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The oldest ecclesiastical Baroque residence on the Upper Rhine

Bruchsal Palace

Bildnis der Markgräfin Amalie von Baden; Foto: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Urheber unbekannt
Amalie von Baden in Bruchsal

Royal boredom

She went down in the history of Baden as an enemy of Emperor Napoleon and the "mother-in-law of Europe": Amalie von Baden. The famous crown princess began living in Bruchsal Palace in 1806. When there were no important guests, daily life was rather monotonous and lacking in luxury.

Amalie's Fountain in front of the solicitors' building of Bruchsal Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Amalie's Fountain in front of the solicitors' building of Bruchsal Palace.

"Mother-in-law of Europe"

Amalie (1754–1832) was the widow of the Crown Prince of Baden, Karl Ludwig. After the marriage of her son Karl to Napoleon's adoptive daughter Stéphanie de Beauharnais, she lost her rank as the first lady of the court of Baden in 1806 and retreated to Bruchsal. The palace served as her dower house until her death. She was famous as the "mother-in-law of Europe." Five of her daughters married important royalty, including the kings of Bavaria and Sweden and the Czar of Russia. Amalie's Fountain, constructed in front of the solicitors' building in 1912, is in remembrance of her.

Historical photography of the former bedroom of Margravine Amalie in Bruchsal Palace before its destruction in 1945. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Amalie's former bedroom, photograph from around 1930.

Diary of a lady-in-waiting

From 1801 to 1832, Karoline von Freystedt, one of Amalie's ladies-in-waiting, kept a diary. In it, she described the people the crown princess met with. Although stories of noisy celebrations in Bruchsal are still passed down today, they appear to have been rare exceptions. Daily life at court, according to Freystedt, was uneventful. The court was not very large and was only interesting when important guests came to Bruchsal.

Portrait of Margravine Amalie at Amalie's Fountain in front of the solicitors' building of Bruchsal Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Picture of Margravine Amalie at Amalie's Fountain.

Daily monotony

As Karoline von Freystedt emphasized again and again, life at the court in Bruchsal was monotonous. In 1829, for example, she wrote: "The long winter passed in silent sameness, the daily monotony interrupted only by the death of some acquaintances." Even trips to the "reserve," as Steinberg hill with its water palace and belvedere was called, was "hated by the royal household for its deep boredom, only the margravine ... felt that it interrupted the monotony of daily life."

Portrait of Margravine Amalie by Adolf Ulrik Wertmüller, circa 1800. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, credit unknown

Margravine Amalie around 1800.

Royal visitors

She also wrote about the visit of the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm III: "Except for conversation with the margravine, Bruchsal could offer him ... no amusement other than walks in the garden while Turkish music was played." Nor did the lady-in-waiting find Bruchsal to be particularly luxurious.The indisposition of Amalie's daughter, Tsarina Elisabeth, according to her information, was made worse by "the simple lifestyle."

Schnecke am Amalienbrunnen vor dem Kanzleibau von Schloss Bruchsal; Foto: Staatsanzeiger für Baden-Württemberg, Petra Schaffrodt

The snail: a charming detail on Amalie's Fountain.

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