Kingdom of Württemberg

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Kingdom of Württemberg
Königreich Württemberg
Electorate of the Holy Roman Empire
Member of the Confederation of the Rhine
Member of the German Confederation
Federal State of the German Empire
Furchtlos und treu
"Fearless and loyal"
Württemberger Hymne
"Württemberg Anthem"
The Kingdom of Württemberg
within the German Empire before 1918
Capital Stuttgart
Languages Swabian German
Religion Protestant,
Roman Catholic
Government Constitutional monarchy
 •  1805–1816 Frederick I
 •  1816–1864 William I
 •  1864–1891 Charles I
 •  1891–1918 William II
 •  1821–1831 Christian von Otto
 •  1918 Theodor Liesching
Legislature Landtag
 •  Upper Chamber Herrenhaus
 •  Lower Chamber Abgeordnetenhaus
Historical era Napoleonic Wars / World War I
 •  Elevated to kingdom 26 December 1805
 •  German Revolution 29 November 1918
 •  1910 19,508 km2 (7,532 sq mi)
 •  1910 est. 2,437,574 
     Density 125/km2 (324/sq mi)
Currency Württemberg gulden,
German Goldmark,
German Papiermark
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Wuerttemberg Arms.svg Electorate of Württemberg
Free People's State of Württemberg

The Kingdom of Württemberg (German: Königreich Württemberg) was a state in Germany that existed from 1805 to 1918, located in the area that is now Baden-Württemberg. The kingdom was a continuation of the Duchy of Württemberg, which existed from 1495 to 1805.[1] Prior to 1495, Württemberg was a County in the former Duchy of Swabia, which had dissolved after the death of Duke Conradin in 1268.

The borders of the Kingdom of Württemberg, as defined in 1813, lay between 47°34' and 49°35' north and 8°15' and 10°30' east. The greatest distance north to south comprised 225 km and the greatest east to west was 160 km. The border had a total length of 1800 km and the total area of the state was 19,508 km².

The kingdom had borders with Bavaria on the east and south, with Baden in the north and west. In the southwest it held a short border with the Prussian province of Hohenzollern and Lake Constance.


Frederick II

The Kingdom of Württemberg as it existed from the end of the Napoleonic Wars to the end of World War I. From 1815 to 1866 it was a member state of the German Confederation and from 1871 to 1918 it was a federal state in the German Empire.

Once a Duchy within the Holy Roman Empire, on 1 January 1806, Duke Frederick II assumed the title of king Frederick I. He abrogated the constitution and united old and new Württemberg. Subsequently, he placed the property of the church under the control of the kingdom, whose boundaries were also greatly extended by the process of "mediatisation".

In 1806, Frederick joined the Confederation of the Rhine and received further additions of territory with 160,000 inhabitants. Later, by the Peace of Vienna of October 1809, about 110,000 more people came under his rule. In return for these favours, Frederick joined French Emperor Napoleon in his campaigns against Prussia, Austria and Russia. Of the 16,000 of his subjects who marched to Moscow, only a few hundred returned. After the Battle of Leipzig in October 1813, King Frederick deserted the French emperor, and by a treaty 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 to 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 that ensued, Frederick died on 30 October 1816.

William I

He was succeeded by his son, William I (reigned 1816–1864), who after much discussion, granted a new constitution in September 1819. This constitution, with subsequent modifications, remained in force until 1918 (see Württemberg). The desire for greater political freedom did not entirely fade under the constitution of 1819, and after 1830, some transitory unrest occurred.

A period of quiet set in, and the condition of the kingdom, its education, its agriculture, its trade and economy improved. Both in public and in private matters, William's frugality helped to repair the country's shattered finances. 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 violence took place in the territory. William had to dismiss Johannes Schlayer (1792–1860) and his other ministers, and call to power men with more liberal ideas, proponents of united Germany. William proclaimed a democratic constitution, but as soon as the movement had spent its force he dismissed the liberal ministers, and 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 that surrendered the privileges gained since 1848. In this way the authorities restored the constitution of 1819, and power passed into bureaucratic hands. A concordat with the papacy proved almost the last act of William's long reign, but the diet repudiated the agreement.

