German Royalty: Württemberg

Figure 1.-- This is the family of Duke Albrecht (1865-1939) and Duchess Margarete (born an Austrian (1870-1902). This family portrait was taken about 1900. They were the head of the Austrian or Catholic branch of the family. If in 1918 king Wilhelm II would not have been forced to abdicate, the eldest son of Duke Albrecht, Philipp Albrecht (1893-1973) sitting in the front would have become king of Wuerttemberg, as the protestantic branch had no make heirs. A Catholic king in strongly protestant Wuerttemberg was probably problematic.

The theoretical ruler of Germany was the Emperor. The important German princes were called 'Electors' because they elected the Emperor. Especially after the Reformation, the Emperor was a titular ruler and the Electors began to increasingly move toward statehood and national monarchies. The Kingdom of Prussia was the first (1701). The other important German principalities became kingdoms (Bavaria, Hanover, Saxony, and Württemberg) about a century later. The Elector of Wuerttemberg which was one of the German princes willing to deal with Napoleon was granted the title of King of Württemberg (1806). Somehow the title was maintained by the Congress of Vienna (1814-15). The last King of Württemberg was Wilhelm II (1848-1921) who abdicated after World War I (1918).


The boundaries of Württemberg have varied somewhay over time. It was essentially a principality of southern Germany--the Grand Duchy of Württemberg. The Duchy was located between Baden and Bavaria. The boundaries, but not the basic location changed over time and with the creation of the Kingdom. Württemberg was divided between the United States and French occupation zones following World War II. It thus became divided as Württemberg-Baden and Württemberg-Hohenzollern. After the Federal Republic of Germany was formed (1949). These two states were administratively merged with Baden (1952) to become the state of Baden-Württemberg in today's Germany.


Württemberg today is a predominately Protestant state of Germany, but there is a subsatntial Catholic minority, especially in the south. The southern Germany was traditionally the Catholic area of Germany, but because the Elector becanme Protestant, Württemberg became strongly Proitestant.

Medieval History

The southern part of of what became Württemberg was the center of the medieval duchy of Swabia. The various sections Württemberg were divided among family branches. Württemberg north of Stuttgart was part of Franconia. With the demise of the German Carolingian dynasty with the death of Louis the Child--Duke Conrad of Franconia was elected (911) German king as Conrad I, but was unable to keep the royal crown in his family. Because of Duke Eberhard's rebellion, King Otto I seized the duchy in 939 and partitioned it. Important territories were transferred to the loyal clergy, notably to the bishops of Würzburg and Bamberg and to the abbot of Fulda. The term Württemberg first emerges in the historical record in the 11th century. Württemberg emerged as a regional power when the the Herren (Lords) von Wirdeberch consolidated holdings in the middle Neckar and the Remstal. The family at the end of the 12h century benefited from the dispute between the Staufers and the Guelphs and the decline of the Hohenstaufen dynasty as a result of the conflict with the Papacy in the mid-13th century. the Herren von Wirdeberch acquired Staufer land, but brought conflict with the rising Habsburgs family. The Wirdeberch family expaned thir holdings and became the most important power in Southwest Germany. A family divided the holdings. One branch resided in Stuttgart and the other in Urach. This division considerbly weaked the dynasty. Graf (Count) Eberhard the Bearded, im Barte, (r. 1459-96) reunited the family holdings. Count Eberhard V declared the indivisibility of the holdings (1482). Württemberg was raised to ducal rank (1495). The Swabian League of free cities fearing the rising power of Württemberg expelled Duke Ulrich I (1519). They then sold the duchy to Emperor Charles V who was just elected (1520). .

The Reformation

The Protestant Reformation was launched by Martin Luthur at about the same time Duke Ulrich was expelled. Duke Ulrich was not an easy ruler to dismiss. He never accepted the loss of his domain. Ulrich was an early convert to Protestantism. He obtained support from Philip of Hesse the leading Protestant defender in Germany (1534). Catholic King Francis I of France also provided support to German Protestants. The peasants of Württemberg were increasingly becoming Protestant and were becoming alientated from nment of King (later Emperor) Ferdinand I, in part because of his efforts to supress Protestantism. Ulrich and Philip gained a great victory over the imperial forces at the battle of Lauffen (1534). Ferdinand had no choice, but to restore Württemberg to Ulrich, although Ulrich had to recognize the feudal authority of the Hapsburg. When Ulrich's returned Lutheranism was introduced as the established religiom. (The Reformation in Germany was not about freedom of religion.) The Hapsburgs retained control over substantial parts of southern Württemberg. There were a number of powerful abbeys in the south. As a result, these territories were incorporated wht is now Württemberg later. This explains why in modern Württemberg there is a sunstantial Catholic minority, especially in the south. The protestanti church in Stuttgart originated more with the Swiss reformed churches (than with Martin Luther) and later with the socalled "Pietisten" from Korntal, now a suburb of Stuttgart. In one of the protestantic churches of Stuttgart, by a long established tradition, the pastor has still to be a pietist, not only in Korntal!

