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The history of Baden-Württemberg began in the 9th century. The area used to be covered by the historical state of Baden, the former Prussian Hohenzollern, and Württemberg, part of the region of Swabia.
In the 1st century AD, Württemberg was occupied by the Romans, who defended their position there by constructing a limes (fortified boundary zone). Early on in the 3rd century, the Alemanni drove the Romans beyond the Rhine and the Danube, but in their turn they succumbed to the Franks under Clovis I, the decisive battle taking place in 496. It later became part of the Holy Roman Empire.
The history of Baden as a state began in the 12th century, as a fief of the Holy Roman Empire. A fairly inconsequential margraviate that was divided between various branches of its ruling family for much of its history, it gained both status and territory during the Napoleonic era, when it was also raised to a grand duchy. In 1871, it became one of the founder states of the German Empire. The monarchy came to an end with the end of the First World War, but Baden itself continued in existence as a state of Germany until the end of the Second World War.
Württemberg developed as a political entity in southwest Germany, with the core established around Stuttgart by Count Conrad (died 1110). His descendants managed to expand Württemberg while surviving Germany's religious wars, changes in imperial policy, and invasions from France. The state had a basic parliamentary system that changed to absolutism in the 18th century. The state was recognised as a kingdom in 1806–1918 and is now a part of the state of Baden-Württemberg. Württemberg was often spelt "Wirtemberg" or "Wurtemberg" in English.
Its territory now forms part of the German state of Baden-Württemberg, one of the 16 states of Germany, a relatively young federal state, that has only existed since 1952. The coat of arms represents the state's several historical component parts. Baden and Württemberg are not the only ones, even though the most important.
The origin of the name "Württemberg" remains obscure. Scholars have universally rejected the once-popular derivation from "Wirth am Berg". Some authorities derive it from a proper name: "Wiruto" or "Wirtino," others from a Celtic place-name, "Virolunum" or "Verdunum". In any event, from serving as the name of a castle near the Stuttgart city district of Rotenberg, it extended over the surrounding country and, as the lords of this district increased their possessions, so the name covered an ever-widening area, until it reached its present denotation. Early forms of it include Wirtenberg, Wirtembenc and Wirtenberc. Wirtemberg was long accepted, and in the latter part of the 16th century Würtemberg and Wurttemberg appeared. In 1806, Württemberg became the official spelling, though Wurtemberg also appears frequently and occurs sometimes in official documents, and even on coins issued after that date.
Württemberg's first known inhabitants, the Celts, preceded the arrival of the Suebi. In the first century AD, the Romans conquered the land and defended their position there by constructing a rampart (limes). Early in the third century, the Alemanni drove the Romans beyond the Rhine and the Danube, but in their turn they succumbed to the Franks under Clovis, the decisive battle taking place in 496.
The Duchy of Swabia is to a large degree comparable to the territory of the Alemands. The Suevi (Sueben or Swabians) belonged to the tribe of the Alemands, reshaped in the 3rd century. The name of Swabia is also derived from them. From the 9th century on, in place of the area designation "Alemania," came the name "Schwaben" (Swabia). Swabia was one of the five stem duchies of the medieval Kingdom of the East Franks, and its dukes were thus among the most powerful magnates of Germany. The most notable family to hold Swabia were the Hohenstaufen, who held it, with a brief interruption, from 1079 until 1268. For much of this period, the Hohenstaufen were also Holy Roman Emperors. With the death of Conradin, the last Hohenstaufen duke, the duchy itself disintegrated, although King Rudolf I attempted to revive it for his Habsburg family in the late 13th century.
With the decline of East Francia power, House of Zähringen appeared to be ready as the local successor of the power in southwestern Germany and in the northwest in the Kingdom of Arles. With the founding of the city of Bern in 1191, Berthold V, Duke of Zähringen shows one of the House of Zähringen power centers. East of Jura Mountains and west of Reuss was described as Upper Burgundy, and Bern was part of the Landgraviate of Burgundy which was situated on both sides of the Aar, between Thun and Solothurn. However Berthold died without an heir. Bern was declared an Free imperial city by Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor in 1218. Berthold's death without heirs meant the complete disintegration of southwest Germany. This decomposition allowed Old Swiss Confederacy and Duchy of Burgundy development. Bern joined Switzerland in the year of 1353.
