House of Gonzaga
The House of Gonzaga was an Italian princely family that ruled Mantua, in northern Italy, from 1328 to 1708. Their family includes twelve cardinals and fourteen bishops. Two Gonzaga descendants became empresses of the Holy Roman Empire, one became queen of Poland; the first members of the family of historical importance are known to have collaborated with the Guelph faction alongside the monks of the Polirone Abbey. Starting from the 12th century they became a dominant family in Mantua, growing in wealth when their allies, the Bonacolsi, defeated the traditional familiar enemy, the Casalodi. In 1328, Ludovico I Gonzaga overthrew the Bonacolsi lordship over the city with the help of the Scaliger, entered the Ghibelline party as capitano del popolo of Mantua and imperial vicar of Emperor Louis IV. Ludovico was succeeded by Guido and Ludovico II, while Feltrino, lord of Reggio until 1371, formed the cadet branch of the Gonzaga of Novellara, whose state existed until 1728. Francesco I abandoned the traditional alliance with the Visconti of Milan, in order to align their rising power with the Republic of Venice.
In 1433, Gianfrancesco I assumed the title of Marquis of Mantua with the recognition of Emperor Sigismund, while obtaining recognition from the local nobility through the marriage of his daughter Margherita to Leonello d'Este, Marquis of Ferrara in 1435. In 1530 Federico II received the title of Duke of Mantua. In 1531, the family acquired the Marquisate of Montferrat through marriage. Through maternal ancestors, the Gonzagas inherited the Imperial Byzantine ancestry of the Paleologus, an earlier ruling family of Montferrat. A cadet branch of the Mantua Gonzagas became dukes of Nevers and Rethel in France when Luigi Gonzaga, a younger son of Federico II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua and Margherita Paleologa, married the heiress; the Gonzaga-Nevers came to rule Mantua again when Louis's son Charles inherited Mantua and Montferrat, triggering the War of the Mantuan Succession. Another cadet branch were first sovereign counts dukes of Guastalla, they descended from a younger son of Duke Francesco II of Mantua.
Ferrante's grandson, Ferrante II played a role in the War of the Mantuan Succession. A further cadet branch was that of Sabbioneta, founded by Gianfrancesco, son of Ludovico III. Marie Louise Gonzaga, daughter of Prince Charles Gonzaga-Nevers, was a Polish queen consort from 1645 to her death in 1667. Two daughters of the house, both named Eleanor Gonzaga, became Holy Roman Empresses, by marrying emperors Ferdinand II of Germany and Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor, respectively. From the latter Empress Eleanor, the current heirs of the Gonzaga descend. St. Aloysius Gonzaga was a member of a junior branch of this family; the House of Gonzaga is the inspiration for the play-within-the-play in Shakespeare's Hamlet. In Act 3 scene 2, they act out a play called The Murder of Gonzago. Gonzaga rule continued in Mantua until 1708 and in Guastalla until 1746. Both ruling lines became extinct, the headship of the House of Gonzaga passed to the Vescovato line, descended from Giovanni, a son of Federico I Gonzaga.
That branch, shorn of sovereign domains, is extant. Its head is Maurizio Ferrante Gonzaga; the branches of the Gonzaga family, showing marquises and dukes of Mantua in bold, dukes of Nevers and Rethel in italics and the Guastalla line to the right. Aloysius Gonzaga, SJ 1568–1591, canonized by the Catholic Church in 1726 Francesco Gonzaga Sigismondo Gonzaga Pirro Gonzaga Ercole Gonzaga Francesco Gonzaga Federico Gonzaga Giovanni Vincenzo Gonzaga Scipione Gonzaga Francesco Gonzaga Ferdinando Gonzaga, became Duke of Mantua, as Ferdinando I, in 1612 Vincenzo Gonzaga, became Duke of Mantua, as Vincenzo II, in 1626 Duchy of Mantua, a list of House of Gonzaga rulers; the Gonzaga. Lords of Mantua. London: Methuen. Marek, Miroslav. "Genealogy tree". Genealogy. EU. Giancarlo, Malacarne. "Family Tree of the Gonzaga". Albero genealogico dei Gonzaga
Castle of Laeken
The Castle of Laeken, is the official residence of the King of the Belgians and the royal family. It lies 5 km north of the city centre in the municipality of Laeken, it sits in a large park called the Royal Domain of Laeken, off-limits to the public. It was named the Castle of Schonenberg and is referred to as the Royal Castle; the castle at Laeken should not be confused with the Royal Palace of Brussels, in central Brussels, the official palace of the King of the Belgians and from which affairs of state are handled. The castle was built at Laeken outside of Brussels, between 1782-1784 after the plans of the French architect Charles de Wailly under supervision of Louis Montoyer as a summer residence for the Governors of the Habsburg Netherlands, Archduchess Maria Christina of Austria and her husband Albert of Saxe-Teschen. Jean-Joseph Chapuis provided the royal furniture. On 21 July 1803, Nicolas-Jean Rouppe, as commissioner of the department of the Dyle, received Napoleon at the Castle of Laeken.
