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Königreich Württemberg
Kingdom of Württemberg
Wuerttemberg Arms.svg
1806–1918
Flag Coat of arms
The Kingdom of Württemberg
as located within the German Empire
Capital Stuttgart
Language(s) Swabian German
Government Constitutional monarchy
King
 - 1806-1816 Frederick I
 - 1816-1864 William I
 - 1864-1891 Charles
 - 1891-1918 William II
History
 - Elevated to kingdom 1 January 1806
 - German Revolution 9 November 1918
Area
 - 1910 19,508 km2 (7,532 sq mi)
Population
 - 1910 est. 2,437,574 
     Density 125 /km2  (323.6 /sq mi)
Currency Württemberg gulden (German Mark from 1875 onward)
The royal crown of Württemberg

The Kingdom of Württemberg (German: Königreich Württemberg) was a state that existed from 1806 to 1918, located in present-day Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It was a continuation of the Duchy of Württemberg, which came into existence in 1495.[1] Before that the ruling house of Württemberg had been counts ruling a fragment of the Duchy of Swabia, which had dissolved after the death of Conradin in 1268.

Contents

Geography

The border of the Kingdom of Württemberg, as defined in 1813, was situated between 47°34' and 49°35' North and 8°15' and 10°30' East. The greatest distance north-south was 225 km and the greatest east-west was 160 km. The border had a total length of 1800 km. The total area of the state was 19,508 km².

It shared a boundary on the East with Bavaria, and on the other three sides with Baden, with the exception of a short distance on the south, where it bordered Hohenzollern and Lake Constance.

History

On 1 January 1806 Duke Frederick II assumed the title of king as King Frederick I, abrogated the constitution and united old and new Württemberg. Subsequently he placed the property of the church under the control of the kingdom, whose boundaries were also greatly extended by the "mediatisation" process.

In 1806 he joined the Confederation of the Rhine and received further additions of territory containing 160,000 inhabitants; a little later, by the peace of Vienna in October 1809, about 110,000 more persons came under his rule. In return for these favours Frederick joined Napoleon Bonaparte in his campaigns against Prussia, Austria and Russia, and of 16,000 of his subjects who marched to Moscow only a few hundred returned. Then, after the Battle of Leipzig (October 1813), King Frederick deserted the waning fortunes of the French emperor, and by a treaty made with Metternich at Fulda in November 1813 he secured the confirmation of his royal title and of his recent acquisitions of territory, while his troops marched with those of the allies into France. In 1815 the king joined the German Confederation, but the Congress of Vienna made no change in the extent of his lands. In the same year he laid before the representatives of his people the outline of a new constitution, but they rejected this, and in the midst of the commotion Frederick died (30 October 1816).

At once the new king, William I (reigned 1816 - 1864) took up the constitutional question and after much discussion granted a new constitution in September 1819. This constitution, with subsequent modifications, remained in force until 1918 (see Württemberg). A period of quiet now set in, and the condition of the kingdom, its education, its agriculture and its trade and manufactures, began to receive earnest attention, while by frugality, both in public and in private matters, King William I helped to repair the shattered finances of the country. But the desire for greater political freedom did not entirely fade away under the constitution of 1819, and after 1830 a certain amount of unrest occurred. This, however, soon passed, while the inclusion of Württemberg in the German Zollverein and the construction of railways fostered trade.

The revolutionary movement of 1848 did not leave Württemberg untouched, although no actual violence took place within the kingdom. King William had to dismiss Johannes Schlayer (1792-1860) and his other ministers, and to call to power men with more liberal ideas, the exponents of the idea of a united Germany. King William did proclaim a democratic constitution, but as soon as the movement had spent its force he dismissed the liberal ministers, and in October 1849 Schlayer and his associates returned to power. By interfering with popular electoral rights the king and his ministers succeeded in assembling a servile diet in 1851, and this surrendered all the privileges gained since 1848. In this way the authorities restored the constitution of 1819, and power passed into the hands of a bureaucracy. A concordat with the Papacy proved almost the last act of William's long reign, but the diet repudiated the agreement, preferring to regulate relations between church and state in its own way.

The Kingdom of Württemberg as it existed from the end of the Napoleonic Wars to the end of World War I. From 1815 to 1866 it was a member state of the German Confederation and from 1871 to 1918 it was a federal state in the German Empire.

In July 1864 Charles (1823-1891, reigned 1864 - 1891) succeeded his father William I as king and had almost at once to face considerable difficulties. In the duel between Austria and Prussia for supremacy in Germany, William I had consistently taken the Austrian side, and this policy was equally acceptable to the new king and his advisers. In 1866 Württemberg took up arms on behalf of Austria in the Austro-Prussian War, but three weeks after the Battle of Königgratz (3 July 1866) her troops suffered a comprehensive defeat at Tauberbischofsheim, and the country lay at the mercy of Prussia. The Prussians occupied the northern part of Württemberg and negotiated a peace in August 1866; by this Württemberg paid an indemnity of 8,000,000 gulden, but she at once concluded a secret offensive and defensive treaty with her conqueror. Württemberg was a party to the St Petersburg Declaration of 1868.

The end of the struggle against Prussia allowed a renewal of democratic agitation in Württemberg, but this had achieved no tangible results when the great war between France and Prussia broke out in 1870. Although the policy of Württemberg had continued antagonistic to Prussia, the kingdom shared in the national enthusiasm which swept over Germany, and its troops took a creditable part in the Battle of Worth and in other operations of the war. In 1871 Württemberg became a member of the new German Empire, but retained control of her own post office, telegraphs and railways. She had also certain special privileges with regard to taxation and the army, and for the next ten years Württemberg's policy enthusiastically supported the new order. Many important reforms, especially in the area of finance, ensued, but a proposal for a union of the railway system with that of the rest of Germany failed. After reductions in taxation in 1889, the reform of the constitution became the question of the hour. King Charles and his ministers wished to strengthen the conservative element in the chambers, but the laws of 1874, 1876 and 1879 only effected slight reforms pending a more thorough settlement. On 6 October 1891, King Charles died suddenly; his cousin William II (1848-1921, reigned 1891-1918) succeeded and continued the policy of his predecessor.

Albert Einstein was born in the Kingdom of Württemberg on 14 March 1879.

Discussions on the reform of the constitution continued, and the election of 1895 memorably returned a powerful party of democrats. King William had no sons, nor had his only Protestant kinsman, Duke Nicholas (1833-1903); consequently the succession would ultimately pass to a Roman Catholic branch of the family, and this prospect raised up certain difficulties about the relations between church and state. The heir to the throne in 1910 was the Roman Catholic Duke Albert (b. 1865) of the Altshausen branch of the royal family.

An elder Catholic line, the dukes of Urach, was bypassed due to a morganatic marriage. Another morganatic line that was Protestant included Mary of Teck who married George V of the United Kingdom.

Between 1900 and 1910 the political history of Württemberg centred round the settlement of the constitutional and the educational questions. The constitution underwent revision in 1906, and a settlement of the education difficulty occurred in 1909. In 1904 the railway system integrated with that of the rest of Germany.

Notes

  1. ^ See: Vann, JA The making of a state: Württemberg, 1593-1793 Cornell Univ Press 1984.

See also

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