Swabia takes its name from the tribe of the Suebi, and the name was often used interchangeably with Alemannia during the existence of the stem-duchy in the High Middle Ages. Even Alsace belonged to it. Swabia was otherwise of great importance in securing the pass route to Italy. After the fall of the Staufers there was never again a Duchy of Swabia. The Habsburgs and the Württembergers endeavored in vain to resurrect it.
Three of the noble families of the southwest attained a special importance: the Hohenstaufen, the Welf and the Zähringen. The most successful appear from the view of that time to be the Hohenstaufen, who, as dukes of Swabia from 1079 and as Franks kings and emperors from 1138 to 1268, attained the greatest influence in Swabia. During the Middle Ages, various counts ruled the country that now forms Baden, among whom the counts and duchy of Zähringen figure prominently. In 1112, Hermann, son of Hermann, Margrave of Verona (died 1074) and grandson of Berthold, duke of Carinthia and count of Zähringen, having inherited some of the German estates of his family, called himself Margrave of Baden. The separate history of Baden dates from this time. Hermann appears to have called himself "margrave" rather than "count," because of the family connection to the margrave of Verona.
His son and grandson, both called Hermann, added to their territories, which were then divided, and the lines of Baden-Baden and Baden-Hochberg were founded, the latter of which divided about a century later into Baden-Hochberg and Baden-Sausenberg. The family of Baden-Baden was very successful in increasing the area of its holdings.
The Hohenstaufen family controlled the duchy of Swabia until the death of Conradin in 1268, when a considerable part of its lands fell to the representative of a family first mentioned in about 1080, the count of Württemberg, Conrad von Beutelsbach, who took the name from his ancestral castle of Württemberg.
The earliest historical details of a Count of Württemberg relate to one Ulrich I, Count of Württemberg, who ruled from 1241 to 1265. He served as marshal of Swabia and advocate of the town of Ulm, had large possessions in the valleys of the Neckar and the Rems, and acquired Urach in 1260. Under his sons, Ulrich II and Eberhard I, and their successors, the power of the family grew steadily. The charcoal-burner gave him some of his treasure, and was elevated to Duke of Zähringen. To the Zähringer sphere of influence originally belonged Freiburg and Offenburg, Rottweil and Villingen; in modern Switzerland, Zürich and Bern. The three prominent noble families were in vigorous competition with one another, even though they were linked by kinship. The mother of the Stauffer King Friedrich Barbarossa (Red beard) was Judith Welfen. The Staufers, as well as the Zähringers, based their claims of rule on ties with the family of the Frankish kings from the House of Salier.
Other than the Margraviate of Baden and the Duchy of Württemberg, Further Austria and the Palatinate lay on the edge of the southwestern area. Further Austria (in German: Vorderösterreich or die Vorlande) was the collective name for the old possessions of the Habsburgs in south-western Germany (Swabia), the Alsace, and in Vorarlberg after the focus of the Habsburgs had moved to Austria.
Further Austria comprised the Sundgau (southern Alsace) and the Breisgau east of the Rhine (including Freiburg im Breisgau after 1386) and included some scattered territories throughout Swabia, the largest being the margravate Burgau in the area of Augsburg and Ulm. Some territories in Vorarlberg that belonged to the Habsburgs were also considered part of Further Austria. The original homelands of the Habsburgs, the Aargau and much of the other original Habsburg possessions south of the Rhine and Lake Constance were lost in the 14th century to the expanding Old Swiss Confederacy after the battles of Morgarten (1315) and Sempach (1386) and were never considered part of Further Austria, except the Fricktal, which remained a Habsburg property until 1805.
At the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, the Sundgau became part of France, and in the 18th century, the Habsburgs acquired a few minor new territories in southern Germany such as Tettnang. In the Peace of Pressburg of 1805, Further Austria was dissolved and the formerly Habsburg territories were assigned to Bavaria, Baden, and Württemberg, and the Fricktal to Switzerland.
