Wilhelm I (Württemberg)

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King Wilhelm I of Württemberg, oil painting by Joseph Karl Stieler from 1827
Wilhelm I. monogram

Friedrich Wilhelm Carl (born September 27, 1781 in Lüben in Silesia; † June 25, 1864 in Cannstatt ) was Wilhelm I, the second king of Württemberg from 1816 to 1864 .

After William's youth clashes with his father King Friedrich was marked, he took over the rule in Württemberg marked by crop failures and famine " year without a summer " in 1816. After taking office, he initiated comprehensive reforms, resulting in the approval of the Wurttemberg estates to Constitution manifested on September 25, 1819. In its 48-year reign, the Kingdom of Württemberg changed from a heterogeneous agricultural state, which was formed from different denominationally different principalities, to a constitutional state with a common identity and a well-organized administration.

In addition to his successful domestic policy, throughout his reign he pursued an ambitious foreign policy geared towards Germany and Europe, which aimed to change the European power system created by the Congress of Vienna . In addition to the great powers Prussia and Austria , he saw crystallization centers of a third German great power in the kingdoms of Bavaria , Saxony , Hanover and Württemberg . Even if these triad plans were never successful, they ensured a consistent, coherent and targeted policy throughout his reign.

As the only German monarch, Wilhelm felt compelled to recognize the imperial constitution of 1848. After the failure of the revolution of 1848/49 he pursued a restorative policy that thwarted his liberal image from the time before the revolution. He died in 1864 at Rosenstein Castle in Cannstatt. His grave is in the burial chapel on the Württemberg .

Relationship classification

Relations with the European ruling houses

Wilhelm was the eldest son of King Friedrich I of Württemberg and of Princess Auguste Karoline of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel . His father was, through his maternal grandmother, a great-nephew of the Prussian King Friedrich II , who was also his mother's great-uncle. Wilhelm's father and grandfather began their military careers in Prussia.

In 1788, the sister of Wilhelm's father Elisabeth became the first wife of the Austrian heir to the throne Archduke Franz Josef Karl, who later became Emperor Franz II. After he had been married to two other women in the meantime, Emperor Franz married the von von Wilhelm divorced Charlotte Auguste of Bavaria. Franz was thus both the husband of Wilhelm's aunt and the husband of Wilhelm's divorced wife.

Another sister of Wilhelm's father Friedrich, Sophie Dorothee von Württemberg , was married to the son of Catherine the Great and later Tsar Paul and took the name Maria Feodorowna as Tsarina . This kinship with the Tsar's House had important political consequences for the later Kingdom of Württemberg since the reorganization of Europe in the course of the Congress of Vienna .

Wilhelm married the daughter of his aunt Maria Feodorovna Grand Duchess Katharina Pavlovna for the second time . After Katharina had died in 1819, the family relationship to Russia was renewed with the wedding of Prince Charles , Wilhelm's eldest son from his third marriage. He married Grand Duchess Olga in 1846 . Olga was the granddaughter of Wilhelm's aunt Maria Feodorowna and the niece of his second wife Katharina. Her father was Tsar Nicholas I , the successor of her uncle, Tsar Alexander I. Alexandra Feodorovna , Olga's mother, was in turn the sister of the Prussian kings Friedrich Wilhelm IV and Wilhelm I , the future German emperor.

Wilhelm's sister Katharina was married to Jérôme Bonaparte , brother of the French Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte , in 1807 .

Relationships with the British royal family existed through Wilhelm's maternal grandmother Augusta von Hannover , the older sister of the British King George III. Georg's daughter Charlotte Auguste was the second wife of King Friedrich of Württemberg and thus Wilhelm's stepmother. Wilhelm's uncle Ludwig von Württemberg , the father of his third wife Pauline , is the great-grandfather of the British Queen Mary , the grandmother Elisabeth II. Sophie von Württemberg , Wilhelm's second daughter from his marriage to Katharina, married her cousin Wilhelm III in 1839 . of Orange , later King of the Netherlands. William III. was a son of Katharina's sister Anna Pavlovna .


Pedigree of Wilhelm I of Württemberg

Duke Friedrich Carl von Württemberg-Winnental (1652–1698)
⚭ 1682
Eleonore Juliane von Brandenburg-Ansbach (1663–1724)

Anselm Franz von Thurn and Taxis (1681–1739)

Maria Ludovika Anna von Lobkowicz

Margrave Philipp-Wilhelm of Brandenburg-Schwedt (1669–1711)

Johanna Charlotte of Anhalt-Dessau

Friedrich Wilhelm I, King in Prussia (1688–1740)
⚭ 1706
Sophie Dorothea of ​​Hanover (1687–1757)

Ferdinand Albrecht II of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel (1680–1735)
⚭ 1712
Antoinette Amalie of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel (1696–1762)

Friedrich Wilhelm I, King in Prussia (1688–1740)
⚭ 1706
Sophie Dorothea of ​​Hanover (1687–1757)

King George II of Great Britain and Ireland (1683–1760)
⚭ 1705
Caroline von Brandenburg-Ansbach (1683–1737)

Duke Friedrich II of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (1676–1732)
⚭ 1696
Magdalena Augusta of Anhalt-Zerbst (1679–1740)

Great grandparents

Duke Karl Alexander von Württemberg (1684–1737)
⚭ 1727
Marie-Auguste von Thurn and Taxis

Friedrich Wilhelm von Brandenburg-Schwedt (1700–1771)
⚭ 1734
Sophie Dorothea Marie of Prussia

Duke Karl I of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel (1713–1780)
⚭ 1733
Philippine Charlotte of Prussia

Friedrich Ludwig von Hannover , Prince of Wales (1707–1751)
⚭ 1736
Augusta von Sachsen-Gotha-Altenburg


Duke Friedrich Eugen von Württemberg (1732–1797)
⚭ 1753
Friederike Dorothea Sophia of Brandenburg-Schwedt (1736–1798)

Duke Charles II of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel (1735–1806)
⚭ 1764
Augusta of Hanover (1737–1814)


Württemberg royal crown
King Friedrich (1754–1816)
⚭ 1780
Auguste Karoline von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel (1764–1788)

Württemberg royal crown
King Wilhelm I of Württemberg

See also: Stammliste of the House of Württemberg

Marriages and offspring

King Wilhelm I and Pauline von Württemberg (above), Sophie (left in the middle), Crown Prince Karl ( in the middle), Marie
(right in the middle), Katharina (below left) and Auguste (below right)

Wilhelm I was married three times. On June 8, 1808, he married Princess Charlotte Auguste of Bavaria from the Wittelsbach dynasty. The marriage remained childless and was annulled on January 12, 1816.

