Portrait of John George I (1585-1656), Elector of Saxony (1611-1656), 1611
John George I (German: Johann Georg I., Kurfürst von Sachsen) (5 March 1585 – 8 October 1656) was Elector of Saxony from 1611 to 1656. Born in Dresden, John George was the second son of the Elector Christian I and Sophie of Brandenburg. He belonged to the Albertine line of the House of Wettin. John George succeeded to the electorate on 23 June 1611 on the death of his elder brother, Christian II. The geographical position of the Electorate of Saxony rather than her high standing among the German Protestants gave her ruler much importance during the Thirty Years' War. At the beginning of his reign, however, the new elector took up a somewhat detached position. His personal allegiance to Lutheranism was sound, but he liked neither the growing strength of Brandenburg nor the increasing prestige of the Palatinate; the adherence of the other branches of the Saxon ruling house to Protestantism seemed to him to suggest that the head of the Electorate of Saxony should throw his weight into the other scale, and he was prepared to favour the advances of the Habsburgs and the Roman Catholic party. Thus John George was easily induced to vote for the election of Ferdinand, Archduke of Styria, as emperor in August 1619, an action which nullified the anticipated opposition of the Protestant electors. The new emperor secured the help of John George for the impending campaign in Bohemia by promising that he should be undisturbed in his possession of certain ecclesiastical lands. Carrying out his share of the bargain by occupying Silesia and Lusatia, where he displayed much clemency, the Saxon elector had thus some part in driving Frederick V, elector palatine of the Rhine, from Bohemia and in crushing Protestantism in that country, the crown of which he himself had previously refused. Gradually, however, he was made uneasy by the obvious trend of the imperial policy towards the annihilation of Protestantism, and by a dread lest the ecclesiastical lands should be taken from him; and the issue of the edict of restitution in March 1629 put the capstone to his fears. Still, although clamoring vainly for the exemption of the electorate from the area covered by the edict, John George took no decisive measures to break his alliance with the emperor.
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