The Palatinate arose as the County Palatine of the Rhine, a large feudal state lying on both banks of the Rhine, which seems to have come into existence in the 10th century. The territory fell to the Wittelsbach Dukes of Bavaria in the early 13th century, and during a later division of territory among one of the heirs of Duke Louis II of Upper Bavaria in 1294, the elder branch of the Wittelsbachs came into possession not only of the Rhenish Palatinate, but also of that part of Upper Bavaria itself which was north of the Danube, and which came to be called the Upper Palatinate (Oberpfalz), in contrast to the Lower Palatinate along the Rhine. In the Golden Bull of 1356, the Palatinate was made one of the secular electorates, and given the hereditary offices of Archsteward of the Empire and Imperial Vicar of the western half of Germany. From this time forth, the Count Palatine of the Rhine was usually known as the Elector Palatine.
Due to the practice of division of territories among different branches of the family, by the early 16th century junior lines of the Palatine Wittelsbachs came to rule in Simmern, Kaiserslautern, and Zweibrücken in the Lower Palatinate, and in Neuburg and Sulzbach in the Upper Palatinate. The Elector Palatine, now based in Heidelberg, converted to Lutheranism in the 1530s.
When the senior branch of the family died out in 1559, the Electorate passed to Frederick III of Simmern, a staunch Calvinist, and the Palatinate became one of the major centers of Calvinism in Europe, supporting Calvinist rebellions in both the Netherlands and France. Frederick III's grandson, Frederick IV, and his adviser, Christian of Anhalt, founded the Evangelical Union of Protestant states in 1608, and in 1619 Elector Frederick V (the son-in-law of King James I of England) accepted the throne of Bohemia from rebellious Protestant noblemen. He was soon defeated by the forces of Emperor Ferdinand II at the Battle of White Mountain in 1620, and Spanish and Bavarian troops soon occupied the Palatinate itself. In 1623, Frederick was put under the ban of the Empire, and his territories and Electoral dignity granted to the Duke (now Elector) of Bavaria, Maximilian I.
By the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, Frederick V's son, Charles Louis, was restored to the Lower Palatinate, and given a new electoral title, but the Upper Palatinate and the senior electoral title remained with the Bavarian line. In 1685, the Simmern line died out, and the Palatinate was inherited by the Count Palatine of Neuburg (who was also Duke of Jülich and Berg), a Catholic. The Neuburg line, which moved the capital to Mannheim, lasted until 1742, when it, too, became extinct, and the Palatinate was inherited by the Duke Karl Theodor of Sulzbach. The childless Karl Theodor also inherited Bavaria when its electoral line became extinct in 1777, and all the Wittelsbach lands save Zweibrücken on the French border (whose Duke was, in fact, Karl Theodor's presumptive heir) were now under a single rule. The Palatinate was destroyed in the Wars of the French Revolution - first its left bank territories were occupied, and then annexed, by France starting in 1795, and then, in 1803, its right bank territories were taken by the Margrave of Baden. The provincial government in Alsace was alternately administered by the Palatinate (1408 - 1504, 1530 - 1558) and by the Habsburgs (13th and 14th centuries, 1504 - 1530). Only the margraves of Baden and the counts and dukes of Württemberg included both homelands within their territories. With the political reordering of the southwest after 1800, Further Austria and the Electorate Palatine disappeared from the history.
The lords of Württemberg were first named in 1092. Supposedly a Lord of Virdeberg by Luxembourg had married an heiress of the lords of Beutelsbach. The new Wirtemberg Castle (castle chapel dedicated in 1083) was the central point of a rule that extended from the Neckar and Rems valleys in all directions over the centuries. The family of Baden-Baden was very successful in increasing the area of its holdings, which after several divisions were united by the margrave Bernard I in 1391. Bernard, a soldier of some renown, continued the work of his predecessors, and obtained other districts, including Baden-Hochberg, the ruling family of which died out in 1418.
During the 15th century, a war with the count palatine of the Rhine deprived the Margrave Charles I (died 1475) of a part of his territories, but these losses were more than recovered by his son and successor, Christophe I of Baden (illustration, right). In 1503, the family Baden-Sausenberg became extinct, and the whole of Baden was united by Christophe.
Under his sons, Ulrich II and Eberhard I, and their successors, the power of the family grew steadily. Eberhard I (died 1325) opposed, sometimes successfully, three Holy Roman emperors. He doubled the area of his county and transferred his residence from Württemberg Castle to the "Old Castle" in today's city centre of Stuttgart.
His successors were not as prominent, but all added something to the land area of Württemberg. In 1381, the Duchy of Teck was bought, and marriage to an heiress added Montbéliard in 1397. The family divided its lands amongst collateral branches several times but, in 1482, the Treaty of Münsingen reunited the territory, declared it indivisible, and united it under Count Eberhard V, called im Bart (The Bearded). This arrangement received the sanction of the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I, and of the Imperial Diet, in 1495.
