Portrait of Margravine Sibylla Augusta von Baden-Baden

The construction-happy rulerSibylla Augustavon Baden-Baden

Margravine Sibylla Augusta (1675–1733) commissioned the construction of Favorite Palace as a pleasure palace and to display her valuable collections. What kind of woman was she? What governed her life? And how did she come to rule in the first place?

Portrait of Margravine Sibylla Augusta von Baden-Baden and her sister Anna Maria Franziska

Sibylla Augusta and her sister, Anna Maria Franziska.

Was she happy in her arranged marriage?

Yes! Despite a twenty year age difference, they were in love, which can be discerned in her letters to her grandfather. Princess Sibylla Augusta von Sachsen-Lauenburg grew up in the Bohemian Schlackenwerth, now Ostrov nad Ohří. Her family were wealthy Catholics. She and her sister were coveted candidates on the royal marriage market. When Ludwig Wilhelm von Baden-Baden came looking for a wife in 1690, he chose the 15-year-old Sibylla Augusta, much to the older Anna Maria Franziska’s chagrin.

How did a woman come to rule?

Sibylla Augusta gave birth to nine children in twelve years. Six died at early ages. In 1707, she experienced another blow: the death of her husband. Heir Ludwig Georg was only five years old at the time. Thus, she became the custodial regent in his place and ruled for twenty years. However, the War of the Spanish Succession raged and the French invaded Rastatt. She was forced to leave Rastatt from 1707 to 1714.

Interior of the palace church, Rastatt Residential Palace

The palace church in Rastatt.

Why did she commission so many buildings?

Sibylla Augusta began building in 1710, while still in exile. Favorite Palace and the palace church were her largest projects. However, she also built a series of chapels based on the holy stations from the life of Jesus. With these buildings, she presented herself as an artistically minded ruler and devout Catholic princess. In this way, she also provided her son, Ludwig Georg, with a framework befitting his rank, for his function as the future margrave and for his love of hunting.

How personal are her structures?

The margravine specified almost all of the details of the interior decor. Her architect, Michael Ludwig Rohrer, and her artistic director, Franz Pfleger, took care of planning and implementing her requests. Her native Bohemia was a strong influence. However, she also combined ideas and art from across the globe, from Asia and Holland to Florence, Paris and Meissen. The result was a highly personal palace with unusual decor and a one-of-a-kind porcelain collection.

Detail of the corner room, Rastatt Favorite Palace
Detail of the green hall, Rastatt Favorite Palace
Detail of the crown prince’s apartment, Rastatt Favorite Palace

Decorative elements at Favorite Palace still impress visitors today.

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