The Free State of Saxony (German: Freistaat Sachsen [ˈfʁaɪʃtaːt ˈzaksən]; Upper Sorbian: Swobodny stat Sakska) is a landlocked state of Germany, bordering Brandenburg, Saxony Anhalt, Thuringia, Bavaria, the Czech Republic, and Poland. It is the tenth-largest German state in area, with an area of 18,413 square kilometres (7,109 sq mi), and the sixth most populous of Germany's sixteen states, with a population of 4.3 million.
Located in the middle of an erstwhile German-speaking part of Europe, the history of the state of Saxony spans more than a millennium. It has been a medieval duchy, an electorate of the Holy Roman Empire, a kingdom, and, from 1918 to 1952 and again from 1990, a republic.
The area of the modern state of Saxony should not be confused with Old Saxony, the area inhabited by Saxons. Old Saxony corresponds approximately to the modern German states of Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and the Westphalian part of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Saxony has a long history as a duchy, an electorate of the Holy Roman Empire (the Electorate of Saxony), and eventually as a kingdom (the Kingdom of Saxony). In 1918, subsequent to Germany's defeat in World War I, its monarchy was overthrown and a republican form of government was established under the current name. The state was broken up into smaller units during communist rule (1949–1989), but was re-established on 3 October 1990 on the reunification of East and West Germany.
In prehistoric times, the territory of Saxony was the site of some of the largest of the ancient Central European monumental temples, dating from the 5th century BC. Notable archaeological sites have been discovered in Dresden and the villages of Eythra and Zwenkau near Leipzig. The Slavic and Germanic presence in the territory of today's Saxony is thought to have begun in the 1st century BC.
Parts of Saxony were possibly under the control of the Germanic King Marobod during the Roman era. By the late Roman period, several tribes known as the Saxons emerged, from which the subsequent state(s) draw their name. For the origins of the Saxon tribes, see Saxons.
The first mediæval Duchy of Saxony was a late Early Middle Ages "Carolingian stem duchy", which emerged about the year 700, and grew to cover the greater part of Northern Germany. It covered the area of the modern German states of Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Schleswig-Holstein and Saxony-Anhalt. The Saxons converted to Christianity during this period
While the Saxons were facing pressure from Charlemagne's Franks, they were also facing a westward push by Slavs to the east. The territory of the Free State of Saxony was occupied by Slavs before being reconquered by Germans. A legacy of this period is the Sorb population in Saxony.