start page Charles V TOUR :   Maurice of Saxony

      Contemporaries in the Holy Roman Empire      

John Frederick I the Magnanimous
- duke of Saxony 1532-1554, elector up to 1547 -
*1503. The last elector of the Ernestine branch of the Saxon House of Wettin was a nephew of Frederick the Wise and succeeded his father, elector John the Steadfast. He had close connections with Luther and was always in conflict with his cousin Maurice of the Albertine Line. In 1547 he lost at the head of the Protestant Schmalkaldic League the decisive Battle of Mühlberg against emperor Charles V. He was taken prisoner and condemned to death. In 1547 he lost his electoral rank to Maurice of the Albertine Line of the House of Wettin. In 1552 John Frederic was set free when Maurice, who had once helped the emperor during the Schmalkaldic war, rebelled against the emperor's predominance.
During the time of imprisonment his three sons ruled his country and minted thalers with the effigy of Charles V.
First government, 1532-1547 (as Elector of Saxony)
Medals up to 1547
Second government, 1552-1554 (as duke)


    First government, 1532-1547 (as Elector of Saxony)    


2 Thalers 1539, Buchholz.    Ø 49 mm, 58,05 g.   Keilitz 246.1; Schnee 89; Dav.9724.
Obv.:   IOANnes FRIDericus DVX SAXoniae ELECTor ET BVRGGRAF MAIGDeburgensis·FIERI·FEcit (Mz.)
"John Frederick, Duke of Saxony, Elector and Burggrave of Magdeburg had this coin minted"
Effigy in electoral coat, long electoral sword on his shoulder and both hands at the grip.

Rev.:   SPES - MEA - IN - DEO - EST - 1 5 3 9     "My hope is in God"
Shield of 12 arms and crests for Thuringia, Saxonia and Meissen;
under the central shield of Electoral Saxonia (crossed swords): arms of the Burggraviate Magdeburg.
This "Schautaler" was issued in 1534 and 1535, without referring to Magdeburg.
John Frederick could adquire with substantial costs the Burgraviate from the city of Magdeburg in 1538. Title and arms were augmented with this prestigious addition on the issue of 1539.


1/4 Guldengroschen 1541, T-Buchholz.     Ø 27 mm.   Keilitz 250.
Obv.:   IOHAnnes·FRIDericus·ELECtor·DVX·SAXoniae·FIeRII·FEcit·T
Rev.:   ·SPES·MEA·IN· - ·DEO·EST·1541

Community coinage
The division of holdings between Ernestines and Albertines in 1485 did not affect mining and coinage, which remained common cause until 1547.

Joint coinage 1539-41 together with duke Henry of the Albertine Line


Thaler 1540, Annaberg.     Ø 40 mm, 29,0 g.   Keilitz 152; Schnee 94; Dav.9728.
Obv.:   (¤) IOHANnes F (¤) RIdericus·ELE (¤) Ctor·DVX·S (¤) AXoniae·FIeri·Fecit
interrupted with the coat of arms of the Electorate (top), Meissen (right), Thuringia and Saxony.
Rev.:   (¤) HEINRIcus (¤) ·DVX·S (¤) AXoniae·FIEri·Fecit (¤) ·1540 ⊕
interrupted with the coat of arms of Saxony, Meissen, Palatinate Saxony and Thuringia
⊕ = Sign of mintmaster N.Streubel 1539-45 in Annaberg

  Joint coinage 1539-40 together with brother John Ernest and duke Henry of the Albertine Line  


Thaler 1539, Buchholz.     Ø 39 mm.   Keilitz 170; Schnee 91; Dav.9726.
Obv.:   (¤) IOHANnes·FRidericus (¤) ELECtor·DVX (¤) SAXoniae·BVRGgravius (¤) MAGdegurgensis (Mzz.)T
John Frederic in electoral robes with electoral sword; date 15-39 in the field.
Rev.:   (¤) HENRIcus·ET (¤) IOHANnes·ER (¤) NESTus·DVXces (¤) SAXoniae·FIeri·FEcerunt
Effigies from Henry and John Ernest facing each other.