On January 24, 1816, he married his cousin, Grand Duchess Katharina Pawlowna , the widow of Georg von Oldenburg . Her mother Tsarina Maria Feodorowna was a sister of his father King Friedrich. Katharina died on January 9, 1819. He had two daughters with her:

From her first marriage to Georg von Oldenburg , who died on December 27, 1812 , Katharina brought two sons into the marriage:

  • Peter Georg Paul Alexander (born August 30, 1810 - † November 16, 1829)
  • Konstantin Friedrich Peter (born August 26, 1812 - † May 14, 1881)

After Katharina's death, both went back to Oldenburg. Wilhelm stayed in contact with both of them.

In his third marriage, Wilhelm married his cousin Princess Pauline von Württemberg (* September 4, 1800, † March 10, 1873) and had three children with her:


Childhood and youth

Portrait of Friedrich Wilhelm of Württemberg as a youth

When Friedrich Wilhelm, who was called Fritz as a child and only called himself Wilhelm at the beginning of his reign, was born in 1781, the relationship between his mother, who was not yet 17 at birth, and his father ten years older were already strife and disharmony embossed. His father, who entered the Prussian military service in 1774, fell out of favor with his great uncle, King Friedrich II of Prussia , in 1781 and switched to the service of the Russian Tsarina Katharina shortly after Wilhelm was born . She appointed him Governor General of the Government of Finland. Even if Wilhelm's mother Auguste gave birth to his sister Katharina in February 1783 , Auguste, who died in 1784 on December 24, 1783, and Prince Paul in January 1785 , the relationship between the parents deteriorated further. Tsarina Katharina forced Friedrich and his children to leave Russia in December 1786 and placed Auguste in the care of the former Hofjägermeister Reinhold Wilhelm von Pohlmann , who made her pregnant. She died in agony of a miscarriage in 1788, as Pohlmann refused medical help in order to conceal the pregnancy. In 1790 Friedrich moved to Ludwigsburg with his two sons . He made sure that his sons got educators who were rooted in Württemberg. The upbringing, at the father's command, was meticulous, regulated and very strict.

With the death of Duke Carl Eugen on October 24, 1793, his reign ended after 56 years. Since he had no legitimate offspring, the duchy passed one by one to his brothers. Duke Ludwig Eugen ruled from 1793 to 1795; Friedrich Eugen , Friedrich Wilhelm's grandfather, took over the rule in May 1795. Friedrich Wilhelm's father Friedrich became Hereditary Prince and after the death of Friedrich Eugen on December 23, 1797, Duke of Württemberg himself. From November 1797 Friedrich and his second wife Charlotte Auguste Mathilde were looking for a wife for Friedrich Wilhelm. In addition to the sister of Emperor Franz II. Archduchess Maria Amalia (1780–1798) of Austria, the Grand Duchesses Alexandra and Maria of Russia were also in discussion.

Duke Friedrich's relationship with his son deteriorated more and more. Friedrich Wilhelm often rebelled against upbringing and his father. It is recorded from 1798 that pornographic writings were discovered with him. In 1799 Friedrich Wilhelm's escape plans from Württemberg became known, so that his father had him temporarily arrested. After his release, Friedrich Wilhelm began studying at the University of Tübingen . In the course of the second coalition war that broke out in 1797, the French under Napoléon invaded Württemberg in the spring of 1800. Friedrich Wilhelm, who had joined the Austrian army as a volunteer, took part in the Battle of Hohenlinden in December 1800. In 1803 he achieved the rank of imperial major general . Even then, contemporaries attested him profound military knowledge, courage and bravery.

After returning to Württemberg in 1801, Friedrich Wilhelm and his brother Paul began love affairs with the daughters of the landscape consultant Konradin von Abel . Friedrich Wilhelm fell in love with Therese von Abel, who was four years older than him . At that time there were disputes between Duke Friedrich and the estates over domestic and foreign policy issues. Konradin von Abel represented the foreign policy interests of the estates and was supported by Friedrich Wilhelm, who took a stand against the interests and policies of his father. In 1803 Friedrich Wilhelm fled from Württemberg to Paris, Vienna, Schaffhausen and Saarburg. In Saarburg, Therese von Abel gave birth to twins who died shortly after their birth. Although Friedrich, who had in the meantime risen to electoral prince, wanted to bring his son back to Württemberg through an intermediary, Friedrich Wilhelm went to Paris in October, where he was received by Napoléon on October 14th. Elector Friedrich was able to prevent his son's planned marriage to Therese von Abel through diplomatic interventions. The two did not separate until the autumn of 1804. During his time in Paris, Friedrich Wilhelm received financial support from the Württemberg provinces and later from Napoléon.

Friedrich Wilhelm as heir to the throne

Friedrich Wilhelm left Paris on September 11, 1805 and returned to Stuttgart after visiting his grandparents in Braunschweig, where he met his father for the first time in November. The change in the general political climate contributed to his return. Great Britain, which had been at war with Napoleon since 1803, formed an alliance with Russia and Austria. Napoleon succeeded in winning Baden and Bavaria on his side, so that after some hesitation Württemberg was forced to give in to French pressure and also to enter into an alliance with Napoleon. In advance, France's Foreign Minister Talleyrand planned a coup against Elector Friedrich, in which his son would take over the government. Friedrich Wilhelm opposed this request. The actions of Napoléon and Talleyrand in this matter are seen as the main reason for Wilhelm's later aversion to Napoléon. Friedrich did not involve his son in the affairs of government, but granted him his own court, headed by his friend Ernst von Phull-Rieppur , who had accompanied him during the time abroad . Friedrich Wilhelm used the time for further training and among other things acquired knowledge of agriculture.

