Ludwig I (February 9, 1763 – March 30, 1830) succeeded as Grand Duke of Baden on December 8, 1818. Ludwig was the third surviving son of Grand Duke Charles Friedrich of Baden and Langravine Caroline Louise of Hesse-Darmstadt.
Baden came into existence in the 12th century as the Margraviate of Baden and subsequently split into various smaller territories that were unified in 1771.
In 1803 Baden was raised to Electoral dignity within the Holy Roman Empire. Upon the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, Baden became the much-enlarged Grand Duchy of Baden.
In 1815 it joined the German Confederation. During the Revolutions of 1848 in the German states, Baden was a centre of revolutionist activities. In 1849, in the course of the Baden Revolution, it was the only German state that became a republic for a short while, under the leadership of Lorenzo Brentano. The revolution in Baden was suppressed mainly by Prussian troops.
The Grand Duchy of Baden remained a sovereign country until it joined the German Empire in 1871. After the revolution of 1918, Baden became part of the Weimar Republic as the Republic of Baden.
Ludwig’s father, Charles Friedrich of Baden, succeeded his grandfather Charles III Wilhelm as Margrave of Baden-Durlach in 1738 and ruled personally from 1746 until 1771, when he inherited Baden-Baden from the Catholic line of his family. This made him the Protestant ruler of a state that was overwhelmingly Catholic. In 1803, Charles Friedrich became Elector of Baden, and in 1806 the first Grand Duke of Baden with the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire.
Grand Duke Charles Friedrich died in 1811 and his eldest son, Charles Ludwig, Hereditary Prince of Baden died in 1801 and therefore it was his son, Charles, who succeeded his grandfather as Grand Duke upon the latter’s death in 1811.
Incidentally, Charles Ludwig, Hereditary Prince of Baden was an ancestor of Franz Joseph I of Austria, Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary, Nicholas II of Russia and his wife, Alexandra Feodorovna (Alix of Hesse), Lord Mountbatten and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, among others.
Charles, Grand Duke of Baden, due to the strong influence of France on the court of Baden, was forced to marry Emperor Napoléon I’s adopted daughter, Stéphanie de Beauharnais, in Paris on April 8, 1806, this despite his own protests and those of his mother and sisters. Charles apparently preferred the hand of his cousin Princess Augusta of Bavaria. It would be five years before the couple would produce an heir.
Charles’s son and heir, Hereditary Grand Duke Alexander of Baden (May 1, 1816 – May 8, 1816) died shortly after birth. As Grand Duke Charles did not have any surviving male children, upon his death in Rastatt, he was succeeded by his uncle Ludwig.
Since Ludwig was the uncle of his predecessor Grand Duke Karl, his death marked the end of the Zähringen line of the House of Baden.
Ludwig secured the continued existence of the University of Freiburg in 1820, after which the university was called the Albert-Ludwig University. He also founded the Polytechnic Hochschule Karlsruhe in 1825. The Hochschule is the oldest technical school in Germany.
Ludwig’s death in 1830 led to many rumors. His death also meant the extinction of his line of the Baden family. The succession then went to the children of the morganatic second marriage of Grand Duke Charles and Louise Karoline Geyer von Geyersberg, who was created Countess of Hochberg in the Austrian nobility at the personal request of Grand Duke Charles.
After Ludwig’s death, there was much discussion about a mysterious seventeen-year-old man named Kaspar Hauser, who had appeared seemingly out of nowhere in 1828.
Seventeen years previously, the first son of the future Grand Duke Charles and his French wife Stéphanie de Beauharnais died under what were later portrayed as mysterious circumstances. There was at the time and still is today (in 2007) speculation that Hauser, who died (perhaps murdered) in 1833, was that child.
Working together with architect Friedrich Weinbrenner, Ludwig is responsible for most of the classical revival buildings in the city center and for building the pyramid.
Ludwig had one surviving illegitimate daughter by his mistress Katharina Werner (created Countess of Langenstein and Gondelsheim in 1818), Countess Louise von Langenstein und Gondelsheim (1825-1900) who married in 1848 Swedish aristocrat Carl Israel, Count Douglas (1824-1898).