Johann Friedrich II, Duke of Saxony (1529-1595)

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Johann Friedrich II der Mittlere (John Frederick the Middle), Duke of Saxony (Herzog von Sachsen), 1554-1566 and Elector of Saxony 1554-1556, born 8 January 1529 in Torgau, was the son of Johann Friedrich I the Magnanimous, Elector of Saxony, and Sibylle von Jülich-Kleve-Berg (1512-1554). After his father's death in 1554, he became Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Eisenach and shared the government of Saxony with his brother Johann Wilhelm, Duke of Saxe-Weimar (1530-1573) and his minor brother and namesake, Johann Friedrich III, Duke of Saxe-Gotha (1554-1565); when the latter died childless in 1565, Johann Friedrich II became the ruler of Gotha.

Like his father, Johann Friedrich II fought the Anabaptists. But after the Battle of Mühlberg his father became more lenient; on 15 September 1551 he wrote from prison to his son Johann Friedrich II: "To threaten heretics with the fear of fire and not to instruct them in the Scriptures, we cannot consider Christian or right" (Schmidt). And on 7 March 1559, Philipp of Hesse wrote to the duke, "We should not look only upon ourselves, but also upon other Christians, that they also may fare well, and if they perhaps err in one article, they should not therefore be consigned to the slaughtering bench" (Corpus Reformatorum IX, 759).

But these admonitions made no impression on Johann Friedrich II. Soon after the opening of the University of Jena, which he had founded in 1558, he had his Lutheran theologians work out a confessional statement, known as the Weimar Refutation, in which he damns without differentiation all the sects: Servetus, Schwenckfeld, the Antinomians, Sacramentists, Osiandrists, Stankarists, Majorists, Adiaphorists, as well as the "Anabaptists who are an unchristian sect." The Refutation appeared in 1559, a booklet of 84 pages with the title, Des Johans Friderichen, Hertzogen zu Sachsen, für sich selbs und von wegen seiner Brüder, Hertzog Johan Wilhelm und Hertzog Johan Friderich in Gottes Wort prophetischer und apostolischer Schrift gegründete Confutationes, Widerlegungen und V erdammung etlicher Corruptelen, Secten und Irrtumen.

Duke Johann Friedrich II was placed in the imperial ban in 1563, and arrested in 1566 at the surrender of Grimmenstein near Gotha. His possessions were confiscated by the emperor and handed over to his brother Johann Wilhelm, who became the sole ruler of the duchy of Saxony. In 1572 the emperor divided the duchy into three parts, with Johann Friedrich's son, Johann Casimir, becoming Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Johann Ernst becoming Duke of Saxe-Eisenach. Their uncle Johann Wilhelm retained Weimar. Johann Friedrich died 9 May 1595 in a castle at Steyr in Upper Austria.


Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 429.

Schmidt, G. L. Justus Menius, der Reformator Thüringens II. Gotha, 1867: 135.

Wappler, Paul. Die Stellung Kursachsens und des Landgrafen Philipp von Hessen zur Täuferbewegung. Münster, 1910.

Author(s) Christian Hege
Richard D. Thiessen
Date Published April 2007

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Hege, Christian and Richard D. Thiessen. "Johann Friedrich II, Duke of Saxony (1529-1595)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. April 2007. Web. 22 Jul 2024.,_Duke_of_Saxony_(1529-1595)&oldid=145541.

APA style

Hege, Christian and Richard D. Thiessen. (April 2007). Johann Friedrich II, Duke of Saxony (1529-1595). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 July 2024, from,_Duke_of_Saxony_(1529-1595)&oldid=145541.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 114. All rights reserved.

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