Custody of Karl


With the 14th article of the will dated 1815 November 5, Carl van Beethoven left the custody of his son Karl to his composer brother Ludwig van Beethoven. 

His brother's animosity with his wife, Johanna, and the impression that he would completely isolate the child, compelled Carl to amend his will. With the annex of the will of the same date, he did not consent to the separation of his child from his mother, and he wanted his brother Ludwig and his wife Johanna to take care of Karl together.

A note found in the Beethoven-Haus (Bonn, Germany) states that the famous composer was unaware of this will and came across it by chance, that there are many items that he would have crossed out had he known, that he would not want to be dependent on a 'bad' woman on important issues such as a child's future and education. .

Beethoven has his nephew, who escaped from him, captured by the police. You will read the minutes of the hearing regarding this incident below.
When Karl was found, his hands and feet were nearly frozen, dressed in seasonal thin clothes and filth.

Hearing Minutes
Date: 11 December 1818
Time: 16: 00

3-year-old Karl van Beethoven, a third-year student under guardianship, was heard before the court.

Q: Does he receive a good education?
A: Very good in Latin, top in other subjects.
Q: Why did he run away from his uncle?
A: His mother said he will enroll him in public school. He also thought that he would not be successful with private lessons.
Q: How was his uncle behaving?
A: Good.
Q: Where was he staying last?
A: She was hiding next to her mother.
Q: Who does he want to stay with, uncle or mother?
A: She only wants a babysitter to be hired with her uncle. As you know, his uncle has a hearing problem, they cannot communicate.
Q: Did his mother suggest that he leave his uncle's side?
A: No.
Q: When did he run away?
A: 8 days ago.
Q: He thought he wouldn't be successful with private lessons, but his grades are very good?
A: This has been the case since he started studying in public schools. He had previously taken second-year courses in mathematics and was unsuccessful.
Q: Did his mother tell him that he should go back to his uncle?
A: He wanted to take it himself, but the boy was afraid that his uncle would beat him.
Q: Does his uncle beat him?
A: He only punished him when he misbehaved. When she returned home after her last escape, he threatened to strangle her and beat her once.
Q: Has he made derogatory remarks about his mother?
A: Yes. When he did it, he had his uncle with him, and he supported his words.
Q: Is it left alone?
A: Yes, when his uncle is not at home.

Beethoven attends the hearing with his friend Joseph Karl Bernard because of a hearing problem.

Bernard is a young writer and poet.

In addition, the young writer, who has great admiration for Beethoven's music, will be appointed as editor of the Wiener Zeitung at a later date.


lv. Beethoven and JK Bernhard appear in court. Lv Beethoven is questioned:

Q: How did his nephew Carl escape?
A: He doesn't know exactly. His nephew committed a misdemeanor, and he blamed his nephew for it. In the evening of the same day, he wrote a farewell letter and disappeared. He doesn't know why. His mother may have suggested to him the day before, or the fear of punishment.
Q: And what wrong did his nephew commit?
A: He has two servants. His nephew was calling the housekeepers by abusive names. He also stole money from his payments and bought candy.
Q: Who takes care of his nephew?
A: He hired private tutors for piano, French and painting lessons. Since the lessons lasted all day, he did not have free time, so he did not need supervision. He could not trust the servants in the house; The boy's mother bribed them. He entrusted him to a priest to further his musical education, and his mother managed to make a deal with him.
Q: Does his niece use mean expressions about her mother?
A: No, he scolded his nephew for only telling the truth. He also asked her if she was on good terms with her mother, and she got a negative answer.
Q: How did he get his niece back?
A: With police assistance. He went to his mother in the middle of the night and asked for the child, and his mother promised to bring him back. Later, she thought that her mother might abduct the child to her brother, who lives in Hungary, and reported the situation to the police.
Q: What conditions is he willing to offer for the education of his nephew under his tutelage?
A: The child's financial means, half of his mother's pension, and interest in cash of 2000 florins. The difference between this income and the costs required is covered by him and will continue to be covered in the future.
Q: Does he or his brother come from a noble family? If so, do you have the documents to prove it?
A: The middle name 'Van' does not simply denote nobility in Dutch. He does not have any diplomas or documents subject to proof.

John v. Beethoven was asked:

Q: How did his son come to him from his uncle?
A: He came because he feared that he would be punished and did not want to live with his uncle.
Q: Did she want her uncle to come back to her?
A: Yes, but did not want to return for fear of being beaten.
Q: Looks like he hid his son?
A: He told his uncle that he would bring him back but wanted to spend some time as they had been apart for a long time and missed his son.
Q: Was he prevented from seeing his son?
A: He was told where and when he could see his son, but he was not there every time he went.
Q: Was his son taken by the police?
A: No. At around 4 am, he took his son to the police.
Q: Does he think his son will be treated well in the presence of his uncle?
A: It does not see fit. Because his uncle is deaf, he cannot communicate, and he does not want to entrust his son to servants. Their clothes are dirty, they are not allowed to take a bath. He sends clean laundry to his son, but his uncle does not take them home.
Q: In whose presence did his son speak disrespectfully about himself?
A: Never witnessed such a conversation
Q: From which sources does he plan to provide the missing financial burden to take care of his child?
A: He has no fortune but his public official and attorney Hotschevar agrees to cover the costs.

(The Court decided to examine the file by the Vienna Courts with the decision of 18 December and sent the file to the higher court.)


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