Albrecht III Achilles, Elector of Brandenburg

Albrecht III Achilles, Elector of Brandenburg

Albrecht III Achilles, Elector of Brandenburg
Spouse(s) Margaret of Baden
Anna of Saxony
Noble family House of Hohenzollern
Father Frederick I, Elector of Brandenburg
Mother Elisabeth of Bavaria-Landshut
Born (1414-11-09)9 November 1414
Died 11 March 1486(1486-03-11) (aged 71)
Frankfurt am Main

Albert III (German: Albrecht III.) (9 November 1414 – 11 March 1486), often known simply as Albert Achilles (Albrecht Achilles), was a Prince-elector of the Margraviate of Brandenburg. He received the nickname Achilles because of his knightly qualities. He also ruled the Principality of Ansbach.

Early life

Albert was born in Tangermünde as the third son of Elector Frederick I and his wife, Elisabeth of Bavaria-Landshut. After passing some time at the court of Emperor Sigismund, Albert took part in the war against the Hussites, and afterwards distinguished himself whilst assisting the German king, Albert II, against Poland.[1]


On the division of territory which followed his father's death in 1440, Albert received the Principality of Ansbach. Although his resources were meager, he soon took a leading place among the German princes and was especially prominent in resisting the attempts of the towns to obtain self-government.[1]

In 1443, Albert formed a league directed mainly against Nuremberg, over which members of his family had formerly exercised the rights of burgrave. It was not until 1448, however, that he found a pretext for attack. After initial military successes in the First Margrave War, he was defeated at the Battle of Pillenreuther Weiher, resulting in the Treaty of Bamberg (22 June 1450),which forced Albert to return all of the conquered territory and to recognize the independence of Nuremberg and its associated towns.[1]

Albert supported Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III in his struggle with the princes who desired reforms in the Holy Roman Empire, and in return for this loyalty received many marks of favour from Frederick, including extensive judicial rights which aroused considerable irritation among neighbouring rulers.[1]

In 1457, Albert arranged a marriage between his eldest son John, and Margaret, daughter of William III, Landgrave of Thuringia, who inherited the claims upon Hungary and Bohemia of her mother, a granddaughter of Emperor Sigismund. The attempt to secure these thrones for the Hohenzollerns through this marriage failed, and a similar fate befell Albert's efforts to revive in his own favour the disused title of duke of Franconia.[1]

The sharp dissensions which existed among the princes over the question of reform culminated in open warfare in 1460, when Albert was confronted with a league under the leadership of the Count Palatine, Frederick I, and Louis IX, Duke of Bavaria-Landshut. Defeated in this struggle, which was concluded in 1462, Albert made an alliance with his former enemy, George of Poděbrady, King of Bohemia, a step which caused Pope Paul II to place him under the ban.[1]

In 1470, Albert, who had inherited Bayreuth on the death of his brother John in 1464, became Margrave of Brandenburg, owing to the abdication of his remaining brother, Elector Frederick II. He was soon actively engaged in its administration, and by the Treaty of Prenzlau in 1472 he brought Pomerania also under his supremacy. Having established his right to levy a tonnage on wines in the mark, he issued in February 1473 the Dispositio Achillea, which decreed that the Margraviate of Brandenburg should descend in its entirety to the eldest son, while the younger sons should receive the Franconian possessions of the family.[1]

Albert with his second consort, Anna, Princess of Saxony

After treating in vain for a marriage between one of his sons and Mary, daughter and heiress of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, Albert handed over the government of Brandenburg to his eldest son John, and returned to his Franconian possessions.[1]

Albert's main attention afterwards was claimed by the business of the empire. Soon after taking part in the election of Maximilian as King of the Romans, Albert died at Frankfurt in March 1486. He left a considerable amount of treasure.[1]

Dynastic marriages of his children

In 1474, Albert married his daughter Barbara to Duke Henry XI of Głogów, who left his possessions on his death in 1476 to his widow with reversion to her family, an arrangement which was resisted by Henry's kinsman, Duke Jan II of Żagań. Aided by King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary, Jan of Żagań invaded Brandenburg, and the Pomeranians seized the opportunity to revolt. Under these circumstances Albert returned to Brandenburg in 1478, compelled the Pomeranians to recognize his supremacy, and, after a stubborn struggle, secured a part of Duke Henry's lands for his daughter in 1482. [1]

