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Karl Eugen, Duke of Württemberg

 

Karl Eugen, Duke of Württemberg

Charles Eugene
Reign 12 March 1737 – 24 October 1793
Predecessor Karl Alexander
Successor Louis Eugene
Spouse Elisabeth Fredericka Sophie of Brandenburg-Bayreuth
Franziska von Hohenheim
Father Karl Alexander, Duke of Württemberg
Mother Maria Augusta of Thurn and Taxis
Born (1728-02-11)11 February 1728
Brussels
Died 24 October 1793(1793-10-24) (aged 65)
Hohenheim


Charles Eugene (German: Carl Eugen), Duke of Württemberg (11 February 1728 – 24 October 1793) was the eldest son of Duke Karl I Alexander and Princess Maria Augusta of Thurn and Taxis (11 August 1706 – 1 February 1756).

Life

Born in Brussels, he succeeded his father as ruler of Württemberg at the age of 9, but the real power was in the hands of Administrators Carl Rudolf, Duke of Württemberg-Neuenstadt (1737–1738) and Carl Frederick von Württemberg-Oels (1738–1746).

He was educated at the court of Frederick II of Prussia. In the Seven Years' War against Prussia, Charles Eugene advanced into Saxony.[1] He ruled until his death in 1793, when he was succeeded by his younger brother.

He was an early patron of Friedrich Schiller. In 1765, Charles Eugene founded a public library in Ludwigsburg (now the Württembergische Landesbibliothek, Stuttgart) and was responsible for the construction of a number of other key palaces and buildings in the area including the New Palace which still stands at the centre of the Schlossplatz, Castle Solitude and Castle Hohenheim.

Charles Eugene married twice, first to Elisabeth Fredericka Sophie of Brandenburg-Bayreuth with whom he had one daughter who died after 13 months. Elisabetha left Charles Eugene in 1756 to return to her parents' court in Bayreuth although they never divorced. In the meantime, Charles Eugene kept a string of mistresses and fathered eleven children by them. The last of these mistresses was Franziska von Hohenheim, whom he raised to the status of Countess and married in 1785.

Charles Eugene was known for his interest in agriculture and travel and is considered the inspiration behind today's Hohenheim university. His original botanical gardens form the basis for today's Landesarboretum Baden-Württemberg and Botanischer Garten der Universität Hohenheim, which still contain some of the specimens he planted. He also built a large number of palaces and bankrupted his lands through courtly extravagance, accepting huge French government loans in exchange for maintaining large numbers of support troops in Württemberg.

In his early years he ruled with an iron fist. However, he also displayed humanist tendencies. For example in 1744 he ordered that the corpse of Joseph Süß Oppenheimer – the executed Jewish financial advisor of his father, Charles Alexander – whose decaying corpse had been suspended in an iron cage by Stuttgart's Prag gallows for six years – be taken down and given a decent burial. He was also well known for his extensive library, his extravagant interest in opera, and interest in large scale horticulture for the feeding of the masses.

Between 1751 and 1759 Karl Eugen was involved in an increasingly bitter struggle with his adviser, the eminent Liberal jurist Johann Jakob Moser who strongly opposed the Duke's absolutist tendencies. In 1759 Charles Eugene had Moser charged with authoring "a subversive writing" and cast into prison for the next five years. However, in 1764 Moser was released, due in part to the intercession of Friedrich the Great of Prussia, and was rehabilitated and restored to his position, rank and titles.

Charles Eugene died in Hohenheim.

Ancestry

References

Charles Eugene, Duke of Württemberg
Born: 11 February 1728 Died: 24 October 1793
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Charles Alexander
Duke of Württemberg
1737–1793
Succeeded by
Louis Eugene

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