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Principality (Duchy) of Anhalt-Dessau
Fürstentum (Herzogtum) Anhalt-Dessau  (German)

Flag of Anhalt-Dessau
19th century flag
of Anhalt duchies
Anhalt principalities, 1747-1793: Anhalt-Dessau in green
Anhalt principalities, 1747-1793: Anhalt-Dessau in green
Capital Dessau
Government Principality
Historical era Middle Ages
• Partitioned from Anhalt-Zerbst
• Partitioned to create A-Köthen
• Partitioned to create A-Plötzkau and A-Zerbst

• Annexed back to A-Zerbst (later: Anhalt)

• Raised to duchy
• Merged with Anhalt-Köthen
• Duchy of Anhalt reunited
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Principality of Anhalt-Zerbst
Duchy of Anhalt
Today part of  Germany

Anhalt-Dessau was a principality of the Holy Roman Empire and later a duchy of the German Confederation. Ruled by the House of Ascania, it was created in 1396 following the partition of the Principality of Anhalt-Zerbst, and finally merged into the re-united Duchy of Anhalt in 1863. The capital of the state was Dessau in present-day Saxony-Anhalt.


Johannbau, preserved west wing of Dessau Castle

The Principality of Anhalt arose in 1212 under its first ruler Henry I, son of the Saxon duke Bernhard III. Named after Anhalt Castle, the ancestral seat of the Ascanian dynasty near Harzgerode, the principality experienced a number of partitions throughout its centuries-long existence. Anhalt-Dessau emerged when the two surviving sons of late Prince John II of Anhalt-Zerbst divided their heritage and the elder, Prince Sigismund I, took his residence at Dessau.

Upon the death of Sigismund's son Prince George I of Anhalt-Dessau in 1474, the principality was again divided with Anhalt-Köthen. Anhalt-Dessau was partitioned for a second time in 1544 with Anhalt-Zerbst and Anhalt-Plötzkau being created. From 1561 until 1603 Anhalt-Dessau was under the rule of the Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst, and in 1603 Anhalt-Dessau was recreated, being raised to a duchy in 1807.

Anhalt-Köthen became extinct on the death of the Duke of Anhalt-Köthen, 23 November 1847, and its territories were united to Anhalt-Dessau by Patent of 22 May 1853.[1] Following the death of the last Duke of Anhalt-Bernburg on 19 August 1863, all of the Anhalt lands came under the rule of the Duke of Anhalt-Dessau who then took the new title of Duke of Anhalt for the newly created Duchy of Anhalt.[1]

Rulers of Anhalt-Dessau

Coat of arms of Anhalt-Dessau-Köthen according to Siebmachers Wappenbuch

Princes (1396–1561)

To Anhalt-Zerbst 1561.

Princes (1603–1807)

Raised to Duchy 1807.

Dukes (1807–1863)

Renamed Duchy of Anhalt 1863.


  1. ^ a b Hertslet 1875, p. 245.


  • Regnal chronology
  • Hertslet, Edward (1875), The map of Europe by treaty; showing the various political and territorial changes which have taken place since the general peace of 1814, London: Butterworths 
  • Wikisource Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Anhalt". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 44–46. 
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