The 17th and 18th Centuries

Württemberg after the Reformation was a Grand Duchy and the duke had elector status. It played a frole in the religiousd wars during the 17th century, but the 18th century was more traquil.

Charles Alexander/Karl Alexander (1684-1737)

Charles Alexander was born (1684). He was a respected military commander serving in the forces of the Holy Roman Empire. He converted to Roman Catholicism (1712). He served under Prince Eugene of Savoy in the Spanish War of Succession as well as in the war against the Turks. Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI appointed him governor of the Kingdom of Serbia (1720). The Hapsburg presence in Serbia helped introduce the world 'vampire' into the German language. He seved as regent until (1733). He left Serbia to acede to the position of Duke of Württemberg (1733). He moved the court back from Ludwigsburg to Stuttgart. He employed Joseph Oppenheimer, later known as Jew Süss to be his financier. Oppenheimer was executed a year after Charles Alexander died (1738). His decaying corpse was displayed in an ron cage for 6 years. Duke Chgarles Alexander married Maria Augusta Anna of Thurn and Taxis (1706–56). He reigned until his death (1737). He was succeeded by his 9-year-old son, Charles Eugene.

Charles Eugene (1728-93)

Charles Eugene was born in Brusselsc(1728). He was was the oldest son of Duke Karl I Alexander and Princess Maria Augusta of Thurn and Taxis (1706–56). Charles Eugene succeeded his father as duke of Württemberg when hec was only 9 years old. Administrators Carl Rudolf, Duke of Württemberg-Neuenstadt (1737–38) and Carl Frederick von Württemberg-Oels (1738–46) served as regents during his minority. Charles Eugene was educated at the court of Frederick II of Prussia. In the Seven Years' War, Charles Eugene led troops into advanced into Saxony. He married Elisabeth Fredericka Sophie of Brandenburg-Bayreuth. They had one child who died in infancy. She left him (1756), but they never divorced. He had 11 children with several mistresses, but they were not legitimate and thus the boys could not inherit the throne. He ruled until his death in 1793, when he was succeeded by his younger brother, Louis Eugene.

Louis Eugene (1731-95)

Ludwig Eugen was born (1731). He was was the third son of Duke Karl Alexander and Princess Maria Augusta of Thurn and Taxis (1706-56). He married Sophie Albertine (1728-1807), a daughter of August Gottfried Dietrich, Count of Beichlingen and Sophie Helene, Countess of Stoecken. Louis and Sophie had three daughters: Sophie Antoinette (1763-75), Wilhelmine Friederike Elisabeth (1764-1817), and Henriette Charlotte Friederike (1767-1817). Late in life he succeeded his brother Karl Eugen as Duke of Württemberg (1793). He reigned briefly until his death (1795). As his daughters could not inherit the cthrone, he was succeeded by his younger brother Frederick Eugen.

Fredrich/Frederick II Eugene (1732-97)

The last Grand Duke before Württemberg became a kingdom during the Napoleonic Wars was Frederich/Frederick II. He was the fourth and last son of Duke Karl Alexander and Princess Maria Augusta of Thurn and Taxis. He married Friederike Sophia Dorothea of Brandenburg-Schwedt, a niece of Frederick the Great. They had 12 children. He became Grand Duke when his older brither died (1795). He died soon after, but his oldest son became Friderick II, first king of of Württemberg. His third child was Duke Eugen of Württemberg (1758–1822). Both Duke Eugene and his son Duke Eugen of Württemberg (1788–1857) fought with the Prussian and Russian armies against Napoleonic France. The next Duke Eugen of Württemberg (1820–75) lived in a more tranquil period. He was commander of the 1st Westphalian Hussars No. 8. He was second in line to the Württemberg crown after his cousin King William.

