Rudolf was born in 1291, a member of the Swabian House of Zahringen. He was the ruler of the Margraviate of Baden on the border with France for many years, and he was an elector of the Holy Roman Empire. On 13 November 1315, Emperor Friedrich the Usurper created the Duchy of Baden and made Rudolf its first duke, ensuring that one of his lieutenants held power in the region. However, Rudolf was incapable at the time, and his realm was being managed by a regent. He died in a comatose in bed on 3 February 1316 at the age of 25, and his son Duke Hesso of Baden succeeded him while he was still a young child.