Kingdom of Saxony
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The Kingdom of Saxony (german: Königreich Sachsen), lasting from 1806 to 1918, was an independent member of a number of historical confederacies in Napoleonic through post-Napoleonic Germany. The kingdom was formed from the
Electorate of Saxony The Electorate of Saxony, also known as Electoral Saxony (German: or ), was a territory of the Holy Roman Empire from 1356–1806. It was centered around the cities of Dresden, Leipzig and Chemnitz. In the Golden Bull of 1356, Emperor Charles ...
. From 1871, it was part of the
German Empire The German Empire (),Herbert Tuttle wrote in September 1881 that the term "Reich" does not literally connote an empire as has been commonly assumed by English-speaking people. The term literally denotes an empire – particularly a hereditary ...
. It became a free state in the era of
Weimar Republic The Weimar Republic (german: link=no, Weimarer Republik ), officially named the German Reich, was the government of Germany from 1918 to 1933, during which it was a Constitutional republic, constitutional federal republic for the first time in ...
in 1918 after the end of
World War I World War I (28 July 1914 11 November 1918), often abbreviated as WWI, was List of wars and anthropogenic disasters by death toll, one of the deadliest global conflicts in history. Belligerents included much of Europe, the Russian Empire, ...
and the abdication of King Frederick Augustus III of Saxony. Its capital was the city of
Dresden Dresden (, ; Upper Saxon: ''Dräsdn''; wen, label= Upper Sorbian, Drježdźany) is the capital city of the German state of Saxony and its second most populous city, after Leipzig. It is the 12th most populous city of Germany, the fourth la ...
, and its modern successor state is the Free State of Saxony.


History


Napoleonic era and the German Confederation

Before 1806, Saxony was part of the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire was a Polity, political entity in Western Europe, Western, Central Europe, Central, and Southern Europe that developed during the Early Middle Ages and continued until its Dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, dissolution i ...
, a thousand-year-old entity that had become highly decentralised over the centuries. The rulers of the
Electorate of Saxony The Electorate of Saxony, also known as Electoral Saxony (German: or ), was a territory of the Holy Roman Empire from 1356–1806. It was centered around the cities of Dresden, Leipzig and Chemnitz. In the Golden Bull of 1356, Emperor Charles ...
of the
House of Wettin The House of Wettin () is a dynasty of Germany, German monarch, kings, Prince Elector, prince-electors, dukes, and counts that once ruled territories in the present-day German states of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. The dynasty is one of ...
had held the title of elector for several centuries. When the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved in August 1806 following the defeat of Emperor Francis II by
Napoleon Napoleon Bonaparte ; it, Napoleone Bonaparte, ; co, Napulione Buonaparte. (born Napoleone Buonaparte; 15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821), later known by his regnal name Napoleon I, was a French military commander and political leader who ...
at the Battle of Austerlitz, the electorate was raised to the status of an independent kingdom with the support of the
First French Empire The First French Empire, officially the French Republic, then the French Empire (; Latin: ) after 1809, also known as Napoleonic France, was the empire ruled by Napoleon Bonaparte, who established French hegemony over much of continental Eur ...
, then the dominant power in
Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, based on a common History, historical, Society, social and cultural identity. The Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) between Catholic Church, Catholicism and Protestanti ...
. The last elector of Saxony became King Frederick Augustus I. Following the defeat of Saxony's ally
Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian: ''Prūsa'' or ''Prūsija'' was a Germans, German state on the southeast coast of the Baltic Sea. It formed the German Empire under Prussian rule when it united the German states in 1871. It was ''de facto'' dissolved ...
at the Battle of Jena in 1806, Saxony joined the
Confederation of the Rhine The Confederated States of the Rhine, simply known as the Confederation of the Rhine, also known as Napoleonic Germany, was a confederation of German client states established at the behest of Napoleon some months after he defeated Austrian E ...
, and remained within the Confederation until its dissolution in 1813 with Napoleon's defeat at the
Battle of Leipzig The Battle of Leipzig (french: Bataille de Leipsick; german: Völkerschlacht bei Leipzig, ); sv, Slaget vid Leipzig), also known as the Battle of the Nations (french: Bataille des Nations; russian: Битва народов, translit=Bitva ...
. Following the battle, in which Saxony – virtually alone of all the German states – had fought alongside the French, King Frederick Augustus I was deserted by his troops, taken prisoner by the Prussians, and considered to have forfeited his throne by the allies, who put Saxony under Prussian occupation and administration. This was probably more due to the Prussian desire to annex Saxony than to any crime on Frederick Augustus' part, and the fate of Saxony would prove to be one of the main issues at the
Congress of Vienna The Congress of Vienna (, ) of 1814–1815 was a series of international diplomatic meetings to discuss and agree upon a possible new layout of the European political and constitutional order after the downfall of the French Emperor Napoleon, ...
. In the end, 40% of the Kingdom, including the historically significant
Wittenberg Wittenberg ( , ; Low Saxon language, Low Saxon: ''Wittenbarg''; meaning ''White Mountain''; officially Lutherstadt Wittenberg (''Luther City Wittenberg'')), is the fourth largest town in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Wittenberg is situated on the Ri ...
, home of the
Protestant Reformation The Reformation (alternatively named the Protestant Reformation or the European Reformation) was a major movement within Western Christianity in 16th-century Europe that posed a religious and political challenge to the Catholic Church and in ...
, was annexed by Prussia, but Frederick Augustus was restored to the throne in the remainder of his kingdom, which still included the major cities of
Dresden Dresden (, ; Upper Saxon: ''Dräsdn''; wen, label= Upper Sorbian, Drježdźany) is the capital city of the German state of Saxony and its second most populous city, after Leipzig. It is the 12th most populous city of Germany, the fourth la ...
and
Leipzig Leipzig ( , ; Upper Saxon: ) is the most populous city in the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Saxony. Leipzig's population of 605,407 inhabitants (1.1 million in the larger urban zone) as of 2021 places the city as Germany's L ...
. The Kingdom also joined the
German Confederation The German Confederation (german: Deutscher Bund, ) was an association of 39 predominantly German-speaking sovereign states in Central Europe. It was created by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 as a replacement of the former Holy Roman Empire, w ...
, the new organization of the German states to replace the fallen Holy Roman Empire.