Modern History

Württemberg was the location of considerable of fighting in the various dynastic wars wars of the 17th and 18th century. The French Revolution (1789) began an era of radical change in Europe and Württemberg was one of the many principalities affected.

Friedrich/Frederick I (1754-1816)

King Friedrich I ruled Württemberg as an absolute ruler. Frederick during the Napoleonic Wars made peace with Napoleon during after his early victories and formed an alliance with him. He was one of the German nobels most willing to deal with Napoleon. This enabled Frederick to obtain the rank of elector in 1803. Frederick became king of Württemberg as Frederick I in 1806. Frederich and other German states under Napoleon's control formed the Confederation of the Rhine (Rheinbund) (1806). Frederick's alliance with Napoleon enabled him to more than double Württemberg's territory between 1802 and 1810. The territories added included Heilbronn, Hohenloher Ebene, Ellwangen, Ulm, Rottweil, parts of Oberschwaben, the Allgaeu and the "vorderösterreichischen Lande", parts of Austria. This increased the number of inhabitants from 650,000 to 1,340,000. Napoleon's defeat in Russia (1812) altered the European power ballance. The Confederation of the Rhine was disolved and Frederich switching to the Allied side at just the right time (1813). As a result, unlike many others who cooperaed with Napoleon, Frederich managed to retained both his royal rank and expanded territory at the Congress of Vienna (1815). The descendents of Friedrich are the socalled "royal" ot "protestanti" branch" of the family down to Wilhelm II who abdicated in 1918. A brother of Friedrich, Alexander, married a (catholic), Austrian princess, and founded the socalled "Austrian" or "catholic" branch of the family. They lived in Austria and Bohemia during the 19th and early 20th century. The images here show the catholic branch of the family (figures 1 and 2). In the genealogy of both branches you find many relations to the British royal family, the Austrian imperial family, and the Russian Tsars. In Stuttgart, there is an Anglicanic church and a Russian Orthodox church originated in the 19th century for the royal family member of these religions. His granson Duke Eugene

William I (1816-64)

William's parents were King Frederick I (1754- ) and Augusta Caroline of Brunswick (1784). William married three times. The First was to Charlotte Wittelsbach of Bavaria (1764- ) in 1808. This appears to have been prompted by Napoleon as the marriage was annuled in 1814. I do not have the details yet. The second marriage was to Russian Grand Duchess Catherine Pavlovna Romanov in 1816. There were two children: Marie Frederica Charlotte (1816- ) and Sophie Frederica Mathilde (1818- ). Catherine Pavlovna died very young. William married agian to Princess Pauline von Württemberg in 1820. There were three children: Catherine Frederica (1821- ), Charles I, King of Württemberg (1823- ), and Augusta Wilhelmina Henrietta (1826- ). At a time when Germany and Europe was under the control of conservative political forced orcestrated by Austrian Count Meternich, Württemberg became a center of liberal thought. Frederick was succeeded by William I who granted a liberal constitution (1816). The King's attempt to grant a constitution at first failed because of the opposition of the estates, but the king succeeded a few years later (1819). Württemberg joined the Deutschen Bund (1816) and Deutschen Zollverein (sustom's union) (1834). Württemberg was drawn into the Revolutions of 1848 which swept Europe. The March Revolution of 1848 was supressed in 1849. The royal government adopted reactionary policies and moved closer to Austria in an effort to resist the rising power of Prussia.

Karl/Charles I (1864-91)

King Charles was the only son of William I. He married Russian Grand Duchess Olga Nicolaievna in 1846. There were no children. They adopted a nice of Queen Olga--Grand Duchess Vera Konstantinovna. Charles opposed the rise of Prussia and sided with Austria in the Austro-Prussian War (1866), but like the other German states joined with Prussia in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) and joined the German Empire (1871). Within the Empire, political disputes in Württemberg were dominated by the conflict between the newly formed Centre and Social Democratic parties and the issue of voting rights and parlimentary reform. Upon his death the crown went to a nephew, the son of Charle's older sister Catherine Federica. It was the male line, however which determined the succession.

Figure 2.--This is the family of Duke Albrecht and Duchess Margarete. Left to right: Philipp Albrecht 1893-1975, Albrecht Eugen 1895-1954, Karl Alexander 1896-1964, Marie Amelie 1897-1923, Marie Theresia 1898-1928 and Margarethe Maria 1902-1945.

