The educational establishments of Baden are numerous and flourishing, and public education is entirely in the hands of the government. There are two universities, the Protestant at Heidelberg and the Roman Catholic at Freiburg-im-Breisgau, and a celebrated technical college at Karlsruhe. The grand-duke is a Protestant; under him the Evangelical Church is governed by a nominated council and a synod consisting of the "prelate," 48 elected, and 7 nominated lay and clerical members. The Roman Catholic archbishop of Freiburg is metropolitan of the Upper Rhine.
The government of Baden is an hereditary monarchy, with the executive power vested in the grand-duke, while the legislative authority is shared by him with a representative assembly (Landtag) consisting of two chambers. The upper chamber is composed of all the princes of the reigning family who are of full age; the chiefs of the mediatized families; the archbishop of Freiburg; the president of the Protestant Evangelical church; a deputy from each of the universities and from the technical high school, eight members elected by the territorial nobility for four years, three representatives of the chamber of commerce, two of that of agriculture, one of that of trades, two mayors of municipalities, one burgomaster of lesser towns, one member of a district council, and eight members (two of them legal functionaries) nominated by the grand-duke. The lower chamber consists of 73 popular representatives, of whom 24 are elected by the burgesses of certain towns and 49 by the rural communities. Every citizen of 25 years of age, who has not been convicted and is not a pauper, has a vote. The elections are, however, indirect; the citizens nominating the Wahlmänner (deputy electors) and the latter electing the representatives. The chambers meet at least every two years.
The members of the lower chamber are elected for four years, half the number retiring at the expiration of every two years. The executive consists of four departments of state - those of the interior, of foreign affairs and of the grand-ducal house, of finance, and of justice, ecclesiastical affairs and education. The chief sources of revenue are direct and indirect taxes, domains and railways. The last are worked by the state, and the sole public debt, amounting to about 22 millions sterling, is attributable to this head. The supreme courts of justice of the duchy are in Karlsruhe, Freiburg, Offenburg, Heidelberg, Mosbach, Waldshut, Constance and Mannheim, whence appeals lie to the Reichsgericht (supreme tribunal of the empire) in Leipzig. By virtue of a convention with Prussia, of 1871, the Baden army forms a portion of the Prussian army.
During the middle ages the district which now forms the grand-duchy of Baden was ruled by various counts, prominent among whom were the counts and dukes of Zähringen. In 1112 Hermann, a son of Hermann, margrave of Verona (d. 1074), and grandson of Bertold, duke of Carinthia and count of Zähringen, having inherited some of the German estates of his family, called himself margrave of Baden, and from this date the separate history of Baden may be said to begin. Hermann appears to have called himself by the title of margrave, and not the more usual title of count, owing to the connexion of his family with the margraviate of Verona. His son and grandson, both named Hermann, added to their territories, which about 1200 were divided, and the lines of Baden-Baden and Baden-Hochberg were founded, the latter of which was divided about a century later into the branches of Baden-Hochberg and Baden-Sausenberg. The family of Baden-Baden was very successful in increasing the area of its possessions, which after several divisions were united by the margrave Bernard I. in 1391. Bernard, a soldier of some renown, continued the work of his predecessors, and obtained other districts, including Baden-Hochberg, the ruling family of which died out in 1418.
During the 15th century a war with the count palatine of the Rhine deprived Margrave Charles I. (d. 1475) of a part of his territories, but these losses were more than repaired by his son and successor, Christopher I. In 1503 the family of Baden-Sausenberg became extinct, and the whole of Baden was united by Christopher, who divided it, however, before his death in 1527 among his three sons. One of these died childless in 1533, and in 1535 his remaining sons, Bernard and Ernest, having shared their brother's territories, made a fresh division and founded the lines of Baden-Baden and Baden-Pforzheim, called after 1565 Baden-Durlach. Further divisions followed, and the weakness caused by these partitions was accentuated by a rivalry between the two main branches of the family. This culminated in open warfare, and from 1584 to 1622 Baden-Baden was in the possession of one of the princes of Baden-Durlach. Religious differences added to this rivalry. During the period of the Reformation some of the rulers of Baden adhered to the older and some adopted the newer faith, and the house was similarly divided during the Thirty Years' War. Baden suffered severely during this struggle, and both branches of the family were exiled in turn.
The treaty of Westphalia in 1648 restored the status quo, and the family rivalry gradually died out. During the wars of the reign of Louis XIV. the margraviate was ravaged by the French troops, and the margrave of Baden-Baden, Louis William (d. 1707), was prominent among the soldiers who resisted the aggressions of France. In 1771 Augustus George of Baden-Baden died without sons, and his territories passed to Charles Frederick of Baden-Durlach, who thus became ruler of the whole of Baden.
Although in 1771 Baden was united under a single ruler it did not form a compact territory, and its total area was only about 1350 sq. m. Consisting of a number of isolated districts lying on either bank of the upper Rhine, it was the work of Charles Frederick to acquire the intervening stretches of land, and so to give territorial unity to his country. Beginning to reign in 1738 and coming of age in 1746, this prince is the most notable of the rulers of Baden. He was interested in the development of agriculture and commerce; sought to improve education and the administration of justice, and was in general a wise and liberal ruler. His opportunity for territorial aggrandizement came during the Napoleonic wars. When war broke out between France and Austria in 1792 the Badenese fought for Austria; consequently their country was devastated and in 1796 the margrave was compelled to pay an indemnity, and to cede his territories, on the left bank of the Rhine to France. Fortune, however, soon returned to his side. In 1803, largely owing to the good offices of Alexander I., emperor of Russia, he received the bishopric of Constance, part of the Rhenish Palatinate, and other smaller districts, together with the dignity of a prince elector.