Karl Friedrich of Jülich-Cleves-Berg

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Charles Frederick of Jülich-Cleves-Berg
Born (1555-04-28)28 April 1555
Died 9 February 1575(1575-02-09) (aged 19)
Buried Santa Maria dell’Anima
Noble family La Marck
Father William, Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg
Mother Maria of Austria (1531-1581)
Frontispiece of Hercules Prodicius by Stephanus Winandus Pighius

Charles Frederick of Jülich-Cleves-Berg (28 April 1555 in Cleves – 9 February 1575 in Rome), was Hereditary Prince of the United Duchies of Jülich-Cleves-Berg and the counties of Mark and Ravensberg.


Charles Frederick was the eldest son of Duke William the rich and his wife, Maria of Austria (1531-1581), a daughter of Emperor Ferdinand I. His early and unexpected death of smallpox at the age of 19 in Rome during a pilgrimage and Grand Tour left a deep mark in history. His death left his younger brother John William as heir apparent of the United Duchies. However, John William had a weak health and mental problems and would die without an heir. This led to the War of the Jülich succession, which led to Prussia acquiring its Rhine Province. If Charles Frederick had not died young, then perhaps none of this would have happened and the map of Europe might have looked very different today.

Charles Frederick's tutor Stephanus Winandus Pighius created a literary monument for his pupil with his Hercules Prodicius, which became the first tourist guide to Italy. Charles Frederick was described as a firm, fun-loving and highly intelligent young man. He was among the guests of honor at the ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica to open the Holy Year of 1575. Pope Gregory XIII was very attached to his guest, as he hoped that the young Prince would later have a favourable effect on the neighbouring Protestant countries. A week later, the Pope honoured his guest by giving him a consecrated sword and hat, an honor that was otherwise reserved for Kings. When Charles Frederick died five weeks later, Gregory XIII personally paid the cost of a royal funeral and an enormous funeral procession. Charles Frederick was buried across from Pope Adrian VI, in the Santa Maria dell’Anima, the church in Rome of the Holy Roman Empire of the German nation. His magnificent grave monument was designed by his tutor Pighius, and executed by the sculptors Nicolas Mostaert and Gillis van den Vliete. It shows, among other things, a resurrection scene that alludes to the statue of Laocoön and His Sons found in 1506. A second part of the monument, with the presentation of the consecrated sword and hat, now hangs in the vestibule of the church. The inscription there states that Charles Frederick had a precocious sense of piety and was brilliant despite his youth and knew many things and many languages.


  • Wilhelm Diedenhofen: Das Grab des klevischen Prinzen in Rom, in: Kalender für das Klever Land auf das Jahr 1967
  • Wilhelm Diedenhofen: Der Tod in Rom, in: Land im Mittelpunkt der Mächte. Die Herzogtümer Jülich, Kleve, Berg, Boss Verlag, Cleves, 1985, ISBN 3-922384-46-3
  • Wilhelm Diedenhofen: Die Italienreise des Prinzen Karl Friedrich von Jülich-Kleve-Berg 1574/75, Cleves, 2008, ISBN 978-3-935861-22-9