William II (1891-1918)

I do not have extensive information on Wilhelm. Prince Wilhelm was born in 1848. At the time he was not expected to ingerit the throne. The royal family was highly regarded and well integrated into Stuttgart public life. When Prinz Wilhelm von Wuerttemberg was 10 years old in 1858 he was enrolled at a state school (gymnasium). Many royals at the time were educated privately by tutors. He associated with with aristocratic and even middle-class children for play and sport. They were (not always positively) known to Stuttgart citizens as the "Prinzenbuben", the gang of the young prince. As an adult, King Wilhelm II commonly walked in the town and went hiking in the forests around Stuttgart (alone, no body guard!) with two dogs, white "Spitzer", untill he abdicated in 1918. A HBC reader tells us, "Elder relatives and even my mother (born 1907) met him in the town. This probably would not be possible in modern times." Wilhelm mrried Marie Waldeck (1857-82) in Pyrmont in 1877. They had three children: Paauline (1867-1965), Ulrich (1880), and Tochevy (1882). Marie died in 1882, presumbably in child birth. Wilhelm married again to Charlotte v. Schaumburg-Lippe (1864-1946). King Wilhelm II of Württemberg was the last reigning sovereign of the German Empire. Like many of his royal colleagues, Wilhelm of Württemberg tried to keep his kingdom from the debacle engulfing the Hohenzollern empire. His efforts were unsuccessful and he had to renounce his throne on November 29, 1918.

Duke Philipp

I'm not dure at this time how Duke Philipp firs into thre royal line. Duke Philipp of Wurttemberg married Duchess Marie Caroline in Bavaria. The image is noted 1969 and 1964. I am not sure what the dates refer to, perhaps their birth dates. The wedding portrait shows what looks like the ring bearer and flower girls. I'm notsure ehen the wedding took place.

Duke Wilhelm

We have a photograph Comtesse Isabelle de Paris celebrating her 90th birthday(with her great-grandson Duke Wilhelm of Württemberg. I'm not sure when the photograph was taken, probably in the 1990s. I'm not sure yet of Wilhelm's relationship to Wilhelm II. presumably his great grandson. Duke Wilhelm wears Lederhosen for the occassion. The title is of course more of a hoary family title as since 1918 the monarch was abolished.

Modern Germany

After World War I, the Republic of Württemberg was proclaimed (1918). Württemberg joined the Weimar Republic with its democratic constitution (1919). A Württemberg state government was formed by a coalition of moderate parties. After the NAZIS seized power In 1933 Württemberg was "gleichgeschaltet" (unified) like other German states. After World War II, Württemberg was divided into two occupied zones, the American zone of Württemberg-Baden (the northern part including the Stuttgart area) and the French zone of Württemberg-Hohenzollern (the southern part). As part of an internal rorganization, Württemberg was made a part of the temporary states of Württemberg-Baden and Württemberg-Hohenzollern. A referendum was held in the new Federal Republic of Germany (1951) which approved the merger both zones and the French zone of Baden into into the present state of Baden-Württemberg.


Urach is a city and the capital of the Duchy since the 12th century. The Sovereigns of Württemberg have resided in Urach several times. I do not know much about the city. A German internet site yield this which I do not understand, "During the wuerttembergischen landing hurrying (1442-1482) the counts of Wuerttemberg lived in Urach. For many centuries Urach was in addition, administration -, handels and trade center for a large part of the middle Swabian Alb. " ( Es sind insbesondere Erinnerungen an die Zeit als Residenzstadt und Oberamtsstadt. Während der württembergischen Landesteilung (1442-1482) residierten die Grafen von Württemberg in der Stadt. Jahrhundertelang war Urach aber auch Verwaltungs-, Handels- und Gewerbezentrum für einen großen Teil der Mittleren Schwäbischen Alb.") The modern title of Duke d'URACH was given in 1867 to Count Wilhelm of WURTEMBERG which was the son of the Duke Wilhelm von WURTEMBERG (1761-1830) and of his morganatic wife Wilhelmine baroness von TUNDERFELDT-RHODIS (1777-1822).


Sauer, Paul. Wuerttembers letzter Koenig (Deutsche Verlagsanstalt Stuttgart, 1994).


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Created: December 28, 2003
Last updated: 8:41 PM 9/27/2011