Napoleon stayed at Laeken with the Empress Josephine in August 1804 on his way from awarding the first Légion d'honneur to his invasion troops at Boulogne to his progress along the Rhine, during the Hundred Days in 1815 dated this proclamation prematurely from the palace: After Belgian independence, Rouppe, as mayor of Brussels, received the new king Leopold I at the Castle of Laeken on 21 July 1831. The palace was destroyed by fire in 1890 and was rebuilt by Alphonse Balat; the French architect Charles Girault gave it its present outline in 1902. It has been the royal residence since Leopold I's accession to the throne in 1831; the domain contains the magnificent Royal Greenhouses of Laeken, a set of monumental dome-shaped constructions, accessible to the public for a few days each year. They were designed as well with the cooperation of the young Victor Horta. Upon their accession to the throne in 1993, King Albert II and Queen Paola preferred to remain living at Belvédère, a château on the grounds of the park surrounding the Castle.
The current occupants of the Castle are Queen Mathilde and their four children. The royal estate is surrounded by an immense garden, protected by a stone wall of several kilometres; the gardens are designed in English style. Leopold II of Belgium was closely connected with the designs of his private gardens. In the gardens his only son, Prince Leopold, Duke of Brabant, fell in a pond, died subsequently from pneumonia, aged only nine; the king had trees planted for his newborn children. There are various pavilions, including the Japanese Tower, they were now form part of the Museums of the Far East. The rooms of the Chinese Pavilion are designed in Louis XVI Style, they are decorated with Chinese motifs and silverware. The Japanese Tower is a pagoda. Today only the king himself and his children use the garden the gardens are closed to the public; the greenhouses and the gardens are famous for their unique varieties of trees. In the gardens several colonies of wild Canada geese, hundreds of cormorants and other large birds live.
The gardens are home to one of the biggest colonies of herons in the country. Mobutu Sese Seko, the dictator of Zaire, built a palace in his hometown of Gbadolite modelled upon the Royal Castle of Laeken. Royal Trust List of castles in Belgium Media related to Royal Castle of Laeken at Wikimedia Commons The Royal Castle of Laeken at Visit Brussels
Electorate of Saxony
The Electorate of Saxony was a state of the Holy Roman Empire established when Emperor Charles IV raised the Ascanian duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg to the status of an Electorate by the Golden Bull of 1356. Upon the extinction of the House of Ascania, it was feoffed to the Margraves of Meissen from the Wettin dynasty in 1423, who moved the ducal residence up the river Elbe to Dresden. After the Empire's dissolution in 1806, the Wettin Electors raised Saxony to a territorially reduced kingdom. After the dissolution of the medieval Duchy of Saxony, the name Saxony was first applied to a small territory midway along the river Elbe, around the city of Wittenberg, which had belonged to the March of Lusatia. Around 1157 it was held by the first Margrave of Brandenburg; when Emperor Frederick Barbarossa deposed the Saxon duke, Henry the Lion in 1180, the Wittenberg lands belonged to Albert's youngest son, Count Bernhard of Anhalt, who assumed the Saxon ducal title. Bernard's eldest son, Albert I, ceded the territory known as, Anhalt to his younger brother, retaining the ducal title and attched to this territory the lordship of Lauenburg.
