Georg Friedrich, Margrave of Baden-Durlach

George Frederick, Margrave of Baden-Durlach

George Frederick, Margrave of Baden-Durlach
Spouse(s) Juliane Ursula of Salm-Neufville
Agathe of Erbach
Elisabeth Stolz
Noble family House of Zähringen
Father Charles II of Baden-Durlach
Mother Anna of Veldenz
Born (1573-01-30)30 January 1573
Died 24 September 1638(1638-09-24) (aged 65)

George Frederick of Baden-Durlach (30 January 1573 24 September 1638) was Margrave of Baden-Durlach from 1604 until his abdication in 1622. He also ruled Baden-Baden.

He was the third son of margrave Charles II of Baden-Durlach and his second wife, Anna of Veldenz. He was the youngest of eight children and was only four years old when his father died.

He succeeded his brother Ernest Frederick as margrave in 1604. He also continued his brother's occupation of Baden-Baden. George Frederick was a prominent member of the Protestant Union.

He raised an army of 12,000 men at the beginning of the Thirty Years' War in 1618, and defeated the imperial troops of Tilly near Wiesloch in 1622. But a few days later he himself was defeated in Wimpfen, and his army was destroyed. In 1627 he joined the Danish army.

He died at Strasbourg in 1638.


Early life

George Frederick was born in Baden to Charles II, Margrave of Baden-Durlach and Anna of Veldenz.

The guardianship governments 1577-1595

George Frederick was four years old when he inherited the Margraviate of Baden-Durlach, necessating a regency. The regents were his mother Anna, Elector Palatine Louis VI (until 1583), Count Palatine Philip Louis of Neuburg and Duke Louis III "the Pious" of Württemberg.

Early rule

In 1584, his brothers Ernest Frederick and James (d. 1590) and his mother (d. 1586) took over the guardianship. In 1595, George Frederick was declared an adult, and he took up government himself.


George Frederick learned the Latin, French and Italian languages and received his higher education in Strasbourg, where his brother James had studied earlier.


He went on a Grand Tour to Besançon, Dole, Basel and Siena.

Division of the Margraviate of Baden-Durlach

His brothers were declared adults in 1584. Ernest Frederick and James wanted to divide the inheritance, although their father's testament forbade this. However, the testament had not been properly signed and sealed, and the remaining guardians held that this meant that they could allow the brothers to divide the Margraviate. Ernest Frederick received Lower Baden, including the main towns Durlach and Pforzheim.[1] James received the Margraviate of Hachberg.

Being given Baden-Durlach

George Frederick retained the southern parts of Baden-Durlach, the Lordships of Rötteln and Badenweiler and the County of Sausenburg. Thus, the Margraviate was fragmented further, after the earlier split into Baden-Baden and Baden-Durlach.

Reuniting Baden-Durlach

When James died in 1590, Baden-Hachberg fell back to Ernest Frederick, who gave it to George Frederick in 1595. When Ernest Frederick died in 1604, Baden-Durlach was reunited under George Frederick.

Ruler of Upper Baden 1595-1604

George Frederick of Baden-Durlach in 1603

Upon reaching adulthood, George Frederick became the ruler of Upper Baden. At first, he ruled from Rötteln Castle. In 1599 he moved his residence and the entire National Administration to Sulzburg).[2][3] After the conversion of his brother Ernest Frederick to strict Calvinism, George Frederick remained a Lutheran and founded his own Latin school in his small residence Sulzburg,[4] so he would not have to depend on the Calvinist school in Durlach for the education of pastors in his territory. He constructed several buildings in Sulzburg, among them a real tennis hall.[5] Between 1600 and 1610, he built the Castle Church in Sulzburg.[6]

Opening new regulations

In 1603, he issued a forestry regulation for the Margraviate of Sausenberg and the Lordship of Rötteln.

The preacher on the throne

Shortly after he took office in Upper Baden, George Frederick introduced Johann Weininger as the new General Superintendent at the Synod of Rötteln. On this occasion he held a speech that resembled a sermon.[7][8]

Interests in the Bible

He life was marked by an ascetic life-style. From the hand-written notes in his personal Bible, one can deduce that he has fully read through it at least 58 times.[9] In 1601, he promised the citizens of Pforzheim, who resisted the appointment of Reformed clergy by his brother Ernest Frederick, that he would support them when the case came before the Reichskammergericht.

Religious issues

If 1613, he had a religious dispute with Duke Francis II of Lorraine. He intended to argue the issue himself. This failed, however, when Francis, against an earlier agreement, sent Jesuits to argue the Catholic side of the dispute.

Legislative and administrative reform

George Frederick laid the foundations for a sound administration. He established the Privy Council, which he presided himself. He created a high court and introduced a Church Order.

