Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Gotha
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Ernest I, called "Ernest the Pious" (25 December 1601 – 26 March 1675), was a duke of
Saxe-Gotha Saxe-Gotha (german: Sachsen-Gotha) was one of the Saxon duchies held by the Ernestine branch The House of Wettin () is a dynasty of Germany, German counts, dukes, Prince Elector, prince-electors and monarch, kings that once ruled territories in ...
and
Saxe-Altenburg Saxe-Altenburg (german: Sachsen-Altenburg, links=no) was one of the Saxon duchies held by the Ernestine duchies, Ernestine branch of the House of Wettin in present-day Thuringia. It was one of the smallest of the German states with an area of 13 ...
. The duchies were later merged into
Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg () was a duchy ruled by the Ernestine duchies, Ernestine branch of the House of Wettin in today's Thuringia, Germany. The extinction of the line in 1825 led to a major re-organisation of the Thuringian states. History In 1640 ...
. He was the ninth but sixth surviving son of
Johann II, Duke of Saxe-Weimar Johann, typically a male given name, is the Germanic language, Germanized form of the originally Hebrew language name ''יוחנן (Yohanan)'' (meaning "God gave pardon"). It is a form of the Germanic and Latin given name "Johannes." The English l ...
, and
Dorothea Maria of Anhalt Dorothea Maria of Anhalt (Dessau, 2 July 1574 – Weimar, 18 July 1617), was by birth a member of the House of Ascania and princess of Anhalt. After her marriage, she became Duchess of Saxe-Weimar. Dorothea Maria was the sixth daughter of Joachim ...
. His mother was a granddaughter of
Christoph, Duke of Württemberg Christoph of Württemberg, Duke of Württemberg (12 May 1515 – 28 December 1568) ruled as Duke of Württemberg from 1550 until his death in 1568. Life In November 1515, only months after his birth, his mother, Sabina of Bavaria, fled to th ...
, and great-granddaughter of
Ulrich, Duke of Württemberg Duke Ulrich of Württemberg (8 February 14876 November 1550) succeeded his kinsman Eberhard II as Duke of Württemberg Württemberg ( ; ) is a historical German territory roughly corresponding to the cultural and linguistic region of Swabia ...
.


Life

Left an orphan early in life (his father died in 1605 and his mother in 1617), he was brought up in a strict manner, and was gifted and precocious but not physically strong. He soon showed traits of the
piety Piety is a virtue Virtue ( la, virtus ''Virtus'' () was a specific virtue in Ancient Rome. It carries connotations of valor, manliness, excellence, courage, character, and worth, perceived as masculine strengths (from Latin ''vir'', "man" ...
of the time. As ruler, by his character and governmental ability as well as by personal attention to matters of state, he introduced a
golden age #REDIRECT Golden Age#REDIRECT Golden Age The term Golden Age comes from Greek mythology, particularly the ''Works and Days'' of Hesiod, and is part of the description of temporal decline of the state of peoples through five Ages of Man, Ages, G ...

golden age
for his subjects after the ravages of the
Thirty Years' War The Thirty Years' War was a conflict fought largely within the Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Europe, Weste ...
. By wise economy, which did not exclude fitting generosity or display on proper occasions, he freed his land from debt, left at his death a considerable sum in the treasury, and reduced taxation. Public security and an incorruptible and efficient judiciary received much of his attention, and his regulations served as models for other states. He did not rise far enough above his time to do away with torture, though he restricted it, and in the century of trials for
witchcraft In many cultures, witchcraft traditionally means the use of magic Magic or Magick may refer to: * Ceremonial magic, encompasses a wide variety of rituals of magic * Chaos magic#REDIRECT Chaos magic {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from m ...

witchcraft
he yielded to the common delusion, though he was not otherwise inclined to superstition and was a foe of
alchemy Alchemy (from Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countri ...
. He prohibited
dueling A duel is an arranged engagement in combat between two people, with matched weapons, in accordance with agreed-upon rules Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political Politics (from , ) is the set of activit ...

dueling
and imposed the death penalty for a mortal result. In 1640, according to the partition treaty with his brothers, Ernst received Gotha. His laws were not conceived in the spirit of modern ideas about individual liberty; they forbade secret betrothals, tried to regulate dress, and extended even to the stable, kitchen, and cellar. Nevertheless, his regulations promoted agriculture, commerce, learning, and art. His palace of Friedenstein in
Gotha Gotha () is the fifth-largest city in Thuringia Thuringia (; german: Thüringen ), officially the Free State of Thuringia ( ), is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazi ...
was rebuilt, and its collections owe their origin to Ernest; the library became one of the largest in
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inh ...