Austro-Prussian War and the German Empire

During the 1866
Austro-Prussian War The Austro-Prussian War, also by many variant names such as Seven Weeks' War, German Civil War, Brothers War or Fraternal War, known in Germany as ("German War"), (; "German war of brothers") and by a variety of other names, was fought in 186 ...
, Saxony sided with
Austria The Republic of Austria, commonly just Austria, , bar, Östareich is a country in the southern part of Central Europe, lying in the Eastern Alps. It is a federation of nine States of Austria, states, one of which is the capital, Vienna, ...
, and the Saxon army was generally seen as the only ally to bring substantial aid to the Austrian cause, having abandoned the defense of Saxony itself to join up with the Austrian army in Bohemia. This effectiveness probably allowed Saxony to escape the fate of other north German states allied with Austria – notably the
Kingdom of Hanover The Kingdom of Hanover (german: Königreich Hannover) was established in October 1814 by the Congress of Vienna, with the restoration of George III of the United Kingdom, George III to his Hanoverian territories after the Napoleonic Wars, Napoleo ...
– which were annexed by Prussia after the war. The Austrians and French insisted as a point of honour that Saxony must be spared, and the Prussians acquiesced. Saxony nevertheless joined the Prussian-led North German Confederation the next year. With Prussia's victory over
France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It also comprises of Overseas France, overseas regions and territories in the Americas and the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic, Pacific Ocean, Pac ...
in the Franco-Prussian War of 1871, the members of the Confederation were organised by
Otto von Bismarck Otto, Prince of Bismarck, Count of Bismarck-Schönhausen, Duke of Lauenburg (, ; 1 April 1815 – 30 July 1898), born Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck, was a conservative German statesman and diplomat. From his origins in the upper class of J ...
into the
German Empire The German Empire (),Herbert Tuttle wrote in September 1881 that the term "Reich" does not literally connote an empire as has been commonly assumed by English-speaking people. The term literally denotes an empire – particularly a hereditary ...
, with William I as its emperor. John, as Saxony's incumbent king, had to accept the Emperor as
primus inter pares ''Primus inter pares'' is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium ...
, although he, like the other German princes, retained some of the prerogatives of a sovereign ruler, including the ability to enter into diplomatic relations with other states.


