Karoline Luise of Hesse-Darmstadt was the first wife of the Karl Friedrich, Margrave of Baden-Durlach, who would later become the first Grand Duke of Baden. She was born in Darmstadt, Landgraviate of Hesse-Darmstadt, now in Hesse, Germany, on July 11, 1723, the youngest child of Ludwig VIII, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt and Charlotte, Countess of Hanau-Lichtenberg. Karoline Luise had two older siblings:
- Ludwig IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt (1719-1790) – married Caroline of Zweibrücken, had issue
- Prince Georg Wilhelm (1722)1782 – married Maria Luise of Leiningen-Falkenburg-Dagsburg, had issue
After her mother’s death when Karoline Luise was just three, she was raised in Buchsweiler by her father. A very talented child, she learned to speak five languages and developed a love for the arts. As an adult, she maintained a correspondence with Voltaire and worked to establish Karlsruhe as one of the cultural centers of Europe, often hosting noted writers and musicians. A talented artist and musician herself, Karoline Luise was a member of Baden’s court orchestra and the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. In addition to her artistic interests, she was also a student of the natural sciences and had a laboratory in Karlsruhe where she often conducted experiments. Her numerous collections – including artwork, musical manuscripts, minerals, and other natural history artifacts – later formed the foundation for several museums in Karlsruhe.
Karoline Luise married Karl Friedrich on January 28, 1751, in Darmstadt. Together they had five children:
- Karl Ludwig, Hereditary Prince of Baden (1755-1801) – married Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt, had issue
- Prince Friedrich (1756-1817) – married Luise of Nassau-Usingen, no issue
- Ludwig I, Grand Duke of Baden (1763-1830) – unmarried
- stillborn son (1764)
- Princess Luise Auguste (born and died1767) – died in infancy
Titled Margravine of Baden-Durlach from her marriage, she became Margravine of Baden in October 1771 when Baden-Durlach and Baden-Baden were reunited as one Margraviate.
After falling down some stairs in 1779, her health began to deteriorate. While in Paris, France with her son, she suffered a stroke on April 8, 1783, and died. She is buried in St. Michael’s Church in Pforzheim, Grand Duchy of Baden, now in Baden-Württemberg, Germany.