Charles Frederick
Portrait by Johann Ludwig Kisling, 1803
Grand Duke of Baden
Reign25 July 1806 – 10 June 1811
Elector of Baden
Reign27 April 1803 – 6 August 1806
Margrave of Baden (unified)
Reign21 October 1771 – 27 April 1803
PredecessorAugustus George, Margrave of Baden-Baden
Margrave of Baden-Durlach
Reign12 May 1738 – 21 October 1771
PredecessorCharles III William
Born(1728-11-22)22 November 1728
Karlsruhe Palace, Karlsruhe,
Margraviate of Baden-Durlach,
Holy Roman Empire
Died10 June 1811(1811-06-10) (aged 82)
(m. 1751; died 1783)
FatherFrederick, Hereditary Prince of Baden-Durlach
MotherPrincess Amalia of Nassau-Dietz

Charles Frederick (22 November 1728 – 10 June 1811[1]) was Margrave, Elector and later Grand Duke of Baden (initially only Margrave of Baden-Durlach) from 1738 until his death.


Born at Karlsruhe, he was the son of Hereditary Prince Frederick of Baden-Durlach and Amalia of Nassau-Dietz (13 October 1710 – 17 September 1777), the daughter of Johan Willem Friso of Nassau-Dietz.

He succeeded his grandfather as Margrave of Baden-Durlach in 1738 and ruled personally from 1746 until 1771, when he inherited Baden-Baden from the Catholic line of his family. This made him the Protestant ruler of a state that was overwhelmingly Catholic, however the Imperial Diet permitted this because the Elector of Saxony had converted to Catholicism from Lutheranism and had been permitted to retain control of the Protestant body of the Imperial Diet. Upon inheriting the latter margraviate, the original land of Baden was reunited. He was regarded as a good example of an enlightened despot, supporting schools, universities, jurisprudence, the civil service, the economy, culture, and urban development. He outlawed torture in 1767, and serfdom in 1783. He was elected a Royal Fellow of the Royal Society in 1747.[2]

In 1803, Charles Frederick 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, and the territories of the Bishopric of Basel, the Bishopric of Strassburg, and the Bishopric of Speyer that lay on the right bank of the Rhine, in addition to Breisgau and Ortenau.[3]

In 1806, Baden joined the Confederation of the Rhine.

Together with his architect, Friedrich Weinbrenner, Charles Frederick was responsible for the construction of the handsome suite of classical buildings that distinguish Karlsruhe. He died there in 1811, and was one of the few German rulers to die during the Napoleonic era.

Marriages and children

Silver coin: 1 konventionsthaler Karl Friedrich of Baden-Durlach, 1766

Charles Frederick married Caroline Louise of Hesse-Darmstadt on 28 January 1751. She was the daughter of Louis VIII of Hesse-Darmstadt, was born on 11 July 1723 and died on 8 April 1783.

Charles Frederick and Caroline Louise had the following children:

Charles Frederick statue in front of the Karlsruhe Palace (Schloss)

Charles Frederick married Louise Caroline, Baroness Geyer of Geyersberg as his second wife on 24 November 1787. She was the daughter of Lt. Col. Louis Henry Philipp, Baron Geyer of Geyersberg and his wife Maximiliana Christiane, Countess of Sponeck. She was born on 26 May 1768 and died on 23 July 1820. This was a morganatic marriage, and the children born of it were not eligible to succeed. Louise 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:

By 1817, the descendants of Charles Frederick by his first wife were dying out. To prevent Baden from being inherited by the next heir (his brother-in-law King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria), the reigning Grand Duke, Charles (grandson of the first Grand Duke), 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 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's descendants ruled the Grand Duchy of Baden until 1918. The current pretenders to the throne of Baden are descendants of Leopold.[4]

Leopold, the eldest son from the second marriage, succeeded as Grand Duke in 1830.



  1. ^ von Weech, Friedrich von. "Karl Friedrich, Großherzog von Baden" (Online edition). Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie 15 (1882) (in German). pp. 241–248. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  2. ^ "Library and Archive Catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 15 July 2011.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Frei, Alfred; Kurt Hochstuhl; G. Braun (1996). Wegbereiter der Demokratie (in German). G. Braun Buchverlag. ISBN 3-7650-8168-X.
  4. ^ "Maximilian, Margrave of Baden". 8 September 2021. Archived from the original on 9 September 2021.
  5. ^ Genealogie ascendante jusqu'au quatrieme degre inclusivement de tous les Rois et Princes de maisons souveraines de l'Europe actuellement vivans [Genealogy up to the fourth degree inclusive of all the Kings and Princes of sovereign houses of Europe currently living] (in French). Bourdeaux: Frederic Guillaume Birnstiel. 1768. p. 37.

Further reading

Charles Frederick, Grand Duke of Baden House of ZähringenBorn: 22 November 1728 Died: 10 June 1811 Regnal titles Preceded byCharles III Margrave of Baden-Durlach 1738–1771 Reunification of Baden Preceded byAugustus George Simpert Margrave of Baden-Baden 1771 Preceded byHimselfas Margrave of Baden-Durlach Margrave of Baden 1771–1803 Elevated to electorate New titleElectorate established Elector of Baden 1803–1806 Dissolution of theHoly Roman Empire New titleGrand Duchy of Baden established Grand Duke of Baden 1806–1811 Succeeded byCharles