House of Ascania

Royal house
surname =House of Ascania
estate =Anhalt
coat of arms =
country =Anhalt, Saxony, Brandenburg, Saxe-Lauenburg, Lüneburg, Russia
titles =Count, Prince, Duke, Margrave, Empress
founder =Esiko, Count of Ballenstedt
final ruler =Joachim Ernst, Duke of Anhalt
current head = Eduard, Prince of Anhalt
founding year =1036
dissolution =1918
nationality =German
The House of Ascania ( _de. Askanier) was a dynasty of German rulers. It was also known as the House of Anhalt, after Anhalt, its longest possession.

The Ascanians are named after Ascania (or Ascaria) Castle, which is located near and named after Aschersleben. The castle was seat of the County of Ascania, a title that was later subsumed into the titles of the princes of Anhalt.

The oldest known member of the House is Esiko, Count of Ballenstedt. He was first mentioned in 1036, and is assumed to have been a grandson (through his mother) of Odo I, Margrave of the Saxon Ostmark. From Odo, the Ascanians inherited large properties in the Saxon Eastern March.

Esiko's grandson was Otto, Count of Ballenstedt, who died in 1123. By Otto's marriage to Eilika, daughter of Magnus, Duke of Saxony, the Ascanians became heirs to half of the property of the House of Billung, former dukes of Saxony.

Otto's son, Albert the Bear, became, with the help of his mother's inheritance, the first Ascanian duke of Saxony in 1139. But he lost control of Saxony soon to the rival House of Guelph.

However, Albert inherited the Margraviate of Brandenburg from its last Wendish ruler, Pribislav, in 1150, and became the first Ascanian margrave. Albert, and his descendants of the House of Ascania, then made considerable progress in Christianizing and Germanizing the lands. As a borderland between German and Slavic cultures, the country was known as a march. In 1320 the Brandenburg Ascanian line came to an end.

After the Emperor had deposed the Guelph rulers of Saxony in 1180, Ascanians returned to rule the Duchy of Saxony, which had been reduced to its eastern half by the Emperor. However, even in eastern Saxony, the Ascanians could establish control only in limited areas, mostly near the River Elbe. In the 13th century, the Principality of Anhalt was split off from the Duchy, and later, the remaining state was split into Saxe-Lauenburg and Saxe-Wittenberg. The Ascanian dynasties in the two Saxon states became extinct in 1689 and in 1422, respectively, but Ascanians continued to rule in the smaller state of Anhalt and its various subdivisions until monarchy was abolished in 1918.

List of states ruled by the House of Ascania

* County, Principality, and Duchy of Anhalt: c. 1100-1918
* Duchy of Saxony: 1112, 1139-1142, 1180-1422
* County of Weimar-Orlamünde: 1112-1486
* Margravate of Brandenburg: 1150-1320
* Duchy of Saxe-Lauenburg: 1269-1689
* Principality of Lüneburg: 1369-1388
* Principality and Duchy of Anhalt-Bernburg: 1252-1468 and 1603-1863
* Principality of Anhalt-Zerbst: 1252-1396 and 1544-1796
* Principality of Anhalt-Aschersleben: 1252-1315
* Principality and Duchy of Anhalt-Köthen: 1396-1561 and 1603-1847
* Principality and Duchy of Anhalt-Dessau 1396-1561 and 1603-1863
* Principality of Anhalt-Plötzkau 1544-1553 and 1603-1665
* Principality of Anhalt-Harzgerode 1635-1709
* Principality of Anhalt-Mühlingen: 1667-1714
* Principality of Anhalt-Dornburg: 1667-1742
* Principality of Anhalt-Bernburg-Schaumburg-Hoym: 1718-1812
* Russian Empire: 1762-1796

External links

* [http://www.anhalt-askanien.de/index.php?id=8&L=1 Official website of the House of Ascania]
* [http://genealogy.euweb.cz/ascania/ascan1.html Genealogy of the House of Ascania]

References

* [http://susi.e-technik.uni-ulm.de:8080/Meyers2/seite/werk/brockhaus/band/50/seite/0992/brockhaus_b50_s0992.html "Askanien", Meyers Konversationslexikon, 1888]
* Trillmich, Werner, "Kaiser Konrad II. und seine Zeit", Bonn, 1991


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