many of them were mere serfs. The church retained the high pitch of power which it had early attained in Meissen, and religious institutions were numerous all over the most fertile districts In spite of fresh discoveries of silver, the pecuniary wants of the princes had to be occasionally supplied by contributions called: “bedes” from the nobles and ecclesiastics, who were summoned from time to time to meet in a kind of diet. Frederick's new dignities as elector, combined with his personal qualities, now made him one of the most powerful princes in Germany; had the principle of primogeniture been established in the country as he left it, Saxony and not Brandenburg might have been the leading power in the empire to-day. He died in 1428, just in time to

escape the grief of seeing his lands cruelly ravaged by

the Hussites in 1429 and 1430. The division of territory between his two sons, Frederick the Mild (1428–1464) and William, once more called forth destructive internecine wars (the “Brüderkrieg"), in which the former for a time forgot his surname. It was in 1455, during this war, that the knight Kunz von Kaufungen carried into execution his bold, though only momentarily successful, plan of stealing the two-young sons of the elector Frederick. Ernest and Albert, the two princes in question, succeeded to their father's possessions in 1464, and for twenty years, ruled peacefully in common. The land rapidly prospered. during this respite from war. Trade made great advances, encouraged by an improved coinage, which was one of the consequences of the silver discoveries on the Schneeberg.

Several of the powerful ecclesiastical principalities were at

this time held by members of the Saxon electoral house, so that the external influence of the electorate corresponded to its internal prosperity. Matters were not suffered to continue thus. The childless death of their uncle William in 1482 bequeathed Thuringia to the two princes, and the younger Albert insisted upon a division of the common possessions. In August 1485 the Partition of Leipsic took place, which resulted in the foundation of two Saxon lines, the Ernestine and the Albertine. The lands were never again united. Ernest divided the lands into two portions, and Albert chose. Apart from the electoral duchy of Wittenberg, which necessarily went to Ernest as the elder brother, the lands were divided into Thuringia, half of the Osterland, and Naumburg and the Voigtland on the ore hand, and Meissen and the remaining parts of eastern Saxony on the other. To Ernest's deep chagrin, Albert. chose Meissen, the old ancestral lands of the Wettins. The former only survived his vexation a year. The electorate remained at first with the Ernestine line. Ernest was succeeded by his son Frederick the Wise (1486–1525), one of the most illustrious princes in German history. Under his rule Saxony was perhaps the most influential member of the German empire ; and on the death of Maximilian the imperial crown itself was. offéred to him, but he vindicated his character by refusing it. In this reign Saxony became the cradle of the Reformation. The elector's wise tolerance and subsequent protection and hearty support of Luther are well knowro to every reader. He is said to have remained unmarried out of love to his brother John, who succeeded him. He died during the horrors of the Peasants' War. John (1525–1532) was an even more enthusiastic favourer of the Reformed doctrines, and shared the leadership of the Schmalkald League with Philip of Hesse. His son, John Frederick the Magnanimous (1532–1547), might with equal propriety have been surnamed the Unfortunate. He took part in the Schmalkald War, but in 1547 was captured at Mühlberg by the emperor Charles V., and forced to sign the capitulation of Wittenberg. This deed transferred the electorate and nearly all the Saxon lands to the Albertine line, whose astute representative had taken the imperial side. Only a few scattered territories in Thuringia were reserved for John Frederick's sons, and on these were afterwards founded the Ernestine duchies of Weimar, Gotha, &c. For the second time in the history of the Saxon electorate, the younger line on a division ultimately secured the highest dignity, for the Wittenberg. ine had been Junior to the Lauenberg line. The Albertine line is now the royal line of Saxony. The Albertine Maurice became elector after the capitulation of Wittenberg. He was the grandson of the founder of his house, and had been preceded on the throne of Meissen by his uncle George (1500–1539) and by his father Henry (1539–1541). George was a zealous Roman Catholic, and had vainly endeavoured to stem the Reformation inbis dominions; Henry was an equally devoted Protestant. Maurice (1541–1553) was also a Protestant, but he was too astute to permit his religion to blind him to his political interests. His ruling motive seems to have been ambition to increase his personal power and the consequence of his country. He refused to join the Schmalkald League with the other Protestant princes, and made a secret treaty with the emperor instead. By invading the Ernestine lands in John Frederick's absence during the Schmalkald War, he forced that prince to return hastily from the Danube, and thus weakened the army opposed to the emperor. Though he was compelled to retreat before his indignant and surprised kinsman, his fidelity to the emperor was rewarded, as we have seen, at the capitulation of Wittenberg. All the lands torn from the Ernestines were not, however, assigned to Maurice ; he was forced to acknowledge the suzerainty of Bohemia over the Voigtland

and the Silesian duchy of Sagan, and to renounce his

own superiority over the Reuss dominions. The Roman Catholic prelates were moreover reinstated in the three great bishoprics of Meissen, Merseburg, and NaumburgZeitz. Recognizing as a ‘Protestant sovereign that the best alliance for securing his new possessions was not

