One of the divisions of the Principality of Anhalt. The town of Dessau is on the River Mulde, a little above its confluence with the Elbe, and is southeast of Magdeburg and north of Leipzig.
Anhalt-Dessau is sometimes used as the name for the senior line of Anhalt-Zerbst following the partition of 1396, though by the 16th century Dessau was held by junior princes of that line. When Bernard, the last of them, died in 1570 the reunification of Anhalt in the hands of his brother, Joachim Ernst, was completed . As a result of the partition among the latter’s sons in 1603, the eldest became Prince of Anhalt-Dessau. The line survived to enter the Confederation of the Rhine in 1807, the Prince assuming the title of Duke. The Duke joined the German Confederation in 1815. In 1863 the Duchy of Anhalt was reunited under the Duke of Anhalt-Dessau after the death of the last Duke of Anhalt-Bernburg.