1902 Encyclopedia > Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach


SAXE-WEIMAR-EISENACH (Germ. Sachsen-WeimarEisenach), the largest of the Thuringian states, is a grand-duchy and a member of the German empire. It consists of the three chief detached districts of Weimar, Eisenach, and Neustadt, and twenty-four scattered exclaves, of which Allstedt, Oldisleben, and Ilmenau belonging to Weimar, and Ostheim belonging to Eisenach, are the chief. The first and last named of these exclaves are 70 miles apart ; and the most easterly of the other exclaves is 100 miles from the most westerly. The total area of the grand-duchy is 1387 square miles (or slightly larger than Wiltshire in England), of which 678 are in Weimar, 465 in Eisenach, and 244 in Neustadt.

The district of Weimar, which is at once the largest division and the geographical and historical kernel of the grand-duchy, is a roughly circular territory, situated on the plateau to the north-east of the Thuringian Forest. It is bounded on the N. and E. by Prussia, on the S. and W. ..by the Schwarzburg Oberherrschaft and detached portions of Saxe-Altenburg, and lies 23 miles east of the nearest part of Eisenach, and 7 miles north-west of the nearest part of Neustadt. The exclaves of Allstedt and Oldisleben lie in Prussian territory 10 miles to the north and north-west respectively ; Ilmenau as far to the southwest. The surface is undulating and destitute of any striking natural features, although the valleys of the Saale and Ilm are picturesque. The Kickelhahn (2825 feet) and the Hohe Tanne (2641 feet) rise in Ilmenau; but the Grosser Kalm (1814) near Remda, in the extreme south, is the highest point in the main part of Weimar. The broad-based Ettersburg (1519 feet), a part of which is known as " Herder's Hill " after the poet, rises on the Ilm plateau, near Ettersburg, where Schiller finished his Maria Stuart. The Saale flows through the east of the district, but, although the chief river hydrographically, it yields in fame to its tributary the Ilm. The Unstrut joins the Saale from Oldisleben and Allstedt. The chief towns are Weimar, the capital, on the Ilm; Jena, with the common university of the Thuringian states, on the Saale ; and Apolda, the "Manchester of Weimar," to the west.

Eisenach, the second district in size, and the first in point of natural beauty, stretches in a narrow strip from north to south on the extreme western boundary of Thuringia, and includes parts of the church lands of Fulda, of Hesse, and of the former countship of Henneberg. It is bounded on the N. and W. by Prussia, on the S. by Bavaria (which also. surrounds the exclave of Ostheim), and on the E. by Saxe-Meiningen and Saxe-Gotha. The north is occupied by the rounded hills of the Thuringian Forest, while the Mon Mountains extend into the southern part. The chief summits of the former group, which is more remarkable for its fine forests and picturand the Ulster. Eisenach is the only town of importance in this division of the grand-duchy.

Neustadt, the third of the larger divisions, is distinguished neither by picturesque scenery nor historical interest. It forms an oblong territory, about 24 miles N. by Reuss (junior line) and Saxe-Altenburg, on the W.

Elster, the Weida, and the Orla. Neustadt, Auma, and Weida are the principal towns.

Agriculture forms the chief occupation of the inhabitants in all parts of the duchy, though in Eisenach and Ilmenau a large proportion of the area is covered with forests. According to the returns for 1883, 56'3 per cent. of the entire surface was occupied by arable land, 25'8 per cent. by forests, 8'8 by pasture and meadow-land, and 4.1 per cent. by buildings, roads, and water. Only 5 per cent. was unproductive soil or moorland. These figures indicate that Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach has nearly as large a percentage of arable land as Saxe-Altenburg, and, notwithstanding the extensive woods in Eisenach and Ilmenau, a lower proportion of forest than any other Thuringian state. In 1883 the chief grain crops were oats (80,682 acres, yielding 38,271 tons), barley (78,067 acres, 45,249 tons), rye (72,607 acres, 29,006 tons), and wheat (47,732 acres, 19,949 tons). About 50,000 acres were planted with potatoes, yielding 237,627 tons, or nearly 4 per cent. per acre less than the average of the five years immediately preceding. All the grain crops were slightly above the average of the same period. The 79,405 acres devoted to hay produced 98,910 tons. Among the other crops were beetroot for sugar (8602 acres), flax (1300 acres), and oil-yielding plants (4562 acres). Fruit grows in abundance, especially in the neighbourhood of Jena, in the valley of the Gleisse, and on the lower Din ; 1070 acres, mostly on the banks of the Saale, wi" occupied with vines. Of the forests 38.5 per cent. are deciduous and 61.5 per cent. coniferous trees ; fully a half of the former are beeches. The greater part of the forests belong to the Government. Cattle-raising is carried on to a considerable extent, especially in Eisenach and Neustadt, while the sheepfarming centres in Weimar. The grand-ducal stud-farm in Allstedt maintains the breed of horses. In 1883 the duchy contained 17,271 horses, 110,092 cattle, 145,442 sheep, 101,443 pigs, and 41,291 goats. Although iron, copper, cobalt, and lignite are worked, the mineral wealth is trifling. Salt is also worked at different places.