Charles I

Map of the Kingdom of Württemberg and Province of Hohenzollern in 1888

In July 1864, Charles I (1823–1891, reigned 1864–91) succeeded his father William as king and almost at once had to face considerable difficulties. In the competition between Austria and Prussia for supremacy in Germany, William had consistently taken the Austrian side, and the new king continued this policy. In 1866, Württemberg took up arms on behalf of Austria in the Austro-Prussian War, but three weeks after the Battle of Königgrätz (3 July 1866), the allies suffered a comprehensive defeat at Tauberbischofsheim, and the country lay at Prussia's mercy. The Prussians occupied the northern part of Württemberg and negotiated a peace in August 1866; Württemberg paid an indemnity of 8,000,000 gulden and concluded a secret offensive and defensive treaty with her conqueror. Württemberg was a party to the St Petersburg Declaration of 1868.

The end of the struggle against Prussia allowed a renewal of democratic agitation in Württemberg, but this had achieved no tangible results when the great war between France and Prussia broke out in 1870. Although 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 Wörth 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 also had certain special privileges with regard to taxation and the army. For the next ten years, Württemberg enthusiastically supported the new order. Many important reforms ensued, especially in the area of finance, but a proposal to unify the railway system with that of the rest of Germany failed. After reductions in taxation in 1889, changes to the constitution were considered. Charles wished to strengthen the conservative element in the chambers, but the laws of 1874, 1876 and 1879 only effected slight changes.

William II

On 6 October 1891, King Charles died suddenly; his nephew, William II (1848–1921, reigned 1891–1918), succeeded him and continued Charles' policies.

Constitutional discussions continued, and the election of 1895 memorably returned a powerful party of democrats. William had no sons, nor had his only Protestant kinsman, Duke Nicholas (1833–1903); consequently power was scheduled to pass to a Roman Catholic branch of the family, raising difficulties about the relations between church and state. As of 1910 the heir to the throne was Duke Albert (b. 1865) of the Altshausen family.

An elder Catholic line, the Urach, was bypassed due to a morganatic marriage contracted in 1800. A Protestant morganatic line included Mary of Teck who married George V of the United Kingdom.

Between 1900 and 1910 the political history of Württemberg centred round constitutional and educational questions. The constitution underwent revision in 1906 and improvements to the education system were made in 1909. In 1904 the Württemberg railway system integrated with that of the rest of Germany.

Following the First World War, King William abdicated on 30 November 1918. The kingdom was replaced by the Free People's State of Württemberg. After World War II, Württemberg was divided between the United States and French occupation zones and became part of two new states: Württemberg-Baden and Württemberg-Hohenzollern. After the Federal Republic of Germany was formed in 1949, these two states merged with Baden in 1952 to become the modern German state of Baden-Württemberg.



As a constitutional monarchy, the Kingdom of Württemberg functioned as a part of the German Empire, with four votes in the then Federal Council (Bundesrat), and seventeen in the Reichstag (parliament). The constitution rested on a law of 1819, amended in 1868, 1874 and 1906. The hereditary crown conveyed the simple title of "King of Württemberg". The king received a civil list (annual grant) of 103,227 pounds sterling.

The kingdom possessed a bicameral legislature. The upper chamber (Standesherren) comprised:

  • adult princes of the blood
  • heads of noble families from the rank of count (Graf) upwards
  • representatives of territories (Standesherrschafien) that possessed votes in the old German Imperial Diet or in the local diet
  • members (not more than 6) nominated by the king
  • 8 members of knightly rank
  • 6 ecclesiastical dignitaries
  • 1 representative of the University of Tübingen
  • 1 representative of the Stuttgart University of Technology
  • 2 representatives of commerce and industry
  • 2 representatives of agriculture
  • 1 representative of handicrafts.

The lower house (Abgeordnetenhaus) had 92 members:

  • 63 representatives from the administrative divisions (Oberamtsbezirke)
  • 6 representatives from Stuttgart, elected by proportional representation
  • 6 representatives, one from each of the six chief provincial towns
  • 17 members from the two electoral divisions (Landeswahlkreise), elected by proportional representation

The king appointed the president of the upper chamber; after 1874 the lower chamber elected its own chairman. Members of each house had to have reached twenty-five years of age.