With effect from January 1, 1806, the Electorate of Württemberg, which had grown significantly during this period, was raised to the status of a kingdom . In 1806 Prussia joined the coalition against Napoleon and was defeated and occupied within a few weeks. Napoléon wanted to bind Württemberg more closely to himself through a marriage policy. On August 13, 1807 Friedrich Wilhelm's sister Katharina married the brother of Napoléon Jérôme, who became king of the newly created Kingdom of Westphalia on August 18 . In order to secure himself from the danger of a further marriage connection with his family, which was sought by Napoléon, Friedrich Wilhelm, supported by his father, sought to marry Charlotte Auguste , the daughter of the Bavarian King Max Josef from his marriage to Auguste Wilhelmine von Hessen-Darmstadt . After lengthy negotiations the two married on June 8, 1808 in Munich. Since it was a purely marriage of convenience and Friedrich Wilhelm had no interest in a further relationship with his wife, Charlotte became increasingly lonely in Stuttgart. Friedrich often stayed in Kassel at the court of his brother-in-law Jérôme. Here he also met the former lover Jérômes, the Baroness Blanche von Keudelstein († 1864) known as La Fleche . He began a relationship with her, which he later continued as king in Württemberg.

In 1809 Württemberg had to provide troops for Napoleon in the war against Austria and at the same time secure its own eastern borders. Friedrich Wilhelm received the supreme command of the troops used for border defense. He defeated the Vorarlbergers , who rebelled against Bavarian rule , by attacking Bregenz . During Napoléon's Russian campaign , Friedrich Wilhelm was again given supreme command over the Württemberg troops. The campaign was devastating for the Württemberg army . Of the 15,800 soldiers, only a few hundred returned to Württemberg. Friedrich Wilhelm, who mistrusted Napoleon, probably only survived because a dysentery in the summer of 1812 forced him to relinquish the command. Despite the catastrophic defeat, Württemberg had to provide troops for the further course of the war. After the Battle of the Nations near Leipzig from October 16-19, 1813, Württemberg switched to the side of the alliance against Napoleon. Friedrich Wilhelm then took over command of the Württemberg Army, which was reinforced by Austrian troops in November. On December 30th this army crossed the Rhine near Hüningen . After several skirmishes, through which the troops led by Friedrich Wilhelm had a decisive influence on the course of the war, he moved on March 31, 1814 together with Tsar Alexander and King Friedrich Wilhelm III. of Prussia in Paris. Napoléon abdicated and was banished to Elba .

The fall of Napoléon opened up the possibility for Friedrich Wilhelm to separate himself from his wife Charlotte. In June 1814 in Great Britain he fell in love with his cousin Grand Duchess Catherine of Russia, the widow of Prince Georg von Oldenburg . After Charlotte as well as King Friedrich and King Max Josef of Bavaria had agreed to the divorce, a marriage court convened by King Friedrich on August 9, 1814 annulled the marriage on August 31, 1814. Both partners had stated that the marriage was not consummated because of mutual dislike . The cancellation by the Pope, which was necessary because Charlotte was Catholic , did not take place until January 12, 1816, shortly before the wedding of Friedrich Wilhelm and Catherine. Charlotte married the Austrian Emperor Franz I on November 10, 1816 .

Friedrich Wilhelm and Katharina also took part in the Congress of Vienna , at which the European royal houses and governments, chaired by Austrian State Chancellor Prince Klemens Wenzel Lothar von Metternich, worked out a new European state order from September 1814.

After Napoleon's return and in the war that followed in 1815, Friedrich Wilhelm again commanded an army corps of the Allied troops. He was the only member of one of the ruling German royal houses who actively participated as a military commander in the wars of 1814 and 1815. Wilhelm Hauff processed this literarily in his poem Prince Wilhelm .

On January 24th, 1816 Friedrich Wilhelm married Katharina in St. Petersburg with pompous celebrations. The newly wed couple stayed in Russia for a few weeks and arrived in Stuttgart on April 13, 1816.

The first years of King Wilhelm's rule

Assumption of office as King Wilhelm I.

King Wilhelm I of Württemberg in 1822

King Friedrich died on October 30, 1816 at 1:30 a.m. On the same day Katharina, who already had two sons from her first marriage, gave birth to their daughter Marie Friederike Charlotte . Although King Friedrich and his son no longer had any hard political and personal arguments in his last years of reign, the first government measures of the new king showed that it was a clear change in power and politics. The new king, who had the same baptismal name as his father as Friedrich Wilhelm Karl , was not called Friedrich like his father or, as before, Friedrich Wilhelm , but only Wilhelm . He also shortened the title of ruler and called himself simply Wilhelm von Gottesgnaden, King of Württemberg . The national coat of arms was also simplified and the national colors were reduced from black, red and gold to black and red. He issued an amnesty for civil and military convicts and reversed transfers of civil servants. He dismissed most of the ministers in the State Ministry and set up the Secret Council as government. He filled management positions at court and in the civil service.

Measures against the economic hardship of the population

Wilhelm took office at a time of great economic hardship. In April 1815 the Tambora volcano erupted in Indonesia, which led to a deterioration in global weather conditions that lasted for months. In the spring and summer of 1816 there were storms all over Europe with cold, rain and hail. The first snow fell in Württemberg in October. The year 1816 is therefore also referred to as the year without a summer . In Württemberg there were poor harvests and as a result food prices multiplied. In the winter of 1816/1817 famine broke out throughout Württemberg. To alleviate the hardship, the government set maximum prices for food, made it difficult to export and later banned it. Large quantities of grain were bought outside the country. The experiences of the hungry winter triggered activities in the Kingdom of Württemberg, driven by the royal couple, which aimed at a long-term improvement of the economic situation of broad sections of the population. Wilhelm pushed the expansion of agriculture, while Katharina devoted herself to poor relief. He used an easement of the street residents for the planting of fruit trees on foreign land. The institutions created by these activities contributed significantly to the economic rise of Württemberg in the period that followed and to a more balanced social climate compared to other European countries of the time. On November 20, 1818, Wilhelm I founded the agricultural teaching, experimental and model institute in Hohenheim, which later became the University of Hohenheim . In the same year he was "on September 28 each year Can City abzuhaltendes agricultural festival " launched, which today as Stuttgart Beer Festival is celebrated. King Wilhelm I had cattle and sheep bought abroad through his agents in order to breed them in Württemberg. His Arabian stallions, which he procured from the Orient and which form the basis of today's stock in the main and state stud Marbach , have become famous . At Katharina's instigation, charities were founded in the communities that were controlled by a state charity in Stuttgart. The activities were supported by donations from the royal couple's private fortune, by Katharina's mother Tsarina Maria Feodorovna and by other members of the royal family. The Württembergische Landessparkasse was established on May 12, 1818 on Katharina's initiative. At the same time, the Poor's Commission, an authority responsible for poor relief activities, was established at the Ministry of the Interior. The construction of the Katharinen Hospital, completed in 1828, was initiated by a donation from Katharina in 1817. It is proven that pig breeding goes back to King Wilhelm I. In order to promote cattle breeding in Württemberg around 1820, for example, he had Chinese mask pigs crossed with country pigs. The breeding was successful: the robust and frugal Mohrenköpfle were born.

