The German Empire was the historical German nation state that existed from the unification of Germany in 1871 to the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1918, when Germany became a federal republic. The German Empire consisted of 26 constituent territories, with most being ruled by royal families and this included four kingdoms, six grand duchies, five duchies, seven principalities, three free Hanseatic cities, and one imperial territory. Although Prussia became one of kingdoms in the new realm, it contained most of its population and territory. Its influence helped define modern German culture, after 1850, the states of Germany had rapidly become industrialized, with particular strengths in coal, iron and railways. In 1871, it had a population of 41 million people, and by 1913, a heavily rural collection of states in 1815, now united Germany became predominantly urban. During its 47 years of existence, the German Empire operated as an industrial, Germany became a great power, boasting a rapidly growing rail network, the worlds strongest army, and a fast-growing industrial base.
In less than a decade, its navy became second only to Britains Royal Navy, after the removal of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck by Wilhelm II, the Empire embarked on a bellicose new course that ultimately led to World War I. When the great crisis of 1914 arrived, the German Empire had two allies and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, however, left the once the First World War started in August 1914. In the First World War, German plans to capture Paris quickly in autumn 1914 failed, the Allied naval blockade caused severe shortages of food. Germany was repeatedly forced to send troops to bolster Austria and Turkey on other fronts, Germany had great success on the Eastern Front, it occupied large Eastern territories following the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. German declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare in early 1917 was designed to strangle the British, it failed, but the declaration—along with the Zimmermann Telegram—did bring the United States into the war. Meanwhile, German civilians and soldiers had become war-weary and radicalised by the Russian Revolution and this failed, and by October the armies were in retreat, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire had collapsed, Bulgaria had surrendered and the German people had lost faith in their political system.
The Empire collapsed in the November 1918 Revolution as the Emperor and all the ruling monarchs abdicated, and a republic took over. The German Confederation had been created by an act of the Congress of Vienna on 8 June 1815 as a result of the Napoleonic Wars, German nationalism rapidly shifted from its liberal and democratic character in 1848, called Pan-Germanism, to Prussian prime minister Otto von Bismarcks pragmatic Realpolitik. He envisioned a conservative, Prussian-dominated Germany, the war resulted in the Confederation being partially replaced by a North German Confederation in 1867, comprising the 22 states north of the Main. The new constitution and the title Emperor came into effect on 1 January 1871, during the Siege of Paris on 18 January 1871, William accepted to be proclaimed Emperor in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles. The second German Constitution was adopted by the Reichstag on 14 April 1871 and proclaimed by the Emperor on 16 April, the political system remained the same.
The empire had a parliament called the Reichstag, which was elected by universal male suffrage, the original constituencies drawn in 1871 were never redrawn to reflect the growth of urban areas
Ernst II, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg
Ernst II Bernhard Georg Johann Karl Frederick Peter Albert, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg, was the last reigning duke of Saxe-Altenburg. He was the child but only son of Prince Moritz. The death of his father on the 13 May 1907 made him first in the line of succession to the duchy of Saxe-Altenburg and he inherited the dukedom when his uncle and namesake Ernst I, died without surviving male issue, on the 7 February 1908. On 27 February 1898 in Bückeburg Ernst married his first wife, Princess Adelaide of Schaumburg-Lippe and they had four children, Princess Charlotte Agnes, married on 11 July 1919 Prince Sigismund of Prussia. Georg Moritz, Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Altenburg, during World War I, Ernst refused all honorary appointments at the Kaisers headquarters. He renounced his rank as General, entered the service as a mere Colonel, by the end of the war, he was a commander of a division. A great lover of science, Ernst had a wireless installation fitted inside his castle in Altenburg during the start of the war and its purpose was to specially communicate with airships.
Ernst had a lifelong interest in telegraphy and telephony. When Germany lost the war, all the German princes lost their titles and states, Ernst was one of the first princes to realize major changes were coming for Germany, and quickly arrived at an amicable settlement with his subjects. He was forced to abdicate the government of the duchy on 13 November 1918, after his abdication Ernst, with a moderate fortune, retired to a hotel in Berlin. Two years later, in 1920, his marriage ended in divorce, the same year, Ernst announced his engagement to Helena Thomas, an opera singer. They had met while she was filling a engagement at the Ducal Theatre in Altenburg during the war. The marriage never took place however, on 15 July 1934 Ernst married his second wife Maria Triebel, who had been his companion for many years, at his home, Schloss Froehliche Wiederkunft. Maria was born in Waltershausen on October 16,1893, and this was a morganatic marriage, and she received only the title of Baroness Reiseneck.
