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The Duchy of Anhalt, Anhalt, is a small constitutional monarchy in central Europe. It is bordered by Magdeburg, Electoral Saxony, Mansfeld, Quedlinburg, Stolberg and Nordhausen. It is a member of the Holy Roman Empire. The capital is Dessau and the population around 328,000.
The Head of state is Duke Leopold VIII.
The official language is German.
The currency is the Anhalt Taler (AHT).
Formally a part of the old Duchy of Saxony the lands now ruled from Dessau passed to Brandenburg and back again before Otto I became its first prince and split it off permanently from Saxony in 1238.
Anhalt was soon dividing as equal inheritance between Otto's two sons and their sons split it up into smaller duchies. Unlike in other divided territories, such as Bavaria for example, relations remained strong and the various branches assisted each other in protecting their lands, expanding and maintaining church ties. By 1521 as the lines extinguished themselves through death or abdication there remained two duchies; Anhalt-Zerbst and Anhalt-Kothen. Both dukes embraced Luther's teachings and were eager participants in the Schmalkaldic Wars and Anhalt-Zerbst was made an electorate within the Schmalkaldic Empire.The experience of the Fifty Years War was devastating for the Anhalts. Their rich lands were ravaged repeatedly by Catholic and Protestant armies alike. Its nobles fled to Denmark for safety. Duke Christian of Anhalt-Zerbst was killed at the Battle of Gottingen in September 1646 by a cannonball, and, childless, his portion passed to Frederick I of Anhalt-Kothen, reuniting the Duchy.
All of Anhalt (minus its electoral status) was restored by the Treaty of Copenhagen but the scars of the war would take more than a century to heal. Virtually the entire land had to be resettled with Danes and Rhinelanders. And while the duchy remained whole thanks to new primogeniture laws the calibre of its dukes often tested the patience of its ministers and subjects. Eventually in 1832 under the regency of Amöena Matilde for her young son Leopold III tensions overran. Alongside 'Verfassungurkund'-ists in Magdeburg a peasant army advanced on the ducal palace. The duchess was strongly advised to sign in a new constitution which gave more power to the territory's Diet.
Much of Anhalt's subsequent history has been taken up with balancing the hastily drawn up constitution with reality, a situation which has led it to have 103 amendments. The pace of real change is slow as each amendment is tenaciously defended or ridiculed by a severely divided Diet.
Anhalt is a constitutional monarchy and is governed by a single chambered Diet. Elections are officially held every four years but the need to maintain mandates to keep legislative change moving means elections occur most years. The battle for the rights of women to vote has taken three years so far.
The Head of State is Duke Leopold VIII and his Chancellor is Ernst Jordan.