with the Roman Catholic emperor but with the other Pro

testant princes, Maurice now began to withdraw from the former and to conciliate the latter. In 1552, suddenly marching against the emperor at Innsbruck, he extorted from him the peace of Passau, which accorded religious freedom throughout Germany. Thus, at the close of his life (he died of a wound in battle in 1553), Maurice came to be regarded as the champion of German national and religious freedom. Amid the distractions of outward affairs, Maurice had not neglected the internal interests of Saxony. To the already conspicuous educational advantages in the country he added the three grammar schools (Fürstenschulen) at Pforta, Grimma, and Meissen; and for administrative purposes, especially for the collection of the taxes which had now become practically annual, he divided the country into the four “circles” of the Electorate, Thuringia, Leipsic, and Meissen. In 1542 the first coal mine was opened, Over two hundred convents were suppressed in Saxony; Leipsic, Wittenberg, Jena, and Erfurt had each a university; books began to increase, and the Saxon dialect became the ruling dialect of German in virtue of Luther's translation of the Bible. Augustus I. (1553–1586), brother of Maurice, was one of the best domestic rulers that Saxony ever had. He increased the area of the country by the “circles " of Neustádt and the Voigtland, and by parts of Henneberg and the silver-yielding Mansfeld, and he devoted his long reign to the development of its resources. He visited all parts of the country himself, and personally encouraged agriculture; he introduced a more economical mode of mining and smelting silver ; he favoured the importation of finer breeds of sheep and cattle; and he brought foreign weavers from abroad to teach the Saxons. Under him lace-making began on the Erzgebirge, and cloth-making flourished at Zwickau. He was the first to fortify the Königstein, the one fortress in modern Saxony, and he built other castles. With all his virtues, however, Augustus was an intolerant Lutheran, and used very severe means to exterminate the Calvinists ; in his electorate he is said to have expelled one hundred and eleven Calvinist preachers in a single month. Under his son Christian I, (1586–1591) the chief power was wielded by the chancellor Crell, who strongly favoured Calvinism, but, when Christian II. (1591–1611) came to the throne a mere child, Crell was sacrificed to the Lutheran nobles. The duke of Weimar was made regent, and continued the persecution of crypto-Calvinism, in spite of the breach with

the Reformed imperial diet which this course involved. Christian II. was succeeded by his brother John George I. (1611–1656), under whom the country was devastated by the Thirty Years' War. John George was an amiable but weak prince, totally unfitted to direct the fortunes of a nation in time of danger. He refused the proffered crown of Bohemia, and, when the Bohemian Protestants elected a Calvinist prince, he assisted the emperor against them with men and money. The Restitution Edict, however, in 1629, opened his eyes to the emperor's projects, and he joined Gustavus Adolphus. Saxony now became the theatre of war. The first battle on Saxon soil was fought in 1631 at Breitenfeld, where the bravery of the Swedes made up for the flight of the Saxons. Wallenstein entered Saxony in 1632, and his lieutenants Holk and Gallas plundered, burned, and murdered through the length and breadth of the land. After the death of Gustavus Adolphus at the battle of Lützen, not far from Leipsic, in 1632, the elector, who was at heart an imperialist, detached himself from the Swedish alliance, and in 1635 concluded the peace of Prague with the emperor. By this peace he was confirmed in the possession of Upper and Lower Lusatia, a district of 180 square miles and half a million inhabitants, which had already been pledged to him as a reward for his services against the Bohemians. Lusatia had once belonged to Conrad of Meissen, whose descendants, however, had lost it to Brandenburg at the beginning of the 14th century. Saxony had now to suffer from the Swedes a repetition of the devastations of Wallenstein. No other country in Germany was so terribly scourged by this terrible war. Immense tracts were rendered absolutely desolate, and whole villages vanished from the map ; the people were tortured to reveal their treasures, or from wanton brutality; famine was followed by plague ; civilization was thrown back and barbarism revived. In eight years the population sank from three to one and a half millions. When the war was at length ended by the peace of Westphalia in 1648, Saxony found that its influence had begun to decline in Germany. Its alliance with the Catholic party deprived it of its place at the head of the Protestant German states, which was now taken by Brandenburg. John George's will made the decline of the electorate even more inevitable by detaching from it the three subsidiary duchies of Saxe-Weissenfels, SaxeMerseburg, and Saxe-Zeitz in favour of his younger sons. By 1746, however, these lines were all extinct, and their possessions had returned to the main line. SaxeNeustãdt was a short-lived branch from Saxe-Zeitz, extinct in 1714. The next three electors, who each bore the name of John George, had uneventful reigns. The first made some efforts to heal the wounds of his country; the second wasted the lives of his people in foreign wars against the Turks; and the third was the last Protestant elector of Saxony. John George IV. was succeeded by his brother Frederick Augustus I, or Augustus the Strong (1694– 1733). This prince was elected king of Poland as Augustus II. in 1697, but any weight which the royal title might have given him in the empire was more than counterbalanced by the fact that he, though the ruler of an almost exclusively Protestant electorate, became a Roman Catholic in order to qualify for the new dignity. The connexion with Poland was disastrous for Saxony. In order to defray the expenses of his wars with Charles XIL, which resulted from his Polish, policy, Augustus pawned and sold large districts of Saxon territory, while he drained the electorate of both men and money. For a year before

the peace of Altranstädt in 1706, when Augustus gave up

the crown of Poland, Saxony was occupied by a Swedish

army, which had to be supported at an expense of twenty

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