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Hunting palace and summer residence with glorious views

Solitude Palace

Porträt des Herzogs Carl Eugen von Württemberg; Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Dieter Jäger
Artistic and extravagant

Carl Eugen

von Württemberg

The Duchy of Württemberg suffered under the extravagant lifestyle of the young Duke Carl Eugen (1728–1793). He only became more enlightened at the ripe old age of 50. Carl Eugen is particularly known for the buildings he had constructed.

Copper engraving of the approximately 12-year-old Carl Eugen, based on a portrait of him as a youth by Antoine Pesne. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Robert Bothner

Portrait of an approximately 12-year-old Carl Eugen.

When did Carl Eugen assume the throne?

After the early death of his father, Carl Eugen was declared of age when he was only 16 year old. In 1744, he ascended the throne of the Protestant Duchy of Württemberg as a Catholic sovereign. Even an experienced successor would have found ruling in these circumstances difficult. Disagreements and domestic political disputes were a given.

Exterior view of Monrepos Palace in Ludwigsburg. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Steffen Hauswirth

A little summer palace: Monrepos Palace.

What was Carl Eugen's most important accomplishment?

Duke Carl Eugen's primary contribution consists of the many palaces, gardens, and theaters he had built in Württemberg. Many of these can be seen today: the New Palace in Stuttgart, the Carl Eugen Apartment in Ludwigsburg Residential Palace, Monrepos Lakeside Palace, Solitude Palace, and Hohenheim Palace. He brought his ideas and knowledge of architecture to these construction projects. The duke personally took on the planning of Solitude Palace.

Copper engraving of the red deer park at the little Bear Palace in Stuttgart from 1840. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Dieter Jäger

Red deer parks facilitated easy hunting.

How did the duke enjoy himself?

Carl Eugen's expensive court hunts, his many mistresses, and the expensive festivals and theatrical plays are legendary. Particularly in the early years, he celebrated his birthday and name day each year with ostentatiously staged opera productions, court balls, and gala dinners. Artists and servants spent months preparing for these events.

Portrait of Franziska von Hohenheim, now hanging in Kirchheim Palace. Image: Staatsanzeiger für Baden-Württemberg, Anja Stangl

His second wife, Franziska von Hohenheim.

Did the duke care for his subjects?

The duke was not skilled in foreign and domestic politics. His style of government, the taxes he collected, and his expenditures had a catastrophic effect on the duchy. Carl Eugen behaved with much more moderation in his later years. His second wife, Franziska von Hohenheim, likely influenced him. In 1770, he founded a military academy and academy of the arts, the later Hohe Karlsschule, which primarily educated his subjects, sometimes against their will. In this way, the duke promoted the education of artists in Württemberg and attracted a leadership elite bound to the court.

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