Major Player: Karl I Ludwig, Elector Palatine

KarlILudwigvonderPfalz02Calling 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.

Charles Louis, Elector Palatine and his Brother, Rupert, Prince of the PalatinateKarl 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.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinteresttumblrmailby feather
Posted in history Tagged with: , , , ,
14 comments on “Major Player: Karl I Ludwig, Elector Palatine
  1. calensariel says:

    But hey! What character is based on him???

    • Christina says:

      Maryna- she’ll get her own post soon. While she’s a nicer person, I hope to give her a dramatic love life too. 😀

      • calensariel says:

        I swear I don’t know how you’ve kept everyone and everything straight all this time!!!

        • Christina says:

          At this point I’ve spent years with these people. They practically feel like family!

          • calensariel says:

            😀 How’s Ben and the “kids”? Where are you now?

          • Christina says:

            We’re all doing well. We’re in Florida right now, though headed to Arkansas next. Are you back from your east coast visit?

          • calensariel says:

            Yeah. Got back the 16th. They are moving back here. Jesse has gotten permission from his company to telecommute. So we pick Stef and the kids up from the airport February 22nd. They’re going to be staying with friends who have a BIG house. Jesse will follow with his dad in a UHaul and tow their van. They’ve been looking at houses on line and like one three houses from my sister.

            I’m conflicted about it. I’ve been so stressed feeling like I was living in a fish bowl for the last few years, and Bran finally went to work full time. My stress level has dropped tremendously since the first of the month. So as relieved as I am that they’re moving out of the DC area and glad to have them close, I’m already feeling stressed wondering how that’s going to be. And I’m truly wondering how Stef will adjust to the slower pace of life again and lack of diversity here. Even SHE is wondering that.

          • Christina says:

            Wow, that’s going to be a big change for everyone! You’ll just have to be sure to carve out some ironclad time for yourself. On the plus side, you’ll get to know your grandchildren a lot better. My parents are really enjoying theirs as most of them are now in the double digits. A lot less upheaval than when they’re little.

          • Christina says:

            Lack of diversity is definitely an issue- I don’t like that either. But I’ve found that in most areas, over time, you can usually find the different, interesting people and make friends with them, since they’re usually looking for interesting people too.

          • calensariel says:

            They have tons of friends back here. But she always feels so special when they visit ’cause all the girls make such a fuss over the kids. Once she’s been here for a few weeks, that newness is going to wear off. I guess I’m wondering if she’s going to find them “sophisticated” enough for her now. These are all the gals she grew up at church with here. Her life back there was SO regimented because they did so much as a group they even set TIMERS of all things at the park. Life’s a whole lot slower here. No museums or the National Zoo, or beaches and harbors…

          • Christina says:

            That does sound like a huge adjustment. Is she outdoorsy at all? That’s what Utah is great for: hike/ski/boat somewhere different every day.

          • calensariel says:

            Yeah. Their VERY outdoorsy. In fact, I doubt it will be long before they’re all skiing. They love camping and hiking. Jesse’s dad retired from the Forest Service a few months ago and moved up to Idaho (can’t remember the town), so they will be close to them here, too. Ric and Becky are very outdoorsy as well. (Geez… And we are such slugs!!! 🙁 )

          • Christina says:

            That’s good- they should find plenty to do, even if it’s different from what they’re used to.

Leave a Comment