coburg gotha saxe duchy ernest
SAXE-COBURG-GOTHA (Germ. Sachsen-Koburg- S Gothic), a duchy in Thuringia, and an independent member F of the German empire, consists of the two formerly separate duchies of Coburg and Gotha, which lie at a distance of 14 miles from each other, and of eight small scattered exclaves, the most northerly of which is 70 miles from the most southerly. The total area is 760 square Gotha. The duchy of Coburg is bounded on the S.E., S., and S.W. by Bavaria, and on the other sides by SaxeMeiningen, which, with part of Prussia, separates it from Gotha. The considerable exclave of Kiinigsberg in Bavaria, 10 miles south, belongs to Coburg. Lying on the south slope of the Thuringian Forest, and in the Franconian plain, this duchy is an undulating and fertile are the Itz, Steinach, and Rodach, all find their way into the Main. The duchy of Gotha, more than twice the size of Coburg, stretches from the south borders of Prussia along the northern slopes of the Thuringian Forest, the highest summits of which (Grosse Beerberg, 3225 feet ; Schneekopf, 3179 feet ; Inselberg, 2957 feet) rise within of this duchy flow to the Werra or to the Saale.
In both duchies the chief industry is agriculture, which employs 33 per cent, of the entire population. According to the returns for 1883, 531i per cent. of the area was occupied by arable land, 10 per cent. by meadow-land and pasture, and 30 per cent, by forest. In the same year the chief crops were oats (43,715 acres, yielding 19,229 tons), barley (37,387 acres, 20,148 tons), rye (29,077 acres, 12,048 tons),'wlicat (24,255 acres, 9,272 tons), and potatoes (24,546 acres, 116,695 tons). A small quantity of hemp and flax is raised (less than 1000 acres of each), but a considerable quantity of fruit and vegetables is annually produced. Cattle-breeding is an important resource, especially in the valley of the Itz in Coburg. In 1883 the two duchies contained 8187 horses, 58,196 cattle, 73,249 sheep, 51,549 pigs, and 27,015 goats. The mineral wealth of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha is insignificant ; small quantities of coal, lignite, ironstone, millstone, &c., are annually raised. There are also salt-works and some deposits of potter's clay.
The manufactures of the duchies, especially in the mountainous parts less favourable for agriculture, are tolerably brisk, but there is no largo industrial centre in the country. Iron goods and machinery, safes, glass, earthenware, chemicals, and wooden articles, including large quantities of toys, are produced ; and various branches of textile industry are carried on. Ruhla (two-fifths of which is situated in Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach) is famous for its meerschaum pipes and cigar-holders, which are exported to all ports of the world; and the maps of Perthes's geographical institute at Gotha mayalso be reckoned among the national products. Coburg (15,791 inhabitants in 1881) and Gotha (28,100 in 1885) are the chief towns of the duchies, to which they respectively give name ; the latter is the capital of the united duchy. There are seven other small towns, and 320 villages and hamlets. The villages of Friedriehroda and Ruble. and the Inselberg and Schneekopf and other picturesque points annually attract an increasing number of summer visitors and tourists. Neudietendorf or Guadenthal is a Moravian settlement founded in 1742.
The population in 1830 was 194,716, or 256 per square mile, of whom 56,723 (261 per square mile) were in Coburg and 137,988 (254 per square mile) in Gotha. In the former duchy the people belong to the Franconian and in the latter to the Thuringian branch of the Teutonic family. In 1880 there were 192,025 Lutherans, 2062 Roman Catholics, 490 Jews, and 139 others. In 1835 the population was 193,717,-57,355 in Coburg and 141,362 in Gotha.
Saxe-Coburg-Gotha is a limited hereditary monarchy, its constitution resting on a law of 1852, modified in 1874. For its own immediate afl'airs each duchy has a separate diet (in Coburg of 11, in Gotha of 19 members); but in more important and general matters a common diet, formed of the members of the separate diets, meeting at Coburg and Gotha alternately, exercises authority. The members are elected for four years ; the franchise is extended to all male taxpayers of twenty-five years of age and upwards. The ministry has special departments for each duchy, but is under a common president. In finance the duchies are also separate, the budget in Coburg being voted for a term of six years, and in Gotha for lour years. After long disputes between the duke and the Government a compromise was effected in 1855, by which the greater part of the public lands is regarded as a fideicommissum in the possession of the reigning duke, while the income from tho rest is regarded as state-revenue. There are thus two budgets for each duchy. The annual income of the public lands in Coburg is estimated for the period 1886-92 at £20,700, and the expenditure at £11,900 ; in Gotha (period 1886-90) the same source is estimated to yield £102,621 and to cost £61,996 ; - together producing a surplus of £49,425, of which the duke receives £29,700 and the state-treasury £19,725. The annual state-revenue in the same periods was estimated for Coburg at £51,520, or £2246 more than the estimated expenditure, and in Gotha at £106,020, or £2244 more than the expenditure. Besides the civil list the duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha enjoys a very large private fortune, amassed chiefly by Ernest I., who sold the principality of Lichtenberg to Prussia in 1834 for an annual payment of £12,000. The congress of Vienna had bestowed the principality upon him in recognition of his services in 1313. The house of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha is directly connected with five of the royal houses of Europe, and the actual rulers or the heirs of three kingdoms trace their descent from it. The succession is hereditary in the male line ; and by the deed of succession of 1855 the heir to the throne is the duke of Edinburgh, nephew of tho present duke.
History. - The elder line of Saxe-Coburg was founded in 1630 by Albert, the second son of Ernest the Pious. On his dying childless in 1699, however, the lino became extinct, and his possessions became the subject of vehement contention amongst the other Saxon houses, until they were finally distributed at the end of the 18th century. The present reigning family is the posterity of John Ernest, the seventh son of Ernest the Pious, who originally ruled in Saxe-Saalfeld. His two sons, ruling in common, acquired possession of Coburg, and, changing their residence, styled themselves dukes of Saxe-Coburg-Saal feld. Under the son and successor of the survivor (who introduced the principle of primogeniture), Ernest Frederick I. (1764-1800), the land was plunged into bankruptcy, so that an imperial commission was appointed on his death to manage the finances. The measures adopted to redeem the country's credit were successful, but imposed so much hardship on the people that a rising took place, which had to be quelled with the aid of troops from the electorate of Saxony. The duke Francis Frederick Antony died in December 1806, and was succeeded by his son Ernest III. (1806-1844), although the country was occupied by the French from 1307 until the peace of Tilsit in 1816. In the redistribution of the Saxon lands in 1826, Ernest resigned Saalfeld to Meiningen, receiving Gotha in exchange and assuming the title of Ernest I. of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. The line of Saxe-Gotha had been founded in 1680 by the eldest son of Ernest the Pious, and had become extinct in 1825. When Ernest II. (b. 1818) succeeded in 1844 both the public finances and the private fortune of the ducal family (see above) were flourishing. In his reign various liberal reforms have beets achieved, and the union of the duchies has been made closer.