Eberhard V proved one of the most energetic rulers that Württemberg ever had and, in 1495, his county became a duchy. Eberhard was now Duke Eberhard I, Duke of Württemberg. Württemberg, after the partition from 1442 to 1482, had no further land partitions to endure and remained a relatively closed country. In Baden, a partitioning occurred that lasted from 1515 to 1771. Moreover, the various parts of Baden were always physically separated one from the other.
Martin Luther's theses and his writings left no one in Germany untouched after 1517. In 1503, the family Baden-Sausenberg became extinct, and the whole of Baden was united by Christophe who, before his death in 1527, divided it among his three sons. Religious differences increased the family's rivalry. During the period of the Reformation some of the rulers of Baden remained Catholic and some became Protestants. One of these sons died childless in 1533. In 1535, his remaining sons Bernard and Ernest, having shared their brother's territories, made a fresh division and founded the lines of Baden-Baden and Baden-Pforzheim, called Baden-Durlach after 1565. Further divisions followed, and the weakness caused by these partitions was accentuated by a rivalry between the two main branches of the family, culminating in open warfare.
The long reign (1498–1550) of Duke Ulrich, who succeeded to the duchy while still a child, proved a most eventful period for the country, and many traditions cluster round the name of this gifted, unscrupulous and ambitious man. Duke Ulrich of Württemberg had been living in his County of Mömpelgard since 1519. He had been exiled from his duchy by his own fault and controversial encroachments into non-Württembergish possessions. In Basel, Duke Ulrich came into contact with the Reformation.
Aided by Philip, landgrave of Hesse, and other Protestant princes, he fought a victorious battle against Ferdinand's troops at Lauffen in May 1534. Then, by the treaty of Cadan, he again became duke, but perforce duke of the duchy as an Austrian fief. He subsequently introduced the reformed religious doctrines, endowed Protestant churches and schools throughout his land, and founded the Tübinger Stift seminary in 1536. Ulrich's connection with the Schmalkaldic League led to another expulsion but, in 1547, Charles V reinstated him, albeit on somewhat onerous terms.
The total population during the 16th century was between 300,000 and 400,000. Ulrich's son and successor, Christopher (1515–1568), completed the work of converting his subjects to the reformed faith. He introduced a system of church government, the Grosse Kirchenordnung, which endured in part into the 20th century. In this reign, a standing commission started to superintend the finances, and the members of this body, all of whom belonged to the upper classes, gained considerable power in the state, mainly at the expense of the towns.
Christopher's son Louis, the founder of the Collegium illustre in Tübingen, died childless in 1593. A kinsman, Frederick I (1557–1608) succeeded to the duchy. This energetic prince disregarded the limits placed to his authority by the rudimentary constitution. By paying a large sum of money, he induced the emperor Rudolph II in 1599 to free the duchy from the suzerainty of Austria. Austria still controlled large areas around the duchy, known as "Further Austria". Thus, once again, Württemberg became a direct fief of the empire, securing its independence. Even the Margraviate of Baden-Baden went over to Lutheranism that same year, but indeed only for a short time. Likewise after the Peace of Augsburg the Reformation was carried out in the County of Hohenlohe. At the same time, however, the Counter-Reformation began. It was persistently supported by the Emperor and the clerical princes.
The living conditions of the peasants in the German southwest at the beginning of the 16th century were quite modest. The increase in taxes and bad harvests led to crises. There was no improvement in sight. Under the sign of the sandal (Bundschuh), that is the farmer's shoe that tied up with laces, it came to rebellions on the Upper Rhine, in the bishopric of Speyer, in the Black Forest and in the upper Neckar valley at the end of the 15th century. The extortions by which he sought to raise money for his extravagant pleasures excited a rising known as the arme Konrad (Poor Conrad), not unlike the rebellion in England led by Wat Tyler. The authorities soon restored order, and, in 1514, by the Treaty of Tübingen, the people undertook to pay the duke's debts in return for various political privileges, which in effect laid the foundation of the constitutional liberties of the country. A few years later, Ulrich quarrelled with the Swabian League, and its forces (helped by William IV, Duke of Bavaria, angered by the treatment meted out by Ulrich to his wife Sabina, a Bavarian princess), invaded Württemberg, expelled the duke and sold his duchy to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, for 220,000 gulden.