The death of Queen Catherine

Queen Catherine in 1817

Katharina's and Wilhelm's second daughter, Sophie von Württemberg , who later became Queen of the Netherlands, was born on June 17, 1818. Despite the outwardly harmonious marriage of Wilhelm and Catherine, Wilhelm had extramarital sexual relations. He contacted his former lover Blanche La Fleche again. It is also believed that Eduard von Kallee, born on February 26, 1818, was an illegitimate son of Wilhelm. When Katharina caught her husband in Scharnhausen with a lover, presumably Blanche La Fleche, on January 3, 1819 , she drove back to Stuttgart in an open car. She died on January 9, 1819 of the consequences of the cold that followed. Wilhelm I had a grave chapel built for her on the Württemberg near Stuttgart, where the family castle of the House of Württemberg used to be , in which she was buried in 1824. In order to cover up the circumstances of their death and his love affairs, Wilhelm developed various activities. For example, he tried to get Katharina's letters through intermediaries, which he suspected might contain something about his love affairs. The main reason for this was not to burden the politically very important relations between Württemberg and Russia, or only slightly. King Wilhelm stated in a letter that he was thinking of abdicating. He got in contact with his brother Paul to persuade him to renounce his claim to the throne in favor of his son Prince Friedrich . After the death of their mother, Katharina's sons went to Oldenburg to live with their grandfather, Grand Duke Peter I.

The way to the constitution of the Kingdom of Württemberg

When Wilhelm took office, the Württemberg state estates were in a conflict with the royal family that was described as a constitutional dispute. During the negotiations at the Congress of Vienna, the goal was to establish a federal constitution for the newly constituted Germany . Because King Friedrich wanted to anticipate the federal constitution with his own constitution, he had submitted a constitution to the state parliament, which was convened on March 15, 1815. The draft of the Basic State Law met with strong opposition from the estates, who wanted to reinstate the constitution based on the Tübingen Treaty of 1514. The estates managed to get the population on their side in a campaign for the old law . One of the protagonists of this movement, the so-called Altrechtler, was the poet and politician Ludwig Uhland , who wrote the poem The old, good law especially for this . The campaign was so effective that the constitutional constitution presented by King Friedrich was never passed. The estates hoped that the new king would restore the old Württemberg constitution. Wilhelm was convinced, however, that this constitution was incompatible with the conditions of the Kingdom of Württemberg. In a rescript to the estates of November 9, 1816, he promised that parts of the old constitution should be adopted. But what would paralyze the power of government and hinder the development of true civil liberty must give way to the power of better insight and the power of present needs. He instructed the newly established secret council, which also included liberal-minded members, to work out a new draft constitution. A liberal press law was enacted on January 30, 1817 as an important reform measure and as a concession to the estates. The Landtag met on March 3, 1817; In his opening speech, King Wilhelm explained the draft constitution drawn up by the Privy Council with his participation. The draft contained defined rights of freedom. The estates were divided into two chambers. The members of the Chamber of Deputies should be elected by the people. There was no longer any provision for the administration of the state's assets by estates committees. The former lawyers rejected the draft constitution because it restricted the rights of the estates. On April 30, 1817 there was a demonstration in front of the state parliament. In the vote on June 2, 1817, the state parliament rejected the draft with 67 to 42 votes. The no votes came mainly from noblemen and representatives from the old Württemberg parts of the state, while the yes votes were primarily cast by members of the knighthood and representatives from the parts of the state of New Württemberg who were added between 1797 and 1810. Wilhelm, who was extremely angry about this development, then dissolved the state parliament. In the years 1817 and 1818, the government implemented major reforms in the state administration, such as the abolition of serfdom , even without the application of a new constitution. Eugen von Maucler , commissioned by Wilhelm, involved various legacy lawyers in working out the reforms. Some were accepted into the Württemberg civil service. In 1819 a new state parliament was elected, which met on July 13, 1819 in Ludwigsburg for its constituent session. The assassination of the Russian State Councilor August von Kotzebue on March 23, 1819 in Mannheim by the fraternity member Karl Ludwig Sand severely restricted the willingness of European monarchs to accommodate bourgeois constitutional ideas. The great powers Prussia, Russia and Austria in particular were in favor of a tough stance towards democratic ideas. A ministerial conference was held in Karlsbad from 6 to 31 August 1819 . The Karlovy Vary resolutions worked out there restricted the freedom of the press and put liberal-minded members of the universities and thus all bourgeois liberalism under pressure. This contributed to the fact that the legacy lawyers were more willing to compromise during the discussions in Stuttgart. Wilhelm's dealings with the estates were very friendly and thus stood out clearly from the behavior of other monarchs in Europe towards liberal and democratic ideas and representatives. Emperor Franz of Austria and his state chancellor Metternich disapproved of this development in Württemberg. On September 20, 1819 , the Kaiser handed the Württemberg Foreign Minister, Count Wintzingerode , a letter in which he asked Wilhelm to break off the constitutional process. After an emergency meeting of the Privy Council on September 23, the state estates concluded the constitutional treaty with Wilhelm on September 25. The constitution gave the king a strong position. According to § 4, it combined all the rights of state authority. However, it was bound by the constitution. The estates, which were organized in a bicameral system, received tax approval rights and participated in legislation. The income of the king was regulated according to § 104 in a civil list , so that in financial matters the separation between state and crown was guaranteed.

