The foundation of Zeitz is closely connected with the diocese that existed between 968 and 1554. The city of Zeitz owes St. Peter and Paul's Cathedral, which later became the castle church of Moritzburg Castle, to this period. After the dissolution of the monastery, the city of Zeitz became part of the Electorate of Saxony. Johann Georg I (1585-1665) founded three smaller dominions in 1652 as compensation for his three younger sons who were not entitled to inherit. One of these lordships, called Sekundogenituren, was the Duchy of Saxony-Zeitz. Within this framework Zeitz became a residence town. Duke Moritz (1619-1681) donated 10,000 guilders in his will for the foundation of an orphanage, which was realized in 1690 by his son and successor Moritz Wilhelm. Thus the Zeitzer orphanage is older than the later founded Hallesche orphanage. However, an early exchange of content and personnel developed between the two institutions, as for example the correspondence between August Hermann Francke and the Zeitz superintendent Paul Christian Mitternacht shows. Francke was also in contact with the pastor of the small office in Kretzschau near Zeitz, Abraham Avenarius, or the long-standing head of the monastery school and later the first professor of rhetoric at Halle University, Christoph Cellarius.
A joint exhibition of the Museum Schloss Moritzburg and the Franckesche Stiftungen will trace these connections from April onwards. The special exhibition in Zeitz juxtaposes the welfare institutions in Halle and Zeitz and shows handwritten reports and letters tracing the contact between the two institutions. Another theme is the anecdote, often told in the vicinity of the Francke Foundations, about how August Hermann Francke led Duke Moritz Wilhelm back to the Lutheran faith in 1718.
The year 1718 was of great importance both for the Hallesche Pietists around Francke and for Zeitz. Duke Moritz Wilhelm, like several other Protestant imperial princes before him, had converted to the Catholic faith and had thus caused an »outcry« among Protestants in Germany. Francke, who had just returned from his image tour in southern and central Germany, then intervened with the Duke. In fact, in a series of long conversations he succeeded in convincing Moritz Wilhelm of the correctness and truth of the Protestant denomination. The Duke became a Protestant again and died shortly afterwards. Francke, who was not only an orphan father, organizer and business founder, but also a gifted practitioner in public relations and marketing, took advantage of this development by writing down his version of the history of the Duke's reconversion and distributing it to friends, patrons and influential Protestants. This enabled him to raise his own profile, perhaps even his fame, and to generate further public attention for his work, the Francke Foundations. For Zeitz, the death of the duke brought about a completely different change. Since Moritz Wilhelm left no male heirs, the secondary education fell back to the Electorate of Saxony. Zeitz forfeited his status as a royal seat.
The special exhibition »Education and Care in the Age of the Baroque. The Dukes of Saxony-Zeitz and the Francke Foundations« can be visited from 13 April to 13 October 2019 in Moritzburg Castle in Zeitz. The opening will take place on Saturday, 13 April, at 15.00 hrs.