EBERHARD, surnamed Im Bart (Barbatus), count and afterwards duke of Württemberg (1445-1496), was the second son of Louis I., count of Württemberg-Urach (d. 1450), and succeeded his elder brother Louis II. in 1457. His uncle Ulrich V., count of Württemberg-Stuttgart (d. 1480), acted as his guardian, but in 1459, assisted by Frederick I., elector palatine, he threw off this restraint, and undertook the government of the district of Urach as Count Eberhard V. He neglected his duties as a ruler and lived a reckless life until 1468, when he made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. He visited Italy, became acquainted with some famous scholars, and in 1474 married Barbara di Gonzaga, daughter of Lodovico III., marquis of Mantua, a lady distinguished for her intellectual qualities. In 1482 he brought about the treaty of Münsingen with his cousin Eberhard VI., count of Württemberg-Stuttgart. By this treaty the districts of Urach and Stuttgart into which Württemberg had been divided in 1437 were again united, and for the future the county was declared indivisible, and the right of primogeniture established. The treaty led to some disturbances, but in 1492 the sanction of the nobles was secured for its provisions. In return for this Eberhard agreed to some limitations on the power of the count, and so in a sense founded the constitution of Württemberg. At the diet of Worms in 1495 the emperor Maximilian I. guaranteed the treaty, confirmed the possessions and prerogatives of the house of Württemberg, and raised Eberhard to the rank of duke. Eberhard, although a lover of peace, was one of the founders of the Swabian League in 1488, and assisted to release Maximilian, then king of the Romans, from his imprisonment at Bruges in the same year. He gave charters to the towns of Stuttgart and Tübingen, and introduced order into the convents of his land, some of which he secularized. He took a keen interest in the new learning, founded the university of Tübingen in 1476, befriended John Reuchlin, whom he made his private secretary, welcomed scholars to his court, and is said to have learned Latin in later life. In 1482 he again visited Italy and received the Golden Rose from Pope Sixtus IV. He won the esteem of the emperors Frederick III. and Maximilian I. on account of his wisdom and fidelity, and his people held him in high regard. His later years were mainly spent at Stuttgart, but he died at Tübingen on the 25th of February 1496, and in 1537 his ashes were placed in the choir of the Stiftskirche there. Eberhard left no children, and the succession passed to his cousin Eberhard, who became Duke Eberhard II.
See Rösslin, Leben Eberhards im Barte (Tübingen, 1793); Bossert, Eberhard im Bart (Stuttgart, 1884).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)