End of the kingdom

Wilhelm I's grandson Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated in 1918 as a result of a
revolution In political science, a revolution (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known ...
set off in the days before Germany's defeat in
World War I World War I (28 July 1914 11 November 1918), often abbreviated as WWI, was List of wars and anthropogenic disasters by death toll, one of the deadliest global conflicts in history. Belligerents included much of Europe, the Russian Empire, ...
. King Frederick Augustus III of Saxony followed him into abdication and with an attempt to establish the Soviet Republic of Saxony, which formed around the cities of
Dresden Dresden (, ; Upper Saxon: ''Dräsdn''; wen, label= Upper Sorbian, Drježdźany) is the capital city of the German state of Saxony and its second most populous city, after Leipzig. It is the 12th most populous city of Germany, the fourth la ...
and
Leipzig Leipzig ( , ; Upper Saxon: ) is the most populous city in the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Saxony. Leipzig's population of 605,407 inhabitants (1.1 million in the larger urban zone) as of 2021 places the city as Germany's L ...
. The revolution would eventually and swiftly get put down by the
Freikorps (, "Free Corps" or "Volunteer Corps") were Irregular military, irregular German and other European military volunteer units, or paramilitary, that existed from the 18th to the early 20th centuries. They effectively fought as mercenary or pri ...
. Within the newly formed
Weimar Republic The Weimar Republic (german: link=no, Weimarer Republik ), officially named the German Reich, was the government of Germany from 1918 to 1933, during which it was a Constitutional republic, constitutional federal republic for the first time in ...
, on November 1, 1920, the Kingdom of Saxony would be reorganized into the Free State of Saxony


Governance


1831 Constitution

The 1831 Constitution of Saxony established the state as a parliamentary monarchy.


King

The king was named as head of the nation. He was required to follow the provisions of the constitution, and could not become the ruler of any other state (save by blood inheritance) without the consent of the Diet, or parliament. The crown was hereditary in the male line of the royal family through
agnatic primogeniture Primogeniture ( ) is the right, by law or custom, of the firstborn legitimate child to inherit the parent's entire or main estate in preference to shared inheritance among all or some children, any illegitimate child or any collateral relative ...
, though provisions existed allowing a female line to inherit in the absence of qualified male heirs. Added provisions concerned the formation of a regency if the king was too young or otherwise unable to rule, as well as provisions concerning the crown prince's education. Any acts or decrees signed or issued by the king had to be countersigned by at least one of his ministers, who thus took responsibility for them. Without the ministerial countersignature, no act of the king was to be considered valid. The king was given the right to declare any accused person innocent, or alternately to mitigate or suspend their punishment or pardon them (but not to increase penalties); such decrees did not require ministerial co-signature. He was also given supreme power over religious matters in Saxony. He appointed the president of the upper house of the Diet, together with a proxy from among three candidates suggested by that house, and appointed the president and proxy of the lower house, as well. (See below.) The king was given sole power to promulgate laws, and to carry them into effect, and only by his consent could any proposal for a law be advanced in the Diet. He equally had authority to issue emergency decrees and even to issue non-emergency laws that he found needful or "advantageous", though such instruments required the counter-signature of at least one of his ministers, and had to be presented to the next Diet for approval. He could not, however, change the constitution itself or the electoral laws in this manner. He was permitted to veto laws passed by the Diet (though he was required to give his reasons for so doing, in each instance), or to send them back with proposed amendments for reconsideration. He was permitted to issue extraordinary decrees to obtain money for state expenditures refused by the Diet, through the Supreme Court, though such decrees could only last for one year.Constitution of Saxony
Section 103.
He was permitted to dissolve the Diet, though new elections for the lower house had to be held within six months; he was also permitted to convoke extraordinary sessions of the legislature at his discretion. From 1697 the Electors of Saxony became Catholic in order to accept the crowns of Poland and Lithuania, of which they were kings until 1763. The royal family remained
Roman Catholic Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus (Romulus and Remus, legendary) , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan c ...
, ruling over a domain that was 95%
Protestant Protestantism is a branch of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Na ...
.