Germany
. Churches were built and by his ''Schulmethodus'' of 1642 Ernest became the father of the present grammar-school. It was a popular saying that his peasants were better instructed than the townsmen and nobles elsewhere, and at his death, it was said, no one in his land was unable to read and write. He made the gymnasium in Gotha a model school which attracted pupils not only from all German lands, but from
Sweden Sweden ( sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that ...

Sweden
,
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because th ...

Russia
,
Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Poland, administrative provinces, covering an area of , and has a largely Temperate climate, temperate seasonal cli ...

Poland
, and
Hungary Hungary ( hu, Magyarország ) is a in . Spanning of the , it is bordered by to the north, to the northeast, to the east and southeast, to the south, and to the southwest and to the west. Hungary has a population of 10 million, mostl ...

Hungary
. In like manner he fostered the
University of Jena The University of Jena, officially the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (german: Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, abbreviated FSU, shortened form ''Uni Jena''), is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the prac ...
, increasing its funds and regulating its studies, with too much emphasis on the religious side. The same fault is attached to his efforts in church affairs, which won him the nickname of "Praying Ernest"; but an excuse is found in the fearful demoralization caused by the war. The
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Gree ...

Bible
was his own everyday book and he strove unceasingly to make his people religious after a strict
Lutheran Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism that identifies with the teachings of Jesus Christ and was founded by Martin Luther, a 16th-century German monk and Protestant Reformers, reformer whose efforts to reform the theology ...
pattern. Religious instruction, consisting in catechetical exercises without Bible history, was kept up even to advanced years and not unnaturally the rigid compulsion in some cases defeated its purpose. Ernest's system has maintained itself surprisingly; it still exists legally though somewhat modified or disregarded. His efforts for Protestantism were not confined to his own land. He interceded with the emperor for his Austrian co-religionists, and wanted to establish them in Gotha. He became a benefactor to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Germans in
Moscow Moscow ( , American English, US chiefly ; rus, links=no, Москва, r=Moskva, p=mɐˈskva, a=Москва.ogg) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities and towns in Russia by population, largest city of Russia. The city stands on the ...

Moscow
and entered into friendly relations with the
tsar Tsar ( or ), also spelled ''czar'', ''tzar'', or ''csar'', is a Royal and noble ranks, title used to designate Orthodox Slavs, East and South Slavic monarchs. In this last capacity it lends its name to a system of government, tsarist autocra ...

tsar
. He even sent an embassy to introduce Lutheranism into
Abyssinia The Ethiopian Empire (), also formerly known by the exonym Abyssinia (derived from the Arabic ''al-Habash''), or just simply known as Ethiopia (; Amharic and Tigrinya language, Tigrinya: ኢትዮጵያ , , Oromo language, Oromo: Itoophiyaa, ...

Abyssinia
, but this failed to accomplish its purpose. His rule of his family is a miniature of his government of his land; the strictest discipline prevailed at court. Its life was simple and industrious, regulated on all sides by religious exercises. Rules were added to rules. No detail was overlooked which could promote the spiritual and physical development of his children, and their religious education was carried to excess. Nevertheless, his children all turned out well and Ernest died with the name of "father and savior of his people."
Oliver Cromwell Oliver Cromwell (25 April 15993 September 1658) was an English general and statesman who, first as a subordinate and later as Commander-in-Chief, led armies An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" e ...

Oliver Cromwell
counted him among the most sagacious of princes; in him was embodied "the idea of the Protestant patriarchal prince and of a Christian governor of State and Church truly caring for both."


Family and children

In
Altenburg Altenburg () is a city in Thuringia, Germany, located south of Leipzig, west of Dresden and east of Erfurt. It is the capital of the Altenburger Land district and part of a polycentric old-industrial textile and metal production region betw ...