Württemberg parliaments had terms of six years; all male citizens over twenty-five years of age possessed suffrage rights, voting by ballot.

The highest executive power rested in the hands of the Ministry of State (Staatsministerium), consisting of six ministers: justice, foreign affairs (with the royal household, railways, posts and telegraphs), interior, public worship and education, war and finance.

The kingdom also had a Privy Council, consisting of the ministers and some nominated councillors (wirkliche Staatsräte), who advised the sovereign. The judges of a special supreme court of justice, called the Staatsgerichtshof (which functioned as the guardian of the constitution), gained office partly through election by the chambers and partly through appointment by the king. Each of the chambers had the right to impeach the ministers.

The kingdom comprised four governmental departments (Kreise), subdivided into sixty-four divisions (Oberamtsbezirke), each under a headman (Oberamtmann) assisted by a local council (Amtsversammlung). A Government (Regierung) headed each of the four departments.


Authority over the churches resided with the king. So long as he belonged to the Evangelical State Church in Württemberg, the king was the guardian of its spiritual rights.[clarification needed] The Protestant Church was controlled (under the minister of religion and education) by a consistory and a synod. The consistory comprised a president, 9 councillors and 6 general superintendents or prelates from six principal towns. The synod consisted of a representative council including both lay and clerical members.

The Roman Catholic Church in the kingdom was led by the Bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, who answered to the Archbishop of Freiburg im Breisgau. Politically it obeyed a Roman Catholic council which was appointed by the government.

A state-appointed council (Oberkirchenbehörde) regulated Württemberg's Judaism after 1828, forming the Israelite Religious Community of Württemberg (Israelitische Religionsgemeinschaft Württembergs) community organisation.


The kingdom claimed universal literacy (reading and writing) over the age of ten years. Higher learning occurred at the university of Tübingen, in the Stuttgart University of Technology, the veterinary college at Stuttgart, the commercial college at Stuttgart and the agricultural college of Hohenheim. Gymnasia and other schools existed in the larger towns, while every commune had a primary school. Numerous schools and colleges existed for women. Württemberg also had a school of viticulture.


Under the terms of a military convention of November 25, 1870 the troops of Württemberg formed the XIII (Royal Württemberg) Corps of the Imperial German Army.


Until 1873 the kingdom and some neighbouring states used the "Gulden" as currency. From 1857 the Vereinsthaler was introduced alongside it and from 1873 onwards, both were replaced by the Gold Mark.

The state revenue for 1909–1910 comprised an estimated £4,840,520, nearly balanced by expenditure. About one-third of the revenue derived from railways, forests and mines; about £1,400,000 from direct taxation; and the remainder from indirect taxes, the post-office and sundry items.

In 1909 the public debt amounted to £29,285,335, of which more than £27,000,000 resulted from railway construction.

Of the expenditure, over £900,000 went towards public worship and education, and over £1,200,000 went in interest and debt repayment. The kingdom contributed £660,000 to the treasury of the German Empire.



Population statistics for the former Kingdom of Württemberg's four departments (Kreise) for 1900 and 1905 appear below.[2]

District (Kreis). Area in
Area in
Black Forest (Schwarzwald)
Danube (Donau)
Total 7534 19,520 2,169,480 2,302,179 306 118

Settlement density concentrates in the Neckar valley from Esslingen northward.

The mean annual population increase from 1900 to 1905 amounted to 1.22%. 8.5% of the births occurred out of wedlock.

Classified according to religion circa 1905, about 69% of the population professed Protestantism, 30% Roman Catholicism, and about 0.5% Judaism. Protestants largely preponderated in the Neckar district, Roman Catholics in that of the Danube.

The people of the north-west represent Alamannic stock, those of the north-east Franconian, and those of the centre and south Swabian.

In 1910, there were 506,061 persons working in agriculture, 432,114 in industrial occupations and 100,109 in trade and commerce.

The largest towns included Stuttgart (with Cannstatt), Ulm, Heilbronn, Esslingen am Neckar, Reutlingen, Ludwigsburg, Göppingen, Schwäbisch Gmünd, Tübingen, Tuttlingen and Ravensburg.


