Papers of the Grand Dukes of Baden, Germany

Scope and Content

The correspondence in the collection includes material directed to Lord and Lady Augustus Loftus, 1858-1863, letters from Grand Duchess (Louise) Luise, 1861-1903, and letters from Princess (Mary) Marie of Baden, 1866. There are also photographs of Grand Duke (Frederick William) Friedrich I Wilhelm Ludwig, 1857, and Grand Duchess Louise, 1899.

Administrative / Biographical History

The former state of Baden is situated on the east bank of the River Rhine in southwestern Germany. Today it forms the western part of the German state (Land) of Baden-Württemberg in the immediate neighbourhood of France and Switzerland. Ancient Baden saw settlement by the Celts, Germanic peoples, the Romans, the Alemanni, and then by the 8th century the Franks who brought Christianity to the area. By 1112 Baden had become a margravate and through succeeding centuries the margraves of Baden, part of the House of Zähringen, acquired other lands around the Rhine. In 1535, the territory was divided into the margravates of Baden-Baden in the south and Baden-Durlach in the north. During the Reformation both became Protestant but in the 1570s, Baden-Baden returned to Catholicism and subsequent rivalry weakened both margravates. In the 17th century Baden was devastated by the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) and its larger towns suffered under French expansionism later that century.

Members of the Baden family bore the title Prince or Princess of Baden, Grand Ducal Highness. The head of the family bore the title Margrave of Baden, Royal Highness.

In the 18th century, Karl III Wilhelm, born 17 January 1679, and Margarve of Baden-Durlach between 1709 and 1738, founded Karlsruhe as his capital. Karl died on 12 May 1738. Later in the century, his grandson, Karl Friedrich, born in Karlsruhe 22 November 1728, and Margrave of Baden-Durlach from 1738 to 1811, re-united both margravates when he became Margrave of Baden-Baden in 1771 on the extinction of its own line. Under Karl Friedrich, Baden prospered, but at a price. Although the state was compensated with lands as far as the River Main and Bodensee (Lake Constance), becoming four or five times its former size, it had to cede territory to Revolutionary France and it became a French satellite. In 1803, Baden became an Electorate of the Holy Roman Empire, then when the Empire was dissolved in 1806 Baden became a Grand Duchy of the Confederation of the Rhine. Karl Friedrich died in Karlsruhe on 10 June 1811. Although Napoleon's Holy Roman Empire had been dissolved, Baden's association with France had not been, and on 8 April 1806, in Paris, Karl Ludwig Friedrich (1786-1818), Grand Duke of Baden, married Her Imperial Highness Stephanie de Beauharnais, Princesse Francaise.

After the turmoil of the Napoleonic Wars, the Congress of Vienna (1814-1815) recognised unified Baden as a sovereign member of the German Confederation. In 1818, Baden became one of the first German states to establish a representative assembly and in 1836 it joined the Prussian Zollverein (Customs Union). The liberal reforms of Karl Leopold Friedrich, born in Karlsruhe on 29 August 1790, and Grand Duke of Baden from 1830 to 1852, did not keep pace with left-wing demands and a revolution was led by Friedrich Hecker and Gustav von Struve in 1848. This was put down by Prussian military force and Karl Leopold Friedrich was restored in 1849.

Friedrich I Wilhelm Ludwig of Baden, born in Karlruhe 9 September 1826, was Regent from 24 April 1852 to the exclusion of his older brother, Ludwig II, who was mentally incapable of governing. From 1853 he was continually engaged in power struggles with the church and at the end of 1855 he banished the Jesuits from Baden. Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig assumed the title of Grand Duke on 5 September 1856, and married Luise, Princess of Prussia, in Berlin, on 20 September 1856. In September too, he narrowly escaped assassination. As an ally of Prussia, he assisted in the founding of the German Empire and his soldiers contributed to German victories in the Franco-Prussian War, 1870-1871. He died on Mainau in Lake Constance on 28 September 1907. His successor, Friedrich II Wilhelm Ludwig Leopold August, born in Karlsruhe on 9 July 1857, proved to be the last Grand Duke of Baden. Married on 20 September 1885 to Hilda, Princess of Nassau, Princess of Luxemburg, at Schloss Hohenburg, Friedrich II Wilhelm abdicated in 1918 at the end of the First World War. He died at Badenweiler on 9 August 1928, as did Hilda on 8 February 1952.

Under the 1919 constitution Baden ceased to be a Grand Duchy and became a Land of the German Reich. In 1945, after the Second World War, Baden was divided into American and French zones of occupation. North Baden and North Württemberg were in the American zone and South Württemberg and South Baden were in the French Zone. By 1952, these administrative zones became parts of the modern German state of Baden-Württemberg.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Landeszentrale für politische Bildung Baden-Württemberg (ed.). The German southwest. Baden-Württemberg: History, politics, economy and culture. Stuttgart: Verlag W. Kohlhammer, 1991. (2) The new encyclopaedia Britannica. Vol.1. Micropaedia. Ready Reference. 15th edition. p.782. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1991. (3) Baden. Paul Theroff's Royal Genealogy Site. Full-text [online].  Baden  [Accessed 2 July 2001]. (4) Cooper, Thompson (ed.). Men of the time: a dictionary of contemporaries 9th edition. p.423. London: George Routledge and Sons, 1875.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.

Related Material

The local Indexes also show a reference to Stephanie, Grand Duchess of Baden (check the Indexes for details): a note on behalf of the Grand Duchess to the Countess of Salis, at Dk.6.19/6.