Frederick I, Elector of Brandenburg

Frederick (Friedrich; September 21, 1371September 20, 1440) was Burgrave of Nuremberg as Frederick VI and Elector of Brandenburg as Frederick I. He was a son of Burgrave Frederick V of Nuremberg and Elisabeth of Meissen, and was the first member of the House of Hohenzollern to rule the Margraviate of Brandenburg.


Frederick entered early into the service of Austria and fought on the side of King Sigismund of Hungary. After he returned he divided the inheritance from his father with his brother John, who received Bayreuth while Frederick kept Ansbach. At first he tried to mediate in the imperial confusion between King Wenceslaus and the party of Rupert of the Palatinate, nevertheless he fought on the side of Rupert in September 1399.

He resumed his rule of Ansbach in 1409 and after heavy feuding entered into the service of King Sigismund. In 1410, the death of Rupert, King of the Germans left the throne of the Holy Roman Empire vacant. Sigismund enlisted Frederick's help in obtaining the throne. At the time, Jobst of Moravia ruled Brandenburg and thus was one of the prince-electors who had the right to vote for the new emperor. However, Sigismund disputed Jobst's claim to Brandenburg and his right to vote in the imperial election. Sigismund claimd these rights for himself and designated Frederick to represent him as elector of Brandenburg in the imperial election of 20 September 1410. While Sigismund won this initial vote, Jobst of Moravia won the support of a majority of electors in an election in October 1410 and himself claimed the imperial throne. Jobst's death under suspicious circumstances in January 1411 cleared the way for Sigismund's recovery of Brandenburg and his undisputed election as king of the empire later that year. In gratitude for Frederick's services, King Sigismund made him Oberster Hauptmann and Verwalter der Marken (1411). With an iron hand Frederick fought against the rebellious nobility of the March of Brandenburg (in particular, the Quitzow family) and, in the end, restored security. Frederick also became a member of the Parakeet Society and of the League of Constance.

At the Council of Constance (30 April 1415) Sigismund granted Frederick the titles of Margrave and Prince-elector of Brandenburg. On 21 October 1415 the Brandenburg states meeting in a Landtag asked him to rule in Berlin. The king awarded him the formal enfeoffment of the margravate on 18 April 1417. As Frederick did not agree with the forcible action of Sigismund against the Hussites, relations between them cooled.

Constant feuding with the nobility of Brandenburg led Frederick to withdraw to his castle at Cadolzburg in 1425 and transferred the regency of the margravate to his son John in 1426 (Frederick, however, remained elector). After 1427 he organized the imperial war against the Hussites and helped on the occasion of the Council of Basel substantially in the mediation by the Prager Kompaktaten (30 November 1433).

Upon his death in 1440, Frederick was succeeded as Elector by his second-eldest son, Frederick II.


Family and children

He married Elisabeth of Bavaria-Landshut (1383–13 November 1442, Ansbach), daughter of Duke Frederick of Bavaria-Landshut and Maddalena Visconti. Their children were:

  1. John "the Alchemist".
  2. Frederick II.
  3. Albrecht Achilles.
  4. Frederick "the Fat" (c. 1424–6 October 1463, Tangermünde).
  5. Elisabeth (1403–31 October 1449, Liegnitz), married:
    1. in Konstanz c. 1420 Duke Ludwig II of Liegnitz and Brieg;
    2. c. 1438 Duke Wenzel I of Teschen.
  6. Cäcilie (c. 1405–4 January 1449), married in Berlin 30 May 1423 Duke Wilhelm I of Braunschweig-Lüneburg.
  7. Margarete (1410–27 July 1465, Landshut), married:
    1. in 1423 to Duke Albrecht V of Mecklenburg;
    2. in Ingolstadt 20 July 1441 to Louis VIII, Duke of Bavaria;
    3. in 1446 to Martin von Waldenfels.
  8. Magdalene (c. 1412 –27 October 1454, Scharnebeck), married in Tangermünde 3 July 1429 to Duke Friedrich of Braunschweig-Lüneburg.
  9. Sofie, born and died 1417.
  10. Dorothea (9 February 142019 January 1491, Rehna), married 1432 to Duke Heinrich IV of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.


  • Mast, Peter: Die Hohenzollern - Von Friedrich III. bis Wilhelm II., Graz, Wien, Köln 1994.

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