Albert of Saxony
|Intro||King of Saxony|
|Birth||23 April 1828, Dresden, Germany|
|Death||19 June 1902, Gmina Długołęka, Poland; Szczodre, Poland (aged 74 years)|
Albert (German: Albert; 23 April 1828 – 19 June 1902) was the King of Saxony and a member of the House of Wettin.
He was the eldest son of Prince John (who succeeded his brother Frederick Augustus II on the Saxon throne as King John in 1854) by his wife Amalie Auguste of Bavaria.
Albert had a successful military career leading Saxon troops which participated in the First Schleswig War, the Austro-Prussian War, and the Franco-Prussian War.
Albert's education, as usual with German princes, concentrated to a great extent on military matters, but he attended lectures at the University of Bonn. His first experience of warfare came in 1849, when he served as a captain in the First War of Schleswig against Denmark.
When the Austro-Prussian War broke out in 1866, Albert, then Crown Prince (German: Kronprinz), took up the command of the Saxon forces opposing the Prussian Army of Prince Friedrich Karl of Prussia. No attempt was made to defend Saxony, and the Saxons fell back into Bohemia and effected a junction with the Austrians. They took a prominent part in the battles by which the Prussians forced the line of the Jizera and in the Battle of Jičín. The Crown Prince, however, succeeded in effecting the retreat in good order, and in the decisive Battle of Königgrätz (3 July 1866), he held the extreme left of the Austrian position. The Saxons maintained their post with great tenacity but were involved in the disastrous defeat of their allies.
During the operations, the Crown Prince won the reputation of a thorough soldier. After peace was made and Saxony had entered the North German Confederation, he gained the command of the Saxon army, which had now become the XII army corps of the North German army, and in that position, he carried out the necessary reorganisation. He proved a firm adherent of the Prussian alliance. On the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, he again commanded the Saxons, who were included in the 2nd army under Prince Friedrich Karl of Prussia, his old opponent. At the Battle of Gravelotte, they formed the extreme left of the German army, and with the Prussian Guard carried out the attack on St Privat, the final and decisive action in the battle.
In the reorganisation of the army which accompanied the march towards Paris the Crown Prince gained a separate command over the 4th army (Army of the Meuse) consisting of the Saxons, the Prussian Guard corps, and the IV (Prussian Saxony) corps. He was succeeded in command of the XII corps by his brother Prince George, who had served under him in Bohemia.
Albert took a leading part in the operations which preceded the battle of Sedan, the 4th army being the pivot on which the whole army wheeled round in pursuit of Mac Mahon; and the actions of Buzancy and Beaumont on 29 and 30 August 1870 were fought under his direction; in the Battle of Sedan itself (1 September 1870), with the troops under his orders, Albert carried out the envelopment of the French on the east and the north.
Albert's conduct in the engagements won for him the complete confidence of the army, and during the Siege of Paris, his troops formed the north-east section of the investing force. During the siege, he blocked French attempts to break out of the encirclement at Le Bourget and Villiers. After the conclusion of the Treaty of Frankfurt (1871), he was left in command of the German army of occupation, a position which he held till the fall of the Paris Commune. On the conclusion of peace, he was made an inspector-general of the army and a field marshal.
On the death of his father, King John on 29 October 1873, the Crown Prince succeeded to the throne as King Albert. His reign proved uneventful, and he took little public part in politics, devoting himself to military affairs, in which his advice and experience were of the greatest value, not only to the Saxon corps but also to the German army in general. During his reign, the Saxon monarchy became constitutional.
In the 1870s, Albert initiated the construction of a Dresden suburb, the Albertstadt. It was then the largest garrison in Germany. Near the former suburb other buildings and places still bear his name: the Albertbrücke, the Alberthafen, the Albertplatz and the Albertinum.
In 1879, he initiated the reconstruction of the Saint Afra School in Meissen. In 1897, he was appointed arbitrator between the claimants for the Principality of Lippe.
