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State of Baden

Baden was a territory in the southwest of what later became unified Germany. It was created in 1771 as a margravate and became the Grand Duchy of Baden in 1806, functioning as a sovereign state. It became part of the German Empire in 1871, remaining a Grand Duchy until 1918 when became part of the Weimar Republic. Baden was bounded to the north by the kingdom of Bavaria and the Grand Duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt - to the west and practically throughout its whole length by the river Rhine, which separated it from the Bavarian Palatinate and the Alsace; to the south by Switzerland, and to the east by the kingdom of Württemberg and partly by Bavaria.

After WW II, in 1945/46 the French military government created the land Baden with Freiburg im Breisgau as capital out of the southern half of the former Baden. The northern half combined with northern Württemberg was part of the American military zone and formed the land Württemberg-Baden. In 1952 Baden was merged with Württemberg-Baden and Württemberg-Hohenzollern to form Baden-Württemberg.


The duchy had an area of 15,081 km² (5823 mi²) and consisted of a considerable portion of the eastern half of the fertile valley of the Rhine and of the mountains which form its boundary.

The mountainous part was by far the most extensive, forming, indeed, nearly 80% of the whole area. From the Lake of Constance in the south to the river Neckar in the north is a portion of the Black Forest or Schwarzwald, which is divided by the valley of the Kinzig into two districts of different elevation. To the south of the Kinzig the mean height is 945 m (3100 ft), and the loftiest summit, the Feldberg, reaches about 1493 m (4898 ft);, while to the north the mean height is only 640 m (2100 ft), and the Belchen, the culminating point of the whole, does not exceed 1365 m (4480 ft). To the north of the Neckar is the Odenwald Range, with a mean of 439 m (1440 ft), and in the Katzenbuckel, an extreme of 603 m (1980 ft). Lying between the Rhine and the Dreisam is the Kaiserstuhl, an independent volcanic group, nearly 16 km in length and 8 in breadth, the highest point of which is 536 m (1760 ft).

The greater part of Baden belongs to the basin of the Rhine, which receives upwards of twenty tributaries from the highlands; the north-eastern portion of the territory is also watered by the Main and the Neckar. A part, however, of the eastern slope of the Black Forest belongs to the basin of the Danube, which there takes its rise in a number of mountain streams. Among the numerous lakes which belonged to the duchy are the Mummelsee, Wildersee, Eichenersee and Schluchsee, but none of them is of any size. The Lake Constance (Bodensee) belongs partly to Bavaria and to Switzerland.

Owing to its physical configuration Baden presents great extremes of heat and cold. The Rhine valley is the warmest district in Germany, but the higher elevations of the Black Forest record the greatest degrees of cold experienced in the South. The mean temperature of the Rhine valley is approximately 10° C and that, of the high table-land, 6° C. July is the hottest and January the coldest month.

The mineral wealth of Baden was not great, but iron, coal, lead and zinc of excellent quality were produced, and silver, copper, gold, cobalt, vitriol and sulphur were obtained in small quantities. Peat was found in abundance, as well as gypsum, china clay, potter's earth and salt. The mineral springs of Baden are still very numerous and have acquired great celebrity, those of Baden-Baden, Badenweiler, Antogast, Griesbach, Friersbach and Peterthal being the most frequented.

In the valleys the soil is particularly fertile, yielding luxuriant crops of wheat, maize, barley, spelt, rye, bean, potatoes, flax, hemp, hopss, beetroot, and tobacco; and even in the more montainous part, rye, wheat and oats are extensively cultivated. There is a considerable extent of pasture-land, and the rearing of cattle, sheep, pigs, and goats is extensively practised. Of game, deer, boar, snipe and wild partridges are fairly abundant, while the mountain streams yield trout of excellent quality. The culture of the vine increases, and the wines, which are charactised by a mildness of flavour, are in good demand. The gardens and the orchards supply an abundance of fruit, especially almonds and walnuts, and bee-keeping is practised throughout the country. A greater proportion of Baden than any other south German state is occupied by forests. In these the predominant trees are fir and pine, but many others, such as the chestnut, are well-represented. A third, at least, of the annual timber production is exported.


At the beginning of the 19th century, Baden was only a margravate, with an area of barely 1300 sq. mi.and a population of 210,000. Since then, it has acquired more territory, so that it now has 5823 sq. mi. and its population is 2,009,320, of whom 60% are Roman Catholics, 37% Protestants, 1.5% Jews, and the remainder of other confessions. Of the population about 1/2 may be said to be rural, living in communities of less than 2,000, while the density of the rest is about 330 to the sq. mi.

The country was divided into the following districts:

Mannheim district had the towns Mannheim (162,607), and Heidelberg (49, 439) (as of 1900)

Karlsruhe district included Karlsruhe (111,200) and Pforzheim (39,307) (as of 1900.)

Freiburg-im-Breisgau district included Freiburg (74,102, as of 1900)

Constance district had Constance (24,818 as of 1900)

The capital of the duchy was Karlsruhe, and among important towns other than the above, there are Rastatt, Baden-Baden, Bruchsal and Lahr. The population is most thickly clustered in the north and near the Swiss town of Basel. The inhabitants of Baden are of various origins, those to the north of Murg being descended from the Alemanni and those to the south from the Franks, while the Swabian Plateau derives its name and its population from another race. See Württemberg.


Of the area, 56.8% is cultivated and 38% is forest, but the agricultural sector, which before 1870 yielded the bulk of the wealth, has been superseded by industrial production. The chief manufactures are machinery, woollen and cotton goods, silk ribbons, paper, tobacco, china, leather, glass, clocks, jewelry, and chemicals. Beet sugar is also largely manufactured, as are wooden ornaments and toys, music boxes and organss.

The exports of Baden consist mostly of the above goods, and are considerable, but the bulk of its trade consists of transit. The country has many railways and roads, as well as the Rhine. Railways were run by the state. A rail-line runs mostly parallel with the Rhine, with oblique branches from East to West.

Mannheim is the great emporium for export down the Rhine and has much river traffic. It was also the chief manufacturing town for the duchy, and an important administrative centre for the northern part of the country.

Note that the above info describes Baden industry ca. 1910.

Education and Religion

The educational institutions of Baden are numerous and flourishing, and public education is entirely in the hands of the government. There are two universities, the Protestant one at Heidelberg and the Roman Catholic one at Freiburg im Breisgau, and a celebrated technical college at Karlsruhe. The grand-duke was a Protestant; under him, the evangelical church was governed by a nominated council and a synod consisting of a "prelate", 48 elected and 7 nominated lay and clerical members. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Freiburg is Metropolitan of the Upper Rhine.

Constitution and Government

The government of Baden was a hereditary monarchy with executive power vested in the Grand Duke while the legislative authority was shared by him with a representative assembly (Landtag) consisting of two chambers. The upper chamber included all the princes of the ruling family of full age, the heads of all the mediatized families, the Archbishop of Freiburg, the president of the Protestant Evangelical Church, a deputy from each of the universities and the technical high school, eight members elected by the territorial nobility for four years, three representatives elected by the chamber of commerce, two by that of agriculture, one by the trades, two mayors of municipalities, amd eight members (two of them legal functionaries) nominated by the Grand Duke. The lower chamber consisted of 73 popular representatives, of whom 24 were elected by the burgesses of certain communities, and 49 by rural communities. Every citizen of 25 years of age, who had not been convicted and was not a pauper, had a vote. The elections were, however, indirect. The citizens selected the Wohlmanner (deputy electors), the latter selecting the representatives. The chambers met at least every two years. The lower chambers were elected for four years, half the members retiring every two years. The executive consisted of four departments: The interior, foreign and grand-ducal affairs, finance, and justice, and ecclesiastical affairs and education. The chief sources of revenue were direct and indirect taxes, the railways and domains. The railways were operateded by the state, and formed the only source of major public debt, about 22 million pounds sterling. The supreme courts lay in Karlsruhe, Freiburg, Offenburg, Heidelberg, Mosach, Waldshut, Constance, and Mannheim, whence appeals passed to the Reichsgericht (the supreme tribunal) in Leipzig. By virtue of a convention with Prussia, the Baden army was part of the Prussian Army.


The Lords of Baden benefited from the break-up of Swabia, and, raised to the dignity of Margrave in 1112, were able to take their place as one of the four most important dynasts in southern Germany (along with Habsburg, Wittelsbach, and Württemberg). Baden was fragmented from 1190-1503, 1515-1620, and 1622-1771, though the eras of 1415-1503, 1604-1620, and 1666-1771 saw only two active branches each.

After 1771 the only surviving branch retained full authority and in return for compliance with Napoleon, was raised to Electoral dignity in 1803, and then Grand Ducal status in 1806.

For further detail, see History of Baden, Germany and Rulers of Baden.


(most text from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica)