|Duke Eberhard Ludwig of Württemberg
|Eberhard Ludwig was field marshall of the Swabian troops in the War of the Spanish Succession in
1707, acquiring glory under Prince Eugen. Once home, he illicitly married his mistress, Wilhelmine
von Grävenitz. He spent most of his time in Ludwigsburg in Wilhelmine's company, leaving his real
wife alone in the Altes Schloß (Old Palace) in Stuttgart. Because of pressure from the emperor, the
marriage to the mistress had to be quickly dissolved, and Wilhelmine went into exile in Switzerland.
Eberhard Ludwig followed her, and there they stayed until 1710.
In 1718, he moved back to Ludwigsburg with his entire royal household in order to live together
undisturbed with his mistress away from the Old Palace in Stuttgart. She was only allowed to return
to the royal court once she had married another man, Graf von Würben. The influential mistress,
nicknamed "Die Grävenitz", was not notoriously beautiful but she was strong of mind and will, and
for over two decades had a strong influence on the Württemberg court. She resided in the suite of
rooms directly below that of the Duke in the Alter Hauptbau (Old Main Building), and the two were
linked by a small staircase.
Because his only legal heir, Prince Friedrich Ludwig, died in 1731, the power threatened to shift into
Catholic hands, a situation which captured the attention of Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm I. who
influenced Eberhard Ludwig to end his 25 year old relationship with Wilhelmine von Grävenitz and
reconcile with his long ignored wife in hopes of producing a legitimate heir, but she was fifty-three
years old by then, and no child was conceived. He died in Ludwigsburg of a stroke on October 31,
1733. Eberhard Ludwig's greatest legacy was his "Dritte Steuer-Instruktion" (Third Tax Directive)
intended to achieve a more just tax legislation. He also attempted to promote the state economy.
The Schloss, called the “Swabian Versailles”, is the largest preserved Baroque residence in Germany
and one of the few German castles which was not destroyed by Allied bombs in WW Two. Its
architecture is Austrian and its decor Baroque, and the palace is comprised of eighteen buildings
containing 452 rooms. Duke Carl Alexander von Württemberg was the next royal occupant after
Eberhard Ludwig, then it became home to Duke Carl Eugen who, while adding apartments in the
French Rococo style, moved the royal residence back to Stuttgart in 1775. Even later, Duke
Friedrich II wanted to use Ludwigsburg as his summer palace, and when Napoleon made the duke
“king” in 1803, Friedrich redecorated many of the palace rooms in the Empire style.
|The Duke, the Mistress and the Wife
|And the Minister....Pangs of conscience did not seem to have troubled the Duke and he'd gone
through no less than 14 head preachers. With Samuel Urlsperger, things were fine for a time until
Urlsperger's pietist friend, Francke, influenced him to admonish the Duke and remind him that he
was responsible for being a good example for his people. This made the Duke furious and he had
Urlsperger taken to death row to be executed if he would not retract all statements considered
treasonous. Urlsperger's wife stated that she would rather be the widow of a martyr than live with a
traitor to his beliefs, whereupon the Duke signed the execution order. He needed a second signature
to enforce the order of execution, but could find nobody willing. By this stroke of luck, Urlsperger
remained alive, but secretly, and with a prohibition against any and all lecturing in effect.
Eberhard Ludwig was born in Stuttgart in 1676, the third child of Duke Wilhelm Ludwig. After his
father's early death in 1677, his uncle was awarded his guardianship until Emperor Leopold I. named
him "Duke of Württemberg" at his mother's request in 1693. Even then, the young duke was
described as vain and superficial and he showed no interest in government. His court council pretty
much ran things while the duke traveled and went hunting. Eberhard Ludwig married Johanna
Elisabeth von Baden-Durlach in 1697. Soon after, he went to visit Louis XIV at Versailles and was
so impressed by the pomp and grandeur of the French court that he decided to turn Württemberg
into a similar state. That took lots of money, and immediately the Duke raised taxes. In 1704, he laid
out plans for his ostentatious Ludwigsburg Palace, a new hunting retreat north of Stuttgart. To save
money, he allowed the builders and workers to reside tax-free around the palace for 15 years, and
the city of Ludwigsburg would later develop out of their neighborhood, below.