Württemberg 1500-1648

In 1519, Duke Ulrich of Württemberg supported the candidacy of King Francis I. of France for the Imperial crown. He then proceeded to occupy the free Imperial city of Reutlingen. The Swabian Federation reacted against this breach of peace by occupying the Duchy of Württemberg; Duke Ulrich was confined to his (minor) possessions on the left bank of the Rhine.
Austria paid for the Swabian Federation's expenses and assumed the administration of Württemberg (1520). The new administration, in an attempt to reduce the debt, was thrifty.
The years 1522-1523 saw the Trier Stift Feud, which affected Württemberg, as many of W.'s knights were involved. Shortly after W. was affected by the German Peasants' War 1524-1525.
In 1534, Landgrave Philipp of Hessen, with a force of 4,000 cavalry and 20,000 infantry, invaded W., defeated the Austrian forces in the Battle of Laufen (May 12th/13th) and reinstated Duke Ulrich, who immediately introduced the Lutheran Reformation; already in 1524 he had introduced the reformation in Montbeliard. King Ferdinand recognized the new situation in W. in the Peace of Kaaden, June 1534. Emperor Charles V.' expedition against Tunis 1535 may have contributed to the Austrian conciliatory policy. Duke Ulrich implemented a central administration. Hohenasperg, Schorndorf, Hohenurach, Hohentübingen were fortified.
During the Schmalkaldic War, W. was occupied by Alba's Spanish troops; they left under conditions in 1547. In 1552 Duke Ulrich declared the Augsburg Interim void.
In 1555 the W. Landrecht (territorial law) was codified, in 1556 the Monastery Ordinnance, in 1559 the Grosse Kirchenordnung (Church Ordinnance) took effect; the monasteries were tansformed into schools. In 1565, the W. Estates declared Lutheranism sole state confession. The knights ceased to be subject to the Duke; they became immediate knights, ruling tiny territories of their own. The Estates consisted of prelates, representatives of the cities and of rural communities.
The Treaty of Prague 1590 terminated the vassall status to Austria, against a payment of 400,000 fl.; that year, the city of Freudenstadt was founded; protestant refugees from Styria, Carinthia, Carniola settled there.
In 1618, at the beginning of the 30 Years' War, W. had over 450,000 inhabitants; in 1648, merely 166,000. In 1632 W. signed a treaty of alliance with Sweden; after the Swedish defeat in the Battle of Nördlingen, W. suffered occupation.

Article Kingdom of Württemberg, from Catholic Encyclopedia
Grafen und Herzöge von Württemberg, from Schlossgarten.de, in German, illustrated
REFERENCE Territorien-Ploetz : Geschichte der Deutschen Länder, Vol.1, Würzburg 1964, pp.307-309
Coins of Württemberg, 1601-1700, in Krause, Mishler, Standard Catalog of World Coins : Seventeenth Century 1601-1700, 2nd ed., 2000, pp.780-789
Karl Weller, Württembergische Geschichte (History of W.), Stuttgart : Werner Jäckh 1963, in German
Willy A. Boelcke, Handbuch Baden-Württemberg (Handbook Baden-Württemberg), Stuttgart : Kohlhammer 1982, in German

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on July 28th 2003, last revised on November 12th 2004

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