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Height comparison between King Frederick I of Württemberg (211 cm) and Napoleon (169 cm), adjusted
Crown of the Kingdom of Württemberg

Frederick I (German: Friedrich I. Wilhelm Karl; 6 November 1754 – 30 October 1816) was the first King of Württemberg. He was known for his size, 2.11 m (6 ft 11 in) and about 200 kg (31 st 7 lb), which put him in contrast to Napoleon who recognized him as King of Württemberg.



Born in Treptow, Frederick was the eldest son of Duke Friedrich Eugen of Württemberg and Sophia Dorothea of Brandenburg-Schwedt. Friedrich's father was the third son of Duke Karl Alexander, and Friedrich was thus the nephew of the long-reigning duke Karl Eugen. Since neither Karl Eugen nor his next brother, Ludwig Eugen had any sons, it was expected that Friedrich would eventually succeed to the Duchy.

Frederick of Württemberg was appointed by Catherine II of Russia as Governor-General of eastern Finland, with his seat at Viipuri.

King Frederick I of Württemberg

On 22 December 1797, Friedrich's father, who had succeeded his brother as Duke of Württemberg two years before, died, and Friedrich became Duke of Württemberg as Friedrich III. He was not to enjoy his reign undisturbed for long, however. In 1800, the French army occupied Württemberg and the Duke and Duchess fled to Vienna. The following year, Duke Friedrich concluded a private treaty ceding Montbéliard, an enclave within the boundaries of France, to the French Republic, and received Ellwangen in exchange two years later.

According to the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss, which reorganized the Empire as a result of the French annexation of the Left Bank of the Rhine, the Duke of Württemberg was raised to the dignity of Imperial Elector. Friedrich assumed the title Prince-Elector (Kurfürst) 25 February 1803, and was thereafter known as the Elector of Württemberg. The reorganization of the Empire also secured the new Elector control of various ecclesiastical territories and former free cities, thus greatly increasing the size of his domains.

In exchange for providing France with a large auxiliary force, Napoleon recognized the Elector as King of Württemberg on 26 December 1805. Friedrich became King Friedrich I when he formally ascended the throne on 1 January 1806 and was crowned as such on the same day at Stuttgart. Soon after, Württemberg seceded from the Holy Roman Empire and joined Napoleon's Confederation of the Rhine. Once again, the assumption of a new title also meant territorial expansion, as the territories of various nearby princes were mediatized and annexed by Württemberg. As a symbol of his alliance with the French Emperor, Friedrich's daughter Catherine was married to Napoleon's youngest brother Jerome. The newly elevated king's alliance with France technically made him the enemy of his father-in-law, British King George III. However, the King's dynastic connections would enable him to intermittently act as a go between the British government and various continental powers.

During the War of Liberation in 1813, Friedrich changed sides and went over the Allies, where his status as the brother-in-law of the British Prince Regent (later George IV) and uncle to the Russian Tsar Alexander I helped his standing. After the fall of Napoleon, he attended the Congress of Vienna and was confirmed as King. At Vienna Friedrich and his ministers were very concerned to make sure that Württemberg would be able to retain all the territories it had gained in the past fifteen years. Friedrich's harsh treatment of the mediatized princes within his domain made him one of the principal targets of the organization of dispossessed princes, which hoped to gain the support of the Powers in regaining their lost sovereignty. In the end, however, Austria, which was seen as the natural ally of the princes, was more interested in alliance with the medium sized German states like Württemberg than with asserting its traditional role as protector of the smaller sovereigns of the old Empire, and Friedrich was allowed to retain his dubiously acquired lands. Friedrich, along with the other German princes, joined the new Germanic Confederation in 1815. He died in October of the next year.

When he became King, he styled his children and further male-line descendants as HRH Princes and Princesses of Württemberg, and he styled his siblings as Royal Highnesses and Dukes and Duchesses of Württemberg.

He was very tall and obese: behind his back he was known as "The Great Belly-Gerent". Napoleon I of France remarked that God had created the Prince to demonstrate the utmost extent to which the human skin could be stretched without bursting. In return, Frederick wondered how so much poison could fit in such a small head.