His sons divided the territory into the duchies of Saxe-Lauenburg. Both lines claimed the Saxon electoral dignity or privilege, which led to confusion during the 1314 election of the Wittelsbach duke, Louis of Bavaria as King of the Romans against his Habsburg rival, Duke Frederick the Fair of Austria, as both candidates received one vote each from each of the two rival Ascanian branches. Louis was succeeded by Charles of Bohemia. After his coronation as Holy Roman Emperor in 1355, Charles issued the Golden Bull of 1356, the fundamental law of the Empire settling the method of electing the German King by seven Prince-electors; the rival Wittelsbach and Habsburg dynasties got nothing, instead the Duke of Saxe-Wittenberg, Archmarshal of the Empire, received the right to elect the King of the Romans and the prospective Emperor, together with six other elector Princes of the Empire. Thus, the country, though small in area, gained influence far beyond its extent; the electoral privilege contained the obligation of male primogeniture.
That is, only the eldest son could succeed as ruler. It therefore forbade the division of the territory among several heirs, in order to prevent the disintegration of the country; the importance of this stipulation is shown by the history of most of the fragmented German principalities which were not constituted as electorates. The Ascanian line of Saxe-Wittenberg became extinct with the death of Elector Albert III in 1422, after which Emperor Sigismund granted the country and electoral privilege upon Margrave Frederick IV of Meissen, a loyal supporter in the Hussite Wars; the late Albert's Ascanian relative, Duke Eric V of Saxe-Lauenburg protested in vain. Frederick, one of the seven Prince-electors, was a member of the House of Wettin, which since 1089 had ruled over the adjacent Margravate of Meissen up the Elbe river - established under Emperor Otto I in 965 - and over the Landgravate of Thuringia since 1242. Thus, in 1423, Saxe-Wittenberg, the Margravate of Meissen and Thuringia were united under one ruler, as a unified territory became known as, Upper Saxony.
When Elector Frederick II died in 1464, his two surviving sons overrode the primogeniture principle and divided his territories by the Treaty of Leipzig on 26 August 1485. This resulted in the separated Wettin dynasty becoming the Ernestine and Albertine branches; the elder Ernest, founder of the Ernestine line, received large parts of the former Duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg with the electoral privilege attached to it, the southern Landgravate of Thuringia. While the younger Albert, founder of the Albertine line, received northern Thuringia and the lands of the former Margravate of Meissen. Thus, although the Ernestine line had had greater authority until the Battle of Mühlberg in 1547, the electoral privilege and territory fell to the Albertine line, which also became a royal house when Saxony was proclaimed a kingdom in the 19th century; this partition was to decisively enfeeble the Wettin dynasty in relation to the rising House of Hohenzollern. It had achieved its own electoral privilege as Margraves of Brandenburg since 1415.
The Protestant movement of the 16th century spread under the protection of the Saxon rulers. Ernest's son, Elector Frederick the Wise established in 1502 the University at Wittenberg, where the Augustinian monk, Martin Luther, was appointed professor of philosophy in 1508. At the same time he became one of the preachers at the castle church in Wittenberg. On 31 October 1517, he enclosed in a protest letter to Albert of Brandenburg the Archbishop of Mainz, The Ninety-Five Theses against the sale of indulgences and other Catholic practices, an action that marked the start of what came to be called the Reformation. Although the Elector did not at first share the new attitude, he granted his protection to Luther anyway. Owing to this intervention, Pope Leo X decided against summoning Luther to Rome in 1518, the Elector secured for Luther Imperial safe-conduct to the Diet of Worms in 1521; when Luther was declared banned in the entire empire by Emperor Charles V, the Elector had him brought to live in Wartburg Castle on his Thuringian estate.
Lutheran doctrines spread first in Ernestine Saxony. In 1525, Frederick died never having left the Catholic Church, unless on his deathbed in 1525, but he was sympathetic towards Lutheranism by the time of his death, he was succeeded by John the Constant. John was a zealous Lutheran, he exercised full authority over the new chu
Old master print
An old master print is a work of art produced by a printing process within the Western tradition. The term remains current in the art trade, there is no easy alternative in English to distinguish the works of "fine art" produced in printmaking from the vast range of decorative and popular prints that grew alongside the artistic print from the 15th century onwards. Fifteenth-century prints are sufficiently rare that they are classed as old master prints if they are of crude or workmanlike artistic quality. A date of about 1830 is taken as marking the end of the period whose prints are covered by this term; the main techniques used, in order of their introduction, are woodcut, etching and aquatint, although there are others. Different techniques are combined in a single print. With rare exceptions printed on textiles, such as silk, or on vellum, old master prints are printed on paper; this article is concerned with the artistic and social aspects of the subject. Many great European artists, such as Albrecht Dürer and Francisco Goya, were dedicated printmakers.
