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JOHN FREDERICK (1529-1595)

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Originally appearing in Volume V15, Page 459 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JOHN FREDERICK (1529-1595), called der Mittlere, duke of Saxony, was the eldest son of John Frederick, who had been deprived of the Saxon electorate by the emperor Charles V. in 1547. Born at Torgau on the 8th of January 1529, he received a good education, and when his father was imprisoned in 1547 undertook the government of the remnant of electoral Saxony which the emperor allowed the Ernestine branch of the Wettin family to keep. Released in 1552 John Frederick the elder died two years later, and his three sons ruled Ernestine Saxony together until 1JJ7, when John Frederick was made sole ruler. This arrangement lasted until 1565, when John Frederick shared his lands with his surviving brother, John William (1530-1573), retaining for himself Gotha and Weimar. The duke was a strong, even a fanatical, Lutheran, but his religious views were gradually subordinated to the one idea of regaining the electoral dignity then held by Augustus I. To attain this end he lent a willing ear to the schemes of Wilhelm von Grumbach, who came to his court about 1557 and offered to regain the electoral dignity and even to acquire the Empire for his patron. In spite of repeated warnings from the emperor Ferdinand I., John Frederick continued to protect Grumbach, and in 1566 his obstinacy caused him to be placed under the imperial ban. Its execution was entrusted to Augustus who, aided by the duke's brother, John William, marched against Gotha with a strong force. In consequence of a mutiny the town surrendered in April 1567, and John Frederick was delivered to the emperor Maximilian II. He was imprisoned in Vienna, his lands were given to his brother, and he remained in captivity until his death at Steyer on the 6th of May 1595. These years were mainly occupied with studying theology and in correspondence. John Frederick married firstly Agnes (d. 1555) daughter of Philip, landgrave of Hesse, and widow of Maurice, elector of Saxony, and secondly Elizabeth (d. 1594) daughter of Frederick III., elector palatine of the Rhine, by whom he left two sons, John Casimir (1564—1633) and John Ernest (1566-1638). Elizabeth shared her husband's imprisonment for twenty-two years. See A. Beck, Johann Friedrich der Mittlere, Herzog zu Sachsen (Vienna, 1858) ; and F. Ortloff, Geschichte der Grumbachischen Handel (Jena, 1868-187o).
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