In 1810, Frederick was responsible for banishing the composer Carl Maria von Weber from his kingdom on the pretext of mismanaging the funds of his brother Duke Louis of Württemberg, whom Weber had served as secretary since 1807.

Marriage and children

Augusta of Brunswick

On 15 October 1780, 25-year-old Duke Friedrich married Duchess Augusta of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, eldest daughter of Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Princess Augusta of Great Britain, the sister of George III of the United Kingdom. Frederick was reportedly violent towards his wife, and during a visit from Finland to Russia (St.Petersburg) in December 1786, Augusta fled to the apartments of Empress Catherine II, mother-in-law of Frederick's sister Maria Feodorovna. Catherine offered Augusta asylum and wrote to Frederick requesting that he leave the Russian Court. When Maria Feodorovna protested at the treatment of her brother, Catherine wrote her a curt letter saying "It is not I who cover the Prince of Württemberg with opprobrium: on the contrary, it is I who try to bury abominations and it is my duty to suppress any further ones."

Augusta's father was less sympathetic, and refused his daughter's plea for divorce. In response, Catherine offered Augusta a place to live at one of her Imperial estates in Lohde, Koluvere castle [1], Kullamaa Parish to the south-west of Tallinn, Estonia.[2] She was put in the custody of former huntmaster Wilhelm von Pohlmann (9 April, 1727 – 22 January, 1796), who took advantage of his office and began an sexual relationship with her; it is unknown whether she willingly participated in this relationship or was forced. She soon became pregnant by him.[3]

On 27 September 1788, at the age of 23, Augusta went into premature labor with a stillborn child, followed by hemorrhaging. Fearful of both the illegitimate birth and his relationship to her being found out, von Pohlmann refused to send for a doctor or any other medical help, and Augusta died of blood loss. She was hurriedly buried in an unmarked grave in the church at Koluvere, and her death was announced to Catherine and her parents in a brief missive with the cause given as the breaking of a blood vessel. Sightings of her were reported for several years, but none proved to be true. The facts of her death only came to light many years later, when her eldest son had the matter investigated and her body was exhumed.[4] The castle and lands of Koluvere were afterwards granted to Count Frederik Vilhelm Buxhoevden.

They had four children before Augusta's premature death:

  • Wilhelm (1781-1864), who would later succeed his father as King Wilhem I;
  • Catherine (1783-1835); and
  • Sophia (1783-1784)
  • Paul (1785-1852);

Frederick's second marriage made his connection to the British royal family even stronger: at St. James's Palace on 18 May 1797 he married Charlotte, Princess Royal of Great Britain, the eldest daughter of King George III and Queen Charlotte. They had only one child, a stillborn daughter, born and died on 27 April 1798.

In 2008. it was discovered that the current Mayor of London, Boris Johnson is descended from Friedrich through Prince Paul.


Frederick of Württemberg
Born: 6 November 1754 Died: 30 October 1816
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Frederick II Eugene
Duke of Württemberg
22 December 1797 – 25 February 1803
became Elector
New title
Elevation to Elector
Elector of Württemberg
25 February 1803 – 26 December 1805
became King
New title
King of Württemberg
26 December 1805 – 30 October 1816
Succeeded by
William I


  • Paul Sauer: Der schwäbische Zar. Friedrich - Württembergs erster König. Stuttgart 1984.
  • Ina Ulrike Paul: Württemberg 1797–1816/19. Quellen und Studien zur Entstehung des modernen württembergischen Staates (= Quellen zu den Reformen in den Rheinbundstaaten Bd. 7). München 2005.
  • Kurt Andermann, von Mecklenburg nach Württemberg

External links


  1. ^ Koluvere (Lohde) castle, Kullamaa (Goldenbeck) parish, Estonia
  2. ^ Rounding, Virginina (2007). Catherine the Great. London: Arrow. pp. pp.419–421. ISBN 9780099462347.  
  3. ^ Sabine Thomsen. Die württembergischen Königinnen. Charlotte Mathilde, Katharina, Pauline, Olga, Charlotte – ihr Leben und Wirken [The Queens of Wuerttemberg: Charlotte Matilde, Katharina, Pauline, Olga, Charlotte -- Their Lives and Legacies]. Silberburg-Verlag, 2006.
  4. ^ Thomsen, ibid.


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