MAURICE elector of Saxony, elder son of Henry, duke of Saxony, of the Albertine branch of the Wettin family, was born at Freiberg on March 21, 1521. In Jan. 1541 he married Agnes, daughter of Philip, landgrave of Hesse. In that year he became duke of Saxony by his father's death, and he con tinued Henry's work of forwarding the Reformation. Duke Henry had decreed that his lands should be divided between his two sons, but as a partition was regarded as undesirable the whole of the duchy came to his elder son. Maurice made generous provision for his brother Augustus, and the desire to compensate him still further was one of the minor threads of his subsequent policy. In 1542 he assisted the emperor Charles V. against the Turks, in 1543 against William, duke of Cleves, and in 1544 against the French. The harmonious relations between the two branches of the Wettins were disturbed by the interference of Maurice in Cleves, a proceeding distasteful to the Saxon elector, John Freder ick; and a dispute over the bishopric of Meissen having widened the breach, war was only averted by the mediation of Philip of Hesse and Luther. Maurice now began to covet the electoral dignity held by John Frederick, and in June 2546 he took a de cided step by making a secret agreement with Charles V. at Regensburg. Maurice was promised some rights over the arch bishopric of Magdeburg and the bishopric of Halberstadt; im munity, in part at least, for his subjects from the Tridentine decrees; and the question of transferring the electoral dignity was discussed. In return the duke probably agreed at all events to remain neutral during the impending war. The struggle began in July 1546, and in October Maurice declared war against John Frederick, having secured the formal consent of Charles to the transfer of the electoral dignity. John Frederick (q.v.) hastened from south Germany to defend his dominions. Maurice's ally, Albert Alcibiades, prince of Bayreuth, was taken prisoner at Rochlitz; and the duke, driven from electoral Saxony, was un able to prevent his own lands from being overrun. But Charles V., aided by Maurice, gained a decisive victory over John Frederick at Miihlberg in April after which by the capitulation of Wittenberg John Frederick renounced the electoral dignity in favour of Maurice, who also obtained a large part of his kinsman's lands.
Maurice soon found causes of complaint against the emperor in the continued imprisonment of his father-in-law, Philip of Hesse, whom he had induced to surrender to Charles and whose freedom he had guaranteed; and in Charles's refusal to complete the humiliation of the family of John Frederick. While assuring
Charles of his continued loyalty, the elector entered into negotia tions with the discontented Protestant princes. In 155o he had been entrusted with the execution of the imperial ban against the city of Magdeburg, and under cover of these operations he was able to collect troops and to concert measures with his allies. Favourable terms were granted to Magdeburg, which surrendered and remained in the power of Maurice, and in Jan. 1552 a treaty was concluded with Henry II. of France at Chambord. Meanwhile Maurice had refused to recognize the Augsburg Interim (May 1548) as binding on Saxony; but a compromise was arranged on the basis of which the Leipzig Interim was drawn up for his lands. Charles was unprepared for the attack made by Maurice and his allies in March 1552, though he may have suspected his loyalty. Augsburg was taken, the pass of Ehrenberg was forced, and in a few days the emperor left Innsbruck as a fugitive. Ferdinand undertook to make peace, and the Treaty of Passau, signed in Aug. 1552, was the result. Maurice obtained a general amnesty and freedom for Philip of Hesse, but was unable to obtain a per petual religious peace for the Lutherans. Charles stubbornly insisted that this question must be referred to the diet, and Mau rice was obliged to give way. He then fought against the Turks, and renewed his communications with Henry of France. Return ing from Hungary the elector placed himself at the head of the princes who were seeking to check the career of his former ally, Albert Alcibiades, whose depredations were making him a curse to Germany. The rival armies met at Sievershausen on July 9, 1553, where after a fierce encounter Albert was defeated. The victor, however, was wounded during the fight and died two days later.