|House of Ascania|
|Country||Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Lithuania|
|Titles||*Count/Prince/Duke of Anhalt|
|Founder||Esiko, Count of Ballenstedt|
|Final ruler||Joachim Ernst, Duke of Anhalt|
|Current head||Eduard, Prince of Anhalt|
The Ascanians are named after Ascania (or Ascaria) Castle, Schloss Askanien, which is located near and named after Aschersleben. The castle was seat of the County of Ascania, a title that was later subsumed into the titles of the princes of Anhalt.
The earliest known member of the house, Esiko, Count of Ballenstedt, first appears in a document of 1036, and is assumed to have been a grandson (through his mother) of Odo I, Margrave of the Saxon Ostmark. From Odo, the Ascanians inherited large properties in the Saxon Eastern March.
Esiko's grandson was Otto, Count of Ballenstedt, who died in 1123. By Otto's marriage to Eilika, daughter of Magnus, Duke of Saxony, the Ascanians became heirs to half of the property of the House of Billung, former dukes of Saxony.
However, Albert inherited the Margraviate of Brandenburg from its last Wendish ruler, Pribislav, in 1157, and became the first Ascanian margrave. Albert, and his descendants of the House of Ascania, then made considerable progress in Christianizing and Germanizing the lands. As a borderland between German and Slavic cultures, the country was known as a march.
In 1237 and 1244 two towns, Cölln and Berlin were founded during the rule of Otto and Johann, grandsons of Margrave Albert the Bear, (later they were united into one city, Berlin). The emblem of the House of Ascania, red eagle and bear, became the heraldic emblems of Berlin.
In 1320 the Brandenburg Ascanian line came to an end.
After the Emperor had deposed the Guelph rulers of Saxony in 1180, Ascanians returned to rule the Duchy of Saxony, which had been reduced to its eastern half by the Emperor. However, even in eastern Saxony, the Ascanians could establish control only in limited areas, mostly near the River Elbe.
In the 13th century, the Principality of Anhalt was split off from the Duchy, and later, the remaining state was split into Saxe-Lauenburg and Saxe-Wittenberg. The Ascanian dynasties in the two Saxon states became extinct in 1689 and in 1422, respectively, but Ascanians continued to rule in the smaller state of Anhalt and its various subdivisions until monarchy was abolished in 1918.
List of states ruled by the House of Ascania
- County, Principality, and Duchy of Anhalt: c. 1100–1918
- Duchy and Electorate of Saxony: 1112, 1139–1142, 1180–1422
- County of Weimar-Orlamünde: 1112–1486
- Margravate of Brandenburg: 1157–1320
- Duchy of Saxe-Lauenburg: 1269–1689
- Principality of Lüneburg: 1369–1388
- Principality and Duchy of Anhalt-Bernburg: 1252–1468 and 1603–1863
- Principality of Anhalt-Zerbst: 1252–1396 and 1544–1796
- Principality of Anhalt-Aschersleben: 1252–1315
- Principality and Duchy of Anhalt-Köthen: 1396–1561 and 1603–1847
- Principality and Duchy of Anhalt-Dessau 1396–1561 and 1603–1863
- Principality of Anhalt-Plötzkau 1544–1553 and 1603–1665
- Principality of Anhalt-Harzgerode 1635–1709
- Principality of Anhalt-Mühlingen: 1667–1714
- Principality of Anhalt-Dornburg: 1667–1742
- Principality of Anhalt-Bernburg-Schaumburg-Hoym: 1718–1812
- Russian Empire: 1762–1796
- Askanien, Meyers Konversationslexikon, 1888
- Trillmich, Werner, Kaiser Konrad II. und seine Zeit, Bonn, 1991
- Ducal Family of Anhalt (of the House of Ascania) official web site
- Marek, Miroslav. "GENEALOGY.EU: House of Ascania". Genealogy.EU. http://genealogy.euweb.cz/ascania/ascan1.html. (first page of a series)
- Stirnet: Brandenburg1 (subscription required) (genealogy of the Houses of Ascania and Brandenburg, including the most likely ancestry of the 11th-century House of Ascania)
- Stirnet: Ascania1 (subscription required) (an alternate possible ancestry of the 11th-century House of Ascania)
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