Still interested in science Ernst established an observatory in Wolfersdorf. The Schloß had been confiscated by the Soviet occupiers, but Ernst had been granted use of it until his death. In March 1954, with the death of Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, one year later, on 22 March 1955, he died at his Schloß
Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld was one of the Saxon Duchies held by the Ernestine line of the Wettin Dynasty. After the Duke of Saxe-Gotha, Ernest the Pious, died on 26 March 1675 in Gotha, the lands of Saxe-Saalfeld went to the youngest of them, who became John Ernest IV, the Duke of Saxe-Saalfeld. But the new Principality did not have complete independence, Saalfeld was the residence of the Dukes of Saxe-Saalfeld from 1680 to 1735. Most of the Saxe-Coburg properties were given to the new Ernestine line of Saxe-Saalfeld, the Districts of Sonneberg and Neuhaus am Rennweg had to be handed over to Saxe-Meiningen and the District of Sonnefeld had to be given to Saxe-Hildburghausen. One-third of the District of Römhild and five-twelfths of the District of Themar remained with Saxe-Coburg. After the death of John Ernest IV in 1729, his sons Christian Ernest II and Francis Josias ruled the country, Christian Ernst remained in Saalfeld, while Franz Josias chose Coburg as his residence. In 1745, when Christian Ernest II died childless, his domains were inherited by his brother, in 1747 Francis Josias was able to anchor his birthright in the Line of Succession laws and confer it on his rapidly growing family for the long-term survival of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld.
It was the children of Duke Francis Frederick Anton who assured the dynastic success, the fame of Prince Frederick Josias led to the wedding of his daughter, Princess Juliane, with Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich of Russia. Another daughter, Princess Marie Luise Victoire, married Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, in 1818, the youngest surviving son, Prince Leopold, was elected in 1831 as Leopold I, King of the Belgians. In addition, the heir to the throne of Saxe-Coburg was Prince Ernst and he was the father of Prince Albert, who married his cousin, Queen Victoria, in 1840 and became The Prince Consort of Great Britain and Ireland. On 15 December 1806, Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, along with the other Ernestine duchies, from November 1806 until the Peace of Tilsit in July 1807, the Principality was occupied by the French. Only Duke Ernst I was able to return from his exile in Königsberg in East Prussia, a border treaty with the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1811 led to a territorial swap of the disputed territories.
The towns of Fürth am Berg, Hof an der Steinach, Niederfüllbach and Triebsdorf came to Saxe-Coburg, Gleußen, on 8 August 1821, the Duchy received a constitution. The extinction of the oldest line, Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg in 1825 again led to disputes among the other lines of the Ernestine family. On 12 November 1826 the decision, from the arbitration of the head of the family, King Frederick Augustus I of Saxony. Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld became Saxe-Saalfeld with the District of Themar from Saxe-Meiningen, but Saxe-Coburg gained from Saxe-Hildburghausen the two Districts – Königsberg and Sonnefeld. The new duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was born as a union of the two duchies of Saxe-Coburg and Saxe-Gotha. Ernest III, the last Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, became Ernest I, the first Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Margravate of Meissen
The Margravate of Meissen, sometimes known as the March of Misnia, was a medieval principality in the area of the modern German state of Saxony. It originally was a march of the Holy Roman Empire. The margravate was finally merged into the Saxon Electorate in 1423, the Margravate of Meissen was originally part of a march called the Sorbian march, which was renamed to the Thuringian March. Thuringia was the name of the land east of the Saale, the eastern part of the Thuringian March around the fortress near the Dresden Basin became the Margravate of Meissen. In 928 and 929, during a campaign against Slavic Glomacze tribes, the fortress was renamed Meissen after the nearby Meisa stream. A town soon developed around the castle, however, made no attempts to Germanise the Slavs or to create a chain of burgwards around his fortress. Meissen sat alone, like Brandenburg, with few defenses or towns around it, the town around the fortress grew however, eventually becoming one of the most important cities in the large Marca Geronis region, which included the lands east of the German stem duchy of Saxony.
