Frederick I, Duke of Württemberg

Friedrich I of Württemberg (19 August 1557 – 29 January 1608) was the son of George of Mömpelgard and his wife Barbara of Hesse, daughter of Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse.

Frederick I, Duke of Württemberg
Friedrich I, Herzog von Württemberg (1557-1608).jpg
Frederick I, Duke of Württemberg
Born19 August 1557
Mömpelgard, today's Montbéliard
Died29 January 1608(1608-01-29) (aged 50)
Noble familyHouse of Württemberg
Spouse(s)Sibylla of Anhalt
FatherGeorge I of Württemberg-Mömpelgard
MotherBarbara of Hesse

Several references are made to him in Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor, in which a series of anti-German jokes start with a horse theft, several references are made to German travellers in England and to a German duke who is not expected to come to Windsor.

Arms of Frederick I, Duke of Württemberg, KG

Early life and educationEdit

Frederick of Mömpelgard was born in Mömpelgard present day Montbéliard, France, the son of George I of Württemberg-Mömpelgard of Montbéliard and his wife Barbara of Hesse, daughter of Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse.

He spent his youth at the Württemberg court in Stuttgart, where Christoph, Duke of Württemberg himself took care of his education. From 1571 to 1574 he was educated in the later Collegium Illustre in Tübingen


Fredeick visited various courts in Germany, Denmark, Hungary, Austria, France, Italy and England. Frederick signed the Formula of Concord of 1577 and the Book of Concord of 1580.

In 1592, he was heir apparent to the dukedom of Württemberg when he visited Windsor and other English cities. He desired to become a Knight of the Garter and repeatedly solicited Queen Elizabeth for the honor. After he had inherited the dukedom and become more prominent, she admitted him to the order. In a calculated slight, he was not informed of his admission in time to attend the investiture in spring 1597, the ceremony for which The Merry Wives of Windsor was written. Thus references to Mömpelgard's earlier visit and his not being in Windsor were jokes intended for the play's first audience, and appear in the First Folio edition of the play, taken from the first private performance, but not in the 1602 Quarto derived from public theatrical production. It was not until October 4, 1603, that he received the investiture by a delegation of Queen Elizabeth I.[1]

According to another account, in May 1604 King James I sent William Dethick to invest Frederick in the order, nd he presented jewels including two garters with diamonds and rubies, and two St Georges with diamonds and rubies, and a gold chain or collar, made by the London goldsmiths, John Spilman and William Herrick.[2]

In 1599, Frederick I issued an order that a new town should be established at the northern extremity of the Black Forest by the name of Freudenstadt. The aim was for the town to become the new residence of the Duchy of Württemberg as it was closer to Mömpelgard than the Württemberg capital Stuttgart. However, Frederick I died in 1608, aged 50, in Stuttgart, and his plans never came to fruition.


The sons of Frederick I established the ducal house of Württemberg-Neuenstadt, a branch line of the House of Württemberg after a Fürstbrüderlicher Vergleich – a mutual agreement made between ducal brothers on 7 June 1617. The eldest son, Johann Friedrich, assumed barony over the Duchy of Württemberg while the second youngest son, Frederick Achilles, was bequeathed Neuenstadt Castle and an annual endowment of 10,000 guilder.

Duke Frederick I of Württemberg and Sibylla of Anhalt (centre), with their 5 sons: Johann Frederick, Ludwig Frederick, Julius Frederick, Frederick Achilles and Magnus (top left downwards), and 5 daughters: Sibylla Elisabeth, Eva Christina, Agnes, Barbara and Anna (top right downwards)

Frederick and his spouse Sibylla of Anhalt (1564–1614), daughter of Joachim Ernst, Prince of Anhalt, had the following children:



  1. ^ John Nichols (1828). The Progresses, Processions, and Magnificient Festivities of King James the First. London: printed by and for J. B. Nichols. p. 282.
  2. ^ HMC Laing Manuscripts at the University of Edinburgh, vol. 1 (London, 1914), pp. 93-7.

Further readingEdit

  • Paul Friedrich von Stälin: "Friedrich I., Herzog von Württemberg". In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Vol. 8, p45–48.
  • Paul Sauer: Herzog Friedrich I. von Württemberg 1557-1608. Ungestümer Reformer und weltgewandter Autokrat. Stuttgart 2003.
Frederick I, Duke of Württemberg
Born: 19 August 1557 Died: 29 January 1608
Regnal titles
Preceded by Duke of Württemberg
Succeeded by