Charles Theodore (German: Karl Theodor) (12 December 1724 – 16 February 1799) was the Duke of Bavaria from 1777 until 1799, the Elector Palatine from 1742 until 1799, the Count Palatine of Sulzbach from 1733 until 1799, and the Margrave of Bergen op Zoom from 1728 until 1747 and 1748 until 1795.


Charles Theodore was born in Castle Drogenbusch near Brussels in 1724 as the only surviving child of [[John Christian Joseph, Count Palatine of Sulzbach. He was quickly educated by the Jesuits and inherited Sulzbach after his father's death in 1733 when he was only ten years old. In 1742 he married his cousin Elizabeth Maria Augusta, daughter of the Elector Palatine Charles III Philip and succeeded his father in law as Elector Palatine. The death of their only child Joseph the day after his birth on 29 June 1761 alienated Charles Theodore and his wife. He eventually took many mistresses and fathered several illegitimate and morganatic children.

He implemented many reforms in the spirit of the Age of Enlightenment and became a great patron of the arts, which made Charles Theodore very popular. In 1763 he founded academies of the sciences in Mannheim and Düsseldorf. In 1780 he founded the Societas Meteorologica Palatina, the world's first international meteorological organisation. Mannheim and his summer residence at Schwetzingen attracted many artists, musicians, poets and philosophers, including Mozart and Voltaire. During his reign Mannheim reached its Golden Age and became one of the most significant Baroque cities. This golden age ended abruptly in 1777 when Maximilian III, Duke of Bavaria died and Charles Theodore inherited his lands.

He moved his residence to Munich and most of the artists and thinkers moved to his new residence there. He immediately began secret negotiations with Austria to exchange Bavaria for the House of Habsburg's territories along the Rhine and the Austrian Netherlands. This not only made him very unpopular with the people of Bavaria, but in 1779 it also began the largely bloodless War of the Bavarian Succession in which Prussia and Saxony invaded Austria onbstensibly to defend the rights of Maximilian Joseph, Count Palatine of Birkenfeld-Zweibrücken, Charles Theodore's heir. The war degenerated into a war of attrition in Bohemia whereby both sides tried to deprive the other of food, and was mediated by France and Russia at the Peace of Teschen whereby Austria obtained only the Inn Quarter.

Nevertheless Charles Theodore's reign was significant in the history and development of Bavaria. The Bavarian commonwealth was reformed in 1785. He received Pope Pius VI, and also abolished the Illuminati. In 1785 he again tried to exchange Bavaria for the Austrian Netherlands, and again Prussia objected and united the Princes of the Holy Roman Empire against the Austrians. In 1788 he moved his residence back to Mannheim, but returned it to Munich the following year. During his reign the city of Munich was developed. The city walls were demolished to allow for the city to grow, the English Garden was planted and the Karlplatz was built (the latter of which is even today called the Stachus after a pub which formerly occupied the site due to his great unpopularity).

Charles Theodore died in Munich in 1799 and was buried in the city. The city of Munich celebrated for four days after his death.

Marriage and ChildrenEdit

John Christian Joseph married Elizabeth Maria Augusta (17 January 1721 - 17 August 1794), daughter of Charles III Philip, Elector Palatine, on 17 January 1742 and had the following children:

  1. Francis Louis Joseph (28 June 1761 - 29 June 1761)

John Christian Joseph married Leopoldine of Austria (10 December 1776 - 23 June 1848), daughter of Ferdinand, on 15 February 1795. The marriage remained childless.

John Christian Joseph in a liaison with Françoise Després Verneuil fathered one daughter:

  1. Caroline Francesca Dorothea (1762 - 7 September 1816)

John Chrisitan Joseph in a liaison with Maria Josefa Seyfert of Heydeck fathered several children:

  1. Caroline Josepha (27 January 1768 - ?)
  2. Charles Augustus (24 December 1769 - ?)
  3. Eleonore Caroline (November 1770 - ?)
  4. Frederica Caroline (9 December 1771 - ?)

Preceded by:

Charles Theodore

Succeeded by:

Maximilian III Duke of Bavaria
1777 - 1799
Maximilian Joseph
Charles III Philip Elector Palatine
1742 - 1799
Theodore Eustace Count Palatine of Sulzbach
1733 - 1799
Marie de La route d'Auvergne Margrave of Bergen op Zoom
1728 - 1747
annexed to France
annexed to France Margrave of Bergen op Zoom
1748 - 1795
annexed to France
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