In their own day, their international reputations came from their prints, which were spread far more than their paintings. Influences between artists were mainly transmitted beyond a single city by prints, for the same reason. Prints therefore are brought up in detailed analyses of individual paintings in art history. Today, thanks to colour photo reproductions, public galleries, their paintings are much better known, whilst their prints are only exhibited, for conservation reasons, but some museum print rooms allow visitors to see their collection, sometimes only by appointment, large museums now present great numbers of prints online in high-resolution enlargeable images. The oldest technique is woodcut, or woodblock printing, invented as a method for printing on cloth in China, separately in Egypt in the Byzantine period; this had reached Europe via the Byzantine or Islamic worlds before 1300, as a method of printing patterns on textiles. Paper arrived in Europe from China via Islamic Spain later, was being manufactured in Italy by the end of the thirteenth century, in Burgundy and Germany by the end of the fourteenth.
Religious images and playing cards are documented as being produced on paper printed, by a German in Bologna in 1395. However, the most impressive printed European images to survive from before 1400 are printed on cloth, for use as hangings on walls or furniture, including altars and lecterns; some were used as a pattern to embroider over. Some religious images were used as bandages; the earliest print images are of a high artistic standard, were designed by artists with a background in painting. Whether these artists cut the blocks themselves, or only inked the design on the block for another to carve, is not known. During the fifteenth century the number of prints produced increased as paper became available and cheaper, the average artistic level fell, so that by the second half of the century the typical woodcut is a crude image; the great majority of surviving 15th-century prints are religious, although these were the ones more to survive. Their makers were sometimes called "Jesus maker" or "saint-maker" in documents.
As with manuscript books, monastic institutions sometimes produced, sold, prints. No artists can be identified with specific woodcuts until towards the end of the century; the little evidence we have suggests that woodcut prints became common and cheap during the fifteenth century, were affordable by skilled workers in towns. For example, what may be the earliest surviving Italian print, the "Madonna of the Fire", was hanging by a nail to a wall in a small school in Forlì in 1428; the school caught fire, the crowd who gathered to watch saw the print carried up into the air by the fire, before falling down into the crowd. This was regarded as a miraculous escape and the print was carried to Forlì Cathedral, where it remains, since 1636 in a special chapel, displayed once a year. Like the majority of prints before 1460, only a single impression of this print has survived. Woodcut blocks are printed with light pressure, are capable of printing several thousand impressions, at this period some prints may well have been produced in that quantity.
Many prints were hand-coloured in watercolour. Italy, Germany and the Netherlands were the main areas of production; however prints are portable, were transported across Europe. A Venetian document of 1441 complains about cheap imports of playing cards damaging the local industry. Block-books were a popular form of book, where a page with both pictures and text was cut as a single woodcut, they were much cheaper than manuscript books, were produced in the Netherlands. As a relief technique woodcut can be printed together with movable type, after this invention arrived in Europe about 1450 printers came to include woodcuts in their books; some book owners pasted prints
Duchy of Teschen
The Duchy of Teschen Duchy of Cieszyn or Duchy of Těšín (Czech: Těšínské knížectví, was one of the Duchies of Silesia centered on Cieszyn in Upper Silesia. It was split off the Silesian Duchy of Opole and Racibórz in 1281 during the feudal division of Poland and was ruled by Silesian dukes of the Piast dynasty from 1290 until the line became extinct with the death of Duchess Elizabeth Lucretia in 1653; the ducal lands comprised former Lesser Polish territories east of the Biała River, which in about 1315 again split off as the Polish Duchy of Oświęcim, while the remaining duchy became a fiefdom of the Bohemian kings in 1327 and was incorporated into the Lands of the Bohemian Crown by 1347. While the bulk of Silesia was conquered by the Prussian king Frederick the Great in the Silesian Wars of 1740–1763, Teschen together with the duchies of Troppau and Nysa remained with the Habsburg Monarchy and merged into the Austrian Silesia crown land in 1849; the so-called "commander line" of the Habsburg-Lorraine dynasty, a cadet branch descending from Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen, held the title "Duke of Teschen" until 1918.
