Memoirs of the House of Brandenburg

by Frederick the Great

A New Translation by Levi Bookin


In the year 1415, the Emperor conferred the electoral dignity and the duty of Arch-chamberlain of the Holy Roman Empire on Frederick 6th of Hohenzollern, Burgrave of Nuremberg, and gave him the personal gift of the territory of Brandenburg. In the year 1417, the Elector, whom we will call from this point Frederick 1st, received his investiture at the hands of his benefactor at the Diet of Constance. He then possessed the Old, and the Middle Mark. The dukes of Pomerania having usurped the Ukermark, the Elector made war against them and defeated them at Angermuende, thus re-uniting with the Mark a province of which it had been part since time immemorial.

The New Mark was still controlled by the Teutonic Order, as mentioned above; but with a view to expansion, Frederick seized Saxony, of which the Electorate was vacant as the result of the death of the last Elector of the Anhalt branch. The Emperor, who did not approve of this acquisition, gave its investiture to the Duke of Meissen, and Frederick withdrew voluntarily from his conquest. Frederick divided his estate by his will. His eldest son, known as the Alchemist, was deprived of his rights by his father, who left him with the Voigtland and his crucible. His second son, Frederick, received the Electorate. Albert, known as Achilles, had the duchies of Franconia; and Frederick, known as the Fat, had the Old Mark; but the death of Frederick the Fat re-united this province with the Electorate of Brandenburg. The natural equality requiring that a father make an equal division between his children was still followed in those distant times. It was subsequently perceived that strengthening the cadet lines in this way became the principal cause of the decadence of the [great] houses. We will see in this history, however, several more examples of similar divisions.

Frederick 1st died in 1440.

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