Anhalt-Bernburg was a principality of the Holy Roman Empire and a duchy of the German Confederation ruled by the House of Ascania with its residence at Bernburg in present-day Saxony-Anhalt. It emerged as a subdivision from the Principality of Anhalt from 1252 to 1468 and again from 1603 until the re-unification in 1863.
It was created in 1252, when the Principality of Anhalt was partitioned among the sons of
Henry I into Anhalt-Aschersleben, Anhalt-Bernburg and Anhalt-Zerbst. Bernburg was allotted to Henry's second son Bernhard I. When the line of Anhalt-Aschersleben became extinct in 1315, Prince Bernhard II of Anhalt-Bernburg claimed their territory, he could however not prevail against his cousin Albert, Bishop of Halberstadt. After the ruling family became extinct upon the death of Prince Bernhard VI in 1468, Anhalt-Bernburg was inherited by Prince George I of Anhalt-Dessau. With Anhalt-Dessau it was inherited by Prince Joachim Ernest of Anhalt-Zerbst in 1561, who unified all Anhalt lands under his rule in 1570.
Re-united Anhalt was again divided in 1603 among Prince Joachim Ernest's sons into the lines of Anhalt-Dessau,
Anhalt-Köthen, Anhalt-Plötzkau, Anhalt-Bernburg and Anhalt-Zerbst. His second son Prince Christian I took his residence at Bernburg. Christian's younger son Frederick established the separate Principality of Anhalt-Harzgerode in 1635, which existed until 1709. Prince Victor Amadeus of Anhalt-Bernburg inherited Anhalt-Plötzkau in 1665. Upon his death in 1718 his lands were further divided and the Principality of Anhalt-Zeitz-Hoym was created for his second son Lebrecht, which was reunited with Anhalt-Bernburg in 1812.
In 1803 Prince
Alexius Frederick Christian of Anhalt-Bernburg was elevated to the rank of a duke by Emperor Francis II of Habsburg. His son Duke Alexander Karl however died without issue in 1863, whereafter Anhalt-Bernburg was inherited by Leopold IV, Duke of Anhalt-Dessau, re-uniting all Anhalt lands under his rule.
Princes of Anhalt-Bernburg 1252–1468
Bernhard I 1287–1291
John I, son, co-regent with his brother
Bernhard III, son of Bernhard II 1348–1354
Bernhard IV, son 1354–1374
Henry IV, brother 1374–1404
Otto III, brother 1404–1420
Bernhard V, son of Henry IV, co-regent with his cousin
Bernhard VI, brother of Otto IV, left no male heirs
Princes of Anhalt-Bernburg 1603–1807
Raised to duchy
Dukes of Anhalt-Bernburg 1803–1863
To re-united Anhalt
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from 1810 1
until 1810 2
until 1809 3
from 1809 4
until 1811 5