Charles handed over Württemberg to his brother, the Holy roman emperor Ferdinand I, who served as nominal ruler for a few years. Soon, however, the discontent caused by the oppressive Austrian rule, the disturbances in Germany leading to the German Peasants' War and the commotions aroused by the Reformation gave Ulrich an opportunity to recover his duchy. Thus Marx Sittich of Hohenems went against the Hegenau and Klettgau rebels. On 4 November 1525 he struck down a last attempt by the peasants in that same countryside where the peasants' unrest had begun a year before. Emperor Karl V and even Pope Clement VII thanked the Swabian Union for its restraint in the Peasants' War.
The longest war in German history became, with the intervention of major powers, a global war. The cause was mainly the conflict of religious denominations as a result of the Reformation. Thus in the southwest of the empire, Catholic and Protestant princes faced one another as enemies, the Catholics (Emperor, Bavaria) united in the League, the Protestants (Electorate Palatine, Baden-Durlach, Württemberg) in the Union. Unlike his predecessor, the next duke, Johann Frederick (1582–1628), failed to become an absolute ruler, and perforce recognised the checks on his power. During his reign, which ended in July 1628, Württemberg suffered severely from the Thirty Years' War, although the duke himself took no part in it. His son and successor Eberhard III (1628–1674), however, plunged into it as an ally of France and Sweden as soon as he came of age in 1633. However, after the battle of Nordlingen in 1634, Imperial troops occupied the duchy and the duke himself went into exile for some years. The Peace of Westphalia restored him, but to a depopulated and impoverished country, and he spent his remaining years in efforts to repair the disasters of the lengthy war. Württemberg was a central battlefield of the war. Its population fell by 57% between 1634 and 1655, primarily because of death and disease, declining birthrates, and the mass migration of terrified peasants.
From 1584 to 1622, Baden-Baden was in the possession of one of the princes of Baden-Durlach. The house was similarly divided during the Thirty Years' War. Baden suffered severely during this struggle, and both branches of the family were exiled in turn. The Peace of Westphalia in 1648 restored the status quo, and the family rivalry gradually died out. For one part of the southwest, a peace of 150 years began. On the Middle Neckar, in the whole Upper Rhine area and especially in the Electorate Palatine the wars waged by the French King Louis XIV from 1674 to 1714 caused further terrible destruction. The Kingdom of France penetrated through acquired possessions in Alsace to the Rhine border. Switzerland separated from the Holy Roman Empire.
The dukedom survived mainly because it was larger than its immediate neighbours. However, it was often under pressure during the Reformation from the Catholic Holy Roman Empire, and from repeated French invasions in the 17th and 18th centuries. Württemberg happened to be in the path of French and Austrian armies engaged in the long rivalry between the Bourbon and Habsburg dynasties.
During the wars of the reign of Louis XIV of France the margravate was ravaged by French troops, and the towns of Pforzheim, Durlach, and Baden were destroyed. The margrave of Baden-Baden, Louis William (died 1707), figured prominently among the soldiers who resisted the aggressions of France.
It was the life's work of Charles Frederick of Baden-Durlach to give territorial unity to his country. Beginning his reign in 1738, and coming of age in 1746, this prince is the most notable of the rulers of Baden. He was interested in the development of agriculture and commerce, sought to improve education and the administration of justice, and proved in general to be a wise and liberal ruler of the in the Age of Enlightenment.
In 1771, Augustus George of Baden-Baden died without sons, and his territories passed to Charles Frederick, who thus finally became ruler of the whole of Baden. Although Baden was united under a single ruler, the territory was not united in its customs and tolls, tax structure, laws or government. Baden did not form a compact territory. Rather, a number of separated districts lay on both banks of the upper Rhine. His opportunity for territorial aggrandisement came during the Napoleonic wars.
During the reign of Eberhard Louis (1676–1733), who succeeded as a one-year-old when his father Duke William Louis died in 1677, Württemberg made the acquaintance of another destructive enemy, Louis XIV of France. In 1688, 1703 and 1707, the French entered the duchy and inflicted brutalities and sufferings upon the inhabitants. The sparsely-populated country afforded a welcome to fugitive Waldenses, who did something to restore it to prosperity, but the extravagance of the duke, anxious to provide for the expensive tastes of his mistress, Christiana Wilhelmina von Grävenitz partly neutralised this benefit.
