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Saxony was originally a settlement area of the Saxons comprising the area of the modern German states of Bremen, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Saxony-Anhalt and most of Schleswig-Holstein. Saxony was subdued by Charlemagne during the Saxon Wars from about 772 and was created as a stem duchy in 843 with the Treaty of Verdun. The Duchy of Saxony, like most Germanic states, fluctuated in size, land area and power throughout the majority of the medieval era until the formation of the modern country of Germany in 1918.

Rulers of Saxony

Louis the Child, King of East Francia - 900-911
Conrad the Younger, King of Germany - 911-912
Henry the Fowler, Duke of Saxony - 912-936
Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor - 936-973
Bernard I, Duke of Saxony - 973-1011
Bernard II, Duke of Saxony - 1011-1059
Ordulf, Duke of Saxony - 1059-1072
Magnus, Duke of Saxony - 1072-1106, Billung dynasty
Lothair III, Holy Roman Emperor - 1106-1112
Otto of Ballenstedt, Duke of Saxony - 1112-1115
Lothair III, Holy Roman Emperor - 1115-1137
Henry the Proud, Duke of Saxony - 1137-1139
Albert the Bear, Duke of Saxony - 1138-1142
Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony and Duke of Bavaria - 1142-1180, Welf Dynasty

The Duchy Crumbles

At this point in the Duchy of Saxony's history, everything fell apart. In 1176 Henry the Lion, the ruler of Saxony and Bavaria and one of the most powerful princes of northern Germany, refused to aid his cousin Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa in his campaign against the cities of Lombardy at the Battle of Legnano. In 1180 the ban of the empire was proclaimed against Henry at Würzburg (in abstentia), and 1181 the old Duchy of Saxony was cut up at the Diet of Gelnhausen into many small portions. The greater share of its western portion was given, as the Duchy of Westphalia, to the Archbishop of Cologne. The Saxon bishops, who had before this possessed sovereign authority in their territories, though under the suzerainty of the Duke of Saxony, gained imperial immediacy subject only to the imperial government. Saxon archbishops turned into prince-archbishops, such as the Prince-Archbishops of Bremen and Magdeburg, and the prince-bishops of Halberstadt, Lübeck, Ratzeburg, Schwerin as well as Verden, etc. The case was the same with a large number of secular countships and cities.


  • 16th Century
Cleveland Museum of Art: Armor of the Royal Guard of Saxony


See: Saxon clothing


  • 12th Century
c. 1173-1175: Gospels of Henry the Lion (Evangeliar Heinrichs des Löwen)
Uncertain Fol from the gospels
Fol from Genesis
Henry the Lion and Mathilde of England (Enlargement from Genesis)
  • 13th Century
c. 1240: Goslar Gospels (Goslarer Evangeliar)
Fol. 10v: Die Anbetung der Könige (Ausschnitt)
From the Gospel of Luke
Left Fol Enlargement
Lower Right Fol Enlargement


The following are fictitious or legendary accounts loosely based on period instances:

Tales and Legends of Saxony and Lusatia (1877)
Maurice, the elector of Saxony; an historical romance, Vol 1 (1844)
Maurice, the elector of Saxony; an historical romance, Vol 2 (1844)
Maurice, the elector of Saxony; an historical romance, Vol 3 (1844)