Family and children

Albert was married twice. First, he married 12 November 1446 Margaret of Baden, daughter of Margrave Jakob I of Baden and Catherine of Lorraine. From this marriage he had following children:

  1. Wolfgang, born and died in 1450.
  2. John Cicero, Elector of Brandenburg (1455–99).
  3. Friedrich, died young.
  4. Ursula (25 September 1450 – 25 October 1508, Breslau), married Duke Henry I, Duke of Münsterberg-Oels.
  5. Elisabeth, (29 October 1451, Ansbach – 28 March 1524, Nürtingen), married Eberhard II, Duke of Württemberg.
  6. Margareta (18 April 1453 – 27 April 1509), abbess of the Poor Clares convent at Hof.

Margaret died 24 October 1457 and in 1458 Albert married Anna, daughter of Frederick II, Elector of Saxony and Margarete of Austria. Their children were:

  1. Frederick I, (German: Friedrich II. von Brandenburg-Ansbach-Kulmbach or Friedrich der Ältere; 1460–1536), Margrave in Ansbach since 1486 and Bayreuth since 1495.
  2. Amalie (1 October 1461, Plassenburg – 3 September 1481, Baden-Baden), married Kaspar, Count Palatine of Zweibrücken.
  3. Anna, born and died in 1462.
  4. Barbara (30 May 1464, Ansbach – 4 September 1515, Ansbach), married:
    1. in Berlin 11 October 1472 to Duke Henry XI of Głogów;
    2. in Frankfurt (Oder) 20 August 1476 to King Ladislaus II of Bohemia and Hungary.
  5. Albrecht, born and died in 1466.
  6. Sibylle (31 May 1467, Ansbach – 9 July 1524, Kaster), married Duke Wilhelm IV of Jülich and Berg.
  7. Siegmund, Margrave in Bayreuth, (27 September 1468, Ansbach – 26 February 1495, Ansbach).
  8. Albrecht, born and died in 1470.
  9. Georg (30 December 1472, Berlin – 5 December 1476, Kadolzburg).
  10. Dorothea (12 December 1471, Berlin – 13 February 1520, Bamberg), Abbess in Bamberg.
  11. Elisabeth (8 April 1474, Ansbach – 25 April 1507, Römhild), married Count Hermann VIII of Henneberg-Aschach (1470–1535)
  12. Magdalene (29 July 1476, Berlin – before 4 February 1480).
  13. Anastasia (14 March 1478, Ansbach – 4 July 1534, Ilmenau), married Count William IV of Henneberg-Schleusingen (1478–1559)


16. Frederick IV, Burgrave of Nuremberg
8. John II, Burgrave of Nuremberg
17. Margaret of Carinthia
4. Frederick V, Burgrave of Nuremberg
18. Berthold VII, Count of Henneberg-Schleusingen
9. Elisabeth of Henneberg-Schleusingen
19. Adelheid of Hesse
2. Frederick I, Elector of Brandenburg
20. Frederick I, Margrave of Meissen
10. Frederick II, Margrave of Meissen
21. Elisabeth of Lobdaburg-Arnshaugk
5. Elisabeth of Meissen
22. Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor
11. Mathilde of Bavaria
23. Beatrix of Silesia-Glogau
1. Albrecht III, Elector of Brandenburg
24. Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor
12. Stephen II, Duke of Bavaria
25. Beatrix of Silesia-Glogau
6. Frederick of Bavaria-Landshut
26. Frederick III of Sicily
13. Elisabeth of Sicily
27. Eleanor of Anjou
3. Elisabeth of Bavaria-Landshut
28. Stefano Visconti
14. Bernabò Visconti
29. Valentina Doria
7. Maddalena Visconti
30. Mastino II della Scala
15. Beatrice Regina della Scala
31. Taddea da Carrara


Mario Müller (Ed.): Kurfürst Albrecht Achilles (1414-1486). Kurfürst von Brandenburg, Burggraf von Nürnberg (Jahrbuch des Historischen Vereins für Mittelfranken, vol. 102), Ansbach 2014. ISSN 0341-9339.

Albrecht III Achilles, Elector of Brandenburg
Born: 9 November 1414 Died: 11 March 1486
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Frederick I of Brandenburg
Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach
Succeeded by
Frederick I of Brandenburg-Ansbach
Preceded by
John "the Alchemist"
Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Frederick II
Elector of Brandenburg
Succeeded by
John Cicero

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