Ministry

The ministry was defined in the constitution as consisting of six departments, all of which were made responsible to the Diet: *The Chief Court of Justice; *The Court of Finance; *The Office For the Affairs of the Interior; *The War Office; *The Ecclesiastical Court; *The Office of Foreign Affairs. Members of the ministry had the right to appear in either chamber of the Diet at will, and there to participate in debate, but upon a division of the house they had to withdraw.


Bill of Rights

A Bill of Rights was included in the constitution. It incorporated: *Protections for "liberty of person and right over his own property is without limit except that which law and justice dictates" (Section 27); *The right of a citizen to choose any lawful profession and to emigrate so long as no military or civil obligations attached to them (Sections 28–29); *The right to be paid for expropriated property and to challenge the amount of payment set by the state in court (Section 31); *Liberty of conscience and religion (Section 32), though freedom of religion was limited to Christian churches recognized by the state (Section 56); *Equality for members of state-recognized religious organizations (Section 33); *Equality in eligibility for government employment (Section 34); *A limited freedom of the press, subject to legal restrictions (Section 35); *The right to appeal actions of government officials either to the courts or to the Diet itself (Section 36); *The right to directly appeal grievances to the King himself (Section 36); *Freedom from arbitrary arrest and punishment save through conviction in a court of law (Section 51); *No person was to be confined for more than 24 hours without being informed of the reason for his arrest (Section 51); *The right to be free of all taxes other than those prescribed by law or title (Section 37).