Charles Alexander, who became duke in 1733, had become a Roman Catholic while an officer in the Austrian service. His favourite adviser was the Jew Joseph Süß Oppenheimer, and suspicions arose that master and servant were aiming at the suppression of the diet (the local parliament) and the introduction of Roman Catholicism. However, the sudden death of Charles Alexander in March 1737 put an abrupt end to any such plans, and the regent, Carl Rudolf, Duke of Württemberg-Neuenstadt, had Oppenheimer hanged.
Charles Eugene (1728–1793), who came of age in 1744, appeared gifted, but vicious and extravagant, and he soon fell into the hands of unworthy favourites. He spent a great deal of money in building the "New Castle" in Stuttgart and elsewhere, and sided against Prussia during the Seven Years' War of 1756–1763, which was unpopular with his Protestant subjects.
His whole reign featured dissension between ruler and ruled, the duke's irregular and arbitrary methods of raising money arousing great discontent. The intervention of the emperor and even of foreign powers ensued and, in 1770, a formal arrangement removed some of the grievances of the people. But Charles Eugene did not keep his promises, although in his old age he made a few further concessions.
Charles Eugene left no legitimate heirs, and was succeeded by his brother, Louis Eugene (died 1795), who was childless, and then by another brother, Frederick Eugene (died 1797). This latter prince, who had served in the army of Frederick the Great, to whom he was related by marriage, and then managed his family's estates around Montbéliard, educated his children in the Protestant faith as francophones. All of the subsequent Württemberg royal family were descended from him. Thus, when his son Frederick II became duke in 1797, Protestantism returned to the ducal household, and the royal house adhered to this faith thereafter. Nevertheless the district legislatures as well as the imperial diets offered a possibility of regulating matters in dispute. Much was left over from the trials before the imperial courts, which often lasted decades.
In the wars after the French Revolution in 1789, Napoleon, the emperor of the French, rose to be the ruler of the European continent. An enduring result of his policy was a new order of the southwestern German political world. When the French Revolution threatened to be exported throughout Europe in 1792, Baden joined forces against France, and its countryside was devastated once more. In 1796, the margrave was compelled to pay an indemnity and to cede his territories on the left bank of the Rhine to France. Fortune, however, soon returned to his side. In 1803, largely owing to the good offices of Alexander I, emperor of Russia, he received the bishopric of Konstanz, part of the Rhenish Palatinate, and other smaller districts, together with the dignity of a prince-elector. Changing sides in 1805, he fought for Napoleon, with the result that, by the peace of Pressburg in that year, he obtained the Breisgau and other territories at the expense of the Habsburgs (see Further Austria). In 1806, he joined the Confederation of the Rhine, declared himself a sovereign prince, became a grand duke, and received additional territory.
On January 1, 1806, Duke Frederick II assumed the title of King Frederick I, abrogated the constitution, and united old and new Württemberg. Subsequently, he placed church lands under the control of the state and received some formerly self-governing areas under the "mediatisation" process. In 1806, he joined the Confederation of the Rhine and received further additions of territory containing 160,000 inhabitants. A little later, by the peace of Vienna in October 1809, about 110,000 more persons came under his rule.
In return for these favours, Frederick joined Napoleon Bonaparte in his campaigns against Prussia, Austria and Russia, and of 16,000 of his subjects who marched to Moscow only a few hundred returned. Then, after the Battle of Leipzig in October 1813, King Frederick deserted the waning fortunes of the French emperor and, by a treaty made with Metternich at Fulda in November 1813, he secured the confirmation of his royal title and of his recent acquisitions of territory, while his troops marched with those of the allies into France.
In 1815, the king joined the German Confederation, but the Congress of Vienna made no change in the extent of his lands. In the same year, he laid before the representatives of his people the outline of a new constitution, but they rejected it and, in the midst of the commotion. Frederick died on October 30, 1816.
