Franziska von Hohenheim

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Portrait of Jakob Friedrich Weckherlin, around 1790

Franziska Theresia Countess of Hohenheim (since 1774, née Baroness von Bernerdin, 1765 Baroness Leutrum von Ertingen ) (born  January 10, 1748 in Adelmannsfelden ; † January 1, 1811 in Kirchheim unter Teck ) was the official mistress from 1772 , and second wife from 1785 by Duke Carl Eugen von Württemberg , Duchess of Württemberg since 1790.


Franziska and Carl Eugen, copper engraving by Johann Friedrich Knisel, 1787
Epitaph with relief bust, 1906

Franziska was born in 1748 as the daughter of Freiherr Ludwig Wilhelm von Bernerdin and Johanna. Born Freiin von Vohenstein von Adelmansfelden . Of the couple's fifteen children, only four sisters besides Franziska reached adulthood. The family lived at Sindlingen Castle near Herrenberg.

Bust of Daniel Mack, 1804, in the church of (Jettingen-) Sindlingen
Franziska von Hohenheim, obelisk in the Hohenheim Gardens

In 1765, at the request of her parents, Franziska married Freiherr Friedrich Wilhelm Leutrum von Ertingen . After he had been appointed Chamberlain of Württemberg, the couple had to appear more frequently at the Württemberg court. During a stay in Bad Wildbad in 1769 , Franziska got to know Duke Carl Eugen better and, after separating from his long-time lover Teresa Bonafoni , became his official maîtresse in 1772 .

On January 21, 1774, at the instigation of Carl Eugen, Franziska was raised to the rank of Countess of Hohenheim - Emperor Joseph II refused a further increase in rank to Duchess - and from then on bore the coat of arms of the extinct family of the Bombaste von Hohenheim . The Garbenhof near Hohenheim, which the Duke had given her as a present on January 10, 1772, was expanded into a representative palace complex, Hohenheim Palace , in the following decades . Franziska had a particular influence on the design of the English landscape garden (called "Dörfle") that was laid out in 1776 .

Franziska, whose worldview was shaped by Pietist ideas, suffered from the form of her relationship with Duke Carl Eugen, which according to this understanding was immoral. While their marriage with von Leutrum had already been divorced by a marriage court in Württemberg by mutual consent in 1772, the Catholic Carl Eugen could not get a divorce from his wife, Elisabeth Friederike Sophie von Brandenburg-Bayreuth . After the death of his first wife, who had finally returned to Bayreuth in 1756, in April 1780, Carl Eugen wanted to redeem his marriage promise given to Franziska for this case, which he repeated on July 10, 1780. The Catholic Church continued to refuse to approve Carl Eugen's marriage to a Protestant who was still married according to Catholic canon law. According to the Württemberg domiciliary rights , Franziska was also not equal, a marriage would have been morganatic afterwards . However, Carl Eugen not only intended to make Franziska his rightful wife, but also to gain her recognition as a duchess. He persistently pursued both goals with long-term strategies. First, on July 7, 1781, the marriage court lifted the ban on marriage that Franziska had been guilty of since her divorce. In the drafting of a contract for the morganatic marriage, which existed on May 15, 1784, Carl Eugen involved his youngest brother Friedrich Eugen , whose son Friedrich Wilhelm would ultimately succeed him. On January 11, 1785, the ducal court chaplain married Franziska and Carl Eugen, the marriage was initially not proclaimed, this only happened on February 2, 1786. In 1790, Carl Eugen was finally able to reach an agreement with Friedrich Eugen and Friedrich Wilhelm: Franziska received the dignity the Duchess and Kirchheim unter Teck as Wittum , possible descendants remained excluded from the line of succession, and Friedrich Eugen's wife Friederike Dorothea Sophia , who due to her origin, was entitled to the title of Highness anyway, retained her priority over Franziska. From Pope Pius VI. the marriage was recognized only in 1791 after the Vatican had determined the invalidity of Francis' first marriage after a series of theological reports and counter-reports. This finally prompted Carl Eugen's middle brother Ludwig Eugen , who himself led a morganatic marriage, to recognize Francis.

