Ducal Saxony is a confederation of seven duchies within the Holy Roman Empire. It borders various Imperial states including Electoral Saxony, Hesse-Kassel, Würzburg, Fulda, Bayreuth, Erfurt and Henneberg amongst others. The capital is Jena and the combined population is about 974,000.
It has no singular Head of State, though Duke William VII of Saxe-Weimar-Neustadt is often regarded as the senior duke of the seven.
The official language is German.
The duchies have used the Bohemian Crown (BHC) since the collapse of the Cologne Mark. Regarded as nothing more than a stopgap measure the Diet is currently debating whether to create their own currency, or to join the Imperial Mark (HRM).
Much of the current Duchy of Saxony, or Thuringia, was originally under the rule of Henneberg dynasty (see Henneberg) however their authority was eroded during the early medieval period as split inheritances and dowries whittled down their own holdings. The Wettin family, dominant in Saxony were the main beneficiaries until 1485 when the single Wettin territory was split into two parts. The elder brother Ernest at first took the electoral title and the Western half of the Duchy. Whilst his younger brother Albert took the Eastern portion (now Electoral Saxony). The two branches of the Wettin family soon descended into sharp rivalry for the electoral title and religious difference would cause bitter fighting in the centuries to come.
Ernestine Saxony was one of the original signatories to the Schmalkaldic League, Schmalkalden being just over the border in an exclave of Hesse-Kassel (now part of Henneberg). And, although Albertine Saxony would also in time become Lutheran the the two Saxonies stayed on opposite sides of the two Schmalkaldic Wars. Whilst Ernestine Saxony would cede from the Holy Roman Empire alongside its Schmalkaldic partners Albertine Saxony remained aligned to Austria hence it would retain the Imperial Electorate. The 'Schmalkaldic Duchy' would be thoroughly ravaged during the Fifty Years War and sued for peace in 1648 unable to bear the brunt of the war any longer. It would still suffer depredations for the remaining twenty years of the war's duration however and many of its towns only recovered to their pre-war populations in the 19th century.
Even before the worst of the Fifty Years' War Ducal Saxony was falling apart. In 1554 its Duke split the duchy between his three sons. It was divided into four by the end of the Fifty Years' War, and by 1783 there were seven separate duchies. After the Six Year War and the subsequent division of Regensburg the seven duchies signed the Weimar Agreement. This effectively prevented the further division of the duchies and laid clear guidelines for the parcelling out of land should a ducal line be extinguished.
However all of the ducal lines survived. In 1906 the agreement was revised. This new agreement led to the creation of the 'confederation' of Ducal Saxony. All duchies are sovereign but their laws and taxes were to be synchronised and a central government set up to administer the whole region. A new unitary flag was created for the state.
The Seven Duchies are:
- Saxe-Weimar-Neustadt Often regarded as the 'senior' duchy.
- Saxe-Römhild Its rulers would marry into the Svealandic royal family and would eventually inherit the kingdom and its territory in 1842. Saxe-Römhild itself remains in personal union with Svealand.
Offers for the neighbouring Duchies of Rudolstadt and Sondershausen, the Counties of Reuss and Hennenberg, as well as the ecclesiastical state of Erfurt, to join in a greater 'Thuringia' are occasionally made but have so far been turned down.
Under the terms of the 1906 Weimar Agreement all seven duchies are governed as a single unit by a bicameral diet in Jena. The Lower house is chosen by free vote by the male population of the Duchy, the Upper house is apportioned equally between the sovereign duchies to be filled with appointed (and often ennobled) figures. Once passed through both houses laws are then signed into force by a simple majority of the Dukes. The current Prime Minister is Friedrich Schröter.
The seven duchies operate as separate entities in the Imperial Diet but vote as a bloc much like the cantons of the Swiss Confederation