The time of consolidation and establishment from 1820

Family and personal life

Pauline von Württemberg and her son Karl around 1825

Soon after Queen Katharina's death, Wilhelm sought a new marriage. He decided on a cousin again. Pauline (1800–1873), 19 years younger than him, was the daughter of his uncle Ludwig Friedrich von Württemberg . The wedding took place on April 19, 1820. Pauline looked similar to her predecessor Queen Katharina. But she tended to have a pietistic view of life and was prudish. For example, when her daughter was asked to be painted naked as a baby, she refused to allow it. The beginning of the marriage was outwardly harmonious. Pauline fulfilled her representative duties and the royal couple undertook many activities together. Their first daughter, Katharina, was born on August 24, 1821. The birth of the heir to the throne Karl on March 6, 1823 was received with great joy by the population and the royal family. The third child Auguste was born on October 4, 1826.

Wilhelm continued to have extramarital sexual relations with other women. While traveling to Italy, he continued to meet with Blanche La Fleche. From the end of the 1820s, the royal couple became increasingly estranged. Wilhelm began a relationship with the actress Amalie von Stubenrauch . The woman, born in 1803, began her acting career in 1823 at the Munich Court Theater . After a guest performance in March 1827, she moved permanently to the Stuttgart Court Theater in autumn 1828, where Wilhelm soon became aware of her. The relationship with her was not a purely sexually oriented love adventure. Wilhelm and Amalie maintained their relationship until Wilhelm's death in 1864.


In the years between 1820 and 1830 a total of five state parliaments were held, which nodded Wilhelm's political ideas without any significant opposition. In contrast to the first few years of government, the composition of the Privy Council was rarely changed. Domestically, the modernization of the state through reforms and the reduction of public debt had high priority.

The manuscript from southern Germany was published in London in October 1820 . This book contained an evaluation of the historical development and political situation in Germany. It called for the small states in Germany to be further mediatized on the four medium- sized states Bavaria , Saxony , Hanover and Württemberg, which, as Third Germany, should jointly form a counterweight to the great powers Prussia and Austria. Württemberg was to be enlarged to include Baden , the principalities of Hohenzollern-Hechingen and Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen , and Alsace . It soon became known that the book's author and editor were bogus. The actual author was Friedrich Ludwig Lindner (1772–1845), who was a kind of personal advisor to Wilhelm. It was to be assumed that Wilhelm was the intellectual originator and source of ideas for the font and Lindner acted as a ghostwriter with others. The manuscript meant that the relationship between Prussia and Austria on the one hand and Württemberg on the other worsened considerably. At the Verona Congress in 1822, the great powers Austria, Prussia and Russia initiated the isolation of Württemberg. In the spring of 1823 diplomatic relations were broken off, the Foreign Minister Count Wintzingerode and the Bundestag envoy Freiherr von Wangenheim resigned. Wilhelm's popularity in liberal circles increased. However, reprisals meant that Wilhelm had to give in. In November 1824, Württemberg agreed to an extension of the anti-liberal Karlsbad resolutions . For Wilhelm this was a political defeat that was associated with a great loss of prestige and made him a realpolitician who was oriented towards feasibility.

After the successful French July Revolution of 1830, the liberals received a boost in almost all of Europe, including Württemberg. The freedom struggle of Poland against Russia 1830/1831 reinforced this trend. In December 1831 the Liberals won the elections for the second chamber of the Württemberg state parliament. The Hambach Festival on May 27, 1832, at which the Hambach Castle in the Rhine Palatinate was the backdrop for a liberal and democratic rally, was answered in Württemberg by a royal ordinance that banned political gatherings. Wilhelm postponed the convening of the Landtag elected in 1831 for a year until January 15, 1833. After the Landtag was dissolved on March 22nd, new elections were held in April, from which the Liberals under Friedrich Römer emerged victorious. Wilhelm thereupon refused to give the elected members of the civil service leave to exercise their mandate. Friedrich Römer, Ludwig Uhland and other liberal MPs therefore resigned from civil service.

Diplomatic relations between Württemberg on the one hand and Prussia and Austria on the other were poor during this period too. From 1836 Wilhelm tried to get a better relationship with Prussia. In September 1836, Prince Wilhelm , the future German Emperor, visited Stuttgart. In 1838 Wilhelm made a return visit to Berlin, where he also met his brother-in-law and cousin, Tsar Nicholas I , who had ruled since 1825 . From this point on, a Prussian envoy was established in Württemberg.

Jubilee column on the Schloßplatz in Stuttgart

The 1830s were characterized by an economic upswing in Württemberg. Agriculture, trade and handicrafts flourished. It was possible to reduce the national debt and lower taxes. The Neckar shipping, which has been possible again upstream from Heilbronn through the Wilhelm Canal since 1821 , and the road network were expanded. First plans for the railway construction were made. Wilhelm was very interested in the emerging industrialization and therefore visited Great Britain in 1837. On the 25th anniversary of the reign in 1841, the kingdom was in an economically good position. Wilhelm celebrated his 60th birthday on September 27, 1841. On September 28, the Württemberger pageant took place in Stuttgart with 10,390 participants, including 640 riders and 23 carriages with horse and cattle teams from all over the kingdom. Around 200,000 spectators, i.e. every ninth Württemberg resident, had come to the state capital with its then 40,000 inhabitants. A fixed wooden column was erected on the castle square , which was replaced two years later by the permanent anniversary column . The whole city was decorated. In the evening a large fireworks display was set off on the Prague ; bonfires were lit all over the country. Wilhelm was celebrated with patriotic poems and songs in the newspapers. The celebrations and the participation from all over the country expressed how strongly Württemberg had grown together into a unified state during the reign of Wilhelm.