Marriage and succession
In Dresden on 18 June 1853, Albert married Princess Carola, daughter of Gustav, Prince of Vasa and granddaughter of Gustav IV Adolf, the second to last king of Sweden of the House of Holstein-Gottorp. The marriage was childless although Carola miscarried many times. They included:
- A miscarriage of a daughter in the 4th month of pregnancy (19 December 1853).
- A miscarriage of a daughter in the 6th month of pregnancy (16 August 1854).
- A miscarriage in the 1st month of pregnancy (22 January 1855).
- A miscarriage of a son in the 4th and a half month of pregnancy (17 January 1856).
- A miscarriage in the 1st month of pregnancy (4 December 1856).
- A miscarriage in the 1st month of pregnancy (30 January 1857).
- A miscarriage in the 1st month of pregnancy (30 March 1857).
- A miscarriage of a son in the 5th and a half month of pregnancy (11 January 1858).
- A miscarriage of a son in the 4th and a half month of pregnancy (20 March 1859).
- A miscarriage in the 1st month of pregnancy (30 March 1860).
Albert died at Sibyllenort on 19 June 1902 and was succeeded by his brother, who became King George. He was buried in Dresden on 23 June, among the mourners present were both the German Emperor Wilhelm II and the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I.
Honours, decorations and awards
The King of Saxony bird-of-paradise was named in Albert's honour; the Queen Carola's parotia was named for his wife.
- Order of the Rue Crown, Knight, 1831
- Military Order of St. Henry, Knight, 1849; Grand Cross, 1866
- Albert Order, Grand Cross
- Anhalt: Order of Albert the Bear, Grand Cross, 1879
- House Order of Fidelity, Knight, 1853
- Order of the Zähringer Lion, Grand Cross, 1853
- Military Karl-Friedrich Merit Order, Grand Cross, 1871
- Order of St. Hubert, Knight, 1850
- Military Order of Max Joseph, Grand Cross
- Order of Military Merit, Grand Cross with Swords
- Ernestine duchies: Saxe-Ernestine House Order, Grand Cross, June 1846
- Hanover: Royal Guelphic Order, Grand Cross, 1849
- Hesse-Kassel: Order of the Golden Lion, Knight, 6 October 1854
- Hesse and by Rhine:
- Ludwig Order, Grand Cross, 9 June 1851
- Military Merit Cross, 9 July 1871
- Nassau: Order of the Golden Lion of Nassau, Knight, November 1858
- Oldenburg: House and Merit Order of Peter Frederick Louis, Grand Cross with Golden Crown and Swords, 18 January 1871
- Order of the Black Eagle, Knight with Collar, 21 September 1844
- Pour le Mérite, 1849
- Iron Cross, 1st and 2nd Classes; Grand Cross, 22 March 1871
- Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach: Order of the White Falcon, Grand Cross, 1 February 1850
- Order of the Württemberg Crown, Grand Cross, 1864
- Military Merit Order, Grand Cross, 30 November 1870
- Austrian Empire:
- Royal Hungarian Order of St. Stephen, Grand Cross, 1849
- Order of the Golden Fleece, Knight, 1850
- Military Order of Maria Theresa, Knight, 1866
- Belgium: Royal Order of Leopold I, Grand Cordon, 1853
- Denmark: Order of the Elephant, Knight, 14 June 1878
- French Empire: Grand Cross, Legion of Honour, August 1867
- Netherlands: Military William Order, Grand Cross, 9 July 1878
- Kingdom of Portugal: Order of the Tower and Sword, Grand Cross
- Russian Empire:
- Order of St. Andrew, Knight, August 1851
- Order of St. Alexander Nevsky, Knight, August 1851
- Imperial Order of St. George, 2nd Class, September 1870 – for his defeat of McMahon at the Battle of Beaumont on 30 August
- Kingdom of Sardinia:
- Order of the Annunciation, Knight, 11 April 1850
- Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus, Grand Cross, 1850
- Siam: Order of the Royal House of Chakri, Knight, 24 August 1897
- Spain: Order of Charles III, Grand Cross, 4 March 1856; with Collar, 8 October 1883
- Royal Order of the Seraphim, Knight, 2 June 1875
- Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav, Grand Cross, 19 July 1888
- United Kingdom: Order of the Garter, Knight, 20 February 1882