ALBERTINE LANDS (Wettin)
In 1485, Ernest, the Elector of Saxony, and his brother Albert partitioned the Wettin lands, which had been re-united in 1482 after the death of their uncle, who had held Thuringia. Albert’s share was the solid block of the Margraviate of Meissen in the east, part of the Osterland and the Pleissenland in the centre and some northern Thuringian lands in the west. In 1547 the Electoral dignity was transferred from the fallen Elector of the Ernestine line, John Frederick, to Albert’s grandson, Maurice, and with the dignity came the Electoral lands, the Duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg. In 1554 the Elector August, Maurice’s brother, ceded part of the Albertine lands, including Altenburg, to make peace with his kinsmen.
The Albertine line did not normally partition its lands. The Elector John George I, who had added Lusatia to his territory in 1635, is the exception; on his death in 1656 his sons shared out all but the Electoral lands, which were legally indivisible. The three junior lines resulting from the partition were Saxe-Weissenfels, Saxe-Merseburg and Saxe-Zeitz (extinct in 1746, 1738 and 1718 respectively).
The Elector became King of Saxony in 1806, but lost his northern lands, including the old Electoral Duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg, to Prussia in 1815. The dynasty ceased to reign in 1918.