Joachim Ernest, Prince of Anhalt

Joachim Ernest
Prince of Anhalt
Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst
Reign 1551–1570
Predecessor John V
Successor none (unification of all Anhalt principalities in 1570)
Prince of Anhalt
Predecessor none (unification of all Anhalt principalities in 1570)
Successor John George I
Christian I
John Ernest
Born (1536-10-21)21 October 1536
Died 6 December 1586(1586-12-06) (aged 50)
Spouse Agnes of Barby-Mühlingen
Eleonore of Württemberg
Issue Anna Maria, Duchess of Legnica-Brzeg-Oława-Wołów
Elisabeth, Electress of Brandenburg
Sibylla, Duchess of Württemberg
John George I, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau
Christian I, Prince of Anhalt-Bernburg
Bernhard, Prince of Anhalt
Agnes Hedwig, Electress of Saxony and Duchess of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg
Dorothea Maria, Duchess of Saxe-Weimar
Augustus, Prince of Anhalt-Plötzkau
Rudolph, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst
John Ernest, Prince of Anhalt
Louis I, Prince of Anhalt-Köthen
Joachim Christoph
Anna Sophie, Countess of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt
House Ascania
Father John V, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst
Mother Margaret of Brandenburg

Joachim Ernest of Anhalt (21 October 1536 – 6 December 1586), was a German prince of the House of Ascania, ruler of the principality of Anhalt-Zerbst from 1551, and from 1570 sole ruler of all the Anhalt lands.


Joachim Ernest of Anhalt.

Early life

Joachim Ernest was born in Dessau on 21 October 1536 as the second son of John V, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst, by his wife Margaret, daughter of Joachim I Nestor, Elector of Brandenburg. He received an extensive education under the supervision of his father. On 1 February 1549, just thirteen years of age, he was officially admitted to the University of Wittenberg, where, among others, he studied with the theologian Georg Helt.

Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst

In 1550, after the death of his father, he inherited Anhalt-Zerbst along with his older brother Karl I and his younger brother Bernhard VII.

The death of his uncle George III without male heirs permitted him and his brothers, Karl I and Bernhard VII, to inherit Anhalt-Plötzkau in 1553, while the death of his uncle Joachim I permitted him and his surviving brother Bernhard VII to inherit Anhalt-Dessau in 1561. In 1562 his cousin Wolfgang abdicated Anhalt-Köthen in his favor.


In Barby on 3 March 1560 Joachim Ernest married Agnes (b. Barby, 23 June 1540 – d. Bernburg, 27 November 1569), daughter of Wolfgang I, Count of Barby-Mühlingen. They had six children.

In Stuttgart on 9 January 1571 Joachim Ernest married for a second time to Eleonore (b. Tübingen, 22 March 1552 – d. Schloss Lichtenberg, 12 January 1618), daughter of Christoph, Duke of Württemberg. They had ten children.

Sole ruler of Anhalt

In 1570 the death of his last surviving brother, Bernhard VII, left him as sole ruler of all the Anhalt states, which were finally unified for the first time since their first partition in 1252. Joachim Ernest made Dessau the seat of his government.

Joachim Ernest was a typical Renaissance monarch who generously supported the arts and culture. He sent his sons with their tutors on educational journeys across Europe. Also, he ordered the son of his chancellor, Tobias Hübner, to create a description of the famous knight's games (German: Ritterspiele) that took place at the Dessau court.

In 1572 he created in the Regional Legal Code of Anhalt (German: Landesverordnung Anhalts) and in 1582 he founded the Francisceum High School (German: Gymnasium Francisceum) in Zerbst. He was a fervent supporter of the Reformation and the Huguenots.

Death and succession

Prince Joachim Ernest died in Dessau on 6 December 1586. Since succession in the territories of Anhalt was not governed by the rules of primogeniture, Joachim Ernest's seven sons shared rule of the territories of Anhalt until 1603, when the five surviving sons divided their lands among themselves.

Ancestry and issue



By Agnes of Barby-Mühlingen
Anna MariaZerbst, 13 June 1561Brzeg, 14 November 1605married on 19 May 1577 to Joachim Frederick, Duke of Legnica-Brzeg-Oława-Wołów
AgnesZerbst, 16 September 1562Bernburg, 4 June 1564
Elisabeth of Anhalt-ZerbstZerbst, 25 September 1563Crossen, 5 October 1607married on 19 May 1577 to John George, Elector of Brandenburg
SibyllaBernburg, 28 September 1564Leonberg, 26 October 1614married on 22 May 1581 to Frederick I, Duke of Württemberg
John George I, Prince of Anhalt-DessauHarzgerode, 9 May 1567Dessau, 24 May 1618married on 22 February 1588 to Countess Dorothea of Mansfeld-Arnstein, and secondly on 21 February 1595 to Countess Palantine Dorothea of Simmern
Christian I, Prince of Anhalt-BernburgBernburg, 11 May 1568Bernburg, 17 April 1630married on 2 July 1595 to Countess Anna of Bentheim-Steinfurt-Tecklenburg-Limburg
By Eleonore of Württemberg
Bernhard, Prince of Anhaltb. Dessau, 25 September 1571Klosterhof bei Tyrnau, 24 November 1596)
Agnes HedwigDessau, 12 March 1573Sonderburg, 3 November 1616)married on 3 January 1586 to Augustus, Elector of Saxony, and secondly on 14 February 1588 to John II, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg
Dorothea MariaDessau, 2 July 1574Weimar, 18 July 1617married on 7 January 1593 to John II, Duke of Saxe-Weimar
Augustus, Prince of Anhalt-PlötzkauDessau, 14 July 1575Plötzkau, 22 August 1653)married on 25 January 1618 to Countess Sibylle of Solms-Laubach
Rudolph, Prince of Anhalt-ZerbstHarzgerode, 28 October 1576Zerbst, 30 July 1621married on 29 December 1605 to Dorothea Hedwig of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, and secondly on 31 August 1612 to Countess Magdalene of Oldenburg
John Ernest, Prince of AnhaltDessau, 1 May 1578Vienna, 22 December 1601
Louis I, Prince of Anhalt-KöthenDessau, 17 June 1579Köthen, 7 January 1650married on 31 October 1606 to Countess Amöena Amalie of Bentheim-Steinfurt-Tecklenburg-Limburg, and secondly on 12 September 1626 to Countess Sophie of Lippe
SabineDessau, 7 November 1580Darmstadt, 28 March 1599
Joachim ChristophDessau, 7 July 1582Dessau, 16 July 1583
Anna SophieDessau, 15 June 1584Oberkranichfeld, 9 June 1652)married on 13 June 1613 to Charles Günther, Count of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt
Joachim Ernest, Prince of Anhalt
Born: 21 October 1536 Died: 6 December 1586
Preceded by
John V
Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst
with Karl I (until 1561) and Bernhard VII
Succeeded by
Unification of all
Anhalt Principalities
Preceded by
George III
Prince of Anhalt-Plötzkau
with Karl I (until 1561) and Bernhard VII
Preceded by
Joachim I
Prince of Anhalt-Dessau
with Bernhard VII
Preceded by
Prince of Anhalt-Köthen
with Bernhard VII
Preceded by
Principality created
Prince of Anhalt
Succeeded by
John George I
Christian I
John Ernest
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