Wilhelm Friedrich von Ludwig
Biography of Wilhelm Friedrich von Ludwig
Wilhelm Friedrich von Ludwig was born near Stuttgart in the Duchy of Wirtemberg (electorate from 1803, kingdom of Württemberg from 1806). He began his medical career as an apprentice to a surgeon in Neuenburg and later studied medicine at the University of Tübingen where he graduated M.D. in 1811. Württemberg was an ally of France from 1802 to 1813 and was rewarded by Napoleon I with large grants of territory, including many Habsburg lands in Swabia and numerous free imperial cities and ecclesiastical territories.
King Frederick I of Württemberg (1754-1816 – Duke Friedrich II of Wirtemberg until 1803, Elector 1803-1806, king from 1806) joined Napoleon against Prussia, Austria, and Russia, and during the 1812 campaign in Russia Ludwig was Feldspital-Oberarzt with a regiment in Smolensk. After the battle of Vilna he was ill and was imprisoned by the Russians for two years. He was not released until 1814, after having made himself useful as a physician in Russia.
Following his release Ludwig worked at a Lazaretto in Hohenheim, and in 1815 was appointed professor of surgery and midwifery at Tübingen. Before entering the chair he undertook a scientific journey to Vienna and various German Universities. He assumed the chair in 1816, and half a year later was appointed Hofmedicus to King Friedrich II, and from 1817 was 1. Leibmedicus to King Wilhelm I (1781-1864, king from 1816); from 1827 1. Leibmedicus and member of the oberste Medicinalbehörde. In these positions he achieved recognition as the ultimate authority on surgery and obstetrics with the royal family and among his colleagues.
In 1836 Ludwig became deputy director, 1844 director of the Medicinal-Collegium, after having received the title of state counselor in 1842. In 1855 he retired with the title of Excellenz. From 1835 to 1846 he was chairman of the Württemberg Medical Society, and in 1835 was made an honorary citizen of Württemberg.
The description of "his" angina was his only notable clinical observation. He suffered with cataracts and renal stones, and when he died left the majority of his fortune to found a hospital for the poor in Württemberg which was opened in 1874. Originally built for 50 patients, this hospital was later greatly expanded.