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1st Grand Duke Karl Friedrich of Baden, painting by Johann Ludwig Kisling, 1806/1807

Karl Friedrich, 1st Grand Duke of Baden (November 22, 1728 in Karlsruhe – June 10, 1811 in Karlsruhe) was the son of Hereditary Prince Friedrich of Baden-Durlach and Amalia of Nassau-Dietz (October 13, 1710 – September 17, 1777), the daughter of Johan Willem Friso of Nassau-Dietz.

He ruled as the Margrave of Baden-Durlach from 1746 until 1771, when he inherited Baden-Baden from the Bernhard Line. Upon inheriting the latter Margravate, the original land of Baden was reunited. He was regarded as a good example of an absolute ruler, supporting schools, universities, jurisprudence, civil service, economy, culture, and urban development. He outlawed torture in 1767, and serfdom in 1783.

In 1803 Karl Friedrich became elector of Baden, and in 1806 the first grand duke of Baden. Through the politics of minister Sigismund Freiherr von Reitzenstein, Baden acquired the Bishopric of Constance, the Bishopric of Basel, the Bishopric of Strassburg, the Bishopric of Speyer, the Breisgau and the Ortenau.

In 1806 Baden joined the Confederation of the Rhine.


Karl Friedrich with his architect, Friedrich Weinbrenner, were responsible for the construction of the handsome suite of Classical buildings that distinguish Karlsruhe.

Marriage and children

Karoline Luise,
Margravine of Baden

Karl Friedrich married Karoline Luise of Hesse-Darmstadt on January 28, 1751. The daughter of Ludwig VIII of Hesse-Darmstadt, she was born on July 11, 1723 and died on April 8, 1783.

Karl Friedrich and Karoline had the following children:

  • Karl Ludwig (February 14, 1755 - December 16, 1801). Karl Ludwig's son, Karl Ludwig Friedrich, succeeded Karl Friedrich as Grand Duke upon the latter's death in 1811.
  • Friedrich (August 29, 1756 - May 28, 1817) married on December 9, 1791 Luise of Nassau-Usingen (August 16, 1776 - February 19, 1829), the daughter of Duke Friedrich of Nassau-Usingen
  • Ludwig (February 9, 1763 - March 30, 1830) married Countess Katharina Werner von Langenstein in 1818. Ludwig succeeded his nephew Karl Ludwig Friedrich as 3rd Grand Duke in 1818.
  • Son (July 29, 1764 - July 29, 1764)
  • Luise Auguste (January 8, 1767 - January 11, 1767)
Karl Friedrich Statue in front of the Karlsruhe Castle (Schloss)

Karl Friedrich married Luise Karoline, Freiin Geyer von Geyersberg as his second wife on November 24, 1787. The daughter of Ludwig Heinrich Philipp, Freiherr Geyer von Geyersberg and wife Maximiliana Christiane, Gräfin von Sponeck, she was born on May 26, 1768 and died on July 23, 1820. This was a morganatic marriage, and the children born of it were not eligible to succeed. Luise was created Baroness of Hochberg at the time of her marriage and Countess of Hochberg in 1796; both titles were also borne by her children.

They had the following children:

  • Leopold (August 29, 1790 - April 24, 1852)
  • Wilhelm (April 8, 1792 - October 11, 1859)
  • Friedrich Alexander (June 10, 1793 - June 18, 1793)
  • Amalie (January 26, 1795 - September 14, 1869) married on April 19, 1818 Karl Egon II. von FĂĽrstenberg (October 28, 1796 - October 22, 1854).
  • Maximilian (December 8, 1796 - March 6, 1882)

By 1817, the descendants of Karl Friedrich by his first wife were dying out. To prevent Baden from being inherited by the next heir (and brother-in-law), King Maximilian I of Bavaria, the reigning Grand Duke, Karl, (the 1st Grand Duke's grandson) changed the succession law to give the Hochberg family full dynastic rights in Baden. They thus became Princes and Princesses of Baden with the style of Grand Ducal Highness, like their elder half-siblings. Their succession rights were reinforced when Baden was granted a constitution in 1818, and recognised by Bavaria and the Great Powers in the Treaty of Frankfurt, 1819. Leopold, the eldest son of the second marriage, succeeded as Grand Duke in 1830.


Charles Frederick, Grand Duke of Baden
Born: 22 November 1728 Died: 10 June 1811
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Charles III
Margrave of Baden-Durlach
1738 – 1771
Reunification of Baden
Preceded by
as Margrave of Baden-Durlach
Margrave of Baden
1771 – 1803
Elevated to electorate
Preceded by
August Georg Simpert
as Margrave of Baden-Baden
New title
Electorate established
Elector of Baden
1803 – 1806
Dissolution of the
Holy Roman Empire
New title
Grand Duke of Baden
1806 – 1811
Succeeded by

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