The new king, William I (reigned 1816–1864), at once took up the constitutional question and, after much discussion, granted a new constitution in September 1819. This constitution, with subsequent modifications, remained in force until 1918 (see Württemberg). A period of quiet now set in, and the condition of the kingdom, its education, agriculture trade and manufactures, began to receive earnest attention, while by frugality, both in public and in private matters, King William I helped to repair the shattered finances of the country. But the desire for greater political freedom did not entirely fade away under the constitution of 1819 and, after 1830, a certain amount of unrest occurred. This, however, soon died, while the inclusion of Württemberg in the German Zollverein and the construction of railways fostered trade.
The revolutionary movement of 1848 did not leave Württemberg untouched, although no actual violence took place within the kingdom. King William had to dismiss Johannes Schlayer (1792–1860) and his other ministers, calling to power men with more liberal ideas and the exponents of the idea of a united Germany. King William did proclaim a democratic constitution but, as soon as the movement had spent its force, he dismissed the liberal ministers. In October 1849, Schlayer and his associates returned to power.
By interfering with popular electoral rights, the king and his ministers succeeded in assembling a servile diet in 1851, surrendering all the privileges gained since 1848. In this way, the authorities restored the constitution of 1819, and power passed into the hands of a bureaucracy. A concordat with the Papacy proved almost the last act of William's long reign, but the diet repudiated the agreement, preferring to regulate relations between church and state in its own way.
In July 1864, Charles (1823–1891, reigned 1864–1891) succeeded his father William I as king. Almost at once, he was faced with considerable difficulties. In the duel between Austria and Prussia for supremacy in Germany, William I had consistently taken the Austrian side, and this policy was equally acceptable to the new king and his advisers.
In 1866, Württemberg took up arms on behalf of Austria in the Austro-Prussian War, but three weeks after the Battle of Königgratz on July 3, 1866, her troops suffered a comprehensive defeat at Tauberbischofsheim, and the country lay at the mercy of Prussia. The Prussians occupied the northern part of Württemberg and negotiated a peace in August 1866. By this, Württemberg paid an indemnity of 8,000,000 gulden, but she at once concluded a secret offensive and defensive treaty with her conqueror. Württemberg was a party to the Saint Petersburg Declaration of 1868.
The end of the struggle against Prussia allowed a renewal of democratic agitation in Württemberg, but this achieved no tangible results when the great war between France and Prussia broke out in 1870. Although the policy of Württemberg had continued to be antagonistic to Prussia, the kingdom shared in the national enthusiasm which swept over Germany, and its troops took a creditable part in the Battle of Worth and in other operations of the war.
In 1871, Württemberg became a member of the new German Empire, but retained control of her own post office, telegraphs and railways. She had also certain special privileges with regard to taxation and the army and, for the next 10 years, Württemberg's policy enthusiastically supported the new order. Many important reforms, especially in the area of finance, ensued, but a proposal for a union of the railway system with that of the rest of Germany failed. After reductions in taxation in 1889, the reform of the constitution became the question of the hour. King Charles and his ministers wished to strengthen the conservative element in the chambers, but the laws of 1874, 1876 and 1879 only effected slight reforms pending a more thorough settlement. On 6 October 1891, King Charles died suddenly. His cousin William II (1848–1921, reigned 1891–1918) succeeded and continued the policy of his predecessor.
Discussions on the reform of the constitution continued, and the election of 1895 memorably returned a powerful party of democrats. King William had no sons, nor had his only Protestant kinsman, Duke Nicholas (1833–1903). Consequently, the succession would ultimately pass to a Roman Catholic branch of the family, and this prospect raised certain difficulties about the relations between church and state. The heir to the throne in 1910 was the Roman Catholic Duke Albert (b. 1865).
Between 1900 and 1910, the political history of Württemberg centred round the settlement of the constitutional and the educational questions. The constitution underwent revision in 1906, and a settlement of the education difficulty occurred in 1909. In 1904, the railway system integrated with that of the rest of Germany.
The population in 1905 was 2,302,179, of whom 69% were Protestant, 30% Catholic and 0.5% Jewish. Protestants largely preponderated in the Neckar district, and Roman Catholics in that of the Danube. In 1910, an estimated 506,061 people worked in the agricultural sector, 432,114 in industrial occupations and 100,109 in trade and commerce. (see Demographics of Württemberg)
In the course of the revolutionary activities at the close of World War I in November 1918, King William II abdicated on November 30, and a republican government ensued.