When the marca was divided in 965 upon the death of Margrave Gero, the first Meissen Margrave, Wigbert, is mentioned in the 968 charter of the Archbishopric of Magdeburg. That same year, the Meissen fortress became the see of the newly created Bishopric of Meissen, in 978, the Saxon count Rikdag became the Margrave of Meissen, and incorporated the marches of Merseburg and Zeitz into Meissen. In 983, following the defeat of Emperor Otto II at the Battle of Stilo, the bishoprics of Havelberg and Brandenburg and the March of Zeitz were overrun by Lutici tribes. Nevertheless, large territories of the Northern March were lost, Margrave Eckard I succeeded Rikdag as Margrave of Meissen in 985. His family, the Ekkeharding noble family, would keep the title until 1046, in 1002, King Bolesław I Chrobry of Poland conquered the Thuringian March, starting a German–Polish War. The war ended with the 1018 Peace of Bautzen, and Meissen had to cede the Upper Lusatian region of Milceni to Poland, in 1031 however, King Conrad II of Germany was able to reconquer the Milceni lands, which were returned to Meissen.
In 1046, Count Otto of Weimar-Orlamünde became the Margrave, and upon his death in 1067, Emperor Henry IV granted Meissen to Count Henry of Eilenburg of the Wettin dynasty. Meissen would remain under Wettin rule for the rest of its existence, under Wiprecht von Groitzsch in the 1120s, Meissen underwent a process of Germanisation. He was succeeded by Conrad the Great, Otto the Rich, in 1264, Henry III asserted himself in the War of the Thuringian Succession, where his uncle, Henry Raspe, had died childless. Between 1243 and 1255, Henry III acquired Pleisseland around Altenburg as a security measure, in 1307, the attempt by Emperor Henry VII to once again subdue the Margraves of Meissen failed with his defeat at the Battle of Lucka. By that time the margravate was de facto independent of any sovereign authority, in the years following the Battle of Lucka, there would be joint rule of Meissen by multiple members of the Wettin dynasty at any given time
Johann II, Duke of Saxe-Weimar
Johann II, Duke of Saxe-Weimar, was a Duke of Saxe-Weimar and Jena. He was the son of Johann Wilhelm, Duke of Saxe-Weimar. His father died in 1573, when Johann was only three years old, since at the time his older brother Frederick William I was under age, the duchy of Saxe-Weimar was governed by a regency. In 1586 his older brother reached adulthood and took control of the duchy. However, he died in 1602 and the duchy was inherited by Johann. Johann was more interested in sciences and art than politics. But when they demanded their own inheritance in 1603, he resisted their demands, finally and his nephews made a treaty dividing the duchy, Altenburg was taken by the sons of Frederick William I, and Weimar-Jena was retained by Johann. This line of Saxe-Altenburg became extinct in 1672, and all the passed to the line of Saxe-Weimar. In Altenburg on 7 January 1593, Johann married Dorothea Maria of Anhalt and they had twelve children, John Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Weimar
Imperial County of Reuss
Reuss was the name of several historical states located in present-day Thuringia, Germany. Its rulers, the House of Reuss, named all of their male children Heinrich after the end of the 12th century in honour of Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor, to whom they owed the estates of Weida and Gera. The head of each branch of the family bore the German title Fürst as did their children, several different principalities of the House of Reuss which had previously existed had by the time of the formation of the German Confederation become part of the two remaining lines. Before then, they had been part first of the Holy Roman Empire, the region including what would become the Principality of Reuss was inhabited in early medieval times by Slavic people who were converted to Christianity by the German Emperor Otto I. In church matters the region was under the Diocese of Zeitz, on account of the frequent inroads of the Slavs, the residence of the Bishop of Zeitz was removed to Naumburg in 1028, after which the See was called Naumburg-Zeitz.
Upon its subjection to German authority, the province was allotted to the March of Zeitz. The position of vogt soon became hereditary, the princes of Reuss are descended from the vogts of Weida. Erkenbert I is proved by evidence to have been their ancestor. In 1244 Henry IV entered a German monastery and his sons divided his possessions, their seats being respectively at Weida and Plauen. In 1306 the Plauen branch was subdivided into a line that died out in 1572. Henry, the founder of the Plauen line, on account of his marriage with a granddaughter of King Daniel of Galicia received the surname of der Reusse, on account of the close relations of Reuss with the neighbouring Saxon states, Lutheranism speedily gained a foothold in Reuss. The rulers joined the Schmalkaldic League against the German emperor, and forfeited their possessions, all the males of the House of Reuss are named Heinrich plus a number. In the elder line the numbering covers all male children of the elder House, in the younger line the system is similar but the numbers increase until the end of the century before starting again at 1.