Joint coinage 1540-42 together with brother John Ernest and duke Maurice of the Albertine Line
Maurice followed his father Henry in 1541.


Thaler 1540, Buchholz. Hybrid 1541.     Ø 39 mm.   Keilitz 176; Schnee 98; Dav.9729.
Obv.:   Legend as before, head in profile, date now 15-40.
Rev.:   (¤) MAVRITIVs (¤) ET·IOHANnes (¤) ERNESTus·DVces (¤) SAXoniae·FIeri·FEcerunt·
Effigies from Maurice and John Ernest facing each other. T (sign for Buchholz) at the right.
Maurice came to power in 1541, but a die from 1540 was used for the obverse. So this coin carries an hybrid date.


Compare the effigies with two well-known oil paintings:
1. 1531 from Lucas Cranach the Elder , the court painter of Saxony [51x37 cm, Louvre Paris], and
2. as prisoner of Charles V. ca.1550 from Tizian, court painter of the Emperor [103x83 cm, KHM Viena].


    Medals up to 1547    


Cast bronze medal n. d. (about 1532) by Matthes Gebel.     Ø 46,5 mm, 28,47 g.  
Habich I,2 1080; Coll.Lanna 874; Kress Coll.599a.

Obv.:  ·IO·FR·I·IO·I·RO·IMP - ELECT·PRIMOG·D·SAX  -  Bust to the right, triple necklace.
Rev.:   SPES·MEA·IN·DEO·EST   "My hope is in God"
Triple helmeted coat of arms.

Coin cabinet from Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
Touch the image with the cursor in order to see the reverse.
Cast silver medal 1535 by Hans Reinhart the elder based on a model by Lucas Cranach.
Ø 66,2 mm, 59,08 g.  Specimen in the coin cabinet from Staatliche Sammlungen Dresden   Habich II,1 1935.

Obv.:   IOANNS·FRIDERICVS·ELECTOR·DVX·SAXONIE·FIERI·FECIT·ETATIS - SVÆ·32Ꮺ
Bust to half left, bearded, bareheaded, fur hood, chain, with elector's sword and elector's hat.
On the ruff REN ALS IN EREN ("Nobody can defend everything in honor")
HR ligated under the hand.

Rev.:   SPES♣MEA♣IN♣DEO♣EST♣ANNO - NOSTRI♣SALFATORIS♣ M·D·X·X·X·VᏪ
Triple helmeted coat of arms with heart shield (elector's swords).
The wooden model in Gotha (Habich Tf.CCIV, 3a) carries SALVARORIS, while the
specimen in St. Petersburg also bears SALFATORIS. [Habich]


Silver medal 1547, model by Ludwig Neufahrer.     Ø 33,5 mm, 12,25 g.
Habich see I,2 1400; Coll.Mers.564.

Obv.:   IOANNES FRIDERICVS DVX ELECTOR SAXONIAE D M XLVII
Rev.:   VERO[a]E RELILIONI ET - LIBERTA GERMA PRO   "For true religion and free Germany"


Stuck silver medal 1547 by Ludwig Neufahrer.    Ø 36,2 mm, 17,22 g.   Habich I,2 1402.
Obv.:  ·DEI·GRA IOH·FRID·SAC·RO·IMP·ARCHIM ELECTOR·DVX·SAXO·FG·C·  -  Bust left.
Rev.:   :·SPES·MEA·IN·DEO·EST·ANNO·ZC· | ·LVDwig·NEVfahrer·FEcit:   "My hope is in God"
Spes sits praying to the left, his head turned to the right, on top the dove of the Holy Spirit in rays,
on each side a tree and bushes.

    Medals as prisoners of the emperor, 1547-52    
John Frederic, captured in the battle of Mühlberg in 1547, had to follow the emperor on his travels. After the Passau Treaty in 1552 he, like Landgrave Philip of Hesse, was released.