Opening the civil code in Baden

He initiated the codification of the civil code of Baden. The resulting statute has been describe as "the most thorough of any of the German territorial states".[10] It was published in 1622, but due to the Thirty Years' War, it could not be brought into force until 1654, under his son and successor Frederick V. It remained in force until 1809.[11]

Interests in hunting

George Frederick had big interests in hunting going out several times a week and hunting for big creatures.

The banker and political economist

As early as 1603[12] George Frederick founded, in cooperation with the Estates of Upper Baden an exchange bank, which also managed orphan's pensions and later developed into a deposit bank. This bank was also meant to organize the trade in wine and grain and eliminate Jewist merchants.[13] It also helped the margraviate to overcome the market crisis of the "Kipper und Wipper" period.

Making coins and other forms of currency

George Frederick made many coins and other kinds of currency during his reign.

The military theorist

George Frederick saw the deteriorating situation in the empire, and in his own principality in particular, and studied not only theologyl, but also military themes. He was informed the Knight academy that Count John VI of Nassau-Dillenburg had founded in Siegen in 1616.[14] Between 1614 and 1617, George Frederick wrote a treatise on modern warfare for his sons Frederick, Charles and Christopher; this treatise was never published in print.[15]

George Frederick and the parliament

George Frederick was aware that he could achieve his goal of a united Lutheran margraviate of Baden only with the support of the people. In return for approval of taxes to finance his defense policies, he conceded to the Estates the right to have a say in religious questions.[16]

Early years of the The Thirty Years War

George Frederick of Baden-Durlach in 1630 showing scars from a wound to the head by a lance at the Battle of Wimpfen on 6 May 1622

Under Catholic influence, the ongoing court case before the Reichskammergericht about the ongoing occupation of Upper Baden threatened against George Frederick in 1622. He reacted with an armed intervention in the Bohemian Revolt, a conflict that formed the initial phase of the Thirty Years' War.

Before the Battle of Wimpfen

In 1608, George Frederick joined the Protestant Union. He was appointed as a general of the Union, until it was dissolved in May 1621.

Forming alliances with certain districts

On 19 August 1612, George Frederick concluded a defensive alliance with the Protestant cities of Bern and Zurich, with which he wanted to protect Upper Baden, as it was enclosed by territories belonging to Further Austria. When the war broke out, his allies failed to provide military assistance. However, the alliance did enable George Frederick to recruit mercenaries in Switzerland in 1621 and 1622.[17]

The bishop of Speyer, Philipp Christoph von Sötern, felt threatened by the surrounding Protestant powers and in 1615, he began expanding his residence in Udenheim into a fortress. He changed the name Udenheim into Philippsburg and began constructing Philipsburg Fortress, despite protests by the imperial city of Speyer, the Electorate of the Palatinate and the Margraviate of Baden. In 1618, Elector Palatine Frederick V, George Frederick and the city of Speyer decided to raze the fortress. It was nevertheless completed in 1623.

Blocking paths

Fortified camp of Margrave George Frederick at Ihringen

From March to June 1620 George Frederick blocked the road from Breisach to Freiburg by order of the Protestant Union, operating from a fortified camp at Ihringen. The goal was to prevent the passage of mercenary troops of Bavaria and the Catholic League from the Alsace to their assembly points at Lauingen and Dillingen on the Danube. Nevertheless, after Emperor Ferdinand II gave assurances that certain troops had been recruited for himself and not for Bavarian/Catholic League army, George Frederick allowed the three regiments to pass[18] and had to put up with being called naïve when these regiments joined the army of Duke Maximilian I of Bavaria.

Recruiting troops

In 1621, George Frederick began recruiting troops to campaign against the Catholic forces, which had begun a successful advance in 1620. In order not to lose his Margraviate to an imperial ban for waging war on the emperor, he abdicated in 1622, in favour of his son, Frederick V.

Starting campaigns

In the spring of 1622, after the Estates granted him a special war tax for three years,[19] he had between 11000 and 12000[20] mercenaries at his disposal, with a relatively large amount of artillery, in addition to the regiment that would remain behind to defend Baden. On 24/25 April 1622, he began a campaign against the Emperor and his Catholic allies. However, he arrived too late to participate in the Battle of Mingolsheim on 27 April, where the Palatinate commander Count Ernst von Mansfeld crushingly defeated Lieutenant General Tilly of the Catholic League.

The Battle of Wimpfen

On 27 April, George Frederick declared war on the Habsburgs and combined his forces with those of Mansfeld, so as to fight the Catholic League together. When they were inexplicably separated a few days later, George Frederick came under attack from Tilly, who was assisted by Spanish troops under Córdoba.

Defeat, injuries, escape and abdication

George Frederick was defeated in the Battle of Wimpfen on 6 May 1622. He was injured in the face and narrowly escaped to Stuttgart, where he abdicated in favour of his eldest son.

