Anna Sophie of Denmark, Eleonore Erdmuthe of Saxe-Eisenach, Frederick August of Saxony, George II of Great Britain, Holy Roman Emperor, Holy Roman Empire, John George IV of Saxony, Leopold I, The Neidschutz Affair
Johann Georg IV (October, 18, 1668 – April 27, 1694) was Elector of Saxony from 1691 to 1694.
Johann Georg IV belonged to the Albertine line of the House of Wettin and was the eldest son of the Elector Johann Georg III and Anna Sophie of Denmark, the second child and first daughter of King Frederik III of Denmark and Norway and his wife, Sophie Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg. Anna Sophie’s siblings was Prince George, husband of Queen Anne of Great Britain.
Incidentally, both Anna Sophie and her brother George were second cousins once removed from Queen Anne of Great Britain. Anna Sophie and George were the grandchildren of King Christian IV of Denmark and Norway, while Queen Anne was a great-granddaughter of King Christian IV’s sister, Princess Anne, the wife of King James I-VI of England, Scotland and Ireland.
First years as Elector
Johann Georg succeeded his father as Elector when he died, on September 12, 1691.
At the beginning of his reign his chief adviser was Hans Adam von Schöning, who counselled a union between Saxony and Brandenburg and a more independent attitude towards the Holy Roman Emperor. In accordance with this advice certain proposals were put before Emperor Leopold I to which he refused to agree; and consequently the Saxon troops withdrew from the imperial army, a proceeding which led the chagrined emperor to seize and imprison Schöning in July 1692. Although Johann Georg IV was unable to procure his minister’s release, Leopold managed to allay the elector’s anger, and early in 1693 the Saxon soldiers rejoined the imperialists.
Marriage and The Neidschutz Affair
In Leipzig on April 17, 1692, Johann Georg IV married Eleonore Erdmuthe of Saxe-Eisenach, Dowager Margravine of Brandenburg-Ansbach. Eleanor was the eldest child of Johann Georg I, Duke of Saxe-Eisenach, and Countess Johannetta of Sayn-Wittgenstein.
Eleonore married firstly Johann Friedrich, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach as his second wife. Johann Friedrich was a member of the House of Brandenburg-Ansbach a collateral branch of the House of Hohenzollern and the son of Margrave Albrecht II of Brandenburg-Ansbach and Sophie Margarete of Oettingen-Oettingen
Johann Friedrich’s first wife was Johanna Elisabeth of Baden-Durlach, daughter of Friedrich VI, Margrave of Baden-Durlach, and his wife Christina Magdalena of the Palatinate-Zweibrücken
Johann Friedrich, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach married as his second wife Princess Eleonore Erdmuthe of Saxe-Eisenach on November 4, 1681. Their daughter Wilhelmine Charlotte Caroline, Margravine of Brandenburg-Ansbach (Caroline of Ansbach) married George II of Great Britain before he became king.
The young Elector Johann Georg IV was forced to marry Eleonore Erdmuthe of Saxe-Eisenach by his mother, the Dowager Electress Anna Sophie, supposedly to produce legitimate heirs to the Electorate. The real reason for the marriage was to end the liaison between Johann Georg and his mistress Magdalena Sibylla of Neidschutz.
Johann Georg III, the late Elector had tried to separate the lovers, perhaps because he was aware of a close incestuas blood relationship between them — for Magdalena Sybilla may have been his own illegitimate daughter by Ursula Margarethe of Haugwitz, and therefore Johann Georg IV’s half-sister.
By order of the Elector, Ursula had married Colonel Rudolf of Neidschutz, who officially appears as the father of her daughter.
Johann Georg IV may never have known of his possible blood relationship to Magdalena Sibylla or regarded the claim as a rumor spread by ill-wishers. Immediately after he assumed the Electorate, he openly lived with her, and she became the first ever Official Mistress (Favoritin) of an Elector of Saxony.
The Electress, Eleonore Erdmuthe, humiliated every day since her wedding, was relegated to the Hofe (the official residence of the Elector). Johann Georg IV moved into another palace with Magdalena Sybilla.
Desperate to marry his mistress, Johann Georg IV tried to murder his wife, but was prevented by his younger brother, Friedrich August. When Johann Georg IV tried to stab Eleonore with a sword, the unarmed Friedrich stopped the weapon with his hand, injuring it and leaving him with a lifelong handicap.
After a substantial bribe from the Elector, on February 20, 1693 Magdalene Sybille was created Countess of Rochlitz (Grafïn von Rochlitz) by Imperial Decree from Emperor Leopold I. Shortly before, she gave birth the only daughter of the couple, Wilhelmina Maria.
But the happiness ended soon: Magdalene Sybille contracted smallpox and died on April 4, 1694, in the arms of the Elector, who was also infected with the disease.
Johann Georg IV died twenty-three days later, on April 27. He was buried in the Freiberg Cathedral.
Because he died without legitimate issue—Electress Eleonore suffered two miscarriages during their marriage, in August 1692 and February 1693—he was succeeded as Elector by his brother Friedrich August I (He would be Elected King of Poland, and Grand Duke of Lithuania as Augustus II the Strong on September 15, 1697). The new Elector took the guardianship of the little orphan Wilhelmina Maria, who was raised in the court. He acknowledged the girl as his niece and gave her a dowry when she was married to a Polish Count.
The new Saxon Elector, Friedrich August I allowed Eleonore, the Dowager Electress and her children to remain in Pretzsch, where they lived until Eleonore’s death two years later, on September 9, 1696. She was buried at Freiberg Cathedral.
After her death, Eleonore’s children were sent back to Ansbach to the court of their older half-brother Georg Friedrich II, who had become the new Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach in 1692.