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Charles Alexander, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach facts for kids

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Karl Alexander
Held Carl Alexander Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach@Weimar Schlossmuseum.jpg
Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
Reign 8 July 1853 – 5 January 1901
Predecessor Charles Frederick
Successor William Ernest
Born (1818-06-24)24 June 1818
Died 5 January 1901(1901-01-05) (aged 82)
Burial Weimarer Fürstengruft
Spouse Sophie of the Netherlands
Issue Charles Augustus, Hereditary Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
Marie, Princess Heinrich VII Reuss
Princess Anna Sophia
Elisabeth, Duchess Johann Albrecht of Mecklenburg
Full name
Charles Alexander Augustus John
German: Karl Alexander August Johann Großherzog von Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach
House Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
Father Charles Frederick, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
Mother Maria Pavlovna of Russia
Religion Lutheranism

Charles Alexander (Karl Alexander August Johann; 24 June 1818 – 5 January 1901) was the ruler of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach as its grand duke from 1853 until his death.


Born in Weimar, he was the second but eldest surviving son of Karl Frederick, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach and Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia. His mother engaged as tutor for Karl the Swiss scholar Frédéric Soret who became a close acquaintance to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

When he was the Hereditary Grand Duke, Karl Alexander established a strong friendship with Fanny Lewald and Hans Christian Andersen, but this close relationship stopped in 1849 for the war against Denmark over the duchies of Schleswig-Holstein (the First German-Danish War). On 8 July 1853 his father died, and Karl Alexander became Grand Duke; but he stopped his constitutional accession until Goethe's birthday, on 28 August 1853.

The Danish author and poet Hans Christian Andersen was reportedly infatuated with Karl Alexander, writing "I quite love the young duke, he is the first of all princes that I really find attractive".

Karl Alexander renovated Wartburg Castle, and left his traces in many places in Eisenach. He was the protector of Richard Wagner and Franz Liszt, retained the tradition of Weimar's classical period, and gave the old part of Weimar a new and better appearance with the establishment of the Herder monument, and the double monument for Goethe and Schiller. In 1860, he founded the Weimar Saxon-Grand Ducal Art School (with Arnold Böcklin, Franz von Lenbach and the plastic artist Reinhold Begas). As Grand Duke he was automatically rector, president of Jena University where he supported especially the collections among them prominently the Oriental Coin Cabinet.

In the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871), Karl Alexander participated only in "Samaritan"; stressed, however, for his war entrance in favor of Schleswig in 1849. The Weimar Congress of the Goethe Federation (opposing the Lex Heinze) occurred towards the end of his reign, in November 1900 - that congress described his government as the Silver Age of Weimar.

He died at Weimar in 1901. Following his death, he was succeeded as Grand Duke by his grandson Wilhelm Ernst, his only son Carl August having predeceased him.

Family and children

At Kneuterdijk Palace in The Hague, on 8 October 1842, Karl Alexander married with his first cousin, Princess Sophie of the Netherlands, daughter of William II and Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna of Russia, sister of his mother. They had four children:

  1. Karl August Wilhelm Nicolaus Alexander Michael Bernhard Heinrich Frederick Stefan, Hereditary Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (b. Weimar, 31 July 1844 – d. Cap Martin, France, 20 November 1894).
  2. Marie Anna Alexandrine Sophie Auguste Helene (b. Weimar, 20 January 1849 – d. Trebschen, 6 May 1922), known as Marie; married on 6 February 1876 to Prince Heinrich VII Reuss of Köstritz.
  3. Maria Anna Sophia Elisabeth Bernhardine Ida Auguste Helene (b. Weimar, 29 March 1851 – d. Weimar, 26 April 1859), known as Anna.
  4. Elisabeth Sibylle Maria Dorothea Anna Amalie Luise (b. Weimar, 28 February 1854 – d. Wiligrad, 10 July 1908), known as Elisabeth; married on 6 November 1886 to Duke Johann Albrecht of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.

Honours and awards

He received the following awards:

German honours
  •  Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach: Grand Cross of the White Falcon, 7 July 1818; Grand Master, 8 July 1853
  • Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg Saxe-Meiningen Ernestine duchies: Grand Cross of the Saxe-Ernestine House Order, February 1842
  •  Saxony: Knight of the Rue Crown, 1841
  • Flag of Anhalt Duchies.png Ascanian duchies: Grand Cross of Albert the Bear, 16 March 1852
  •  Baden:
    • Knight of the House Order of Fidelity, 1853
    • Grand Cross of the Zähringer Lion
  •  Bavaria: Knight of St. Hubert, 1864
  •  Brunswick: Grand Cross of Henry the Lion, 1859
  • Flagge Großherzogtum Hessen ohne Wappen.svg Hesse and by Rhine: Grand Cross of the Ludwig Order, 5 August 1840
  •  Hanover:
    • Grand Cross of the Royal Guelphic Order, 1849
    • Knight of St. George, 1857
  • Flagge Großherzogtümer Mecklenburg.svg Mecklenburg: Grand Cross of the Wendish Crown, with Crown in Ore
  •  Nassau: Knight of the Gold Lion of Nassau, September 1858
  •  Oldenburg: Grand Cross of the Order of Duke Peter Friedrich Ludwig, with Golden Crown, 25 April 1844
  • Flag of the Kingdom of Prussia (1803-1892).svg Prussia:
    • Knight of the Black Eagle, with Collar, 14 June 1838
    • Grand Cross of the Red Eagle
    • Grand Commander of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern
    • Grand Cross of the Iron Cross
    • War Commemorative Medal of 1870/71
  •  Schaumburg-Lippe: Military Merit Medal, with Swords
  •  Württemberg: Grand Cross of the Württemberg Crown, 1851
Foreign honours

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