Frederick I of Württemberg

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Frederick I (German: Friedrich I. Wilhelm Karl; 6 November 1754 – 30 October 1816) was the first King of Württemberg. He was known for his size: at 2.11 m (6 ft 11 in) and about 200 kg (440 lb), he was in contrast to Napoleon, who recognized him as King of Württemberg.



Born in Treptow, Frederick was the eldest son of Frederick II Eugene, Duke of Württemberg, and Sophia Dorothea of Brandenburg-Schwedt. Frederick's father was the third son of Charles Alexander, Duke of Württemberg, and Frederick was thus the nephew of the long-reigning duke Charles Eugene. Since neither Charles Eugene nor his next brother, Louis Eugene had any sons, it was expected that Frederick would eventually succeed to the Duchy.

Frederick's younger sister Sophie had married Tsesarevich Paul, future Emperor of Russia, in 1776.

A few years later Frederick followed her to Russia. Empress Catherine II appointed him Governor-General of eastern Finland, with his seat at Viipuri.

Frederick had married Duchess Augusta of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel on 15 October 1780 at Braunschweig. The marriage was not a happy one. Though they had four children, Frederick was rumored to be bisexual, with a coterie of young noblemen.

Frederick was reportedly violent towards his wife, and during a visit to Saint Petersburg in December 1786, Augusta asked for protection from Empress Catherine. Catherine gave Augusta asylum and ordered Frederick to leave Russia. When Sophie protested at the treatment of her brother, Catherine replied "It is not I who cover the Prince of Württemberg with opprobrium: on the contrary, it is I who try to bury abominations and it is my duty to suppress any further ones." Augusta died in 1788.

In 1797, Frederick married Princess Charlotte, daughter of King George III of Great Britain.

On 22 December 1797, Frederick's father, who had succeeded his brother as Duke of Württemberg two years before, died, and Frederick became Duke of Württemberg as Frederick III. He was not to enjoy his reign undisturbed for long, however. In 1800, the French army occupied Württemberg and the Duke and Duchess fled to Vienna. In 1801, Duke Frederick ceded the enclave of Montbéliard to the French Republic, and received Ellwangen in exchange two years later.

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