Wilhelm and the revolution of 1848/1849

Friedrich Römer 1848

In the years 1846 and 1847, after poor harvests in Württemberg, there were famines and increased emigration. The general mood of the population, which had been relatively satisfied until then , turned. Liberal and democratic demands were made more forceful. In January 1848, a protest meeting in Stuttgart demanded an all-German federal parliament, freedom of the press, freedom of association and assembly, the introduction of jury courts and popular arming. Another revolution broke out in France in February . When King Louis Philippe abdicated there and fled into exile to Great Britain, Wilhelm recognized the explosiveness of the situation and tried to stop the revolution by accommodating liberals and democrats. On March 1, he put the liberal press law from 1817, which was suspended by the Karlsbad resolutions of the German Confederation in 1819, back into force. He tried to replace the Privy Council under the conservative Joseph von Linden . This failed on March 6th due to popular protests. Wilhelm agreed then that under the liberal Friedrich Romans one as March Ministry designated government was set up. He felt this humiliation and appointed the members of the government not as heads of the departments but as councilors .

On March 18, 1848, the Württemberg army was no longer sworn in on the king, but on the constitution. Even if Römer never had the confidence of Wilhelm, he ensured that a majority for the abolition of the monarchy never formed in the revolution in Württemberg . In April the Württemberg army took part in the suppression of the uprisings of Friedrich Hecker and Gustav von Struve in Baden . In June 1848 a new state parliament was elected, in which the liberals under Friedrich Römer again received a majority in the second chamber. Wilhelm visited Frankfurt in July 1848, where the National Assembly had been in session since May 18, 1848 and Archduke Johann of Austria was elected as Reich Administrator on June 29, 1848 . Previously, a memorandum written by Lieutenant General Joseph Konrad von Bangold , an adjutant of Wilhelm, had appeared, which called for the mediation of Baden and the principalities of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and Hohenzollern-Hechingen on Württemberg.

In the autumn, Wilhelm pursued a concept that aimed at transferring the leadership of Germany not just to a head of state, but to a board of directors. The King of Prussia and the Emperor of Austria were to belong to this Directory, as were the other German kings on a rotating basis. When the National Assembly elected Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia as German Emperor on March 8, 1849 , Friedrich Römer abstained as a member of the Württemberg parliament. However, he advised Wilhelm to approve this choice. If Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia refuses, Wilhelm has a good chance of being elected emperor by the National Assembly. However, this flattery only increased Wilhelm's distrust of Romans.

On April 20, 1849, the Chamber of Deputies in the Land estates, with only two votes against, voted for Württemberg to recognize the imperial constitution adopted by the National Assembly on March 28, 1849 . Wilhelm rejected this and justified his rejection in a supplement to the Swabian Mercury with a circulation of 12,000 copies. In view of the precarious situation, he relocated from Stuttgart to the garrison town of Ludwigsburg . The officers there assured him of allegiance, but urgently advised that the differences of opinion between the king and government over the imperial constitution be resolved. On April 25, Wilhelm decided to recognize the imperial constitution. He felt this, however, as an imposed humiliation, which intensified when he realized that he was the only prince of a larger German state who had accepted the constitution.

The dissolution of the rump parliament by Württemberg troops - based on a book illustration from 1893

After the National Assembly failed with the rejection of the German imperial crown by Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia, the remaining members of the parliament decided on May 30, 1849 to move the meetings to Stuttgart. From June 6, 1849, this remnant National Assembly, sometimes mockingly referred to as the rump parliament , met in Stuttgart, initially with 154 members under parliamentary president Wilhelm Loewe . When the rump parliament called for tax refusal and, with the support of the Reich constitution campaign, for a revolt against the governments, it was occupied by the Württemberg military on June 18, 1849 and after a demonstration by the remaining 99 members of parliament through Stuttgart, it was forcibly dissolved. The non-Württemberg deputies were expelled from the state.

On July 2, Wilhelm returned to Stuttgart. In August 1849 there were elections to a constituent assembly , in which the Democrats won a majority over the moderate Liberals. While the Liberals called for active and passive voting rights to be linked to income levels and wealth, the Democrats demanded universal, equal and direct suffrage for all men of age. At the end of October 1849, the king dismissed the government under Friedrich Römer, which was elected by the state assembly. The ministers were replaced by a government of civil servants under Interior Minister Johannes von Schlayer . On December 7, 1849, the principalities of Hohenzollern-Hechingen and Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen were incorporated into the Kingdom of Prussia. Wilhelm's goal of mediating Hohenzollern on Württemberg had thus failed, although Württemberg troops were there during the revolution . The subsequently broken relationship with Prussia was not normalized until 1852 with the resumption of diplomatic relations.

From 1850 Wilhelm initiated a reactionary policy. His experiences in the revolution led him to reject popular representations in general. He wanted to “free the people from the periodic fever of elections” . On July 2, 1850, he set up a new government with the conservative Joseph von Linden as Minister of the Interior. Linden carried out the reactionary policy of the German Confederation in the Kingdom of Württemberg. He was a willing vicarious agent for Wilhelm's restoration policy. The old constitution was put back into force and the basic rights of the imperial constitution were declared invalid. The Chamber of Notaries, which was dissolved during the Revolution, was convened again. The army was sworn back to the king instead of the constitution. Corporal punishment was reintroduced in 1852 and the death penalty in 1853. The conservative government led by Linden remained in office until shortly after Wilhelm's death.


It was King Wilhelm to whom we owe the sequoias in south-west Germany today. In 1864 he had his gardeners sow sequoias in Wilhelma . The gardeners were able to grow over 5,000 strong plants by the following year. This amount was of course too big for the small area of ​​Wilhelma, which is why the trees were distributed to the forestry departments in the country.