This odd regulation was formulated as a Family Law in 1688 and it was seen as a way of honoring the Hohenstaufen Emperor Heinrich/Henry VI, who raised Heinrich der Reiche/Henry the Rich to the office of provost of the Cloister in Quedlinburg. In return the estates of Gera, considerably larger though. The two remaining Reuss principalities went on to join in turn the German Confederation, Henry joined the North German Confederation and the new German Empire. He alone of all the princes remained until his death an implacable enemy of Prince Bismarck. His daughter Hermine Reuss of Greiz however became the wife of the exiled Kaiser Wilhelm II later
Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, or Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, was an Ernestine duchy ruled by a branch of the House of Wettin, consisting of territories in the present-day states of Bavaria and Thuringia in Germany. It lasted from 1826 to 1918, in the early part of the 20th century, before the First World War, it was the family of the sovereigns of the United Kingdom, Portugal and Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. In 1910, the Portuguese king was deposed, and the same thing occurred in Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in 1918, as of 2016, branches of the family still reign in Belgium, the United Kingdom, and the other Commonwealth realms. The former Tsar of Bulgaria, Simeon II, kept his surname while serving as the Prime Minister of Bulgaria from 2001 to 2005, after the extinction of the Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg line, the Duke of Saxe-Hildburghausen exchanged his Duchy for that of Saxe-Altenburg. By then, the Principality of Lichtenberg, on the Nahe River, had already been a part of the Duchy of Coburg for ten years. Ernest III, the sovereign of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, had received it in 1816 from the Congress of Vienna for providing assistance to the Allies in their war against France.
But, because of the distance from Coburg and of the unrest caused by the Hambach Festival. The newly created Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was initially a double duchy, ruled by Ernest III as Duke Ernest I in a personal union, the opportunity to unify the two duchies in 1826 was missed. After the Staatsgrundgesetz of 1852, the duchies were bound in a political and real union and they were a quasi-federal unitary state. It joined the German Zollverein in 1834, the North German Confederation in 1866 and his elder son and successor, Ernest II, ruled until his own death in 1893. Because he had died childless, the throne of the two duchies would have passed to his late brother Prince Alberts male descendants. But Prince Albert was the husband of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and his eldest son, besides, he was prohibited by the Constitutions of both duchies from inheriting the throne if there were other eligible male heirs. But he had renounced his claim in favour of his next brother, Prince Alfred.
So Alfred became the next Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, reigning as Duke Carl Eduard, Charles Edward, because of his age, began under the Regency of Prince Ernst von Hohenlohe-Langenburg until he came of age in 1905. The new Duke continued to use his British title, the Duke of Albany, because he chose to side with the Germans against the British in the First World War, he was stripped of his British titles in 1919. After the November Revolution ended the monarchy in 1918, the two became two different and independent states, the Free State of Coburg and the Republic of Gotha. But their leaders believed that their new countries were not economically feasible so they began to search for possible mergers, eventually, a referendum was held on 30 November 1919 and the decision was made. On 1 May 1920 the Free State of Gotha merged with the new State of Thuringia, in the German Empire, the Duchy had only one vote in the Bundestag and two votes in the Reichstag
An Imperial State or Imperial Estate was a part of the Holy Roman Empire with representation and the right to vote in the Imperial Diet. Rulers of these Estates were able to exercise significant rights and privileges and were immediate and they were thus able to rule their territories with a considerable degree of autonomy. The system of imperial states replaces the regular division of Germany into stem duchies in the early medieval period. From 1489, the imperial Estates represented in the Diet were divided into three chambers, the college of prince-electors, the college of imperial princes and the college of imperial cities. Counts and nobles were not directly represented in the Diet in spite of their immediate status, Imperial knights had immediate status but were unrepresented in the Diet. Imperial Estates could be either ecclesiastic or secular, the secular Estates, most notably, the four Prince-Electors of the County Palatine of the Rhine, Saxony and Bohemia, also Bavaria and Hanover.
