John George

John George, 1585–1656, elector of Saxony (1611–56). A drunkard, he nonetheless ruled the leading German Protestant state during the Thirty Years War. He vacillated in his policy between support of the Holy Roman Empire against the Lutheran princes and aid to his fellow Lutherans. He backed (1620) Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II against Protestant rebels in Bohemia under Frederick the Winter King, and in return was promised Lusatia. After Frederick's defeat, however, he opposed the transfer (1623) of the Palatinate to Duke Maximilian I of Bavaria. The Edict of Restitution (1629), abrogating Protestant rights, increased his opposition to imperial policy. John George joined the Swedes against the emperor, and the Saxon army invaded Bohemia. The Saxons were driven back by the imperial general Wallenstein, who turned on Saxony (1632) and devastated it. In 1635, John George deserted the Swedish alliance and concluded the Peace of Prague with Ferdinand II, which confirmed his possession of Lusatia. War continued and Saxony was repeatedly destroyed by opposing armies. In 1645, John George signed an armistice with the Swedes. After the war, the Holy Roman emperor made him titular leader of the Protestant estates.

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