Administration, state building and writing

Electoral Saxony during the personal union with the kingdom of Poland-Lithuania (1697-1706; 1709-1763)

The saxonian electoral dukes were one of the most important promulgators of the Reformation Movement during the 16th century. This shows the complexity of state building in the interior structure of the electoral dukedom, a complexity which was triggered by the dynastic factor in political power. Beneath religious reform a very early and stable promotion of universities in Lipsia and Wittenberg and an intense interest in medicine and medical politics were signs of the wish to strengthen the monarchical structure of Electoral Saxony and its neighbouring duchies. These efforts lay the basis for the rise of the electoral dukedom on a European Level after the Thirty-Years’-War, which culminated in the attainment of the Polish-Lithuanian Crown in 1697.

The project of Ruth Schilling will provide new insights into the mechanism of writing practices. Saxony/ Poland-Lithuania during this period is an example of the interior structure of a homogenous land as well as the (very often unsuccesfull efforts) to grasp a newly gained and unknown territory.The personal union of both reigns was based on already established practices of writing and information management. Reports, letters and observations were sent from Warsaw to Dresden and back again; the ruler was to be informed nearly daily on the happening in far away regions. Physicians played a key role in these processes not only as the personal physician of the king and thus ensuring the continuity of dynastic rule in Saxony and the hoped for establishment of a dynasty in Poland, but also as persons which were involved in gathering, exchanging and interpreting information.

The research is based on two kinds of sources (1) serial reports like weather observations, statistics etc., (2) life and work of physicians involved in the administration of Saxony/Poland-Lithuania.