Württemberg became a state (Land) in the new Weimar Republic. Baden named itself a "democratic republic," Württemberg a "free popular state." Instead of monarchs, state presidents were in charge. They were elected by the state legislatures, in Baden by an annual change, in Württemberg after each legislative election.
Politics between 1918 and 1919 towards a merger of Württemberg and Baden remained largely unsuccessful. After the excitements of the 1918–1919 revolution, its five election results between 1919 and 1932 show a decreasing vote for left-wing parties. After the seizure of power by the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) in the year 1933, the state borders initially remained unchanged. The state of Baden, the state of Württemberg and the Hohenzollern states (the government district of Sigmaringen) continued to exist, albeit with much less autonomy with regard to the empire. From 1934, the Gau of Württemberg-Hohenzollern added the Province of Hohenzollern.
By 30 April 1945, all of Baden, Württemberg and Hohenzollern were completely occupied.
After World War II was over, the states of Baden and Württemberg were split up between the American occupation zone in the north and the French occupation zone in the south, which also got Hohenzollern. The border between the occupation zones followed the district borders, but they were drawn purposely in such a way that the autobahn from Karlsruhe to Munich (today the Bundesautobahn 8) ended up inside the American occupation zone. In the American occupation zone, the state of Württemberg-Baden was founded; in the French occupation zone, the southern part of former Baden became the new state of Baden, while the southern part of Württemberg and Hohenzollern were fused into Württemberg-Hohenzollern.
Article 29 of the Basic Law of Germany provided for a way to change the German states via a community vote, however it could not enter force due to a veto by the Allied forces. Instead, a separate article 118 mandated the fusion of the three states in the southwest via a trilateral agreement. If the three affected states failed to agree, federal law would have to regulate the future of the three states. This article was based on the results of a conference of the German states held in 1948, where the creation of a Southwest State was agreed upon. The alternative, generally favored in South Baden, was to recreate Baden and Württemberg (including Hohenzollern) in its old, pre-war borders.
The trilateral agreement failed because the states couldn't agree on the voting system. As such, federal law decided on May 4, 1951 that the area be split into four electoral districts: North Württemberg, South Württemberg, North Baden and South Baden. Because it was clear that both districts in Württemberg as well as North Baden would support the merger, the voting system favored the supporters of the new Southwest State. The state of Baden brought the law to the German Constitutional Court to have it declared as unconstitutional, but failed.
The plebiscite took place on December 9, 1951. In both parts of Württemberg, 93% were in favor of the merger, in North Baden 57% were in favor, but in South Baden only 38% were. Because three of four electoral districts voted in favor of the new Southwest State, the merger was decided upon. Had Baden as a whole formed a single electoral district, the vote would have failed.
The members of the constitutional convention were elected on March 9, 1952, and on April 25 the Prime Minister was elected. With this, the new state of Baden-Württemberg was founded. After the constitution of the new state entered force, the members of the constitutional convention formed the state parliament until the first election in 1956. The name Baden-Württemberg was only intended as a temporary name, but ended up the official name of the state because no other name could be agreed upon.
In May 1954, the Baden-Württemberg landtag (legislature) decided on adoption of the following coat of arms: three black lions on a golden shield, framed by a deer and a griffin. This coat of arms once belonged to the Staufen family, emperors of the Holy Roman Empire and Dukes of Swabia. The golden deer stands for Württemberg, the griffin for Baden. Conversely the former Württember counties of Calw, Freudenstadt, Horb, Rottweil and Tuttlingen were incorporated into the Baden governmental districts of Karlsruhe and Freiburg. The last traces of Hohenzollern disappeared. Between county and district, regional associations were formed that are responsible for overlapping planning
The opponents of the merger didn't give up yet. After the General Treaty gave Germany full sovereignty, the opponents applied for a community vote to restore Baden in its old borders by virtue of paragraph 2 of article 29 of the Basic Law, which allowed a community vote in states which had been changed after the war without a community vote. The Federal Ministry of the Interior refused the application on the grounds that a community vote had already taken place. The opponents sued in front of the German Constitutional Court and won in 1956. The plebiscite which took place in 1951 is not a community vote as defined by the law, because the more populous state of Württemberg had an unfair advantage over the less populous state of Baden. Because the court did not set a date for the community vote, the government simply did nothing. The opponents eventually sued again in 1969, which led to the decision that the vote had to take place before June 30, 1970. On June 7, the majority voted against the proposal to restore the state of Baden.