Memoirs of the House of Brandenburg

by Frederick the Great

A New Translation by Levi Bookin


He was given the nickname of Cicero because of his natural eloquence. He reconciled three kings who were disputing Silesia, namely Ladislaus of Bohemia, Casimir of Poland, and Matthias of Hungary. John Cicero and the Elector of Saxony entered Silesia at the head of six thousand horse and declared themselves enemies of those kings who would refuse to lend their ears to the words of peace that they brought to them. By his eloquence, according to the annals, he mediated the agreement of these princes, by which Silesia and Lusatia were divided between the kings of Bohemia and Hungary. I would be glad to meet with other instances of this elector's eloquence; for, in this case, the six thousand horse appeared to have been the strongest argument. A prince who can decide disputes by force of arms is always a great dialectician; he is a Hercules, who persuades by blows of a club.

John Cicero had a war to maintain against the Duke of Sagan, who had ambitions on the duchy of Crossen; the Elector defeated him near this city and even took him prisoner. One may judge the manners of this time by the fact that this same John, Duke of Sagan, had thought of leaving a brother with whom he was angry to die of hunger.

John Cicero died in the year 1499. He left two sons: Joachim, who succeeded to the Electorate, and the second, Albert, who became Elector of Mainz and Archbishop of Magdeburg.

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