Johann Friedrich (Württemberg)

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Johann Friedrich of Württemberg
Copper engraving with the portrait of Johann Friedrich from the Theatrum Europaeum from 1662

Duke Johann Friedrich von Württemberg (born May 5, 1582 in Mömpelgard ; † July 18, 1628 on the way to Heidenheim ) was the seventh reigning Duke of Württemberg from February 4, 1608 until his death.


Johann Friedrich von Württemberg was born as the first child of Friedrich I and Sibylla von Anhalt in Mömpelgard Castle . At the age of four, his family moved with him to the Stuttgart residence .


Duke Johann Friedrich took office at a time when the conflicts between the denominational camps in the German Reich were increasing. In 1608 numerous Protestant imperial estates joined together to form the "Union". As one of the most respected Protestant princes, Duke Johann Friedrich tried to avoid the great religious war, which many of his contemporaries considered inevitable, by taking a conciliar course. It is true that he sought support from the European opponents of the Catholic Habsburg emperor, from France, England and the Dutch general states in order to be prepared for a military conflict. But he tried with all means at his disposal to avert the great war. On a so-called “composition day”, representatives of the two confessional parties who were willing to give a license negotiated the points of dispute. However, it did not succeed in preventing the war. Foreign policy determined the government activities of the duke, who listened very closely to his advisers. He restored the country's constitution, which his father had changed. The councilors of Duke Ludwig, who died in 1593 and which Friedrich I had eliminated, were reappointed by Duke Johann Friedrich. Then he had Duke Friedrich's powerful Chancellor Enzlin sentenced to life imprisonment for embezzlement and extortion. Enzlin was later interrogated under torture for treasonous activities and executed on the market square in Urach in 1613 (1613).

Founding document of the Protestant Union in Auhausen an der Wörnitz on May 14, 1608 (today in the Bavarian State Archives): Johann Friedrich, Duke of Württemberg (in the middle left)

After the outbreak of the Thirty Years' War , Duke Johann Friedrich initially supported King Friedrich of the Palatinate, who was elected by the Protestant estates in Bohemia . Because his possessions in the Bottwartal, the Lichtenberg Castle , the Oberstenfeld monastery , the places Beilstein and Großbottwar were fiefdoms of the King of Bohemia. But since the opponents of the Habsburgs were not involved in Western Europe, Württemberg lost the ambitions of the Bohemian King Friedrich and stopped his support for him. After the victorious battle of the White Mountains against Friedrich and the Bohemians, Emperor Ferdinand II gained a dominant position in the German Empire.

As the first ruling duke, Johann Friedrich had several brothers. In the brotherly prince comparison of May 28, 1617, he left his eldest brother, Ludwig Friedrich, the legally independent county of Mömpelgard, which was part of the Duchy of Württemberg, together with the Alsatian dominions of Reichenweier and Horburg. The younger brother Julius Friedrich received the recently acquired possessions of Brenz and Weiltingen, which resulted in the two branch lines Württemberg-Mömpelgard (expired 1723) and Württemberg-Weiltingen (expired 1792). In addition, the brothers Friedrich Achilles and Magnus received the Neuenstadt and Neuenbürg castles . Since the latter two died unmarried, their holdings quickly reverted to the main line.

On April 26, 1622, the Bavarian general, Count von Tilly , defeated Margrave Georg Friedrich von Baden in the battle of Wimpfen . In this battle the Duke's youngest brother, Magnus, suffered wounds from which he died. Although Duke Johann Friedrich had signed a neutrality treaty with the emperor, the victorious imperial troops marched through the northwestern parts of the Duchy of Württemberg. In the following years, drafts and billeting repeatedly weighed heavily on the area.


On November 5, 1609, he married Barbara Sophia von Brandenburg (1584–1636), daughter of Elector Joachim Friedrich von Brandenburg . On the occasion of this wedding, he had Urach Castle rebuilt in Urach , which today is one of the most beautiful Renaissance ballrooms in Germany, the Golden Hall .

The following children were born from this marriage:

  1. Henriette (December 12, 1610 - February 18, 1623)
  2. Friedrich (March 15, 1612 - June 12, 1612)
  3. Antonia (March 24, 1613 - October 1, 1679)
  4. Eberhard III. (December 16, 1614 - July 2, 1674), Duke of Württemberg
  5. Friedrich (December 19, 1615 - March 24, 1682), Duke of Württemberg-Neuenstadt
  6. Ulrich (born May 15, 1617; † December 5, 1671), Duke of Württemberg-Neuenbürg
  7. Anna Johanna (born March 13, 1619 - † March 5, 1679)
  8. Sibylle (December 4, 1620 - May 21, 1707)
  9. Eberthal (September 4, 1623 - January 9, 1624)


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predecessor Office successor
Friedrich I. Duke of Württemberg
Eberhard III.
Friedrich I. Count von Mömpelgard
Ludwig Friedrich