The duchy shared the history of the Cieszyn Silesia region, in part that of Silesia in general: the Teschen area was the south-easternmost part of the medieval Duchy of Silesia, a Polish province established upon the death of Duke Bolesław III Wrymouth in 1138. According to his testament, the Silesian lands were to be ruled by his eldest son Władysław II, who became the progenitor of the Silesian Piasts. Though he was exiled by his younger half-brothers after he had tried to gain control over Poland as a whole, his sons, backed by Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, were able to return and to secure their Silesian inheritance. In 1172 they divided the heritage: the Upper Silesian lands with the Cieszyn area stretching up to the Beskid Mountains fell to the second son Mieszko I Tanglefoot, who ruled as Duke of Racibórz. Defying the Polish agnatic seniority principle, Mieszko Tanglefoot in 1202 occupied the neighbouring Duchy of Opole from his nephew Henry the Bearded, forming the united Upper Silesian Duchy of Opole and Racibórz.
His descendants ruled Upper Silesia until the death of Mieszko's grandson Duke Władysław Opolski in 1281, whereafter Opole-Racibórz was again divided among his four sons. The eldest, Mieszko ruled the Duchy of Racibórz with Cieszyn and Oświęcim, jointly with his minor brother Przemysław. After another partition in 1290, Mieszko took his residence in Cieszyn and became the first Duke of Teschen. Like most of his Silesian Piast relatives, Mieszko approached the mighty Kings of Bohemia. Mieszko had the Teschen lands on the Vistula and Biała rivers and the Beskid foothills settled by German immigrants, he colonised the remote parts of his duchy and vested Cieszyn, Oświęcim, Skoczów and Karviná with town privileges. His adhered to the alliance with Bohemia after in 1310 the House of Luxembourg assumed the throne in Prague. After Mieszko's death in 1315, his son Władysław took the Cieszyn lands east of the Biała river where he established the separate Duchy of Oświęcim, which became a fief of the Polish Crown.
His brother Casimir I retained the western part and in 1327 swore homage to King John of Bohemia. After that Teschen became the Crown of Bohemia. Local Piast rulers possessed other lands outside the duchy itself, as the Duchy of Siewierz, half of Głogów and some parts of Bytom. After the death of Duke Bolesław I in 1431, the rule over the duchy was shared by his wife Euphemia and their four sons. In 1442 the duchy was divided between the brothers. From the late 15th century onwards, the Beskid valleys in the south were settled by Vlach peasants from neighbouring Moravian Wallachia. While the Lands of the Bohemian Crown passed to the Habsburg dynasty in 1526, the Duchy of Teschen during the reign of Duke Wenceslaus III Adam, from 1528 onwards, shifted to Protestantism. Influenced by the Moravian governor John of Pernstein, his tutor and father-in-law, he turned to the Lutheran faith in 1540 and his subjects had to follow according to the cuius regio, eius religio rule. In 1560, still during his lifetime, he ceded the Duchy of Bielsko with Karviná and Frýdek to his son and heir Frederick Casimir.
Frederick died in 1571 and his father, struggling with financial problems, had to sell Bielsko as a state country to the Princes of Pless. The remaining duchy passed to the only surviving son Adam Wenceslaus, who in 1610 shifted back to Roman Catholicism for the sake of political advantage and enacted several Counter-Reformation measures. Indeed, Emperor Matthias appointed him Silesian governor in 1617, however, he died a few months later; the Cieszyn Piast rule continued until 1653, when the male line became extinct with the death of Adam Wenceslaus' son Frederick William amidst the Thirty Years' War in 1625. The intentions of the Habsburg rulers to seize the duchy as a reverted fief were thwarted by his surviving sister, Duchess Elizabeth Lucretia, who began a lengthy lawsuit on her heritage; when she died in 1653, the duchy passed directly to the Bohemian monarchs, at that time the Habsburg emperor Ferdinand III and his son King Ferdinand IV. Ferdinand IV ruled Teschen until his death in 1654, whereafter the duchy fell back to Emperor Ferdinand III.
