Bypass Repeated Content

The first Baroque residence on the Upper Rhine

Rastatt Residential Palace

Ausschnitt aus dem Porträt Ludwigs XIV., Ende 17. Jahrhundert; Foto: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Armin Weischer
A FRIEND, THEN AN ENEMY

KING LOUIS XIV

of France

The relationship between the power-hungry King Louis XIV of France (1638–1715) and Margrave Ludwig Wilhelm von Baden-Baden was complicated. Despite being relatives, their relationship was driven by political requirements. And even after the war, Louis XIV and his court were seen as role models.

WHAT DID LOUIS XIV HAVE TO DO WITH THE MARGRAVE OF BADEN?

Margrave Ferdinand Maximilian von Baden-Baden acted cautiously with his strong neighbor, France. In 1654, he married Luise Christine von Savoyen-Carignan, a close relative of the French king, likely with the intent of securing peace. Ludwig Wilhelm was born in 1655, the only issue of the marriage. At his baptism, King Louis XIV became his godfather.

Portrait of Ferdinand Maximilian von Baden-Baden (1625–1669), by the court painter Heinrich Lihl, between 1654 and 1655, in the Ancestral Hall of Rastatt Residential Palace. Image: Wikipedia, in the public domain
Portrait of Luise Christine von Savoyen-Carignan (1627–1689), by the court painter Heinrich Lihl, between 1654 and 1655, in the Ancestral Hall of Rastatt Residential Palace. Image: Wikipedia, in the public domain
Bildnis Markgraf Ludwig Wilhelm von Baden-Baden; Foto: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Urheber unbekannt

Margrave Ferdinand Maximilian and Margravine Luise Christine in the year of their marriage, with their adult son, Ludwig Wilhelm von Baden.

"Transporting Fascines," scene from the Art of War series, wool and silk tapestry, Brussels, circa 1700, audience chamber in Rastatt Residential Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Four tapestries with scenes of war hung in the margrave's apartment.

WHEN AND WHY WAS THERE A BREACH?

After assuming the throne, King Ludwig XIV pursued a foreign policy bent on expansion: The Dutch War, from 1672 to 1678, was the beginning of France's dominance in Europe. More wars followed, the Nine Years' War from 1688 to 1697 and the War of the Spanish Succession from 1701 to 1714. In 1689, Ludwig XIV had the Margraviate of Baden-Baden burned down. His godson, Ludwig Wilhelm, had since become a highly decorated officer, and defended the realm against France in both wars.

Ceiling fresco over the south staircase: The Fall of Phaeton, Paolo Manni, circa 1700. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Lutz Hecker

In the center, Louis XIV can be seen as the tumbling Phaeton.

CAN THE FRENCH KING BE FOUND IN THE RESIDENTIAL PALACE?

The ceiling painting in the staircase of the residential palace depicts the "Fall of Phaeton." It depicts Phaeton attempting to drive the chariot of the sun: Jupiter is forced to intervene, quickly throw his lightning bolt to prevent the sky from burning. For viewers of the time, Phaeton was seen as a play on King Louis XIV, who had areas along the Upper Rhine burned in 1689. In a second ceiling painting, also in the staircase, Apollo can be seen: In contrast to Phaeton, he is able to drive the chariot of the sun, as Margrave Ludwig Wilhelm beneficially ruled the margraviate.

Exterior view of Rastatt Residential Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Günther Bayerl

The palace represented the Baroque ruler.

WHY WAS LOUIS XIV AN EXAMPLE?

Louis XIV saw his power as absolute. Life at the French court was therefore designed to display him as king by the grace of God. This representation of the ruler was expressed in Baroque architecture, in fashion, and in the ceremonies of the court. Louis XIV and his royal household set the standard for absolutist courts throughout Europe, regardless of whether those courts were allies or enemies. Margrave Ludwig Wilhelm also always oriented himself toward the court of Versailles, such as when planning his residence.

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