John George I, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau

John George I of Anhalt-Dessau (9 May 1567 – 24 May 1618) was a German prince of the House of Ascania. From 1586 to 1603 he ruled the unified principality of Anhalt jointly with his brothers. After the partition of the principality in 1603, he ruled the principality of Anhalt-Dessau from 1603 to 1618.

John George was much appreciated by his subjects and considered learned abroad, particularly in the subjects of astrology and alchemy. He possessed a remarkable library with over 3000 volumes.

John George I
Prince of Anhalt-Dessau
Johano Georgo la 1-a (1567-1618)
John George I, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau
Prince of Anhalt
Reign 1586–1603
Predecessor Joachim Ernest
Successor none (principality partitioned)
Prince of Anhalt-Dessau
Reign 1603–1618
Predecessor none (principality (re-)created)
Successor John Casimir
Born 9 May 1567
Died 24 May 1618 (aged 51)
Spouse Dorothea of Mansfeld-Arnstein
Countess Palatine Dorothea of Simmern
Issue Sophie Elisabeth, Duchess of Liegnitz
Anna Magdalena, Hereditary Landgravine of Hesse-Kassel
Joachim Ernest, Hereditary Prince of Anhalt-Dessau
John Casimir, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau
Anna Elisabeth, Countess of Bentheim-Steinfurt
Frederick Maurice
Eleonore Dorothea, Duchess of Saxe-Weimar
Sibylle Christine, Countess of Hanau-Münzenberg and Hanau-Lichtenberg
Henry Waldemar
George Aribert
Kunigunde Juliane, Landgravine of Hesse-Rotenburg
Susanna Margarete of Hanau-Lichtenberg
Johanna Dorothea, Countess of Bentheim-Tecklenburg
Eva Katharine
Full name
German: Johann Georg
House House of Ascania
Father Joachim Ernest, Prince of Anhalt
Mother Agnes of Barby-Mühlingen


Early life

John George was born in Harzgerode on 9 May 1567 as the eldest son of Joachim Ernest, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst, by his first wife Agnes, daughter of Wolfgang I, Count of Barby-Mühlingen.

In 1570, the death of John George's last surviving uncle, Bernhard VII, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst, left John George's father as sole ruler of all the Anhalt states, which were finally unified for the first time since their first partition in 1252.

Joint prince of Anhalt

John George I and his second wife Countess Palatine Dorothea of Simmern.

After the death of his father in 1586, John George inherited the unified principality of Anhalt jointly with his younger brother Christian I and his five half-brothers according to the family law of the House of Ascania, which mandated no division of territories among the heirs. Because his half-brothers were still minors at the time of their accession, John George acted as regent.

Prince of Anhalt-Dessau

In 1603 an agreement was drawn up between John George and his surviving brothers to divide the territories of the principality of Anhalt among them. John George received Anhalt-Dessau, as well as the Seniorat; nonetheless, he maintained a regency over all of the newly created principalities until 1606, when his brothers took over the government in their lands. As a ruler, he maintained Reformation policies in his state and vigorously pursued the abolition of the traditional customs and liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Fruitbearing Society

On 24 August 1617 at Schloss Hornstein (later Wilhelmsburg Castle) during the funeral of their sister Dorothea Maria, Duchess of Saxe-Weimar, John George and his younger brother Louis of Anhalt-Köthen created the Fruitbearing Society. The Prince of Köthen was appointed its first leader.

Death and succession

John George died in Dessau on 24 May 1618 at the age of 51. He was succeeded as Prince of Anhalt-Dessau by his eldest surviving son, John Casimir.

Marriages and Issue


In Hedersleben on 22 February 1588 John George married Dorothea (b. 23 March 1561 – d. Dessau, 23 February 1594), daughter of John Albert VI, Count of Mansfeld-Arnstein. They had five children.

In Heidelberg on 21 February 1595 John George married for a second time to Dorothea (b. Kaiserslautern, 6 January 1581 – d. Sandersleben, 18 September 1631), the only surviving child of John Casimir of Simmern, third son of Frederick III, Elector Palatine. They had eleven children.


Name Birth Death Notes
By Dorothea of Mansfeld-Arnstein
Sophie Elisabeth Dessau, 10 February 1589 Liegnitz, 9 February 1622 married on 4 November 1614 to George Rudolph, Duke of Liegnitz
Anna Magdalena Dessau, 29 March 1590 Eschwege, 24 October 1626 married on 14 June 1617 to Otto, Hereditary Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel
Anna Marie Dessau, 4 May 1591 Dessau, 7 July 1637
Joachim Ernest, Hereditary Prince of Anhalt-Dessau Dessau, 18 July 1592 Dessau, 28 May 1615
Christian Dessau, 23 February 1594 Dessau, 13 April 1594
By Dorothea of Simmern
John Casimir, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau Dessau, 7 September 1596 Dessau, 15 September 1660
Anna Elisabeth Dessau, 5 April 1598 Tecklenburg, 20 April 1660 married on 2 January 1617 to William Henry, Count of Bentheim-Steinfurt, son of Arnold III, Count of Bentheim-Steinfurt-Tecklenburg-Limburg
Frederick Maurice Dessau, 18 February 1600 Lyon, 25 August 1610
Eleonore Dorothea Dessau, 16 February 1602 Weimar, 26 December 1664 married on 23 May 1625 to William, Duke of Saxe-Weimar
Sibylle Christine Dessau, 11 July 1603 Hanau, 21 February 1686 married firstly on 26 December 1627 to Philip Maurice, Count of Hanau-Münzenberg, and secondly on 13 May 1647 to Frederick Casimir, Count of Hanau-Lichtenberg
Henry Waldemar Dessau, 7 November 1604 Dessau, 25 September 1606
George Aribert Dessau, 3 June 1606 Wörlitz, 14 November 1643
Kunigunde Juliane Dessau, 17 February 1608 Rotenburg, 26 September 1683 married on 2 January 1642 to Herman IV, Landgrave of Hesse-Rotenburg
Susanna Margarete Dessau, 23 August 1610 Babenhausen, 13 October 1663 married on 16 February 1651 to John Philip of Hanau-Lichtenberg
Johanna Dorothea Dessau, 24 March 1612 Tecklenburg, 26 April 1695 married on 9 February 1636 to Maurice, Count of Bentheim-Tecklenburg (a nephew of her brother-in-law William Henry)
Eva Katharine Dessau, 11 September 1613 Dessau, 15 December 1679
John George I, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau
Born: 9 May 1567 Died: 24 May 1618
Preceded by
Joachim Ernest
Prince of Anhalt
with Christian I,
Bernhard (until 1596),
John Ernest (until 1601)
and Louis

Succeeded by
Principality partitioned in Anhalt-Dessau, Anhalt-Bernburg, Anhalt-Plötzkau, Anhalt-Zerbst and Anhalt-Köthen
Preceded by
Principality (re-)created
Prince of Anhalt-Dessau
Succeeded by
John Casimir

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.