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A fortress and widow's residence

Kirchheim Palace

Porträt der Herzogin Johanna Elisabeth, geb. von Baden-Durlach
UNLOVED AND OUTCAST

JOHANNA ELISABETH

VON WÜRTTEMBERG

Dowager Duchess Johanna Elisabeth (1680–1757) moved into the palace in 1735, after the pious Dowager Duchess Magdalena Sibylla, who was responsible for converting the armory to a palace chapel. Johanna Elisabeth had the placed renovated and redecorated.

The Old Castle in Stuttgart. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, credit unknown

The Old Castle in Stuttgart.

WAS JOHANNA ELISABETH'S MARRIAGE A HAPPY ONE?

Princess Johanna Elisabeth von Baden-Durlach and Duke Eberhard Ludwig von Württemberg married in 1697 for dynastic reasons, and against the groom's wishes. The couple soon went their separate ways, something not unusual for the period. The duke resided with his mistress, primarily at the newly constructed Ludwigsburg Palace. Johanna Elisabeth lived in seclusion at the Old Castle in Stuttgart. Only after the tragic death of their only son and heir to the throne did the couple reconcile, albeit too late to produce another heir.

Leonberg Palace and orange garden. Image: Staatsanzeiger für Baden-Württemberg, Cornelia Lindenberg

Leonberg Palace and orange garden.

WAS THE DOWAGER DUCHESS ALLOWED TO CHOOSE HER OWN DOWER HOUSE?

Shortly before his death, Duke Eberhard Ludwig ordered that Johanna Elisabeth was not to spend her widowhood at Leonberg, as originally planned, but rather at the more comfortable Kirchheim Palace. As his successor came to power, the dowager duchess asked for the living areas to be modernized to the sum of 6,000 guilder prior to her arrival in 1735.

Kirchheim Palace. Image: Staatsanzeiger für Baden-Württemberg, Anja Stangl

Kirchheim Palace.

WHAT CHANGES DID THE DOWAGER DUCHESS MAKE TO THE PALACE?

New wallpaper, curtains, furniture and tableware were all ordered for the living areas. The palace chapel received a new gallery and the church stall, altar and pulpit were outfitted with red cloth. The dowager duchess had furniture from her deceased son arranged in the palace, for example, a cabinet supposedly built by Kirchheim cabinet maker Johannes Mayer.

Living areas at Kirchheim Palace. Image: Staatsanzeiger für Baden-Württemberg, Anja Stangl

Living areas at Kirchheim Palace.

DID THE DOWAGER DUCHESS LIVE ALONE IN THE PALACE?

An extensive royal household of 49 people had to be accommodated in the palace. For example, the second floor housed not just Johanna Elisabeth's rooms, but also those of the lady's companions. Conversely, the quarters of the steward, Baron von Gemmingen, and those of the pages and squires, were located on the first floor. This is also where the vicar responsible for evening mass in the palace chapel lived.

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