Altenburg
on 24 October 1636, Ernst married his cousin
Elisabeth Sophie of Saxe-Altenburg Elisabeth Sophie of Saxe-Altenburg (10 October 1619 – 20 December 1680), was a princess of Saxe-Altenburg and, by marriage, duchess of Saxe-Gotha. She was born in Halle, Saxony-Anhalt, Halle, the only daughter of Johann Philipp, Duke of Sax ...
. As a result of this marriage Saxe-Gotha and Saxe-Altenburg were unified, when the last duke of the line (Elisabeth's cousin) died childless in 1672. Ernst and Elisabeth Sophie had eighteen children: # Johann Ernest (b. Weimar, 18 September 1638 – d. Weimar, 27 November 1638). # Elisabeth Dorothea (b. Coburg, 8 January 1640 – d. Butzbach, 24 August 1709), married on 5 December 1666 to
Louis VI, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt Louis VI of Hesse-Darmstadt (german: Ludwig) (25 January 1630 – 24 April 1678) was Landgrave of Landgraviate of Hesse-Darmstadt, Hesse-Darmstadt from 1661 to 1678. He was the eldest of three sons of the Landgrave George II, Landgrave of Hesse-D ...
. # Johann Ernest (b. Gotha, 16 May 1641 – d. of smallpox, Gotha, 31 December 1657). # Christian (b. and d. Gotha, 23 February 1642). # Sophie (b. Gotha, 21 February 1643 – d. of smallpox, Gotha, 14 December 1657). # Johanna (b. Gotha, 14 February 1645 – d. f smallpox?Gotha, 7 December 1657). #
Frederick I, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg Frederick I, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (15 July 1646 Gotha (town), Gotha, Saxe-Gotha, Duchy of Saxe-Gotha – 2 August 1691 Friedrichswerth), was a duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg. He was the fourth but eldest surviving son of Ernst I, Duke o ...
(b. Gotha, 15 July 1646 – d. Friedrichswerth, 2 August 1691). #
Albert, Duke of Saxe-Coburg
Albert, Duke of Saxe-Coburg
(b. Gotha, 24 May 1648 – d. Coburg, 6 August 1699). # Bernhard I, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen (b. Gotha, 10 September 1649 – d. Meiningen, 27 April 1706). # Henry, Duke of Saxe-Römhild (b. Gotha, 19 November 1650 – d. Römhild, 13 May 1710). # Christian, Duke of Saxe-Eisenberg (b. Gotha, 6 January 1653 – d. Eisenberg, 28 April 1707). # Dorothea Maria of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, Dorothea Maria (b. Gotha, 12 February 1654 – d. Gotha, 17 June 1682). # Ernest, Duke of Saxe-Hildburghausen (b. Gotha, 12 June 1655 – d. Hildburghausen, 17 October 1715). # Johann Philip (b. Gotha, 1 March 1657 – d. Gotha, 19 May 1657). # John Ernest IV, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, Johann Ernest IV, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (b. Gotha, 22 August 1658 – d. Saalfeld, 17 February 1729). # Johanna Elisabeth (b. Gotha, 2 September 1660 – d. Gotha, 18 December 1660). # Johann Philip (b. Gotha, 16 November 1661 – d. Gotha, 13 March 1662). # Sophie Elisabeth (b. Gotha, 19 May 1663 – d. Gotha, 23 May 1663). Their eldest son Frederick was the first to inherit this title. His granddaughter from this son, Anna Sophie of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, was a direct matrilineal ancestor of Nicholas II of Russia. His younger son Johann Ernest was father of Franz Josias, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld.


Descendants

See List of members of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha


Legacy

He is portrayed positively as a figure in the fictional 1632 series, also known as the 1632-verse or Ring of Fire series, an alternate history book series, created, primarily co-written, and coordinated by historian Eric Flint. * Ernestine duchies * Elector Bible, Ernestian Bibles, called


Ancestry


References

* *
Article in the ADB
{{DEFAULTSORT:Ernest 01 of Saxe-Gotha, Duke 1601 births 1675 deaths People from Saxe-Altenburg People from Saxe-Gotha House of Wettin Dukes of Saxe-Gotha 17th-century Lutherans People from Altenburg Dukes of Saxe-Altenburg