A portrait of King Friedrich I as crown prince, before 1797

A ruler with styleFriedrich I von Württemberg

Württemberg's first king was a power-conscious ruler. In his negotiations with Emperor Napoleon, Friedrich (1754–1816) succeeded in significantly expanding his territory and rising in rank: from duke to prince-elector and finally to king.

Biscuit porcelain bust of Napoleon in the new central building at Ludwigsburg Residential Palace, circa 1810

Napoleon is still present in Ludwigsburg today.

Why did Napoleon come to Ludwigsburg?

Emperor Napoleon worked hard to convince Württemberg's status-conscious prince-elector to form an allegiance. So the French emperor paid Ludwigsburg Residential Palace a personal visit in October 1805. He was received with great honor, and meals were shared in the ancestral hall. After this meeting, Friedrich joined the Confederation of the Rhine, as the last South German prince to do so. Friedrich rose to king, but at great cost: As a result of the military allegiance with France, Württemberg lost more than 15,000 lives in the Russian campaign in 1812 alone.

Friedrich I's coat of arms and crown on the gable of Ludwigsburg Residential Palace

A sign of royal status.

What is a king without his crown?

On January 1, 1806, Friedrich was crowned king in Stuttgart in a grand ceremony. The new Kingdom of Württemberg, which he ruled with a strict hand, was now almost twice the size it had been when he first came to power. King Friedrich I not only redesigned the national coat of arms, but also added a crown to many areas in his palaces as a visible symbol of his elevation in rank.

Royal audience chamber at Ludwigsburg Residential Palace

The royal audience chamber and throne.

How did the palace become a royal residence?

As a demonstration of his new power, King Friedrich I renovated the Stuttgart residence. The Ludwigsburg Residential Palace, which served the royal couple as a summer residence, was redesigned between 1803 and 1814. The apartments in the new central building, the marble hall, the order hall and the palace theater were all redecorated in the Classical style. The surviving throne and canopy in the audience chamber is particularly impressive. This is where the king accepted homage from his subjects.

Portrait of King Friedrich I by Johann Baptist Seele, 1806

His size is legendary.

How fat was "fat Friedrich" really?

King Friedrich I's height and girth are legendary, and there are many anecdotes about his lavish eating habits. Emperor Napoleon is even reported to have said that Friedrich was living proof of just how far the human skin could stretch. Portraits of the ruler as well as the royal bed, at 2.2 meters long, testify to Friedrich's "size": he is said to have been 2 meters tall.

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