Charles-Friedrich of Baden, Congress of Vienna, Grand Duchy of Baden, Gustaf VI Adolph of Sweden, Landgrave Ludwig VIII of Hesse-Darmstadt, Leopold of Baden, Louis I of Baden, Louise-Caroline Geyer von Geyersberg, Margrave Charles-Friedrich of Baden, Maximilian of Bavaria
From the Emperor’s Desk: Today’s blog entry on Princess Sophie of Sweden will focus on her husband, Grand Duke Leopold of Baden.
Princess Sophie of Sweden
Leopold (August 29, 1790 – April 24, 1852) succeeded in 1830 as the Grand Duke of Baden, reigning until his death in 1852.
Leopold I, Grand Duke of Baden
Although a younger child, Leopold was the first son of Margrave Charles-Friedrich of Baden by his second, morganatic wife, Louise-Caroline Geyer von Geyersberg. Since Louise-Carline was not of equal birth with the Margrave, the marriage was deemed morganatic and the resulting children were perceived as incapable of inheriting their father’s dynastic status or the sovereign rights of the Zähringen House of Baden. Louise-Caroline and her children were given the titles of baron and baroness, in 1796 Count or Countess von Hochberg.
Baden gained territory during the Napoleonic Wars. As a result, Margrave Carl-Friedrich was elevated to the title of Prince-Elector within the Holy Roman Empire. With the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, Carl-Friedrich took the title Grand Duke of Baden.
Since the descendants of Charles-Friedrich’s first marriage to Caroline-Louise of Hesse-Darmstadt, daughter of Landgrave Ludwig VIII of Hesse-Darmstadt and Countess Charlotte of Hanau, were at first plentiful, no one expected the Hochberg children of his second wife to be anything except a family of counts with blood ties to the grand ducal family, but lacking dynastic rights.
Charles-Friedrich, Margrave, Elector and later Grand Duke of Baden
Count Leopold von Hochberg was born in Karlsruhe, and with no prospects of advancement in Baden, followed a career as an officer in the French army.
The situation of both the Grand Duchy and the Hochberg children became objects of international interest as it became apparent that the Baden male line descended from Charles-Friedrich first wife was likely to die out. One by one, the males of the House of Baden expired without leaving male descendants. By 1817, there were only two males left, the reigning Grand Duke Charles I, a grandson of Charles-Friedrich, and his childless uncle Prince Ludwig. Both of Charles’s sons died in infancy. Baden’s dynasty seemed to face extinction, casting the country’s future in doubt.
Unbeknownst to those outside of the court at Baden, upon the November 24, 1787 wedding of then-Margrave Charles-Friedrich to Louise-Caroline Geyer von Geyersberg, he and the three sons of his first marriage signed a declaration which reserved decision on the title and any succession rights of sons to be born of the marriage.
Charles-Ludwig, Hereditary Prince of Baden
Although Louise-Caroline’s children were not initially legally recognised as of dynastic rank, on February 20, 1796 their father clarified in writing (subsequently co-signed by his elder sons) that the couple’s sons were eligible to succeed to the margravial throne in order of male primogeniture after extinction of the male issue of his first marriage. The Margrave further declared that his marriage to their mother must “in no way be seen as morganatic, but rather as a true equal marriage”.
On September 10, 1806, after the abolition of the Holy Roman Empire and the assumption of full sovereignty, Charles-Friedrich confirmed the dynastic status of the sons of his second marriage. This act was, yet again, signed by his three eldest sons, but was not promulgated.
Louise-Caroline, Baroness Geyer of Geyersberg
On October 4, 1817, as neither Grand Duke Charles nor the other sons from his grandfather’s first marriage had surviving male descendants, Charles proceeded to confirm the succession rights of his hither-to morganatic half-uncles, elevating each to the title Prince and Margrave of Baden, and the style of Highness.
Grand Duke Charles asked the princely congress in Aachen on November 20, 1818, just weeks before his death, to confirm the succession rights of these sons of his step-grandmother, still known as Countess Louise von Hochberg.
However, this proclamation of Baden’s succession evoked international challenges. The Congress of Vienna had, in 1815, recognised the claims of Bavaria and Austria to parts of Baden which it allocated to Charles-Friedrich in the Upper Palatinate and the Breisgau, anticipating that upon his imminent demise those lands would cease to be part of the Grand Duchy.
Charles, Grand Duke of Baden
Moreover, the Wittelsbach King of Bavaria, Maximilian I Joseph, was married to Grand Duke Charles’s eldest sister, Caroline of Baden. The female most closely related to the last male of a German dynasty often inherited in such circumstances, in accordance with Semi-Salic succession law.
As a result, Maximilian had a strong claim to Baden under the customary rules of inheritance, as well as his claims under a post–Congress of Vienna treaty of April 16, 1816. Nonetheless, in 1818 Charles granted a constitution to the nation, the liberality of which made it popular with the people of Baden and which included a clause securing the succession rights of the offspring of Louise-Caroline Geyer von Geyersberg.
Another dispute was resolved by Baden’s agreement to cede a portion of the county of Wertheim, already enclaved within Bavaria, to that kingdom.
To further improve the status of Prince Leopold, his half-brother the new Grand Duke Ludwig I arranged for him to marry his great-niece, Sophie of Sweden, daughter of former King Gustaf IV Adolph of Sweden by Grand Duke Charles’s sister, Fredrica. Since Sophie was a granddaughter of Leopold’s oldest half-brother, Hereditary Prince Charles-Ludwig, this marriage united the descendants of his father’s (Grand Duke Charles-Friedrich) two wives. Sophie’s undoubted royal blood would help to offset the stigma of Leopold’s morganatic birth.
Ludwig I, Grand Duke of Baden
Finally, on July 10, 1819, a few months after Charles’s death, the Great Powers of Austria, France, Great Britain, Prussia and Russia joined with Bavaria and Baden in the 1819 Treaty of Frankfurt which recognized the succession rights of the former Hochberg morganatic line.
When Ludwig I died on March 30, 1830, he was the last male of the House of Baden not descended from the morganatic marriage of Charles-Friedrich and Louise-Caroline Geyer von Geyersberg. Leopold von Hochberg now succeeded as the fourth Grand Duke of Baden.