Category Archives: Bavarian Royals

King Ludwig III of Bavaria

source: Wikipedia

King Ludwig III of Bavaria

King Ludwig III was the last King of Bavaria, reigning from November 1913 until November 1918. He was born Prince Ludwig Luitpold Josef Maria Aloys Alfried on January 7, 1845 in Munich, the eldest son of Prince Luitpold of Bavaria and Archduchess Augusta of Austria. He had three younger siblings:

Just hours after birth, he was baptised in the throne room of the Munich Residenz, where he was named for his grandfather, the reigning King Ludwig I. At the time, he was 5th in the line of succession, with little expectation of him ever taking the throne. Three years later, his grandfather abdicated, and his uncle took the throne as King Maximilian II.

Ludwig, c1860. source: Wikipedia

Ludwig was raised at the Munich Residenz and the Wittelsbacher Palais, before moving to Palais Leuchtenberg in 1855. Palais Leuchtenberg was the former home of Eugène de Beauharnais, Duke of Leuchtenberg, and his wife (and Luitpold’s aunt), Princess Augusta of Bavaria. Luitpold purchased the palace in 1852, after Augusta’s death. He was educated privately at home by a series of tutors, before entering the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in 1864, studying law, economics, history and philosophy. He also began a military career in 1861, being commissioned as a Lieutenant in the infantry.

In 1866, Ludwig served as a military aide to his father during the war against Prussia, and was injured at the Battle of Helmstedt, sustaining a gunshot wound in his leg. The following year, while in Vienna for the funeral of his cousin, Archduchess Mathilda of Austria, Ludwig met his future wife, Archduchess Maria Theresia of Austria-Este. She was the daughter of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Este and Archduchess Elisabeth Franziska of Austria. After a brief courtship, Ludwig and Maria Theresia married on February 20, 1868 at St. Augustine’s Church in Vienna, adjacent to the Hofburg Palace.

Over the next 23 years, Ludwig and Maria Theresia had thirteen children:

some of Ludwig’s children, photographed c1909. source: Wikipedia

In 1886, his father became Prince Regent after King Ludwig II was declared mentally incompetent. Just days later, the King died mysteriously, and was succeeded by his brother, King Otto. However, Otto was also mentally ill, and the Regency continued. Upon his father’s death on December 12, 1912, Ludwig succeeded him as Prince Regent for his cousin, King Otto. Less than a year later, the Bavarian Parliament passed legislation allowing the Regent to assume the throne himself, provided that the regency was for reasons of incapacity, had lasted more than ten years, and there was no prospect of the Sovereign being able to reign. So on November 5, 1913, with overwhelming support from the parliament, Ludwig deposed his cousin and assumed the Bavarian throne as King Ludwig III.

Enthronement of King Ludwig III, 1913. source: Wikipedia

His reign would be brief, as World War I saw the end of the German Empire and numerous other monarchies in Europe. As the war was drawing to a close, the German Revolution broke out in Bavaria. Ludwig fled Munich with his family, taking up residence at Anif Palace near Salzburg, thinking it would just be a temporary move. A week later, on November 13, 1918, King Ludwig III would be the first monarch in the German Empire to be deposed, bringing an end to 738 years of rule by the Wittelsbach dynasty.

He returned to Bavaria, living at Wildenwart Castle, where his wife died three months later. Fearing that his life was in danger, he soon left the country, traveling to Hungary, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. He returned to Wildenwart Castle in April 1920 and remained until the following Fall, when he traveled to his castle Nádasdy in Sárvár, Hungary.

Tomb of King Ludwig III. photo © Susan Flantzer

Tomb of King Ludwig III. photo © Susan Flantzer

King Ludwig III died at Nádasdy on October 18, 1921. His body was brought to Wildenwart Castle where his wife was buried, and then both of their remains were brought to the Ludwigskirche in Munich where a State funeral was held. They were then buried in the crypt of the Munich Frauenkirche. In keeping with tradition, his heart was entombed separately, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Altötting.

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Auguste of Austria, wife of Luitpold, Prince Regent of Bavaria

source: Wikipedia

Archduchess Auguste Ferdinande of Austria, wife of Luitpold, Prince Regent of Bavaria

Archduchess Auguste Ferdinande of Austria, Princess of Tuscany, was born in Florence, Italy on April 1, 1825. She was the second of three daughters of Leopold II, Grand Duke of Tuscany and Princess Maria Anna of Saxony. Her sisters were Maria Caroline born in 1822, and Maria Maximiliana, born in 1827, both of whom died before the age of 20.