Old age and death

Emperor Napoleon III, King Wilhelm I and Tsar Alexander II at the meeting of two emperors in Stuttgart in 1857

In the 1850s the polarity between Prussia and Austria came to a head in Germany. In terms of foreign policy, Wilhelm pursued a strategy of changing alliances and agreements with the major European powers. In the Crimean War between Russia on the one hand and the Ottoman Empire , France and Great Britain on the other, he advocated neutrality for the German Confederation. This strengthened the position of the Württemberg protecting power, Russia. After the Crimean War ended after the death of Tsar Nicholas I in 1855 by his son and successor Alexander II in 1856, Wilhelm tried to normalize relations with France. Napoléon III ruled there since 1852 . , a nephew of his brother-in-law Jérôme Bonaparte , who had been picked up by the Württemberg relatives after the end of his Kingdom of Westphalia. The Crimean War had ended Russia's supremacy in Europe and the Holy Alliance of 1815 between Russia, Austria and Prussia. On September 27, 1857, a two-emperor meeting between Napoléon III, organized by Wilhelm, took place in Stuttgart . and Tsar Alexander II. In the Sardinian War in 1859, France then defeated Austria. Russia did not intervene in the war. The acts of war took place in Italy and not on the territory of the German Confederation. It is probably thanks to Wilhelm’s politics in these years that Württemberg was drawn into the wars in Europe only after his death through participation in the German War in 1866 and not earlier. In this context, it is also noteworthy that Württemberg was involved in armed conflicts with Napoléon in the year before Wilhelm took over government and already two years after his death in the German War , while it had not participated in any war in its entire reign. Especially at his age, European princes often sought his advice. His biographer Paul Sauer therefore called him Nestor among the European princes.

King Wilhelm I 1861

His reactionary and petty domestic policy stood in stark contrast to this. It was associated with increasing bitterness. The relationship with his wife kept its form on the outside, but was completely shattered. He was accompanied by his lover Amalie von Stubenrauch on his travels and at health resorts . He did not trust his son Prince Karl to take on government duties. Charles's homosexual tendencies worried him. Wilhelm was very fond of his daughter-in-law and niece of the second degree, Crown Princess Olga , who had married Karl in 1846. She often had to mediate between her husband and her father-in-law, which in the long term also led to a tense relationship between her and Wilhelm. His daughters from his marriage to Katharina both had marital disputes with their husbands Alfred von Neipperg and Wilhelm von Oranien . Wilhelm became increasingly hard of hearing with age. He underwent frequent cures from the 1850s. In the fall of 1863 his condition worsened. He had little contact with his family, while his lover Amalie von Stubenrauch was constantly with him. He was frequently visited by the writer Friedrich Wilhelm Hackländer . Before his death he had some of his private letters and notes destroyed.

Transfer of the corpse of Wilhelm I in the early morning hours of June 30, 1864 to the burial chapel on the Württemberg

Wilhelm died on the morning of June 25, 1864 at 5:10 a.m. at Rosenstein Castle in the presence of his personal physician Dr. Karl Elsässer and a valet. On the morning of June 30th, he was buried in the presence of his son and successor King Karl and his stepson Peter von Oldenburg at the side of his second wife Katharina in the funerary chapel on the Wuerttemberg . A few hours later a funeral service took place there, at which his widow Queen Pauline, his daughter-in-law and niece 2nd degree Queen Olga, his daughters Queen Sophie of the Netherlands , Princess Katharina von Württemberg and Auguste von Sachsen-Weimar , his nephew 2nd degree Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolajewitsch of Russia and his stepson Peter von Oldenburg were present.

While Wilhelm did not mention his wife Pauline in his will, he made sure that his former lovers Therese von Abel and Blanche La Fleche received pensions. Queen Pauline and King Karl arranged for Amalie von Stubenrauch to leave Württemberg. She moved to an estate in Tegernsee , located next to the Villa Arco, which she had acquired in 1862. She died there on April 14, 1876. She was buried in Tegernsee.

