Portrait of Grand Duke Friedrich I von Baden, Ferdinand Keller, oil on canvas, 1900

A liberal monarch and lover of the artsFriedrich I von Baden

Grand Duke Friedrich I von Baden (1826–1907) was a modern ruler; he turned Baden into a kind of "liberal model country." He also supported his Prussian father-in-law in founding the German Empire and supported his appointment as the German emperor.

Großherzogliche Grabkapelle Karlsruhe, Grabmal Großherzog Friedrich I. von Baden, Detailaufnahme Gesicht

Tomb of Grand Duke Friedrich I von Baden.

Why did he, as second-born son, come to power?

Friedrich's older brother, Ludwig II, was mentally ill. In 1852, when his father died, Friedrich took over the regency. In 1856, he officially became the grand duke; Ludwig had declared himself unfit to rule. Friedrich I ruled for more than 50 years, and was a truly liberal ruler: among other actions, he championed the constitutional monarchy. As a grandchild of Grand Duke Karl Friedrich from his second, unsuitable marriage, he was given a modern and relatively bourgeois education.

Where was his wife from?

At the time, Baden had strong connections with Prussia. Friedrich I's marriage to Prussian, Princess Luise, was based on real feelings, but the connection also suited the political circumstances. Friedrich and his father-in-law, Emperor Wilhelm I, deeply respected each other, even though they did not always agree. The opportunity to rescue Germany from destruction lay with Wilhelm alone, Friedrich wrote in 1854. He therefore adamantly supported the foundation of the German Empire in 1871.

Relief on the memorial for Emperor Wilhelm I at the Kaiserplatz in Karlsruhe, 1897 by Adolf Heer

Emperor Wilhelm I at the proclamation, at the memorial at the Kaiserplatz in Karlsruhe.

What role did he play for Emperor Wilhelm I?

In 1871, during the proclamation of Wilhelm I as emperor, his son-in-law Friedrich I von Baden had a key role to play: Wilhelm and Chancellor Bismarck had heatedly discussed the question of whether Wilhelm should be the "Emperor of Germany" or the "German Emperor." Friedrich had an elegant solution to the problem: He simply raised a cheer to "his royal and imperial majesty," and thereby went down in history.

Photograph of Grand Duchess Luise and Grand Duke Friedrich circa 1905

Friedrich I and Luise circa 1905.

What did Friedrich I leave behind?

Karlsruhe remains shaped by Friedrich I to this day, such as his love of art. In 1854, he created the art school, which was later the art academy at which sculptor Hermann Volz taught. The vocational school for the arts was created in 1878. In 1902, the Technical Academy of Karlsruhe—the present-day KIT—was named after him: "Fridericiana." However, Friedrich also promoted industry and farming. In 1907, the second to last grand duke died on the island of Mainau; he had founded a park complex with exotic plants there.

The marriage of Friedrich and Luise of Prussia took place in 1856. You can hear more about this royal liaison on our special tour, "Baden and Prussia."

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