Emperor Charles's V, the victor over the Schmalkaldic League, imposed at the 'armored' diet in Augsburg (1547/48) the 'interim', which met with considerable opposition from Protestants. An expression of the indignation of the prisoner John Frederic is the


One-sided old galvanoplastic museum production: oval medal n. d. (about 1550).
Model by the 'Meister Philipps I. des Großmütigen'.    Ø 84x70 mm, 190,99 g.   Habich 2190.
VON GOTTES GNADEN IOHANNES FRIDERICHVS HERTZOG ZVO SAX
A scar on his left cheek from the wound he received in the battle of Mühlberg.

coin cabinet from Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
Touch the illustration to see the back.
Cast silver medal 1551 by Matthes Gebel, Specimen in the coin cabinet in Dresden.
Ø 50,6 mm.   Wettstreit in Erz 97; Habich I/2 1246.

Obv.:  DEI GRAtia:IOannes:FRIDericus:SENIOR DVX SAXONie - ANNO.ÆTATis:SVÆ 48·CAPTIVITATis: VERO 4   "John Frederic the Elder, by the grace of God Duke of Saxony in his 48th year of life, but in the fourth (year) of his captivity"
Bust to the half-left, simply dressed, with a scar on the cheek under the left eye, which comes from the battle of Mühlberg.

Rev.:   SPES·MEA·IN·DEO·EST·ANNO·SALVTIS· - M·D·XXXXXI
"My hope is in God in the year of salvation, 1551".
As a prisoner of the emperor, who attended the diet in Augsburg in 1550/51, John Frederic got the opportunity to order this medal. On behalf of the emperor, Tizian portrayed John Frederic twice in Augsburg: bleeding in armor (1548) and corpulent and simply dressed with a healed scar on his cheek (1550/51).

Compare with two well-known oil paintings:
1. 1531 by Lucas Cranach the elder, the Ernestine court painter [51x37 cm, Louvre Paris], and
2. as prisoner of emperor Charles V 1551 by Tizian, Charles's court painter [KHM Vienna].


    Second government, 1552-1554 (as duke)    


Thaler, 1552, Saalfeld.     Ø 40 mm, 28,6g.     Schnee 144;, Schulten 3172; Dav.9748.
Obv.:   ¤ IOannes·FRIDERicus·SENIor - NATVs·ELECtor·SAXoniae·
"John Frederic, first born Elector of Saxony"   -   Bust above arms (Electoral Saxony & Saxony).
Rev.:   CAROLVS:V:ROManorum:IMPerator:SEMPer·AVGustus:155Z
Title of the emperor, crowned double eagle with orb on the breast,
design and legend in accordance with the 2nd Imperial Mint Order of 1551.


Double Goldgulden,1552, Saalfeld.     Ø 27 mm, 6,48 g.   Friedberg 2937.
Obv.:   IO·FRIDER·SEN - · - NAT·ELEC·SAXO·     bust and arms (Electoral Saxony & Saxony)
Rev.:   CAROL·V·RO·IMPER·SEM·AVGV·155Z
The double gold gulden carries the titles of Charles V, John Frederic's adversary. John Frederic is shown with a long and deep cut on his left cheek: according to contemporary testimonies, he received this injury in the battle of Mühlberg.


Cast silver medal 1553.     Ø 38,7 mm, 27,30 g.   Coll. Merseb. 2901.
Obv.:  IOANNES·FRIDERICVS·SENIOR·DVX·SAXO·ET·NA·EL·  -  Bust John Frederic's from the front.
Rev.:   SIBILLA·NAT·D·IVL9Z·IO·FRI·DVX·Z·NATI·ELE·SAX·CON:
Bust of his wife Sybille from the front between date 15 - 53.
Sibylle (1512-54) was the eldest sister of Wilhelm V, Duke of Jülich-Kleve-Berg, another adversary of Emperor Charles V, who was defeated by the Emperor in the Geldrischen succession dispute in 1543. Lucas Cranach the Elder painted several portraits of Sibylle, so in 1531.


1/2 Thaler n. d. (1554), Saalfeld.     Ø 33 mm, 14,36 g.   Koppe 244.
on his death (March 3, 1554) and on the death of his wife Sibylle of Cleves, who died a few days earlier.

Obv.:   Effigy to the left, below the arms of the Electorate (swords) and Saxonia.
Rev.:   Bust of his wife Sibylle, almost from the front, with hat, cloak and pearl necklace.

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