Imperial Princes including Grand Dukes, Counts Palatine and Landgraves, Reichsgrafen the Free, until 1582 the votes of the Free and Imperial Cities were only advisory. None of the rulers below the Holy Roman Emperor ranked as kings, the status of Estate was normally attached to a particular territory within the Empire, but there were some reichsständische Personalisten, or persons with imperial statehood. Originally, the Emperor alone could grant that status, but in 1653, the creation of a new Estate required the assent of the College of Electors and of the College of Princes. The ruler was required to agree to accept imperial taxation and military obligations, the Estate was required to obtain admittance into one of the Imperial Circles. Theoretically, personalist Estates were forbidden after 1653, but exceptions were often made, once a territory attained the status of an Estate, it could lose that status under very few circumstances. A territory ceded to a foreign power ceased to be an Estate, from 1648 onwards, inheritance of the Estate was limited to one family, a territory inherited by a different family ceased to be an Estate unless the Emperor explicitly allowed otherwise.
Finally, a territory could cease to be an imperial Estate by being subjected to the Imperial ban, in the German mediatization between 1803 and 1806, the vast majority of the Estates of the Holy Roman Empire were mediatised. They lost their imperial immediacy and became part of other Estates, the number of Estates was reduced from about three hundred to about thirty. Mediatisation went along with secularisation, the abolition of most of the ecclesiastical Estates and this dissolution of the constitution of the structure of the empire was soon followed by the dissolution of the empire itself, in 1806. Rulers of Imperial States enjoyed precedence over other subjects in the Empire, Electors were originally styled Durchlaucht, princes Hochgeboren and counts Hoch- und Wohlgeboren. In the eighteenth century, the electors were upgraded to Durchläuchtigste, princes to Durchlaucht, Imperial States enjoyed several rights and privileges. Rulers had autonomy inasmuch as their families were concerned, in particular and they were permitted to make treaties and enter into alliances with other Imperial States as well as with foreign nations
Saxe-Hildburghausen was an Ernestine duchy in the southern side of the present State of Thuringia in Germany. It existed from 1680 to 1826 but its name and borders are used by the District of Hildburghausen. After the Duke of Saxe-Gotha, Ernest the Pious, died on 26 March 1675 in Gotha, the lands of Saxe-Hildburghausen went to the sixth son, who became Ernest II, the first Duke of Saxe-Hildburghausen. But the new Principality did not have complete independence, Saxe-Hildburghausen did not become fully sovereign until 1702. Two more districts were added – Königsberg in 1683 and Sonnefeld in 1705, in 1684 the city of Hildburghausen became the residence of the Duke so it was developed to reflect its new status. It was placed under the direction of the Regent, Charlotte Amalie of Saxe-Meiningen, with the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, Saxe-Hildburghausen gained its full sovereignty as the Duchy of Saxe-Hildburghausen. A few months later, on 15 December 1806, it, along with the other Ernestine duchies, in 1815, it joined the German Confederation.
In 1818, it was one of the first German states to receive a constitution, the extinction of the oldest line, Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg in 1825 again led to inheritance disputes among the other lines of the Ernestine family. On 12 November 1826 the decision, from the arbitration of the head of the family, King Frederick Augustus I of Saxony. Saxe-Hildburghausen lost the Districts of Königsberg and Sonnefeld to the new Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, but the last Duke of Saxe-Hildburghausen, became the new Duke of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1868, four districts were established in the Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen, one of them was Hildburghausen, with boundaries very similar to those of the former duchy. It remained almost unchanged until 1993, when the District of Suhl was dissolved and most of its municipalities joined the District of Hildburghausen
Friedrich Wilhelm I, Duke of Saxe-Weimar
Friedrich Wilhelm I was a duke of Saxe-Weimar. He was the eldest son of Johann Wilhelm, Duke of Saxe-Weimar, at the time of the death of his father Friedrich Wilhelm was still under age, for this, a tutelary government for the duchy was appointed. This was stressed by the Dowager Duchess Dorothea Susanne, because she cannot not prevent, however, in 1586 Friedrich Wilhelm was declared an adult and began his independent government over in Saxe-Weimar. Five years later, in 1591, the Elector Christian I of Saxony died and was succeeded by his eldest son Christian II, because the new Elector was still under age, the regency of the Electorate was assigned to Friedrich Wilhelm. With the title of Administrator des Sächsischen Kurstaates took residence in Torgau and these were led by his younger brother John, which had to be taken part -in accordance with the Ernestine House Law- anyway in the government. In 1601 ended the regency in the Electorate of Saxony with the majority of Elector Christian II, since he however already died one year later, he not left large traces in the history of the duchy.