After Carl Eugen's death in 1793, Franziska had to leave Hohenheim Palace. In January 1795 she moved into Kirchheim Castle . She spent the summer months on her estates in Sindlingen and Bächingen an der Brenz , although she had not paid off the latter for a long time in 1805 and tried to sell again due to her tight financial situation after the death of Carl Eugen. The relationship with the Württemberg ruling family, especially with her nephew King Friedrich, was strained after the death of Carl Eugen, so that Franziska only rarely came to the Stuttgart court in the last years of her life.

On New Year's Day 1811 she died in Kirchheim Castle after a long illness of abdominal cancer . Five days later she was buried in a crypt in the choir of the Kirchheim Martinskirche , contrary to her wish to be buried at Carl Eugen's side in Ludwigsburg. The crypt was forgotten and was rediscovered in 1885. In 1906 a marble epitaph was attached to the south wall of the choir of St. Martin's Church by the Württemberg History and Antiquity Association. In 1962 the remains of Franziska von Hohenheim were reburied in a new oak coffin.


The pious and charitable Franziska enjoys an excellent reputation in Württemberg. Thanks to her charity and her moderating influence on the Duke, she was called the "Good Angel of Württemberg" even during her lifetime. She succeeded in re-educating the unpredictable and ostentatious duke into a caring father.

However, there were also downsides: The poet Christian FD Schubart , who mocked Franziska as “ light plaster that smells and stinks”, was lured to Blaubeuren with the help of an informant in order to arrest him on Württemberg territory. When he was thrown into dungeon for "re-education" in the Asperg mountain fortress in February 1777, not only the duke, but also Franziska was personally present to get satisfaction.

As a widow, Franziska granted the Württemberg pietist and theosophist Johann Michael Hahn admission to Sindlingen after he was persecuted by the Württemberg church for his views.


  • Gabriele Katz: Franziska von Hohenheim - Duchess of Württemberg . Belser, Stuttgart 2010, ISBN 978-3-7630-2549-7 .
  • Thomas Kuster: Franziska von Bernerdin, Countess Hohenheim . In: The rise and fall of the mistress in Europe in the 18th century . A representation based on selected personalities. Bautz, Nordhausen 2003, ISBN 3-88309-132-4 (also phil. Diploma thesis at the University of Innsbruck , 2001).
  • A. Osterberg (Ed.): Diary of Countess Franziska von Hohenheim, later Duchess of Württemberg . Facsimile of the Bonz edition, Stuttgart, Bonz, 1913, Knödler, Reutlingen 1981, ISBN 3-87421-096-0 .
  • Emma Vely : Duke Karl von Württemberg and Franziska von Hohenheim . Biographically presented using many previously unpublished archive materials. 2nd increased edition. CF Simon, Stuttgart 1876.
  • Robert Uhland:  Hohenheim, Franziska Countess of. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 9, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1972, ISBN 3-428-00190-7 , p. 483 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Jürgen Walter: Franziska von Hohenheim , Stieglitz, Mühlacker 2010 ISBN 978-3-7987-0405-3 .
  • Ottilie Wildermuth : Franziska von Hohenheim, Duchess of Württemberg and Teck . In: Württembergischer Bildersaal , first volume. Schaber, Stuttgart 1859, pp. 36-64 ( digitized version ).
  • Sybille Oßwald-Bargende: Christina Wilhelmina von Grävenitz and Franziska von Hohenheim - between demonization and exaggeration. An approach to collective memory, in: Unseld, Werner (ed.), Baroque and Pietism - Paths to Modernity. [published for the exhibition "Baroque and Pietism - Paths to Modernity" May 15 - October 24, 2004] (catalogs and writings of the Landeskirchlichen Museum, volume 12). - Ludwigsburg: Landeskirchliches Museum 2004, pp. 82–88.

Web links

Commons : Franziska von Hohenheim  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Location: In the Exotic Garden at the intersection between Station 3 (playhouse) and 4 (inn). Inscriptions (clockwise): Carl Eugen Duke of Württemberg 1728-1793 - Franziska Countess of Hohenheim Duchess of Württemberg 1748-1811 - "She was distinguished by piety and charity. Her heart beat warmly for God and people." - Pillars of honor are rightly erected for virtue, such a best friend, erects my heart for you today. "Carl Eugen. HWS dedit [lat .: has donated it] MW fecit Jan. 10, 1998 [lat .: made it ]
  2. Cf. Rüdiger Safranski: Goethe and Schiller. Story of a friendship. Munich 2009, p. 19f.