Calling Karl Ludwig a major player is a bit of a stretch, since he played a pretty minor role in the events of the Thirty Years War. Still, he’s a historical figure upon which I base a major character, so he deserves his own entry in that respect.
Prince Karl Ludwig was the second of Frederick and Elizabeth’s thirteen children. As a young boy, he went into exile with the rest of his family when his father lost the Bohemian throne at the Battle of White Mountain, which kicked off the Thirty Years War. Henry Frederick, his older brother and heir to the electorship died tragically in a ferry accident as a teenager, putting Karl Ludwig in first position. With a reserved, humorless character, the boy was not popular among his siblings, and they gave him the nickname of “Timon,” after Shakespeare’s misanthropic “Timon of Athens.”
Raised to be “Jesuit-proof” with a strict Calvinistic education, Karl Ludwig joined his younger brothers at the University of Leyden, receiving rigorous academic and religious instruction. Just three years after his oldest son’s death, Elector Frederick died as well, leaving his heir a non-existent kingdom while the Thirty Years War raged. Karl Ludwig spent much of the 1630’s in England, at the court of his uncle, the ill-fated King Charles I, along with his younger brother, Prince Rupert. He hoped to gain English support in the quest to restore his father’s kingdom, but succeeded only in upsetting his uncle when he became cozy with parliament, which seemed more sympathetic to his cause.
Karl Ludwig and Rupert (in a van Dyck portrait, right)made one play for their father’s kingdom while still in their teens, though it ended badly, with Rupert being captured by the Habsburg forces and Karl narrowly escaping with his life. After the death of Bernhard of Weimar, Karl Ludwig made an attempt to take over his leaderless army, but was intercepted by the French before he could do so.
As civil war broke out in England, Karl Ludwig initially support the royalist cause, though he soon went over to the Parliamentary side when it again dangled the hope of restoring his homeland. He became permanently estranged from his uncle, who harbored suspicions that Karl Ludwig was interested in taking the English throne from him.
The Thirty Years War ended a few years after the English Civil War, and Karl Ludwig was finally restored to the throne of Rhineland-Palatine, though he was given only part of the kingdom and it was heavily damaged from years of war. He ruled there for the next thirty years, with his most notable acts involving his personal life. First, he married Charlotte of Hesse-Kassel, though the relationship turned sour almost immediately. Within five years, the prince had moved on. In 1634 he unilaterally divorced Charlotte, and illegally married Marie-Luise von Degenfeld, one of her ladies-in-waiting.
This transition was fraught with drama, including shouting matches between the erstwhile spouses in Heidelberg Palace and Prince Rupert making a move on Marie-Luise shortly before Karl Ludwig became involved with her. Needless to say, this further soured the relationship between the two brothers, which was already on shaky ground due to being on opposite sides of a civil war. Rupert left for Austria and Karl Ludwig unofficially married Marie-Luise, who proceeded to bear him thirteen illegitimate children.
In addition to Rupert, Karl Ludwig had poor relations with his mother and the rest of his siblings. Aside from being generally unlikable, he was also extremely (and somewhat understandably) stingy with his recently restored kingdom, refusing to help out his constantly poverty-stricken relatives. He died in 1680, at the age of 62, and was succeeded by his son, Charles II.by