Auguste’s mother died in 1832, and the following year her father remarried to Princess Maria Antonietta of the Two Sicilies. Ten more children were born, including:

From all accounts, Auguste was a very intelligent child, interested in the arts and science from a young age. Raised with a strict Catholic background, it was expected that she would marry into one of Catholic ruling families in Europe. This came to be on April 15, 1844, in Florence, when she married Prince Luitpold of Bavaria, a younger son of King Ludwig I of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The King had initially opposed the marriage, as Auguste was already showing signs of the pulmonary tuberculosis which would later take her life. However, he soon relented and allowed the couple to marry. Over the next eight years, they had four children:

source: Wikipedia

Because of her health, Auguste found it difficult to adjust to the Bavarian climate. A few years after marrying, she and her husband built a home on Lake Constance, which they used as a summer residence. She was a devoted mother to her four children, speaking to them only in Italian, as well as a strong supporter of her husband and the Bavarian monarchy. In 1848, she publicly criticized her father-in-law, King Ludwig I, for his relationship with his mistress, Lola Montez, and the negative effects it was having on the monarchy. The King soon abdicated, and Auguste made many public appearances encouraging support for the new King Maximilian II (her brother-in-law).

Photo © Susan Flantzer

Photo © Susan Flantzer

Sadly, on April 26, 1864, Princess Auguste died from the effects of the tuberculosis she had suffered with for many years. She is buried in the crypt of the Theatinerkirche in Munich.

Years later, her husband would be named Prince Regent of Bavaria, due to the mental incapacity of his two nephews, King Ludwig II and King Otto. Following Luitpold’s death, the couple’s son, Ludwig, assumed the regency and went on to formally depose his cousin, King Otto, and take the throne himself as King Ludwig III.

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Luitpold, Prince Regent of Bavaria

source: Wikipedia

Luitpold, Prince Regent of Bavaria

Prince Luitpold of Bavaria served as Prince Regent from 1886 until his death in 1912. He was born Prince Luitpold Karl Joseph Wilhelm Ludwig on March 12, 1821 in Würzburg, Bavaria, the third son of King Ludwig I of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. He had eight siblings:

At 14 years old, Luitpold joined the Bavarian Army, and was soon promoted to Captain of the Artillery. He would later attain the ranks of Major General and Field Marshal. He travelled extensively abroad, and it was on one of these trips that he met his future wife, Archduchess Auguste Ferdinande of Austria. She was the daughter of Leopold II, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and Princess Maria Anna of Savoy. Luitpold and Auguste married on April 1, 1844 in Florence, and went on to have four children:

Archduchess Auguste of Austria, c1850. source: Wikipedia

In 1848, his father abdicated and his eldest brother took the throne as Maximilian II. During his brother’s reign, Luitpold didn’t play any significant role, focusing more on his military career. By this time, his second brother, Otto, had been serving as King of Greece since 1832, and as Otto had no children, Luitpold was considered to be his heir-presumptive. The Greek Constitution required that the heir be a member of the Orthodox church, and for some time, Luitpold considered converting from Catholicism.

In 1864, Maximilian II died and was succeeded by his elder son, King Ludwig II. During the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, Luitpold commanded the 3rd Royal Bavarian Division, and later became Inspector General of the Bavarian Army. He represented Bavaria in the German General Staff during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871.

During Ludwig’s reign, and particularly after the Franco-Prussian War, Luitpold began to take a more prominent role in the monarchy. King Ludwig II was often out of the capital for long periods of time, and became increasingly averse to formal ceremonies and events. The King’s younger brother, the future King Otto, who had served during the war, began to show signs of mental illness and became increasingly unwell. And by the mid 1880s, there were many questions about the mental health of King Ludwig II himself. A group of ministers began working to depose Ludwig, and asked Luitpold to assume a Regency. Luitpold agreed, on the condition that there was irrefutable proof of his nephew’s incapacity.

On June 10, 1886, Luitpold became Prince Regent after King Ludwig II was declared mentally incompetent. Ludwig II died three days later under mysterious circumstances, and the throne passed to Ludwig’s brother, Otto. However, by this time, Otto had also been declared mentally ill, and Luitpold continued as Prince Regent.

Like many others in his family, Luitpold was a great supporter of the arts and culture in Bavaria. During his tenure – and the liberal government – Munich continued to grow into one of the leading cultural cities in Europe. Shortly after assuming the Regency, he opened several of King Ludwig II’s palaces to the public, and in 1891, he established the Luitpold Gymnasium in Munich.

The Prince Regent, 1911. source: Wikipedia

At 91 years old, Luitpold died in Munich on December 12, 1912 after having developed bronchitis. He is buried in the crypt of the Theatinerkirche in Munich. He was succeeded as Regent by his eldest son, who became King Ludwig III the following year, after deposing King Otto.

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King Otto of Bavaria

source: Wikipedia

King Otto of Bavaria

King Otto of Bavaria (Otto Wilhelm Luitpold Adalbert Waldemar) was the younger son of King Maximilian II of Bavaria and Princess Marie of Prussia. He was born two months prematurely on April 27, 1848 at the Munich Residenz, and was named for his uncle, King Otto of Greece. Otto had one older siblings:

Otto (right) with his parents and brother. source: Wikipedia

Otto and his brother were raised primarily at Hohenschwangau Castle, brought up by nannies and servants, and had very minimal interaction with their parents, who they came to dislike. Despite this, their father was brutally strict, especially with Ludwig, as he was heir to the throne.

