Saxonian /sak soh"nee euhn/, n., adj.Saxonic /sak son"ik/, adj.
/sak"seuh nee/, n.
1. a state in E central Germany. 4,900,000; 6561 sq. mi. (16,990 sq. km). Cap.: Dresden.
2. a former state of the Weimar Republic in E central Germany. 5788 sq. mi. (14,990 sq. km). Cap.: Dresden.
3. a medieval division of N Germany with varying boundaries: extended at its height from the Rhine to E of the Elbe. German, Sachsen; French, Saxe.

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Historical region, former state, and recreated state, Germany.

Before 1180 the name was applied to the territory conquered с AD 200–700 by the Germanic Saxon tribe. They were conquered and Christianized by Charlemagne in the late 8th century. In the mid-9th century Saxony became part of the German kingdom of the Franks. The territory was broken up in 1180 and divided into two smaller and widely separated areas, Saxe-Lauenburg on the lower Elbe River and Saxe-Wittenberg on the middle Elbe. From 1422 the name Saxony was applied to a large region, including the country from Thuringia to Lusatia, bordering Bohemia. It was part of the German Empire (1871–1918) and a free state in the Weimar Republic (1919–33). The state was abolished in 1952 and divided among East German districts. Upon German reunification in 1990, a new state of Saxony was recreated. The current territory of Saxony Land (pop., 2001 est.: 4,384,192) occupies the southeastern portion of what was formerly East Germany and covers an area of 7,080 sq mi (18,337 sq km). The capital is Dresden.

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▪ historical region, duchy, and kingdom, Europe
German  Sachsen , French  Saxe 

      any of several major territories in German history. It has been applied: (1) before AD 1180, to an extensive far-north German region including Holstein but lying mainly west and southwest of the estuary and lower course of the Elbe River; (2) between 1180 and 1423, to two much smaller and widely separated areas, one on the right (east) bank of the lower Elbe southeast of Holstein, the other on the middle Elbe; and (3) between 1423 and 1952, to a large central German region with its principal axis even farther up the Elbe and including, in the widest sense, all the country from Thuringia to Lusatia, bordering Bohemia (now in the Czech Republic).

      Before 1180 the name Saxony was applied to the territory conquered between about AD 200 and 700 by the Germanic Saxon tribe. This territory included Holstein and the area west of the lower Elbe River, in what is now the German Land (state) of Lower Saxony (Saxon). From there the Saxons expanded westward by sea to Britain in the 5th century. In the late 8th century the Saxons were conquered and Christianized by the Frankish ruler Charlemagne. In 843 Saxony became part of the East Frankish, or German, kingdom.

      By the early 10th century Saxony had emerged as a hereditary duchy under the Liudolfing dynasty, and in 919 Duke Henry of Saxony was elected German king. He founded the Saxon, or Ottonian, dynasty, which held the German crown until 1024. (See Saxon Dynasty.) Under the Ottonians, the Germans advanced eastward into Slavic territory.

      In 961 the Saxon ducal title was transferred to the Billung (Billung dynasty) family, which held it until 1106. The duchy thereafter passed to Henry III the Lion of the house of Welf in 1142. When Henry the Lion was outlawed by the Holy Roman emperor Frederick I Barbarossa in 1180, the duchy was broken up, and only two small and widely separated territories retained the Saxon name: Saxe-Lauenburg, southeast of Holstein, and Saxe-Wittenberg, along the middle Elbe (now north of Leipzig). Both territories were united under the Ascanian family until 1260, when two separate Ascanian dynasties emerged. From the mid-13th century, the duke of Saxony was recognized as an imperial elector (a prince with the right to participate in choosing the Holy Roman emperor); a dispute over this right between the two branches was settled in favour of the Wittenberg branch in 1356. The Lauenburg line survived until 1689, after which its lands were absorbed by Hanover.

      When the Wittenberg line became extinct in 1422, the duchy and electorate of Saxony was bestowed on Frederick I the Warlike, margrave of Meissen and a member of the house of Wettin, and the name Saxony was then applied to all the Wettin possessions, including Osterland (the area around Leipzig) and large portions of Lusatia and Thuringia. Following Frederick's death (1428) the Wettins disputed the division of the inheritance; in 1485 Albert and Ernest, the sons of Frederick II (d. 1464), by the Treaty of Leipzig, arranged what came to be a permanent division between the Albertine (eastern) and Ernestine (western) Saxon lands. Albert's lands comprised the margravate of Meissen (with Dresden as his capital) and northern Thuringia. (For information about the western lands, see Saxon duchies.)