Legislature

The Diet, or legislature was divided into two houses, which were constitutionally equal in their rights and status, and neither house was to meet without the other. The upper chamber consisted of the following: *All princes of the blood who were of legal age (defined as 19, in the constitution); *One deputy of the Archbishopric of Misnia; *The proprietor of the Principality of Wildenfels; *One deputy representing the five Schönburg family domains; *One deputy from the University of Leipzig, chosen by the professors of that institution; *The proprietor of the Barony of Königsbrück; *The proprietor of the Barony of Riebersdorf; *The minister of the
Lutheran Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism, identifying primarily with the theology of Martin Luther, the 16th-century German monk and Protestant Reformers, reformer whose efforts to reform the theology and practice of the Cathol ...
court chapel; *The
deacon A deacon is a member of the diaconate, an office in Christianity, Christian churches that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions. Major Christian churches, such as the ...
of the Cathedral of St. Peter in Budessen; *The superintendent of the town of
Leipzig Leipzig ( , ; Upper Saxon: ) is the most populous city in the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Saxony. Leipzig's population of 605,407 inhabitants (1.1 million in the larger urban zone) as of 2021 places the city as Germany's L ...
; *One deputy from the Lutheran Cathedral of Wurzen; *One deputy representing four other Schönburg family estates; *Twelve proprietors of manorial estates in the kingdom, possessed of a minimum income of at least $2000 per year from rentals, chosen for life from amongst themselves; *Ten more persons of the proprietary class, possessed of a minimum income of at least $4000 per year from rentals, chosen by the king for life; *The chief magistrate of
Dresden Dresden (, ; Upper Saxon: ''Dräsdn''; wen, label= Upper Sorbian, Drježdźany) is the capital city of the German state of Saxony and its second most populous city, after Leipzig. It is the 12th most populous city of Germany, the fourth la ...
and Leipzig; *Six other town magistrates chosen by the king, with the provision that the monarch should try to see that all sections of the kingdom were represented. Members of this house held their seats so long as they remained qualified to do so under the constitution, or in certain cases until they had reached the age of sixty or participated in three sessions of the Diet. The lower house of the Diet consisted of: *Twenty proprietors of manorial estates, possessed of rental income of at least $600 per year; *Twenty-five deputies from towns; *Twenty-five deputies chosen from among the peasants; *Five representatives of trades and factories. A proxy was to also be chosen for each representative, who would take the representative's place, should they be incapacitated, absent, resign or be removed. Each representative was elected for nine years; however, approximately one-third were required to resign their seats every three years (the exact figures were set in the constitution, and determined by lot at the commencement of the first session of the Diet), though all were eligible for immediate re-election. The lower house was to nominate four members, of whom the king was to choose one to be president of that house, and another to be his proxy. Members of the Diet must be at least 30 years of age; electors must be 25 years of age, not have been convicted of any offense in a court of law, not have their personal estate financially encumbered in any way, and not be under guardianship. The Diet was required to consider any business laid before it by the king, before proceeding to any other business. Members were to vote their consciences, and were not to accept instructions from their constituents. Members were granted full freedom of speech in the chambers, but were not permitted to insult each other, the king, any member of the royal family, or the parliament. Members who violated any of these rules could be disciplined by their respective house, up to and including permanent expulsion with ineligibility for re-election. The Diet could propose the formation of new laws or changes in existing ones, but no bill could be brought forward without the king's express consent. Conversely, no new law could be enacted, without the Diet's consent. Bills could be passed by a simple one-third-plus-one vote in both houses of the Diet; a majority vote was not necessary in either house.Constitution of Saxony
Section 92.
Any bill rejected or amended must contain a statement of why it was rejected or amended. No new taxes could be imposed without the Diet's consent, though the king was permitted to bypass this in certain instances. The parliament could impeach members of the ministry by unanimous vote of both houses; ministers so impeached were to be tried by a special court; the decision of this court was final, and even the king's right of pardon did not extend to persons convicted by it. In the wake of the tumultuous 1848 revolutions, Saxony's Landtag extended voting rights (though still maintaining property requirements) and abolished voting taxes. In 1871, Saxony was incorporated into the
German Empire The German Empire (),Herbert Tuttle wrote in September 1881 that the term "Reich" does not literally connote an empire as has been commonly assumed by English-speaking people. The term literally denotes an empire – particularly a hereditary ...
and more voting rights were gradually extended. By the early 1900s, Saxony's local politics had settled into a niche in which Social Democrats, Conservatives, and National Liberals were splitting the share of votes and Landtag seats three ways. (In 1909: Social Democrats won 27% of seats, Conservatives won 31% of seats, National Liberals won 31% of seats). Voter participation was high (82% in 1909).


Judiciary

The judiciary was made independent of the civil government. The High Court of Judiciature, created in Sections 142 to 150, was also given authority to rule upon "dubious" points in the constitution; its decision was decreed to be final, and was protected from royal interference.Constitution of Saxony
Section 153.


Administrative reorganisation

Following the adoption of the 1831 constitution, by the Order of April 6, 1835 District Directorates (Kreisdirektionen) were established. These were subsequently known as Kreishauptmannschafts. Originally there were four: * Kreishauptmannschaft Bautzen * Kreishauptmannschaft Dresden * Kreishauptmannschaft Leipzig * Kreishauptmannschaft Zwickau In 1900 a fifth was added: * Kreishauptmannschaft Chemnitz


Reichstag deputies 1867 to 1918

Following the North German Confederation Treaty the Kingdom of Saxony entered the North German Confederation in 1866. As a consequence, the Kingdom returned Deputies to the Reichstag. After the founding of the
German Empire The German Empire (),Herbert Tuttle wrote in September 1881 that the term "Reich" does not literally connote an empire as has been commonly assumed by English-speaking people. The term literally denotes an empire – particularly a hereditary ...
on 18 January 1871, the deputies were returned to the Reichstag of the German Empire. Following this Saxony participated in Reichstag elections from February 1867. Zittau returned a series of Reichstag Deputies until 1919 when the existing constituencies were scrapped.