House of Wettin
The House of Wettin is a dynasty of German counts, prince-electors and kings that once ruled territories in the present-day German states of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. The dynasty is one of the oldest in Europe, its origins can be traced back to the town of Wettin, Saxony-Anhalt; the Wettins rose to power within the Holy Roman Empire. Members of the family became the rulers of several medieval states, starting with the Saxon Eastern March in 1030. Other states they gained were Meissen in 1089, Thuringia in 1263, Saxony in 1423; these areas cover large parts of Central Germany as a cultural area of Germany. The family divided into two ruling branches in 1485 by the Treaty of Leipzig: the Ernestine and Albertine branches; the older Ernestine branch played a key role during the Protestant Reformation. Many ruling monarchs outside Germany were tied to its cadet branch, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha; the Albertine branch, while less prominent, ruled most of Saxony and played a part in Polish history.
Agnates of the House of Wettin have, at various times, ascended the thrones of Great Britain, Bulgaria, Poland and Belgium. Only the British and Belgian lines retain their thrones today; the oldest member of the House of Wettin, known for certain is Theodoric I of Wettin known as Dietrich and Thierry I of Liesgau. He was most based in the Liesgau. Around 1000, the family acquired Wettin Castle, built by the local Slavic tribes, after which they named themselves. Wettin Castle is located in Wettin in the Hassegau on the Saale River. Around 1030, the Wettin family received the Eastern March as a fief; the prominence of the Wettins in the Slavic Saxon Eastern March caused Emperor Henry IV to invest them with the March of Meissen as a fief in 1089. The family advanced over the course of the Middle Ages: in 1263, they inherited the landgraviate of Thuringia and in 1423, they were invested with the Duchy of Saxony, centred at Wittenberg, thus becoming one of the prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire.
The family split into two ruling branches in 1485 when the sons of Frederick II, Elector of Saxony divided the territories hitherto ruled jointly. The elder son Ernest, who had succeeded his father as Prince-elector, received the territories assigned to the Elector and Thuringia, while his younger brother Albert obtained the March of Meissen, which he ruled from Dresden; as Albert ruled under the title of "Duke of Saxony", his possessions were known as Ducal Saxony. The older Ernestine branch remained predominant until 1547 and played an important role in the beginnings of the Protestant Reformation. Frederick III appointed Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon to the University of Wittenberg, which he had established in 1502; the Ernestine predominance ended in the Schmalkaldic War, which pitted the Protestant Schmalkaldic League against the Emperor Charles V. Although itself Lutheran, the Albertine branch rallied to the Emperor's cause. Charles V had promised Moritz the rights to the electorship.
After the Battle of Mühlberg, Johann Friedrich der Großmütige, had to cede territory and the electorship to his cousin Moritz. Although imprisoned, Johann Friedrich was able to plan a new university, it was established by his three sons on 19 March 1548 as the Höhere Landesschule at Jena. On 15 August 1557, Emperor Ferdinand I awarded it the status of university; the Ernestine line was thereafter restricted to Thuringia and its dynastic unity swiftly crumbled, dividing into a number of smaller states, the Ernestine duchies. With Ernst der Fromme, Duke of Saxe-Gotha, the house gave rise to an important early-modern ruler, ahead of his time in supporting the education of his people and in improving administration. In the 18th century, Karl August, Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, established what was to become known as Weimar Classicism at his court in Weimar, notably by bringing Johann Wolfgang von Goethe there, it was only in the 19th century that one of the many Ernestine branches, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, regained importance through marriages as the "stud of Europe", by ascending the thrones of Belgium, Portugal and the United Kingdom.
