Princely Houses | Bearers of Culture: Society, Education, Saint Afra Meissen – Scholarship

      Princely Houses | Bearers of Culture

Photo: Sankt Afra

Saint Afra scholarship Meissen

Social responsibility lives in the historical consciousness of old families

Great-grandson of the last Saxon king of Saxony handed a scholarship to a highly gifted student from Mexico at the princely school of Sankt Afra in Meissen.

Saint Afra in Meissen – Scholarship for brilliant student

Willingness to undertake social responsibilities comes though historical awareness.

Photo:André HenschkeFoto:André HenschkeUlrike Ostermaier Phd (Director of Saint Afra), Princess Gisela of Saxony, José Maria Jiménez Del Valle, Prince Alexander of Saxony

On February 6th, 2014 Prince Alexander of Saxony, the great-grandson of the last King of Saxony, Frederick Augustus III, and successor of the Margrave Maria Emanuel who died in 2012, visited Sankt Afra in Meissen secondary school. He delivered a scholarship for one year for a brilliant student who is originally from Mexico.

Prince Alexander of Saxony grew up between Mexico and Germany. One can consider him a citizen of the world. Today, he lives between Mexico, Germany and Switzerland and undertakes many honorary and representative duties in Saxony.

In Mexico his attention was called to a young Mexican boy, whom the German school in Mexico City sent as exchange student the Free State of Saxony’s school for gifted students, Saint Afra. After the young student enjoyed its opportunities, it became his eager wish to finish his secondary education over there. Without hesitation, Prince Alexander, together with his wife, Princess Gisela of Saxony organized the financial support for the young boy. Many friends and others in Saxony reacted positively and helped spontaneously.

The European educational institutions are a historical component of the Christian and western culture and are responsible for the widespread education of the European populace. Since the middle ages the progress of science and the arts has been promoted through research facilities and schools. The classical university, where humanist education was promoted, is a European creation. First began by the churches, monasteries and cathedral schools, the schools were promoted early by European royal houses.

Already in the year 1188 the Hohenstaufen Emperor Frederick Barbarossa has issued Privilegium Scholasticum, ensuring autonomy for education intuitions. In the following centuries, many other schools were founded, always on the initiative or with the participation of secular or spiritual rulers. Early on, the royal houses took social responsibility in supporting the education of broad swathes of the population.


Among them were also the Saxon dukes, princes-electors and kings, who founded famous educational institutes. The more famous ones are the universities in Jena and Halle-Wittenberg and the Duchess Anna Amalia Library in Weimar. This social responsibility was also fulfilled by Duke Maurice of Saxony, when he issued the state’s new administrative order, whereby three state supervised schools were founded. In Meissen the princely school Saint Afra was found on the ground of the former monastery of the Augustinian friars, wherein 60 children of commoners were educated. A famous innovation of this institution, following the principles of humanism, was that all children on this school were to be treated equally. Saint Afra developed into a secondary school with a scholarship system, which produced many famous philosophers and scientists like Lessing, Hahnemann or Gellert. Today Saint Afra is a boarding school for highly gifted students under the sponsorship of the Free State of Saxony. No school fees are charged. At the inauguration of the new building of the princely school 1879 King Albert of Saxony was present in person.

Currently, besides the Saxon royal house also many other royal houses actively take place in the promotion of the sciences and arts in Germany. Carl Duke of Wurttemberg has earned great respect for decades in his function as president of the Universitätsbund e.V. and honorary senator of the University of Tübingen, that was founded already in 1477 at the instigation of the duke Eberhard von Württemberg. The Universitätsbund of the University Tübingen recently chose Friedrich Herzog von Württemberg as his new chairman. Ingeborg Princess zu Schleswig-Holstein is chairwoman of the foundation Louisenlund of the same- named boarding school in Güby, that in 1949 was founded by the ducal family. Bernhard hereditary prince of Baden is chairman of the advisory board of the boarding school Schloss Salem, that was found by the last imperial chancellor Max von Baden in 1920 and as an elite school since than also earned international awareness.

Due to the spontaneous commitment of Alexander Prince of Saxony gets visible, that he among other former ruling royal houses is still ready, to bear his historical responsibility. He actively participates transnational, in the context of his abilities, for the scholarship system of the former princely school of his ancestors.

The royal houses are active cultural sponsors of the institutions, that were found by their ancestors and take on social responsibility for the sponsorship and the preservation of the European education, that is a famous building stone of the European culture.

Authors: Nikolaus Faulstroh, Maximilian Solms

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In the context of the bicentennial memorial for the Battle of Leipzig, the descendants of the monarchs who ruled the warring powers came together from the 17th till the 19th October 2013. In this film we hear from many of them: Grand Duke George of Russia, a descendant of Tsar Alexander I, Archduke Georg of Austria, a descendant of Emperor Francis I of Austria, and Prince Heinrich of Hanover, a descendant of King George III of the United Kingdom. Prince Alexander of Saxony and Prince Michael of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, as descendants of King Frederick Augustus I of Saxony, an ally of Napoleon. The Duke of Leuchtenberg, descendant of Eugene de Beauharnais, Viceroy of Italy and stepson of Emperor Napoleon of the French. Also attending the memorial event of the Cultural and Environmental Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig were descendants of the generals like Prince Blücher and Count Bennigsen.