March of Lusatia

Margraviate of Lusatia
Markgrafschaft Lausitz
State of the Holy Roman Empire

Coat of arms

Lusatian and Meissen marches (pink) about 1200
Capital Lübben
Government Margraviate
   965–993 Odo I (first)
  1365–1367 Otto of Wittelsbach (last)
Historical era Middle Ages
   Partitioned from Marca Geronis   965
  Conquered by Poland 1002–1031
  Appointment of Dietrich II of Wettin  
  Death of Henry IV 1288
  Sold to Brandenburg 1303
   To Bohemia 1367
  To Saxon electorate 1635
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Marca Geronis
Lands of the Bohemian Crown

The March or Margraviate of Lusatia (German: Mark(grafschaft) Lausitz) was as an eastern border march of the Holy Roman Empire in the lands settled by Polabian Slavs. It arose in 965 in the course of the partition of the vast Marca Geronis. Ruled by several Saxon margravial dynasties, among them the House of Wettin, the lordship was contested by the Polish kings as well as by the Ascanian margraves of Brandenburg. The remaining territory was finally incorporated into the Lands of the Bohemian Crown in 1367.


The March of (Lower) Lusatia within the Marca Geronis, 965

The territory of the margraviate roughly corresponded with the present-day region of Lower Lusatia. It originally stretched from the border of the Saxon stem duchy along the Saale River in the west to the border with Poland on the Bober (Bóbr) River in the east. From about 1138, the adjacent Polish territory beyond the river was part of the Duchy of Silesia (Lower Silesia). In the north, the March of Lusatia bordered on the Northern March, which was lost in the Great Slav Rising of 983 and re-established as the Margraviate of Brandenburg under the Ascanian margrave Albert the Bear in 1157. In the south, the Margraviate of Meissen likewise arose from the former Marca Geronis, its western part became the nucleus of the later Electorate of Saxony, while the eastern Milceni lands emerged as Upper Lusatia.

Over the centuries, the margravial territory diminished in favour of the Ascanian County of Anhalt and the Duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg. Further territories in the west were split off by means of distribution, like the Osterland ruled by the Margraves of Landsberg or the County of Brehna.


The area east of the former limes Sorabicus of East Francia, settled by the Slavic Veleti and Milcenian tribes, was gradually conquered until 963 by the Saxon count Gero of Merseburg. He added the territory between the Saale and Bober rivers to his Marca Geronis, which the Saxon duke and German King Otto I had established in 937. After Gero's death in 965 and the loss of the Northern March in the course of the 983 Slavic uprising, Lusatia became the heartland of the remaining Saxon Eastern March (Ostmark) under Margrave Odo I.

While the term Ostmark stayed in use for centuries, the Lusatian March appeared as a separate administrative unit from at least as early as 965 with the concurrent establishments of the Marches of Meissen, Merseburg and Zeitz. The division between Lower Lusatia and the adjacent Milceni lands around Bautzen and Görlitz (later Upper Lusatia), then part of Meissen, was also apparent even that early.

In 1002, the Marches of Lusatia and Meissen were conquered by Duke Bolesław I Chrobry of Poland during King Henry II's campaign against revolting Henry of Schweinfurt,[1] which sparked a German–Polish War ended by the 1018 Peace of Bautzen. Henry's successor Conrad II waged two campaigns, in 1031 and 1032, which reconquered both Lower and Upper Lusatia from Mieszko II of Poland.

By the reign of King Henry IV from 1056, Lusatia had been reincorporated into the Holy Roman Empire and it formed one of the four divisions of Upper Saxony along with Meissen, the Ostmark, and Zeitz. These regions were not always ruled by separate margraves, but were mainly administrative divisions. Lusatia and the Ostmark were ruled together and eventually the Ostmark was reduced to little more than Lower Lusatia. Under Henry IV, Upper Lusatia was detached from the Lusatian march and granted as a fief to Bolesław II of Poland.

The first "Margrave of Lusatia" is only known from 1046. Under Emperor Lothair III, Upper and Lower Lusatia were once again reunited in 1136. The terms "Ostmark" and "Lusatia" were interchangeable into the 12th century, though in 1128 Count Henry of Groitzsch is recorded as Margrave of the Ostmark, but as not receiving the Lusatian march until 1131. While in 1156 Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa invested Vladislaus II of Bohemia with Upper Lusatia, the territory of the Margraviate of (Lower) Lusatia was further reduced by the establishment of the Margraviate of Landsberg, the County of Anhalt and the Duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg.

From 1210 on Lower Lusatia was held by the Margraves of Meissen from the House of Wettin. When the last Lusatian margrave Henry IV died in 1288, the Lusatian lands fell to his grandson Margrave Frederick Tuta of Landsberg. His successor Dietrich (Diezmann) sold it to Otto IV, Margrave of Brandenburg in 1303. It was finally acquired by Emperor Charles IV in 1367 and incorporated into the Lands of the Bohemian Crown. The Lower Lusatian lands later passed to the Electorate of Saxony by the 1635 Peace of Prague.

Margraves of (Lower) Lusatia or (Saxon) Ostmark

Margraves of Meissen

Margraves of Landsberg

The Margraviate of Lusatia (Ostmark) was purchased by the Ascanian margraves of Brandenburg in 1303

Margraves of Brandenburg

Lusatia became a Bohemian crown land in 1367.


  1. Barański, pp. 75-6


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