by Scott Mehl
Ludwig I was the third Grand Duke of Baden, reigning from 1818 until 1830. He was born in Karlsruhe on February 9, 1763, the third son of Karl Friedrich, Margrave of Baden (later Grand Duke), and Karoline Luise of Hesse-Darmstadt. He had three siblings:
- Karl Ludwig, Hereditary Prince of Baden (1755) – married Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt, had issue
- Prince Friedrich of Baden (1756) – married Luise of Nassau-Usingen, had issue
- Princess Luise Auguste of Baden (1767) – died in infancy
From his father’s second marriage to Baroness Luise Karoline Geyer von Geyersburg (later Countess of Hochberg), he also had five half-siblings:
- Leopold, Grand Duke of Baden (1790) – married Princess Sofia of Sweden, had issue
- Prince Wilhelm of Baden (1792) – married Duchess Elisabeth Alexandrine of Württemberg, had issue
- Prince Friedrich Alexander (1793) – died in infancy
- Princess Amalie of Baden (1795) – married Karl Egon II, Prince of Fürstenberg, had issue
- Prince Maximilian of Baden (1796) – unmarried
As the third son, there was little expectation that he would succeed to the throne. He pursued a military career from a young age, serving in the Prussian forces and was recognized for his bravery in battle during the War of the First Coalition. He left the Prussian military in 1795, returning to Baden to assist his father who was the reigning Margrave at that time. He participated in the negotiations with Napoléon Bonaparte, and attended his crowning in 1804. Ludwig also served as Minister of War, and was responsible for the financial and forestry administration of Baden. Despite being friendly with Napoléon, the Emperor soon pushed Ludwig out of his positions with the Baden government, and after criticizing him publicly in 1808, was stripped of his leadership of the military and banished to Schloss Salem in 1810. He would not return to Baden for several years.
Ludwig became Grand Duke upon his nephew’s death on December 8, 1818. He worked to promote the development the country, as well as strengthening the military forces. He also established several universities and churches.
Ludwig never married, but he did have several illegitimate children. He had a long relationship with Katharina Werner – an actress and dancer nearly 35 years younger than him. They met in 1816, when Katharina was just sixteen and Ludwig nearly 51. This relationship resulted in three children – Luise (1817), Ludwig Wilhelm August (1820) and Luise Katharina (1825). In 1827, Ludwig created Katharina Countess of Langenstein and Gondelsheim, and there were rumors that the two had married morganatically, but no proof of this exists. Their youngest daughter married the Swedish Count Carl Douglas in 1848, and their son founded the Baden line of Douglas-Langenstein (named when he took Langenstein Castle as his main residence in the early 1900s).
Grand Duke Ludwig I died in Karlsruhe on March 30, 1830 after suffering a stroke, and was buried in the Karlsruhe Stadtkirche. After World War II, his remains were moved to the Grand Ducal Chapel in the Pheasant Garden in Karlsruhe. As he had no legitimate heirs, the throne passed to his half-uncle, Leopold I.