A princely pleasure garden with a spectacular greenhouse

Karlsruhe Botanical Gardens

Watercolor folio from the Karlsruhe Book of Tulips. Image: Baden State Library

Did the tulip girls really create the famous book?

YOUNG LADIES AT COURT

"As you know, our singular pleasure exists in garden and flower culture," Karl Wilhelm expressed in a letter. His pleasure gardens contained thousands of flowers. He was also rumored to have had countless tulip girls. As legend goes, these young ladies are said to have been responsible for the paintings in the Book of Tulips. What is undeniable is that Karl Wilhelm was surrounded by a large flock of ladies. Even his contemporaries commented on it.

Portrait of Liselotte von der Pfalz. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Andrea Rachele

She called the margrave a giant fool.

A GIANT FOOL

Baron von Pöllnitz wrote in 1730 that there were "such a number of 60, yet no more than 8 in waiting on any day. When the margrave drives out, the same follow him on horseback, dressed as hussars. Most of them have not only an understanding of music, but can also dance...". Liselotte von der Pfalz said: "I'm afraid the Margrave of Durlach has become a [giant] fool. And of course I've heard of his seraglio...".

Portrait of Margrave Karl Wilhelm von Baden, lithograph circa 1820. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

The margrave had a certain reputation.

QUEEN OF THE NIGHT

Carl Eduard Vehse, whose 1853 book "Die Höfe zu Baden" (The Courts of Baden) included a good amount of gossip reported "one hundred sixty garden maidens". They supposedly acted as Karl Wilhelm's bodyguards and served him at table. "Each night he dealt seventy eight cards from a deck of tarot cards and whomever drew the pagat trump card was the lucky queen for the night." Fact is: Some of the young women in Durlach had children from unknown fathers, yet they were all named Carl or Carlina and the margrave paid their maintenance.

Mehr erfahren

Figures
Work & play

Please select a maximum of 5 keywords.