      In the 16th century the Albertine line acquired the electorate and won territory from the Ernestines in Thuringia and Wittenberg. The electors Henry (d. 1541) and Maurice (d. 1553) adopted Lutheranism. Augustus (reigned 1553–86) codified Albertine Saxony's laws and made the capital, Leipzig, a centre of commerce and the arts. John George I (reigned 1611–56) headed the organization of German Protestant princes during the Thirty Years' War (1618–48), but from this period Albertine Saxony was increasingly overshadowed by Brandenburg-Prussia as the leading state of Protestant Germany. In 1697 Elector Frederick Augustus I (reigned 1694–1733) became king of Poland, initiating an economically draining bond between Saxony and the declining Polish kingdom that lasted until 1768.

      Napoleon conquered Saxony in 1806 and made it a kingdom. It was thereafter one of his most loyal allies, and, after his overthrow, its territory was greatly reduced by the victorious powers at the Congress of Vienna (1814–15). Prussia acquired Wittenberg, Torgau, northern Thuringia, and most of Lusatia, which became the Prussian province of Saxony; the truncated kingdom of Saxony became a member of the German Confederation.

      As a result of uprisings in 1830, a constitution was granted in the kingdom in 1831. King Frederick Augustus II (reigned 1836–54) was deposed by a revolutionary uprising in 1848 but was restored to power by Prussian troops a week later. In 1871 the kingdom became part of the new German Empire. The Social Democrats became a potent political force in Saxony as industrialization increased in the following decades. Saxony's monarchy was abolished after Germany's defeat in World War I (1918), and Saxony adopted a republican constitution as a free state under the Weimar Republic (1919–33). The territory continued to exist as a Land (state) under Adolf Hitler's Third Reich (1933–45) and the German Democratic Republic until 1952, when it was abolished as a formal territory. Saxony Land was re-created in 1990 in the process of the unification of East with West Germany.

  Land (state), eastern Germany. Poland lies to the east of Saxony, and the Czech Republic lies to the south. Saxony also borders the German states of Saxony-Anhalt to the northwest, Brandenburg to the north, Bavaria to the southwest, and Thuringia to the west. The capital is Dresden. Area 7,109 square miles (18,413 square km). Pop. (2006 est.) 4,249,774.

      Present-day Saxony is composed largely of hill and mountain country, with only its northernmost portions and the area around Leipzig descending into the great North European Plain. The chief mountain range is the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains)), which stretch for about 100 miles (160 km) along the state's southern border and reach elevations of more than 4,000 feet (1,200 metres). In the west and southwest are subsidiary groups of this range, while the northeastern angle of the state features the mountains of Upper Lusatia (Lausitz). South of this group, and along both banks of the Elbe River, extends a picturesque region of hills and deep gorges known as the Saxon Switzerland, the site of a national park. The upper course of the Elbe River flows from southeast to northwest through the state. The Mulde (Mulde River), a tributary of the Elbe, is the second largest river in Saxony. More than half of Saxony's land area is used for agriculture, and about one-fourth is forested. The region's climate is generally temperate, though the mountain country has a harsher one.

      Saxony is one of the most densely populated and populous states in eastern Germany, although since the mid-20th century its population has declined. Between 1960 and the turn of the 21st century, the number of inhabitants declined by one-fifth. More than nine-tenths of the population is ethnically German; there is a small indigenous ethnic minority, the Sorbs (Sorb), and there is also a relatively small foreign population.

      Northern Saxony occupies one of the most fertile parts of eastern Germany and is highly developed agriculturally, though fertility diminishes toward the Ore Mountains of the south. Wheat, barley, rape, sugar beets, fodder crops, peas, apples, butter, and cheese are the principal agricultural products, while cattle raising is important on the extensive pastures of the Ore Mountains. Forestry is also of some importance.

      Saxony long had important mineral production in the Ore Mountains, including the production of uranium, but the latter has ceased, and expensive clean-up projects were undertaken across the region to reduce the contamination of mining and waste sites, especially around Aue and Zwickau. Currently lignite is the only major industrial resource still mined in significant quantities, and both production and employment in this once important sector were dramatically reduced after German unification. Lignite is mined both in northeastern Saxony in the Lusatia field near Hoyerswerda and around Leipzig in the Central German field. One clear advantage of the decreased mining and use of lignite in Saxony and the wider region has been a dramatic improvement in air quality.

