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Hunting palace and summer residence with glorious views

Solitude Palace

Sleighs from the ducal collection in Urach Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, credit unknown
Salty extravagance

The sleigh ride

There are many stories about the life of the Duke of Württemberg, Carl Eugen, who impressed his guests with expensive amusements in his younger years. The story of the sleigh ride is often told as the climax of his lavish spending.

Avenue to Solitude Palace. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Sven Grenzemann

Avenue to Solitude Palace.

A legendary sleigh ride

Due to the lack of real snow in summer (!), the duke is said to have given the order to spread salt over the 13 kilometers of the Solitudeallee avenue between Ludwigsburg and Solitude Palace to accommodate the desired sleigh ride. Yet this likely would have been beyond Carl Eugen's means. For a long time, salt was a valuable trade good and an expensive spice and preservative. In contrast, the truth: Carl Eugen used the Solitudeallee avenue for official receptions to lead his guests to Solitude accompanied by thundering cannons.

Image: Wikipedia, in the public domain

Giacomo Casanova, a guest at the court of Württemberg.

Follies of all kinds

Enormous sums were spent on the noisy celebrations at the court of Württemberg. No expense was spared, no magnificence too lavish. At the time, this was considered necessary: In foreign politics, Württemberg was unimportant and could only attract attention through a high degree of representation. Duke Carl Eugen had artists and actors come to Württemberg to construct and act in large theaters. The well-traveled Giacomo Casanova described the ducal court in his memoirs as the "most radiant in Europe". "Generous wages, magnificent buildings, hunts and follies of all kinds," but especially the theater excited guests at the time.

Gilded console table in Duke Carl Eugen's apartment in Solitude Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Andrea Rachele

Gilded console table in Solitude Palace.

Resistance grows

Resistance soon arose against this magnificence, which far exceeded Württemberg's economic means. The representation of the estates, which had a strong position opposing dukes in Württemberg, brought suit against Carl Eugen in the highest court in Vienna in 1764: They opposed his style of government, his recruitment of troops, his increase in taxes, and not least against the enormous expenses for the construction of Solitude Palace. It took years before an agreement was reached.

The duke as gardener

His relationship with Franziska von Hohenheim, his mistress since 1772, and later as his wife, seems to have tempered the duke. In her diary, she described her often tranquil experiences with Carl Eugen. In June 1781, the two even resided in Hohenheim Palace and occupied themselves with the "English village" garden. Franziska wrote: ."..and I also sowed lettuce in the village, and the duke raked." This was a typical pastime of nobility; they entertained themselves by playing at a "simple" country life, of course surrounded by suitable luxury.

Engraving of Hohenheim Palace in Stuttgart-Hohenheim. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Dieter Jäger

A summer residence: Hohenheim Palace.

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