The Duchy of Saxony (German: Herzogtum Sachsen) originally was the settlement area of the Saxons in the late Early Middle Ages, when they were subdued by Charlemagne during the Saxon Wars from 772 and incorporated into the Carolingian Empire (Francia) by 804. Upon the deposition of the Welf duke Henry the Lion in 1180, the ducal title fell to the House of Ascania, in 1296 the remaining lands were divided into the duchies of Saxe-Wittenberg and Saxe-Lauenburg.
The Saxon stem duchy covered the greater part of present-day Northern Germany, including the modern German states (Länder) of Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt up to the Elbe and Saale rivers in the east, the city-states of Bremen and Hamburg, as well as the Westphalian part of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Holstein region (Nordalbingia) of Schleswig-Holstein. In the late 12th century, Duke Henry the Lion also occupied the adjacent area of Mecklenburg (the former Billung March).
The Saxons were one of the most robust groups in the late tribal culture of the times, and eventually bequeathed their tribe's name to a variety of more and more modern geo-political territories from Old Saxony near the mouth of the Elbe up the river via the Prussian Province of Saxony (in present-day Saxony-Anhalt) to Upper Saxony, the Electorate and Kingdom of Saxony from 1806 corresponding with the German Free State of Saxony, which bears the name today though it was not part of the medieval duchy (see map on the right).
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