The manufacturing industries in the ;grand-duchy are considerable ; they employ 37.3 per cent, of the population. The most important is the textile industry, which centres in Apolda, and employs more than 20,000 hands throughout the country. The production of woollen goods (stockings, cloth, underclothing) forms the leading branch of the industry ; but cotton and linen weaving and yarn-spinning are also carried on. Large quantities of earthenware and crockery are made, especially at Ilmenau. The microscopes of Jena, the scientific instruments (thermometers, barometers, Ix.) of Ilmenau, and the pipes and cigar-holders of Ruhla (partly in Gotha) are well known. Leather, paper, glass, cork, and tobacco are among the less prominent manufactures. There are numerous breweries in the duchy. The volume of trade is not very great, although some of the productions (chiefly i colonial goods, are wool for the manufactures, hides, coal, meerschaum (from Smyrna and Vienna), amber, horn, &c. Eisenach and Weimar are the chief seats of trade.

The population in 1880 was 309,577, or 223 per square mile, of whom 297,735 were Lutherans, 10,267 Roman Catholics, 327 Christians of other sects, and 1248 Jews. The Thuringian and Franconian branches of the Teutonic family are both represented in the duchy. According to the employment census of 1852, ag-riculture, forestry, and fishing supported 135,200 or 44 per cent. of the population; industrial pursuits, 114,835 or 37.3 per cent.; trade, 23,939 or 7.8 per cent.; service, 4086 or 1.3 per cent.; official, military, and professional employments, 16,066 or 5.2 per cent.; while 13,597 persons or 4.4 per cent. made no returns.

Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach is a limited hereditary monarchy, and was the first state in Germany to receive a liberal constitution. This was granted in 1816 by Charles Augustus, the patron of Goethe, and was revised in 1850. The diet consists of one chamber with thirty-one members, of whom one is chosen by the nobility, four by owners of land worth at least £150 a year, five by those who derive as much from other sources, and twenty-one by the rest of the inhabitants. The diet meets every three years ; the deputies are elected for six years. The franchise is enjoyed by all domiciled citizens over twenty-five years of age. The government is carried on by a ministry of three, holding the portfolios of finance, of home and foreign affairs, and of religion, education, and justice, with which is combined the ducal household. The budget for the finance-period 1884-86 estimated the yearly income at £308,586 and the yearly expenditure at about £1560 less. The public debt is more than covered by the active capital. The ducal house receives a civil list of £46,500. The Saxe-Weimar family is the oldest branch of the Ernestine line, and hence of the whole Saxon house. By treaties of succession the grand-duke is the next heir to the throne of Saxony, should the present Albertine line become extinct. He is entitled to the predicate of "royal highness." By a treaty with Prussia in 1867, which afterwards became the model for similar treaties between Prussia and other Thuringian states, the troops of the grand-duchy were incorporated with the Prussian army.

In early times Weimar, with the surrounding district, belonged to the counts of Orlaniiinde, and from the end of the 10th century until 1067 it was the scat of a line of counts of its own. It afterwards fell to the landgrave of Thuringia, and in 1440 passed into the possession of Frederick the Mild, elector of Saxony. Involved after the convention of Wittenberg (1547) in the complicated and constantly shifting succession arrangements of the Ernestine dukes of Saxony, who delayed the introduction of primogeniture, Weimar does not emerge into an independent historical position until 1640, when the brothers William, Albert, and Ernest the Pious founded the principalities of Weimar, Eisenach, and Gotha. Eisenach fell to Weimar in 1644, and, although the principality was once more temporarily split into the lines Saxe-Weimar, Saxe-Eisenach (1672-1741), and Saxe-Jena (1672-1690), it was again reunited under Ernest Augustus (1728-1748), who secured it against future subdivision by adopting the principle of primogeniture. His son of the same name who succeeded died in 1758, two years after his marriage with Anna Amelia of Brunswick. Next year the duchess Arnalia, although not yet twenty years old, was appointed by the emperor regent of the principality and guardian of her infant son Charles Augustus (1758-1828). The reign of the latter, who assumed the government in 1775, is the most brilliant epoch in the history of Saxe-Weimar. A gifted and intelligent patron of literature and art, Charles Augustus attracted to his court the leading authors and scholars of Germany. Goethe, Schiller, and Herder were members of the illustrious society of the capital, and the university of Jena became a focus of light and learning, so that the hitherto obscure little state attracted the eyes of all Europe.' The war with France was fraught with danger to the continued existence of the principality, and after the battle of Jena (October 14, 1806) it was mainly the skilful management of the duchess Louise that dissuaded Napoleon from removing her husband from among the reigning princes. In 1807 Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach entered the Confederation of the Rhine, and was promoted from a principality (Fiirstentlium) to a duchy (Herzogthum). In the following campaigns it suffered greatly ; and in 1815 the congress of Vienna recompensed its ruler with an addition to his territory of 660 square miles (including most of Neustadt) with 77,000 inhabitants, and with the title of grand-duke (Grossherzog). On the restoration of peace Charles Augustus redeemed his promise of granting a liberal constitution (1816). Freedom of the press was also granted, but after the festival of the Wartburg in 1819 it was seriously curtailed. Charles Frederick (1828-1853) continued his father's policy, but his reforms were neither thorough enough nor rapid enough to avert political commotion in 1848. A popular ministry received power, and numerous reforms were carried through. Reaction set in under Charles Alexander, who succeeded his father iu 1853, and the union of the state-lands and crown-lands was repealed, though both were appointed to remain under the same public management. In 1866 the grand-duchy joined Prussia against Austria, although its troops were then garrisoning towns in the Austrian interest ; later it entered the North German Confederation. The press restrictions were removed in 1868 and the tendency of recent legislation has been liberal. (F. MU.)

About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us

© 2005-19 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries