A fortress and widow's residence

Kirchheim Palace

Duchess Henriette von Württemberg, copper engraving circa 1830. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Robert Bothner
AN EVENTFUL LIFE

Henriette von

Württemberg

Duchess Henriette von Württemberg (1780–1857) lived at Kirchheim Palace for more than 45 years. She initially occupied the living areas with her husband and children. Later, she spent her final years in the palace and was an active benefactress to the town.

Portrait of Duke Ludwig von Württemberg. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Robert Bothner

Duke Ludwig von Württemberg.

WHO WAS HENRIETTE'S HUSBAND?

Henriette's husband, Ludwig, also called Louis, was the brother of King Friedrich I von Württemberg. He first served in the Prussian military and later in the Russian military, before becoming field marshal of the Württemberg cavalry. Even at a young age, Ludwig enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle. A first marriage to a rich Polish aristocrat only supported him for a short while. At their wedding, Henriette knew nothing about her groom's financial problems.

Portrait of King Friedrich I von Württemberg. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, credit unknown

King Friedrich I von Württemberg.

WHY DID THE FAMILY RESIDE AT KIRCHHEIM?

Over the years, Duke Ludwig amassed a debt of approximately 1.5 million guilders. A scandal occurred in 1810: Appalled by his brother's behavior, King Friedrich banished the entire family from the royal court. They were given Kirchheim Palace, which had become vacant following Franziska's death in 1811. The couple lived here with their five children under strict conditions. Ludwig was even monitored and his letters censored to prevent him from acquiring any additional credit or new gambling debts.

Portrait of Duchess Henriette von Württemberg, circa 1838. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Joachim Feist

Duchess Henriette von Württemberg, circa 1838.

WHAT DID HENRIETTE DO IN KIRCHHEIM?

Duke Ludwig died young in 1817 and Henriette's 40-year widowhood began. In the following years, she dedicated herself to the task of advantageously marrying off her children. In addition to rank and political alliances, financial aspects were also important, likewise religion, but seldom love. The Henriette-arranged marriages were not all happy, but they were all advantageous. After all, Queen Elizabeth II of England is a great-great-great-granddaughter of Henriette!

HOW DID HENRIETTE FURNISH HER RESIDENCE?

Colorful carpets, potted plants and pets were included in Henriette's residence. Several interior pictures painted by various artists provide insight into her rooms. The many portraits on the walls further support her connections to Europe's high aristocracy. She cultivated these contacts by receiving many visits, or traveling herself.

Bedroom, 1850s watercolor
Summer salon, watercolor by Pieter Francis Peters, 1857. Image: Staatsgalerie Stuttgart

Duchess Henriette's furnishings: her bedroom and the garden room.

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