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The Thuringian Kingdom was established sometime before 450 AD. In 632 Thuringia was conquered by the Franks and became a Duchy. The Duchy of Thuringia became a landgraviate in 1130. After the War of the Thuringian Succession (1247–1264), the western half of Thuringia became the Landgraviate of Hesse.

In 1485, Thuringia went to the senior Ernestine branch of the family, which subsequently subdivided the area into a number of smaller states, according to the Saxon tradition of dividing inheritance amongst male heirs. These were the "Saxon duchies", consisting, among others, of the states of Saxe-Weimar, Saxe-Eisenach, Saxe-Jena, Saxe-Meiningen, Saxe-Altenburg, Saxe-Coburg, and Saxe-Gotha. After this point, Thuringia became merely a geographical concept.