After the Battle of Wimpfen

Already on 13 May 1622 George Frederick had returned to Durlach and tried in vain to raise a new army. A Catholic army of about 12000 troops invaded Baden and devastated it thoroughly. George Frederick initially fled to a stronghold at Emmendingen he had heavily fortified in the beginning of the century. On 26 August 1622, the Emperor invested William, the son of Edward Fortunatus, with Baden-Baden. This meant that Baden was once again split into a Catholic Baden-Baden and a Protestand Baden-Durlach. This split would last until Baden was reunited in 1771 under Margrave Charles Frederick.

Retreat to Geneva

In 1625, George Frederick retreated to Geneva, where he soon came into conflict with the Calvinist government, because he held Lutheran church services in his apartment. So in 1626 he moved to Thônes, where Duke Charles Emmanuel of Savoy allowed to hold Lutheran church services.[21]

Later appointments

In the summer of 1627 he was appointed lieutenant general of the Danish army by King Christian IV of Denmark, who was involved in the Danish-Lower Saxon War and tasked George Frederick with stopping the advance of Wallenstein into northern Germany. When Wallenstein approached, George Frederick withdrew to the island of Poel and then to Heiligenhafen in Holstein.

March to Oldenburg, near wipeout and surrender

His troops from there marched to Oldenburg in Holstein, where he was almost completely wiped out in the Battle at the Oldenburg Gulley[22] by an imperial army under Heinrich Schlik and had to surrender on 24 September 1627.


In October, George Frederick resigned from the Danish service, after a dispute with the Danish king, who wanted to bring the issue before a court martial.[23]


George Frederick retired to his home in Strasbourg and devoted himself mainly to the study of religious literature. He was, however, still in contact with France and Sweden, trying to realise his dream of a Lutheran Greater Baden.[24]


He died on 24 September 1638 in Strasbourg.


His body was probably transferred to the princely crypt in the S. Michael Church in Pforzheim in 1650.[25]

Marriages and issue

George Frederick of Baden

First marriage – Juliane Ursula of Salm-Neufville

In his first marriage Margrave George Frederick of Baden married on 2 July 1592 Juliane Ursula of Salm-Neufville (born 29 September 1572; died 30 April 1614), daughter of the Wild- and Rhinegrave Frederick of Salm-Neufville. This marriage produced 15 children:

Children from first marriage

Second marriage – Agathe of Erbach

George Frederick of Baden married his second wife, on 23 October 1614. He married Agathe (born 16 May 1581; died 30 April 1621), the daughter of the Count George III of Erbach. This marriage the produced three children:

Children from second marriage

Third marriage – Elizabeth Stolz (which was actually a morganatic marriage)

George Frederick of Baden's third marriage was morganatic. On 29 July 1621, he married Elisabeth Stolz the daughter of his secretary, Johann Thomas Stolz. This marriage remained childless.




  1. Baumann, p. 21-22
  2. Jost Grosspietsch: Sulzburg. Ehemalige Markgräfliche Residenz, in: Das Markgräflerland vol. 2/1991, p. 6
  3. Ledderhose: Aus dem Leben..., p. 19
  4. Gothein, p. 50
  5. Wolfgang Stopfel: Neue Erkenntnisse zur Gestalt des Sulzburger Renaissanceschlosses - und zur Geschichte des Tennisspiels in Sulzburg, in: Das Markgräflerland, vol. 2/2006, p. 45-50
  6. Wolfgang Kaiser, Gitta Reinhardt-Fehrenbach: Kulturgeschichtliche und architektonische Ansichten aus Sulzburg, in: Das Markgräflerland, vol. 2/2006, S. 17
  7. Ledderhose, p. 17
  8. Gothein, p. 45
  9. Gothein, p. 45
  10. Gothein, p. 47
  11. Table of Contents of the Civil Code
  12. General State Archives
  13. Gothein, p. 49
  14. Reitzenstein vol. II, p. 172
  15. Ledderhose, pp. 79-81
  16. Gothein, p. 47
  17. Ledderhose p. 63-64
  18. Reitzenstein, vol. 1, p. 125-126
  19. Siegfried Fiedler: Taktik und Strategie der Landsknechte, Bonn, 1985, p. 167 ff
  20. Fiedler says it was 15000
  21. Lederhose, p. 96
  22. About the Battle at the Oldenburg
  23. Ledderhose, p. 99
  24. Duch, p. 99
  25. Obser, p. 356-357
Georg Friedrich, Margrave of Baden-Durlach
Born: 30 January 1573 Died: 24 September 1638
Preceded by
Ernest Frederick
Margrave of Baden-Durlach
Succeeded by
Frederick V
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