 Although the Saxon economy, especially manufacturing, suffered severe cutbacks after unification, it remains one of the largest economies in eastern Germany and one of the few in which ‘‘new economy " sectors such as microelectronics have experienced considerable growth. Nevertheless, unemployment in the state has been significant since the mid-1990s. Major manufacturing sectors in Saxony include electronics, machinery, pharmaceuticals, auto and auto parts production, food processing, publishing, and textiles. The chief manufacturing industry was once textile production, focused on Chemnitz and Zwickau, as well as many smaller urban centres. While some production in this sector continues, employment has declined drastically. Dresden, the state's largest city in terms of area, is the production site of many types of precision optical and electrical equipment. There are also silicon-chip-production facilities in Dresden. Leipzig, the most populous city in the state, is a centre of printing and publishing, heavy engineering, and auto manufacturing. Automaking has also been important in Mosel, near Zwickau. Meissen is an important and historic centre for the production of porcelain (Meissen porcelain) and other ceramics, and some production of traditional wooden toys and Christmas decorations continues in towns in the Ore Mountains, most notably Seiffen.

 The principal urban centres are Leipzig, Dresden, Chemnitz, Plauen, Zwickau, and Meissen, and each has important regional service sectors. In addition, Leipzig and Dresden have important airports. Leipzig in particular is an important national transport centre, owing to a key location in the national rail and highway networks. For centuries it has been home to important trade fairs. Following unification many retailers took advantage of Leipzig's centrality within the German transport network, its access to a large regional population, and a brief period of looser land-use controls to construct a number of large suburban shopping centres. Leipzig's huge downtown rail station has also been renovated to serve as both a station and an attractive shopping plaza.

  Saxony has a moderately important tourist industry focused in particular on the scenic Ore Mountains, Leipzig, the scenic Elbe River valley and Saxon Switzerland, and Dresden. Though the city was bombed into ruins by an Anglo-American bombing raid in 1945, some of Dresden's former architectural glory has been restored. Reconstruction of the Saxon royal palace, the Zwinger, and other sites began after the war; unification opened up more resources and has allowed relatively rapid reconstruction, for example, on the city's famed Frauenkirche. Along with taking Elbe River cruises, sightseers to Dresden often visit nearby Pillnitz (palace and gardens) and Radebeul (museum focused on the popular author Karl May (May, Karl)). The Dresden Elbe Valley, including the Pillnitz Palace and the centre of Dresden, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004. There are a host of architectural and cultural attractions in other parts of Saxony, notably in Görlitz, Bautzen, Freiberg, and Meissen. Also designated a World Heritage site in 2004 was Muskauer Park, a European country park laid out in the early 19th century; located on the border between Germany and Poland, it is jointly maintained by both countries.

 The state of Saxony is governed by a Landtag (state parliament) and a minister-president, who is generally a leading member of the Landtag's strongest party. The election of extreme right-wing politicians from the National Democratic Party (NDP) to the state parliament in 2004 generated controversy and concern among some within Saxony and Germany as a whole. Leipzig is a university town, as is Zwickau. There are technical universities in Dresden, Chemnitz, and Freiberg. Saxony's primary cultural centres are Dresden and Leipzig. Dresden has important concentrations of historic buildings, museums, and musical groups, as well as major art collections and the renowned Semper Opera House. Leipzig is the site of one of Germany's major national libraries (the Deutsche Bücherei), a nationally acclaimed orchestra (Gewandhaus Orchestra), and sections of the national Academy of Sciences.

      The state of Saxony was re-created in the process of the reunification of East Germany with West Germany in 1990 from the former East German Bezirke (districts) of Dresden, Chemnitz (formerly Karl-Marx-Stadt), and Leipzig, along with a small part of Cottbus district. The East German districts had themselves been created in 1952 from historic Saxony, an important region in German history for nearly 2,000 years, particularly so since the 15th century. Saxony and its capital, Dresden, prospered from the 16th to the 18th century before their relative importance within Germany waned with the rise of Brandenburg-Prussia and Berlin. The people of Leipzig are justly proud of the key role that the massive but peaceful demonstrations in the city in late 1989 played in toppling East Germany's communist dictatorship and ultimately opening up the opportunity for German unification.

William H. Berentsen

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Universalium. 2010.

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