JOHN FREDERICK I. called the Magnani mous, elector of Saxony, was the elder son of the elector, John the Steadfast, and belonged to the Ernestine branch of the Wettin family. Born at Torgau on June 30, 1503, and educated as a Lutheran, he succeeded his father in August 1532. His lands com prised the western part of Saxony, and included Thuringia, but in 1542 Coburg was surrendered to form an appanage for his brother, John Ernest (d. 1553). John Frederick continued the religious policy of his father. His general attitude was one of vacillation between the emperor and his own impetuous colleague in the league of Schmalkalden, Philip, landgrave of Hesse. He was often at variance with Philip, whose bigamy he disliked, and his belief in the pacific intentions of Charles V. and his loyalty to the empire prevented him from strong measures for the defence of Protestant ism. In 1541 his kinsman Maurice became duke of Saxony, and cast covetous eyes upon the electoral dignity. In 1541 John Frederick forced Nicholas Amsdorf into the see of Naumburg in spite of the chapter, who had elected a Roman Catholic, Julius von Pflug; and about the same time he seized Wurzen, the property of the bishop of Meissen, whose see was under the joint protection of electoral and ducal Saxony. Maurice took up arms, and war was only averted by the efforts of Philip of Hesse and Luther. In 1542 the elector helped to drive Henry, duke of Brunswick WolfenbUttel, from his duchy, but his relations with Charles V. at the diet of Spires in 1544 were amicable. But the emperor made preparations for attacking the league of Schmalkalden, and espe cially John Frederick and Philip of Hesse. The neutrality of Maurice was won by the hope of the electoral dignity, and in July 1546 war broke out between Charles and the league. In September John Frederick was placed under the imperial ban, and in November Maurice invaded the electorate. Hastening from
southern Germany the elector drove Maurice from the land, took his ally, Albert Alcibiades, prince of Bayreuth, prisoner at Roch litz, and overran ducal Saxony. His progress, however, was checked by the advance of Charles V. He was wounded and taken prisoner at Miihlberg (April 24, 1547), and was condemned to death in order to induce Wittenberg to surrender. The sentence was not carried out, but by the capitulation of Wittenberg (May he renounced the electoral dignity and a part of his lands in favour of Maurice, steadfastly refusing, however, concessions on religious matters, and remained in captivity until May 1552, when he re turned to the Thuringian lands which his sons had been allowed to retain, his return being hailed with wild enthusiasm. During his imprisonment he had refused to accept the Augsburg interim, and had urged his sons to make no peace with Maurice. After his release the emperor had restored his dignities, and his assumption of the electoral arms and title prevented any arrangement with Maurice. After the death of Maurice in July 1553, a treaty was made at Naumburg in Feb. 1554 with his successor Augustus. John Frederick consented to the transfer of the electoral dignity, and was thus the last Ernestine elector of Saxony. He died at Weimar on March 3, 1554, and was succeeded by his eldest son, John Frederick. The elector was a great hunter and a hard drinker, whose dignified bearing in misfortune won for him his surname of Magnanimous, and drew eulogies from Roger Ascham and Me lanchthon. He founded the university of Jena and was a bene factor to that of Leipzig.