The Kingdom of Württemberg essentially formed an agricultural state, and of its 4,821,760 acres (19,513.0 km2), 44.9% comprised agricultural land and gardens, 1.1% vineyards, 17.9% meadows and pastures and 30.8% forest.

It possessed rich meadowlands, cornfields, orchards, gardens and hills covered with vines. The chief agricultural products were oats, spelt, rye, wheat, barley and hops, peas and beans, maize, fruit, (chiefly cherries and apples), beets and tobacco as well as garden and dairy produce. Livestock included cattle, sheep, pigs and horses.

Württemberg has a long history of producing red wines, growing somewhat different varieties from those grown in other German wine regions. Today the region of Württemberg bears the designation (Anbaugebiet) for quality wine,[3] separate from the wine region of Baden. With 11,522 hectares (28,470 acres) under viticulture in 2006, Württemberg was Germany's fourth largest wine region.[4] Winemaking cooperatives are responsible for almost 75% of the region's production.[5] The Württemberg wine region centred on the valley of the Neckar and several of its tributaries, the Rems, Enz, Kocher and Jagst.


The main minerals of industrial importance found in the Kingdom of Württemberg were salt and iron. The salt industry came to prominence at the beginning of the 19th century. The iron industry, on the other hand, had great antiquity, but the lack of coal slowed its development. Other minerals included granite, limestone, ironstone and fireclay.


Textile manufacturers embraced linen, woollen and cotton fabrics, particularly at Esslingen and Göppingen, and paper-making, especially at Ravensburg, Heilbronn and other places in Lower Swabia.

Manufacturing industries, assisted by the government, developed rapidly during the later years of the 19th century, notably metal-working, especially branches that required skilled workmanship. Particular importance attached to iron and steel goods, locomotives (for which Esslingen enjoyed a good reputation), machinery, cars, bicycles, small-arms (in the Mauser factory at Oberndorf am Neckar), scientific and artistic appliances, pianos (at Stuttgart), organs and other musical instruments, photographic apparatus, clocks (in the Black Forest), electrical apparatus and gold and silver goods.

Extensive chemical works, potteries, cabinet-making workshops, sugar factories, breweries and distilleries operated. Hydropower and petrol largely compensated for the lack of coal, and liquid carbonic acid was produced from natural gas springs beside the Eyach, a tributary of the Neckar.


The kingdom's principal exports included cattle, cereals, wood, pianos, salt, oil, leather, cotton and linen fabrics, beer, wine and spirits. Commerce centred on the cities of Stuttgart, Ulm, Heilbronn and Friedrichshafen. Stuttgart, once called the Leipzig of South Germany, boasted an extensive book trade. The kingdom had creative inventors; Gottlieb Daimler, the first car manufacturer, incorporated his business in 1900 as Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft, and its successor company Mercedes-Benz always had plants near Stuttgart. At Friedrichshafen on Lake Constance Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin constructed airships from 1897 until his death in 1917.


In 1907 the Kingdom of Württemberg had 2,000 km (1,200 mi) of railways, of which all except 256 km (159 mi) belonged to the state. Navigable waterways included the Neckar, the Schussen, Lake Constance and the Danube downstream from Ulm. The kingdom had fairly good quality roads, the oldest of them of Roman construction. Württemberg, like Bavaria, retained the control of its own postal and telegraph service following the foundation of the new German Empire in 1871.


  1. Vann, James Allen (1984). The Making of a State: Württemberg, 1593–1793. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-1553-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2.  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). [ "Württemberg" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. (German Agricultural Society): Württemberg, read on January 1, 2008
  4. German Wine Institute: German Wine Statistics 2007–2008
  5. Wein-Plus Glossar: Württemberg, read on January 22, 2013

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). [ "Württemberg" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Marquardt, Ernst (1985). Geschichte Württembergs (3rd ed.). Stuttgart: DVA. ISBN 3421062714.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (German)
  • Weller, Karl; Weller, Arnold (1989). Württembergische Geschichte im südwestdeutschen Raum (10th ed.). Stuttgart: Theiss. ISBN 3806205876.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (German)
  • Wilson, Peter H. (1995). War, state, and society in Württemberg, 1677–1793. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521473020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Media related to Kingdom of Württemberg at Wikimedia Commons