The Albertine Wettins maintained most of the territorial integrity of Saxony, preserving it as a significant power in the region, used small appanage fiefs for their cadet branches, few of which survived for significant lengths of time. The Ernestine Wettins, on the other hand subdivided their territory, creating an intricate patchwork of small duchies and counties in Thuringia; the junior Albertine branch ruled as Electors and Kings of Saxony, played a role in Polish history: two Wettins were Kings of Poland and a third ruled the Duchy of Warsaw as a satellite of Napoleon. After the Napoleonic Wars, the Albertine branch lost about 40% of its lands to Prussia, restricting it to a territory coextensive with the modern Saxony. Frederick Augustus III lost his throne in the German Revolution of 1918; the role of present head of the Albertine "House of Saxony" is claimed by his great-grandson Prince Rüdiger of Saxony, Duke of Saxony, Margrave of Meissen. The headship of Prince Rüdiger is however contested by his second cousin, son of Robert
Albert, Prince Consort
Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was the husband of Queen Victoria. He was born in the Saxon duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, to a family connected to many of Europe's ruling monarchs. At the age of 20, he married Queen Victoria, he felt constrained by his role of prince consort, which did not afford him power or responsibilities. He developed a reputation for supporting public causes, such as educational reform and the abolition of slavery worldwide, was entrusted with running the Queen's household and estates, he was involved with the organisation of the Great Exhibition of 1851, a resounding success. Victoria came to depend more on his support and guidance, he aided the development of Britain's constitutional monarchy by persuading his wife to be less partisan in her dealings with Parliament—although he disagreed with the interventionist foreign policy pursued during Lord Palmerston's tenure as Foreign Secretary. Albert died at the young age of 42. Victoria was so devastated at the loss of her husband that she entered into a deep state of mourning and wore black for the rest of her life.
On her death in 1901, their eldest son succeeded as Edward VII, the first British monarch of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, named after the ducal house to which Albert belonged. Albert was born at Schloss Rosenau, near Coburg, the second son of Ernest III, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, his first wife, Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg. Albert's future wife, was born earlier in the same year with the assistance of the same midwife, Charlotte von Siebold. Albert was baptised into the Lutheran Evangelical Church on 19 September 1819 in the Marble Hall at Schloss Rosenau with water taken from the local river, the Itz, his godparents were the Dowager Duchess of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. In 1825, Albert's great-uncle, Frederick IV, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, died, his death led to a realignment of Saxon duchies the following year and Albert's father became the first reigning duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Albert and his elder brother, spent their youth in a close companionship marred by their parents' turbulent marriage and eventual separation and divorce.
After their mother was exiled from court in 1824, she married her lover, Alexander von Hanstein, Count of Polzig and Beiersdorf. She never saw her children again, died of cancer at the age of 30 in 1831; the following year, their father married his sons' cousin Princess Marie of Württemberg. The brothers were educated at home by Christoph Florschütz and studied in Brussels, where Adolphe Quetelet was one of their tutors. Like many other German princes, Albert attended the University of Bonn, where he studied law, political economy and the history of art, he played music and excelled at sport fencing and riding. His tutors at Bonn included the poet Schlegel; the idea of marriage between Albert and his cousin, was first documented in an 1821 letter from his paternal grandmother, the Dowager Duchess of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, who said that he was "the pendant to the pretty cousin". By 1836, this idea had arisen in the mind of their ambitious uncle Leopold, King of the Belgians since 1831. At this time, Victoria was the heir presumptive to the British throne.
Her father, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, the fourth son of King George III, had died when she was a baby, her elderly uncle, King William IV, had no legitimate children. Her mother, the Duchess of Kent, was the sister of both Albert's father—the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha—and King Leopold. Leopold arranged for his sister, Victoria's mother, to invite the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and his two sons to visit her in May 1836, with the purpose of meeting Victoria. William IV, disapproved of any match with the Coburgs, instead favoured the suit of Prince Alexander, second son of the Prince of Orange. Victoria was well aware of the various matrimonial plans and critically appraised a parade of eligible princes, she wrote, " is handsome. Alexander, on the other hand, she described as "very plain". Victoria wrote to her uncle Leopold to thank him "for the prospect of great happiness you have contributed to give me, in the person of dear Albert... He possesses every quality that could be desired to render me happy."
Although the parties did not undertake a formal engagement, both the family and their retainers assumed that the match would take place. Victoria came to the throne aged eighteen on 20 June 1837, her letters of the time show interest in Albert's education for the role he would have to play, although she resisted attempts to rush her into marriage. In the winter of 1838–39, the prince visited Italy, accompanied by the Coburg family's confidential adviser, Baron Stockmar. Albert returned to the United Kingdom with Ernest in October 1839 to visit the Queen, with the objective of settling the marriage. Albert and Victoria felt mutual affection and the Queen proposed to him on 15 October 1839. Victoria's intention to marry was declared formally to the Privy Council on 23 November, the couple married on