In Weimar on 5 May 1583 Friedrich Wilhelm married firstly with Sophie, daughter of Christoph and they had six children, Dorothea Marie Johann Wilhelm, Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Weimar Friedrich Dorothea Sophia, Princess-Abbess of Quedlinburg Anna Marie stillborn son. In Neuburg an der Donau on 9 September 1591 Friedrich Wilhelm married secondly with Anna Maria, daughter of Philipp Ludwig and they had six children, Johann Philipp, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg Anna Sophie, married on 4 December 1618 to Duke Karl Friedrich of Münsterberg-Öls. Friedrich, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg Johann Wilhelm, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg Dorothea, married on 24 June 1633 to Albrecht, Friedrich Wilhelm II, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg German Wikipedia, de, Friedrich_Wilhelm_I. _
Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt was a small historic state in present-day Thuringia, Germany with its capital at Rudolstadt. Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt was established in 1599 in the course of a resettlement of Schwarzburg dynasty lands, in 1583 Count Günther XLI of Schwarzburg, the eldest son of Günther XL the Rich and ruler over the united Schwarzburg lands, had died without issue. He was succeeded by his brothers, whereby Albert VII received the territory around Rudolstadt. Alberts descendants ruled as sovereign counts of the Holy Roman Empire and it withstood the mediatisation and after the Empires dissolution joined the Confederation of the Rhine in 1807 and the German Confederation in 1815. On 23 November 1918, during the German Revolution of 1918–1919, the former principality became a Free State in 1919, that was merged into the new state of Thuringia in the next year. In 1905 Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt had an area of 940 km2 and a population of 97,000, on the death of the childless Prince Günther Victor in 1925, he was succeeded by Prince Sizzo, who was the son of Prince Friedrich Günther from his second, morganatic marriage.
Prince Sizzo was recognised as a member of the House of Schwarzburg in 1896. He was succeeded in 1926 by his son, Prince Friedrich Günther
Johann Wilhelm, Duke of Saxe-Weimar
Johann Wilhelm was a duke of Saxe-Weimar. He was the son of Johann Frederick I, Elector of Saxony. Johann Frederick was released and forced to adopt the title of duke of Saxony in an area substantially smaller than his former lands in Thuringia. In 1554, after the death of his father, Johann Wilhelm inherited the duchy of Saxony with his brother, Johann Friedrich II. The three brothers divided the duchy, Johann Friedrich II as head of the family took Eisenach and Coburg, Johann Wilhelm received Weimar, in 1565, when Johann Frederick III died without heirs, the two surviving brothers drew up a new treaty that divided his lands. The older brother retained his lands and occupied Gotha, whereas Johann William retained his lands in Weimar. The partition plan stipulated that the two brothers should exchange their regions among themselves every three years and this provision was never carried out, however. The political policies of Johann Friedrich II were directed towards recovering the lands and he did briefly recover the electorate during the period 1554–1556, but his involvement in political intrigues angered the Emperor Maximilian II.
The Emperor finally imposed the Reichsacht on him, which made him the object of a Reichsexekution in which Johann Wilhelm participated, after a siege of his castle in Gotha, Johann Friedrich was finally defeated in 1566 and spent the rest of his life as an Imperial prisoner. His possessions were confiscated by the Emperor and handed over to Johann Wilhelm, Johann Wilhelm soon fell into disfavor with the Emperor, when he entered the service of the King Charles IX of France as a general in his campaign against the Huguenots. This alienated his Protestant subjects, the Emperor played off the two surviving sons of Johann Friedrich II against Johann Wilhelm, and in 1572 the Division of Erfurt was concluded. The duchy of Saxony was divided into three parts, the older of the two sons of Johann Friedrich II, Johann Casimir, received Coburg, and the younger, Johann Ernst, received Eisenach. Johann Wilhelm retained only the part of the duchy, the region around Weimar, but he added the districts of Altenburg, Gotha.
As a result of the Division of Erfurt, all of the possessions of the House of Wettin, no matter which branch ruled the individual components. The house of Saxe-Weimar and the first house of Saxe-Altenburg, which separated from Saxe-Weimar. In Heidelberg on 15 June 1560 Johann Wilhelm married Dorothea Susanne of Simmern, daughter of Frederick III and they had five children, Friedrich Wilhelm I, Duke of Saxe-Weimar Sibylle Marie stillborn son Johann II, Duke of Saxe-Weimar Maria, Abbess of Quedlinburg. Ernst Wülcker, Johann Wilhelm, Herzog zu Sachsen, band 14, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1881, pp. 343–350. April, Anno 1573, ohne Ort 1601