Duke Carl Eugen and Duchess Franziska, silhouette etching from 1787

Message from the heartThe love letter

Duke Carl Eugen was known far and wide for his lascivious love life, his various mistresses, and his many illegitimate children. He was particularly enraptured with one young lady who, despite all obstacles, eventually became his wife.

Portrait of Franziska von Hohenheim, now hanging in Kirchheim Palace

Portrait of his love of many years, Franziska von Hohenheim.

Passionate love letter

Carl Eugen wrote the following letter from Kirchheim in 1786: "Darling Franziska, dearest to my heart! [...] most beautiful woman!, the most important thing: Do you like me as well? I have thought of you a hundred times, also that you would praise my patience, yes, my darling Franziska is always in my mind. Adieu, my angel! I kiss you a thousand times in my mind, and my whole heart is yours until my death. The reigning duchess, my most beloved wife in Stuttgart."

Plaster bust of Duchess Franziska von Württemberg, circa 1790

Duchess Franziska von Württemberg, circa 1790.

The one

He wrote this letter for Franziska, his love of many years: Duke Carl Eugen fell in love with the 23-year-old Baroness Franziska Leutrum von Ertingen in 1771. Within a few months, she was living at his side as his mistress. In 1785, after the death of his wife, he officially married her. Until he met Franziska, the duke's love life had been quite colorful, it was only under her influence that his life seemed to take a quieter course.

Portrait of Duke Carl Eugen on a medallion

Portrait of Duke Carl Eugen.

Duke Carl Eugen in love

The Duke of Württemberg had been married to Elisabeth Friederike Sophie von Brandenburg-Bayreuth since 1748. Yet the marriage was not happy, and the duke was unfaithful. After eight years, his wife returned to her parents' court. The young duke enjoyed himself with various mistresses. So that he could better keep track of his liaisons, Duke Carl Eugen is said to have ordered that the ladies with whom he had already had an affair should wear blue shoes at court in the future.

"Maîtresse en titre"

A series of mistresses was nothing unusual at the royal courts of Europe in the 18th century. Ultimately, the official marriage was not generally a result of personal inclination, but rather was concluded for dynastic reasons. Some mistresses even secured their position as favorite, received the official title "maîtresse en titre," and were able to exert political influence at court.

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