The first Baroque residence on the Upper Rhine

Rastatt Residential Palace

Gable with Baden's coat of arms beneath the "golden man," Rastatt Residential Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer
THE MARGRAVES AND THEIR RESIDENCE

MILESTONES

The Margraviate of Baden-Baden was limited in size, wealth and political importance. The state had been ravaged and depopulated by war. Yet the margraves still built a new residence: an expression of the ideal of the era as well as their personal ideas and desires.

Baden-Baden with town wall and palace, copper etching by M. Merian, 1643. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Robert Bothner

View of Baden-Baden.

A RAVAGED LAND

Following the Thirty Years' War, which ended in 1648, the Margraviate of Baden-Baden was economically and financially crippled. During the Nine Years' War, between 1688 and 1697, French troops of the Sun King Louis XIV burned large areas along the east side of the Rhine river. Even the margraviate, its palace and the town of Baden-Baden were destroyed. After the peace treaty in 1697, Margrave Ludwig Wilhelm decided to build in Rastatt. Work first began on a hunting lodge, but this later became a full residence.

CREATING A MEMORIAL

"Beyond glowing achievements in war, nothing" signifies "the princes' grandeur and spirit more than their structures," said Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619–1683), Louis XIV's finance minister. And further: In the afterlife, the princes would be measured by the size of their buildings. This was a belief held not just by the Sun King and his milieu; many other rulers emulated him. All Baroque residential palaces served as external representations of the princes, including those of Ludwig Wilhelm and his neighboring princes.

Exterior of Karlsruhe Palace. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Andre Rachele
Exterior of Bruchsal Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Achim Mende
Exterior of Mannheim Baroque Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Christoph Hermann

Neighboring residences: palaces in Karlsruhe, Bruchsal and Mannheim.

NO EXISTING RESIDENCE

The margrave had won many battles against the Turks, earning him the name "Türkenlouis," but he lacked a suitable residence at home. After their wedding in 1690, Ludwig Wilhelm and Sibylla Augusta lived in their hometown of Schlackenwerth (now Ostrov). Bohemian art, architecture and piety had a strong influence on Sibylla Augusta and were reflected in her buildings. The margrave, on the other hand, preferred Italian artists. They would represent him as a successful and unforgettable hero of war.

Portrait of the Türkenlouis: Margrave Ludwig Wilhelm. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Andrea Rachele

The "Türkenlouis": Margrave Ludwig Wilhelm.

AFTER THE DEATH OF THE TÜRKENLOUIS

Ludwig Wilhelm died in 1707, at which point the stucco decor and paintings in the palace had just been completed. His wife Sibylla Augusta acted as regent until her son, Ludwig Georg, came of age in 1727. After Ludwig Georg's death, his younger brother came into power, but was not able to produce any male heirs. In 1771, the related House of Baden-Durlach assumed the margraviate. Many of the furnishings from the residential palace and church were lost after 1771, but the ensemble as such was never destroyed.

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