See also

* Order of the Rue Crown * Coinage of Saxony * Royal Saxon Army


References


External links


Constitution of the Kingdom of Saxony
(in German)
Constitution of the Kingdom of Saxony
(in English) {{DEFAULTSORT:Saxony, Kingdom of
Kingdom of Saxony The Kingdom of Saxony (german: Königreich Sachsen), lasting from 1806 to 1918, was an independent member of a number of historical confederacies in French period, Napoleonic through German Confederation, post-Napoleonic Germany. The kingdom was ...
Kingdom of Saxony The Kingdom of Saxony (german: Königreich Sachsen), lasting from 1806 to 1918, was an independent member of a number of historical confederacies in French period, Napoleonic through German Confederation, post-Napoleonic Germany. The kingdom was ...
Kingdom of Saxony The Kingdom of Saxony (german: Königreich Sachsen), lasting from 1806 to 1918, was an independent member of a number of historical confederacies in French period, Napoleonic through German Confederation, post-Napoleonic Germany. The kingdom was ...
Former kingdoms Former countries in Europe
Kingdom of Saxony The Kingdom of Saxony (german: Königreich Sachsen), lasting from 1806 to 1918, was an independent member of a number of historical confederacies in French period, Napoleonic through German Confederation, post-Napoleonic Germany. The kingdom was ...
States of the German Confederation States of the German Empire
Kingdom of Saxony The Kingdom of Saxony (german: Königreich Sachsen), lasting from 1806 to 1918, was an independent member of a number of historical confederacies in French period, Napoleonic through German Confederation, post-Napoleonic Germany. The kingdom was ...
Kingdom of Saxony The Kingdom of Saxony (german: Königreich Sachsen), lasting from 1806 to 1918, was an independent member of a number of historical confederacies in French period, Napoleonic through German Confederation, post-Napoleonic Germany. The kingdom was ...
Kingdom of Saxony The Kingdom of Saxony (german: Königreich Sachsen), lasting from 1806 to 1918, was an independent member of a number of historical confederacies in French period, Napoleonic through German Confederation, post-Napoleonic Germany. The kingdom was ...
Kingdom of Saxony The Kingdom of Saxony (german: Königreich Sachsen), lasting from 1806 to 1918, was an independent member of a number of historical confederacies in French period, Napoleonic through German Confederation, post-Napoleonic Germany. The kingdom was ...
Kingdom of Saxony The Kingdom of Saxony (german: Königreich Sachsen), lasting from 1806 to 1918, was an independent member of a number of historical confederacies in French period, Napoleonic through German Confederation, post-Napoleonic Germany. The kingdom was ...
Kingdom of Saxony The Kingdom of Saxony (german: Königreich Sachsen), lasting from 1806 to 1918, was an independent member of a number of historical confederacies in French period, Napoleonic through German Confederation, post-Napoleonic Germany. The kingdom was ...
Kingdom of Saxony The Kingdom of Saxony (german: Königreich Sachsen), lasting from 1806 to 1918, was an independent member of a number of historical confederacies in French period, Napoleonic through German Confederation, post-Napoleonic Germany. The kingdom was ...
Kingdom of Saxony The Kingdom of Saxony (german: Königreich Sachsen), lasting from 1806 to 1918, was an independent member of a number of historical confederacies in French period, Napoleonic through German Confederation, post-Napoleonic Germany. The kingdom was ...
Kingdom of Saxony The Kingdom of Saxony (german: Königreich Sachsen), lasting from 1806 to 1918, was an independent member of a number of historical confederacies in French period, Napoleonic through German Confederation, post-Napoleonic Germany. The kingdom was ...
States of the North German Confederation
Saxony Saxony (german: Sachsen ; Upper Saxon German, Upper Saxon: ''Saggsn''; hsb, Sakska), officially the Free State of Saxony (german: Freistaat Sachsen, links=no ; Upper Saxon: ''Freischdaad Saggsn''; hsb, Swobodny stat Sakska, links=no), is a ...