Charles was the son of Margrave Ernest of Baden-Durlach and his second wife Ursula of Rosenfeld. Since the marriage between Ernest and Ursula was morganatic, Charles's ability to succeed was disputed. Nevertheless, he started ruling Upper Baden in his father's name in September 1552. His 12 years older half brotherBernard IV died on 20 January 1553 and his father died two weeks later, on 6 February. Charles then inherited the entire country, which was called Baden-Pforzheim at the time. He moved the capital to Durlach, thereby changing the name of his country to Baden-Durlach.
After the Peace of Passau a number of secular rulers in the south west of Germany introduced the Reformation. Margrave Ernest of Baden-Durlach had plans to have had follow suit, but still faced a potential conflict with Archduke Ferdinand, the ruler of the Roman CatholicFurther Austria, the who still claimed parts of Upper Baden. Margrave Charles II – like his cousin, Margrave Philibert of Baden-Baden – supported the Peace of Augsburg of 1555 in the Reichstag, which gave secular imperial princes freedom to introduce Lutheranism in their territories. With this protection and at the urging of Duke Christopher of Württemberg, Charles II introduced the Reformation into the margraviate of Baden-Durlach with the adoption of a new Church Order on 1 June 1556. The preparation of the Reformation and the drafting of church order was entrusted to a Commission chaired by Martin Achtsynit, the Chancellor of the Margraviate of Baden. Members of the Commission were the theologianJacob Andreae from Tübingen, the court preacher Michael Diller from Heidelberg and the Saxon theologians Max Morlin and John Stossel. In addition to the theologians, the Councillors Johann Georg and Renz Sechele also belonged to the Commission. Achtsynit was also the first director of the Council of Churches; Charles himself was bishop of the Evangelical Church and so became successor to the bishops of Strasbourg, Speyer and Constance, who had been competent for different parts of his territory. The "inner conflict within the Protestant confession" also affected the work of the Commission. In the end, the commission chose, for political reasons, to largely copy the church order of Württemberg, which had been drafted by Johannes Brenz in 1553, with final editing by Jacob Heerbrand. Württemberg also allowed Jacob Heerbrand to participate in the first church visitation in Baden-Durlach, which was conducted in the autumn of 1556. Charles appointed the theologians Simon Sulzer from Basel as General Superintendent for Upper Baden. Frequent visitations should ensure that only Lutheran pastors were active and the church order was complied with. Many Catholic priests were expelled. Ferdinand of Austria formally denied Charles the right to introduce the Reformation in his possessions in Breisgau. The people gave Charles the nickname the Pious, referring to the zeal he developed while introducing the Reformation. As a result, the Ernestine part of Baden turned Protestant shortly after Baden was split. When the two parts of the Margraviate were reunited in 1771 under Margrave Charles Frederick, he had the foresight and sovereignty to allow multiple faiths and to call for tolerance and acceptance. In 1561, the Margrave avowed to the unchanged Augsburg Confession at a convention of Protestants in Naumburg, convened by ElectorAugustus of Saxony. Like his cousin Philibert of Baden-Baden, Charles supported King Charles IX of France by sending auxiliary troops into the war against the CalvinistHuguenots.
The prelate controversy
The Reformation had the effect that the territory of the Margrave of Baden-Durlach only Lutheran pastors were permitted. The Jus patronatus was, however, in many case owned by Catholic monasteries or religious orders, which would now have to pay for a Lutheran pastor. This, of course, caused resistance. The Peace of Augsburg had clear rules for this kind of situation. Religious institutions were allowed to keep their possessions in Protestant areas, but they indeed had to for the evangelical pastor. Based on the territorial claims of the House of Habsburg on the Upper Baden lordships mentioned above, the prelates held that the maintenance obligation did not apply to them, and the intended to keep the tithes. Charles then seized their estates and used them to fund the maintenance of churches and pastors. Johann Ulrich Zasius mediated and reached a compromise: the confiscated estates were returned to their owners, but Baden-Durlach was allowed to retain the funds necessary to pay the pastors. However, the Austrian authorities in Innsbruck did not accept this compromise and the confrontation escalated. After some prelates made separate agreements with Baden-Durlach, the negotiations were resumed and led to the treaty of Neuenburg am Rhein of 24 April 1561, with essentially the same result as the earlier agreement.
The relocation of the residence to Durlach in 1565
The Margrave moved the residence from Liebeneck Castle in Pforzheim to Durlach in 1565. This was allegedly triggered by a dispute with the citizens of Pforzheim, who refused to act as drivers in a drive hunt organized by the Margrave. The literature points out that other, more rational, reasons may have existed; in particular, Durlach was more centrally located within Lower Baden. For this move, the Karlsburg, an existing hunting lodge in Durlach, was expanded into a castle. Charles oversaw the expansion himself and paid the workers personally, using a shoulder bag full of money he brought with him. The affectionate nickname Charles with the Bag refers to this practice. The city of Durlach was also renovated. A garden was added to the castle and several gates were added to the city wall. In 1571, a mint was built, as was usual in princely residences at the time.
George Frederick born: 30 January 1573; died: 24 September 1638); reigning Margrave
After Charles II's death, Baden-Durlach was split-up between his three sons: Baden-Durlach-Hachberg went to James III; Baden-Durlach-Sausenberg went to George Frederick; the remaining Baden-Durlach went to Ernst Frederick who became Margrave of Baden-Durlach and was eventually succeeded by his brother George Frederick, who lived the longest of his sons. Only George Frederick remained a Lutheran. Whereas, Ernest Frederick converted to Calvinism and James III became a Catholic. Since George Frederick lived the longest, the margraviate remained Lutheran. Charles II's widow, Anna of Veldenz, led the government business for 7 years as regent after his death, until her sons came of age.