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Duchy of Saxony

The Duchy of Saxony was a medieval Duchy covering the greater part of Northern Germany. It covered the area of the modern German states of Lower Saxony, Northrhine-Westfalia, Schleswig-Holstein, Saxony-Anhalt and parts of Saxony. Duke Henry the Lion occupied the area of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The Anglo-Saxons came from the later area of the Duchy of Saxony to England.


  • About 200 - 400: The Saxons, until then living north of the Elbe river in Holstein, occupy the area south (today Lower Saxony), Westfalia and Eastfalia .
  • 5th century: The Saxons come to England, together with the Angles.
  • Early 6th century: The Saxons come to the Rhine.
  • 531 Saxons and Franks destroy the Kingdom of Thuringia. Saxons inhabit the area down to the Unstrut river.
  • 7th century: Election of the first dukes, but only in wartime.
  • 718: The Franconian Charles Martel makes war against Saxony, because of its help for the Neustrians.
  • 743: The Franconian Carloman starts a new war against Saxony, because the Saxons gave aid to Duke Odilo of Bavaria .
  • 772-804: Emperor Charlemagne starts a 32 year war against the Duchy of Saxony.
    • 772: Charlemagne occupies the Eresburg castle near Paderborn and destroys the Irminsul, a Saxon place of worship.
    • 773 Charlemagne goes to Italy. The Saxons take the chance and reoccupy the Eresburg.
    • 774/775: The army of Charlemagne marches against Saxony again. The Franks reoccupy the Eresburg castle, and the Sigiburg castle as well. At Höxter the Franks cross the Weser river and make war against the Eastfalian part of the Duchy.
    • 776: Charles again in Italy. The Saxons reoccupy the castles of Eresburg and Sigiburg again.
    • 777: Charlemagne erects the Karlsburg near Paderborn. He calls for the Heerschau. Some Saxons come and convert to the christian religion.
    • 779 The Saxon Duke Widukind of the House of the Bruons starts a guerilla war against the Franks. Charlemagne's army marches north to the Elbe river.
    • 782 Charlemagne makes his Blutgericht in Verden at the Aller river. He orders more than 4,500 Saxons killed. Charlemagne becomes known as "Charles the Butcher" in Saxony.
    • 783 Battles near Detmold and at the Hasel river. The Saxons lose both battles. Duke Widukind retreats to the castle Widukindsburg near Osnabrück.
    • 784: Battle in the Dreingau
    • 785: The Franks catch Widukind. He is christened.
    • 792-795: Saxons rise against the Franks.
    • 796-799: Charlemagne orders a new march against the Saxons.
    • 804 The last resistance of the Saxons is broken by the Franks.
  • 804 The Duchy of Saxony, consisting in the parts of Engern, Westfalia, Eastfalia and Northalbingia (today Schleswig-Holstein) becomes part of the Franconian Empire.
  • 852 Liudolf, Duke in Saxony, descendant of Widukind and first of the Ottonian dynasty, founds the monastery of Gandersheim.
  • 880 Brun, son of Liudolfs, is killed by Vikings. Otto, younger brother of Brun, becomes Duke of Saxony.
  • 912 Henry, son of Otto, succeeds him as Duke.
  • 919 Henry of Saxony (Henry I the Fowler) is elected King of the Germans by the assembled Saxon and Frankish dukes in Fritzlar.
  • 936 His son, Otto I the Great crowned in Aachen as King of the German.
  • 938 Hermann Billung becomes Markgraf.
  • 953 Otto I makes Hermann Billung the Vice Duke of Saxony.
  • 973 Otto I dies in Memleben. Otto II becomes Emperor. Hermann Billung dies in Quedlinburg. Bernhard I. Billung becomes duke of Saxony.
  • 983 Danish uprising in Hedeby. Slavonian uprising in Northalbingia. Otto III Emperor.
  • 1002 The death of Otto III marks the end of the Saxon emperors.
  • 1011 Duke Bernhard I. Billung dies; his son Bernhard II becomes duke.
  • 1042 Ordulf Billung, son of Bernhard II, marries Wulfhild, the half sister of King Magnus of Denmark and Norway. Danes and Saxons fight against the Wendians.
  • 1059 Ordulf Billung becomes Duke after the death of his father.
  • 1072 Magnus Billung becomes Duke.
  • 1106 Duke Magnus dies without a son, ending the Billung dynasty. The Billungian area becomes part of the Welf and Ascanian countries. Lothar I of Supplinburg becomes Duke of Saxony.
  • 1112 Otto of Ballenstedt created Duke by King Henry V.
  • 1115 Victory of Lothar I of Supplinburg in the battle of Welfesholz over King Henry V.
  • 1125 Lothar I of Supplinburg elected as German King and crowned Emperor.
  • 1137 Death of Lothar. The Welf Henry X the Proud, Duke of Bavaria since 1126, becomes Duke of Saxony.
  • 1138 Henry X tries to become king, but without success. The Ascanian Albert the Bear becomes new Duke of Saxony.
  • 1139 Death of Henry X.
  • 1141 Albert the Bear resigns.
  • 1142 Emperor Conrad III grants the Ducal title to the Welf Henry the Lion. Henry the Lion occupies northeast Germany. His realm covers more than two thirds of Germany from the Alps to the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, making him the mightiest ruler in central Europe.
  • 1180 Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor, removes his cousin Henry the Lion from the Duchy, but leaves him the small duchies of Brunswick and Lüneburg, giving Saxony to the Ascanians who were based further east, near the Elbe. The Welfs became later the Kings of Hanover, Great Britain and Ireland (House of Hanover).

See also: Rulers of Saxony

Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45