Ernst was founder of the Ernestine line of Saxon princes, ancestor of George I of Great Britain, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, as well as his wife and cousin Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, and their cousins Leopold II of Belgium and Empress Carlota of Mexico.
The death of his older brother Frederick (1451) made him the new heir apparent to the position of Elector of Saxony.
In 1464, he succeeded his father as Elector of Saxony, and annexed Thuringia in 1482, and three years later (Treaty of Leipzig, 1485) shared his territory with his brother Albert, until he arranged the division of the common possession.
In the Division of Leipzig he received area around Wittenberg, the south Thuringian part, the Vogtland and parts of the Pleissnerland. As residence he selected Wittenberg. He provided for the welfare of the country and introduced the constitution.
One year after the division elector Ernest died in Colditz, at the age of 46 years, the consequence of a fall off a horse.
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Common ancestors of Ernst von Sachsen (1441-1486) and Elisabeth von Bayern-München (1443-1484)
- Agnes von Sachsen-Wittenberg (c1309-1338)
- Beatrice Regina della Scala (c1331-1384)
- Beatrix of Glogow (1290-1322)
- Bernabò Visconti (1323-1385)
- Bernhard III. von Anhalt-Bernburg (c1303-1348)
- Katharina von Anhalt-Bernburg (c1330-1390)
- Ludwig IV. von Wittelsbach (1282-1347)
- Magnus I. der Fromme von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel (c1304-1369)
- Magnus II. Torquatus von Braunschweig-Lüneburg (c1328-1373)
- Sophie von Brandenburg (1300-1356)
- Stefano Visconti (c1288-1337)