by Scott Mehl
Princess Caroline of Baden, Queen of Bavaria
Princess Caroline of Baden was the wife of King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria. She was born Friederike Caroline Wilhelmine on July 13, 1776 in Karlsruhe, the daughter of Carl Ludwig, Hereditary Prince of Baden and Landgravine Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt. Caroline had seven siblings, including a twin sister:
- Princess Amalie (1776) – unmarried
- Princess Luise (1779) – married Tsar Alexander I of Russia, had issue
- Princess Friederike (1781) – married King Gustaf IV Adolf of Sweden, had issue
- Princess Marie (1782) – married Friedrich Wilhelm, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, had issue
- Prince Karl Friedrich, Hereditary Prince of Baden (1784) – died in infancy
- Prince Karl Ludwig, Grand Duke of Baden (1786) – married Stéphanie de Beauharnais, had issue
- Princess Wilhelmine (1788) – married Grand Duke Ludwig II of Hesse and by Rhine, had issue
Caroline and her family had numerous additional ties to the Russian, German, and Swedish thrones. Caroline grew up with her family in Karlsruhe, with a deep love of and talent for painting. On March 9, 1797 in Karlsruhe, shortly before her 21st birthday, Caroline married Maximilian, Duke of Zweibrücken (the future King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria). Maximilian was twenty years older than Caroline, and had been widowed the previous year. In addition to four surviving stepchildren from Maximilian’s first marriage, Caroline and her husband had seven children:
- Prince Maximilian (1800) – died in infancy
- Princess Elisabeth Ludovika (1801) – married King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia, no issue
- Princess Amalie Auguste (1801) – married King Johann of Saxony, had issue
- Princess Sophie Friederike (1805) – married Archduke Franz Karl of Austria, had issue
- Princess Maria Anna Leopoldine (1805) – married King Friedrich August II of Saxony, had issue
- Princess Ludovika Wilhelmine (1808) – married Duke Maximilian Joseph in Bavaria, had issue
- Princess Maximiliana (1810) – died in childhood
Within two years of their marriage, Maximilian became Elector of Bavaria, and in 1806, following the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, Maximilian and Caroline became the first King and Queen of the newly established Kingdom of Bavaria. Caroline had remained a Protestant when she married the Catholic Maximilian, and was not required to convert when her husband became King. A deeply religious woman, she remained Lutheran and had her own chaplain. Despite this, her children were raised Catholic.
As Queen, she had a strong sense of duty, and was known as a very dignified Queen and hostess. She also played a prominent role in helping her husband develop the arts and culture in Munich.
Widowed in 1825, Queen Caroline survived her husband by just over sixteen years. She died on November 13, 1841 in Munich. Because she had remained Protestant, her funeral and burial in the Catholic Theatinerkirche were not without its problems. The Protestant clergy were not allowed to enter the church, so the funeral service was given outside. This also prevented any ceremony when Caroline’s coffin was placed in the tomb. Meanwhile, the attending Catholic clergy wore street clothing rather than their religious vestments. The undignified treatment of his stepmother even angered Ludwig I, whose own vehemently pro-Catholic views were forever changed.