References and comments

  1. a b The title of duke was carried out by all of the principal principalities of Braunschweig-Lüneburg.
  2. ^ Reminder sheet for the 25th anniversary of the government in 1841
  3. a b c Royal Württemberg Court and State Handbook 1843, Verlag Joh. Fried. Steinkopf, Stuttgart
  4. Paul Sauer: The Swabian Tsar. Friedrich, Württemberg's first king. Stuttgart 1984, ISBN 3-421-06179-3 , pp. 47-57.
  5. Hansmartin Decker-Hauff: Women in the House of Württemberg. Leinfelden-Echterdingen 1997, ISBN 3-87181-390-7 , p. 193.
  6. Jürgen Honeck: Three Wuerttemberg kings. Your personality in the mirror of politics, power and love. Mühlacker 2008, ISBN 978-3-7987-0393-3 , p. 30.
  7. Paul Sauer: Reformer on the royal throne. Wilhelm I of Württemberg. Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-421-05084-8 , p. 17.
  8. Paul Sauer: Reformer on the royal throne. Wilhelm I of Württemberg. Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-421-05084-8 , p. 30.
  9. ^ Paul Sauer: In the service of the Princely House and the State of Württemberg. The memoirs of Barons Friedrich and Eugen von Maucler (1735–1816). Stuttgart 1986, ISBN 3-17-009216-2 , p. 102.
  10. ^ Jean de Bourgoing: From the Congress of Vienna. Vienna 1964, p. 370 ff.
  11. Paul Sauer: Reformer on the royal throne. Wilhelm I of Württemberg. Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-421-05084-8 , p. 51.
  12. ^ Friedrich Max Kircheisen: King Lustig. Napoléon's youngest brother. Berlin 1928.
  13. Hansmartin Decker-Hauff: Women in the House of Württemberg. Leinfelden-Echterdingen 1997, ISBN 3-87181-390-7 , p. 221 f.
  14. ^ Text on Wikisource
  15. ^ Richard B. Stothers: The Great Tambora Eruption in 1815 and Its Aftermath . In: Science . 224, No. 4654, 1984, pp. 1191-1198. doi : 10.1126 / science.224.4654.1191 .
  16. ^ Gerhard Seybold: Württemberg's Industry and Foreign Trade from the End of the Napoleonic Wars to the German Customs Union. In: Publications of the Commission for Historical Regional Studies in Baden-Württemberg. Series B, Volume 74. Stuttgart 1974, p. 127.
  17. Apple history on Apfelgut Sulz
  18. Paul Sauer: Reformer on the royal throne. Wilhelm I of Württemberg. Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-421-05084-8 , p. 156.
  19. ^ Julius Hartmann: Chronicle of the city of Stuttgart. Stuttgart 1886, p. 212.
  20. Press release on pig breeding at the Stuttgart Wilhelma
  21. On court life during the lifetime of Queen Katharina, cf. Fritz, King Wilhelm and Queen Katharina.
  22. Paul Sauer: Reformer on the royal throne. Wilhelm I of Württemberg. Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-421-05084-8 , p. 163.
  23. Paul Sauer: Reformer on the royal throne. Wilhelm I of Württemberg. Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-421-05084-8 , p. 164.
    In Helmut Engisch: The Kingdom of Württemberg . Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 3-8062-1554-5 , p. 60, this version is called speculation . Engisch does not consider the version in the court diaries to be forged. Katharina then died of a stroke caused by an infection.
  24. Otto-Heinrich Elias : Comments on the biography of Queen Catherine of Württemberg. In: From Southwest German History. Festschrift for Hans-Martin Maurer. To the archivist and historian on his 65th birthday. Stuttgart 1994. p. 613.
  25. Harald Schieckel : From the circle of Queen Katharina of Württemberg. Memories of Katharina Römer, b. Bushman to Petersburg and Stuttgart. In: Journal for Württemberg State History. 1992, pp. 289f.
  26. Paul Sauer: Reformer on the royal throne. Wilhelm I of Württemberg. Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-421-05084-8 , p. 167.
  27. Adolf Palm: Letters from the world of boards. Serious and cheerful from the history of the Stuttgart court theater. Stuttgart 1881, p. 70.
  28. Printed in: Royal Württemberg State and Government Gazette No. 117
  29. Ludwig Uhland : The old, good law in the Gutenberg-DE project
  30. Joachim Gerner: Prehistory and development of the Württemberg constitution as reflected in the sources (1815-1819). In: Publications of the Commission for Historical Regional Studies in Baden-Württemberg, Series B, Volume 114. Stuttgart 1989, ISBN 3-17-010073-4 , p. 357.
  31. Joachim Gerner: Prehistory and development of the Württemberg constitution as reflected in the sources (1815-1819). In: Publications of the Commission for Historical Regional Studies in Baden-Württemberg, Series B, Volume 114. Stuttgart 1989, ISBN 3-17-010073-4 , p. 109.
  32. ^ Rescript to the Estates dated November 9, 1816
  33. Printed in: Royal Württemberg State and Government Gazette No. 105
  34. Printed in: August Ludwig Reyscher: Complete, historical and critically edited collection of Württemberg laws. Volume III. P. 343f.
  35. ^ Walter Grube: The Stuttgart Landtag 1457–1957. From the estates to the democratic parliament. Klett-Verlag Stuttgart 1957, p. 500.
  36. ^ Karlovy Vary Resolutions - University Act (original text)
  37. Karlovy Vary Resolutions - Press Act (original text)
  38. ^ Karlovy Vary Resolutions - Investigation Act (original text)
  39. ^ Wording of the Württemberg constitution of 1819
  40. Adolf Palm: Queen Pauline of Württemberg, wife of Wilhelm I. A picture of life. Stuttgart 1891
  41. Friedrich Ludwig Lindner and Christian August Fischer: Manuscript from South Germany. J. Griphi, 1820 - Digitized at Google Books
  42. ^ Otto Heinrich Elias: Friedrich Ludwig Lindner. Doctor, privy councilor, publicist (1772–1845). In: Life pictures from Swabia and Franconia, 15. Stuttgart 1983, ISBN 3-17-008111-X , pp. 155–202.
  43. List of members
  44. List of members
  45. ^ Leo von Stieglitz: The pageant of the Württemberger. In: The Kingdom of Württemberg 1806–1918 Monarchy and Modernism , exhibition catalog Landesmuseum Württemberg, Ostfildern 2006, ISBN 3-7995-0221-1 , p. 422.
  46. Main State Archives Stuttgart, Archives of the House of Württemberg G 268 Büschel 22
  47. Bernhard Mann: Württemberg's Political Culture between German Nation and Kingdom as Reflected in the Anniversaries of the 1840s. In: Hans-Martin Maurer (Hrsg.): Württemberg around 1840. Contributions to the 150th anniversary of the Württemberg History and Antiquity Association (Living Past, Volume 18) . Stuttgart 1994, ISBN 3-17-013125-7 , p. 37.
  48. ^ Wilhelm Freiherr von Koenig-Warthausen: Josef Freiherr von Linden. Württemberg Minister of the Interior (1804–1895). In: Life pictures from Swabia and Franconia, Volume IX. Stuttgart 1963, p. 225 f.
  49. List of members
  50. Eugen Schneider : Württemberg and the Frankfurt Imperial Constitution. In: Eugen Schneider: From the history of Württemberg. Stuttgart 1926, p. 178.
  51. ^ Eugen Schneider: The Württemberg Army and the Question of the Frankfurt Imperial Constitution. In: Schwäbischer Merkur No. 437 of September 19, 1925 (Sunday supplement), quoted from Paul Sauer
  52. Hartwig Brandt: Parliamentarism in Württemberg 1815-1870. Anatomy of a German state parliament. In: Handbook of the history of German parliamentarianism. Düsseldorf 1987, ISBN 3-7700-5142-4 , p. 625.
  53. Comments on the meeting of the estates in Germany and suggestions on how to improve it. Main State Archive Stuttgart G268 Büschel 24
  54. ^ Ordinance of October 5, 1851 (printed in: Government Gazette for Württemberg No. 247) and Law of April 2, 1852 (printed in: Government Gazette for Württemberg No. 81)
  55. ^ [1] Sequoia trees
  56. Paul Sauer: Reformer on the royal throne. Wilhelm I of Württemberg. Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-421-05084-8 , p. 513.
  57. Robert Uhland (ed.): The diary of Eveline von Massenbach. Lady-in-waiting of Queen Olga of Württemberg. Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-17-009245-6 , p. 138.
  58. Friedrich Wilhelm Hackländer: The novel of my life Volume II. Stuttgart 1878, p. 340 f.
  59. ^ Karl Johannes Grauer: King Wilhelm of Württemberg and the European dynasties. In: Journal for Württemberg State History. 1956, p. 263.
  60. ^ State gazette for Württemberg of July 2, 1864.

Web links

Commons : Wilhelm I. (Württemberg)  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


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Friedrich King of Württemberg