Ernestine duchies

Coat of arms of the Ernestines

The Ernestine duchies, also known as the Saxon duchies (although the Albertine appanage duchies of Weissenfels, Merseburg and Zeitz were also "Saxon duchies" and adjacent to several Ernestine ones), were a changing number of small states that were largely located in the present-day German state of Thuringia and governed by dukes of the Ernestine line of the House of Wettin.


The Saxon duchy began fragmenting in the 15th century, as a result of the old German succession law that divided inheritances among all sons. In addition, every son of a Saxon duke inherited the title of duke. Brothers sometimes ruled the territory inherited from their father jointly, but sometimes they split it up. Some of the Ernestine duchies retained their separate existence until 1918. Similar events in the houses of Reuss and Schwarzburg led to all of Thuringia becoming a tangle of small states from the late 15th century until the early 20th century.

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