Wilhelmine of Baden was the second Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine, as the wife of Grand Duke Ludwig II. She was born in Karlsruhe, Margraviate of Baden, now in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, on September 21, 1788, the youngest child of Karl Ludwig, Hereditary Prince of Baden and Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt.
On June 19, 1804, in Karlsruhe, Wilhelmine married her first cousin, the future Ludwig II of Hesse and by Rhine. They had five children:
In 1810, Wilhelmine had a large garden – called the Rosenhöhe – built on a hill in Darmstadt. Soon, she added several buildings, including a summer residence and a tea house. When her daughter Elisabeth died in 1826, Wilhelmine decided to have a mausoleum built in the park instead of using the traditional grand-ducal tomb in the Darmstadt Stadtkirche. It is because of this that the Rosenhöhe has become the traditional burial site for the Grand Ducal Family.
Wilhelmine’s marriage was never happy, and she separated from her husband after the birth of their first three children. In the 1820s, Wilhelmine purchased Schloss Heiligenberg in Jugenheim and expanded and designed the grounds just as she had done at Rosenhöhe. It was here where she met her chamberlain, Baron August von Searclens de Grancy, and began a longtime affair. While her husband recognized their younger children as his own, it is believed that they were actually fathered by de Grancy.
Despite her separation, Wilhelmine became Grand Duchess upon her husband’s accession in 1830. With the increased means now at her disposal, she set about expanding Heiligenberg and avoiding the court in Darmstadt as much as possible.
Grand Duchess Wilhelmine died in Darmstadt, Grand Duchy of Hesse and by Rhine, now in Hesse, Germany, on January 27, 1836, after contracting typhoid fever. She is buried in the Altes Mausoleum in the Rosenhöhe in Darmstadt.