In 1863, Otto began serving with the Bavarian army, reaching the rank of Lieutenant the following year. By 1866, he had been promoted to Captain and entered active service with the Royal Bavarian Infantry Guards. He fought in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, and later served as Colonel in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871. By this time, he was also the heir-presumptive to the Bavarian throne, as his brother had become King following their father’s death in March 1864.

In 1871, Otto, along with his uncle Luitpold, represented his brother at the proclamation of the Prussian King Wilhelm I as the first Emperor of Germany at Versailles. Despite his attendance, he agreed with his brother in disagreement of the establishment of the German Empire and Prussia’s prominence. These views, often publicly expressed, were well known to the Prussians and the newly established German court.

Otto, c1875. source: Wikipedia

In this same period of time, Otto first began showing signs of mental illness, suffering from anxiety and depression after serving in the Franco-Prussian War. His illness quickly became worse, worrying the court as well as the King, who was expecting Otto to marry and provide an heir to the Bavarian throne. He was placed under medical supervision and reports of his condition were being passed to the German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck by spies within the Bavarian court. By 1872, his doctors were reporting that he was mentally ill, and the following year he was moved to isolation in the southern pavilion of Nymphenburg Palace.

Dr. Bernhard von Gudden. source: Wikipedia

His physician was Dr. Bernhard von Gudden. There is much debate about von Gudden’s actions in treating Otto, as well as his brother, King Ludwig II. (Dr. von Gudden would later diagnose Ludwig as mentally ill as well, despite never examining him or treating him. This led to Ludwig being deposed in 1913, and dying mysteriously just days later.) Many speculate that the doctor’s actions were politically motivated. Unlike Otto and Ludwig, von Gudden – along with their uncle Luitpold – supported the establishment of the German Empire and Prussia’s dominance. Some historians suggest that it was Bismark pulling the strings, wanting to removed Ludwig and Otto from power and replacing him with Luitpold who was more easily controlled.

Whatever the reasons, Otto was more or less removed from the public eye. In 1875, he made a very public appearance at a mass in the Frauenkirche in Munich – causing a scene before being removed – and was moved to Schleissheim Palace against his will. He made his last public appearance later that year, in August 1875 at the King’s Parade. His condition continued to deteriorate and in 1883 he was moved for the last time, taking up residence at Fürstenried Palace which had been specially converted to provide for his confinement. Here, he was often visited by his brother, King Ludwig II, who insisted that Otto be treated well and that no harm should come to him.

Within a few years, King Ludwig II was also declared mentally ill by Dr. von Gudden, and their uncle Luitpold was appointed Prince Regent. Just days later, on June 13, 1886, Ludwig and von Gudden both died under mysterious circumstances, and Otto formally became King. However, because of his incapacity, Otto probably never understood that he had become king, and the regency remained in place under Prince Luitpold.

Fürstenried Palace, By Rufus46 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Otto remained in isolation at Fürstenried Palace for the rest of his life. When Prince Luitpold died in 1912, he was succeeded by his own son, Ludwig. The following year, Ludwig had the Bavarian constitution amended to allow for the King to be formally deposed. Thus, on November 5, 1913, Otto was formally deposed and replaced by his cousin who took the throne as King Ludwig III.

King Otto died unexpectedly three years later, on October 11, 1916 at Fürstenried Palace, as the result of a bowel obstruction. He was 68 years old. He was buried in the crypt at the Michaelskirche in Munich, and his heart entombed at the Shrine of Our Lady of Altötting.

Coffin of King Otto of Bavaria. photo © Susan Flantzer

Coffin of King Otto of Bavaria. photo © Susan Flantzer

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King Ludwig II of Bavaria

source: Wikipedia

King Ludwig II of Bavaria

King Ludwig II of Bavaria (Ludwig Otto Friedrich Wilhelm) was born on August 15, 1845 at Nymphenburg Palace in Munich. He was the eldest of two sons of King Maximilian II of Bavaria and Princess Marie of Prussia. He was named for his grandfather, the reigning King Ludwig I of Bavaria as the two shared a birthday, which was also the feast day of Saint Louis IX of France, the patron saint of Bavaria. Ludwig’s younger brother, Otto (born in 1848) eventually succeeded him on the Bavarian throne.

Ludwig was raised primarily at Hohenschwangau Castle by servants and tutors. His education was very strict, and he showed a very early interest in art and literature. Neither Ludwig nor his brother were very close with their parents, and were much closer to their grandfather, King Ludwig I. At an early age, Ludwig developed a close friendship with Prince Paul of Thurn und Taxis who served as his aide de camp, as well as with his first cousin once removed, Duchess Elisabeth in Bavaria (the future Empress Sisi of Austria), with whom he would remain very close for his entire life.

Ludwig and his fiancée, 1867. source: Wikipedia

King Ludwig never married, but in January 1867, he became engaged to his first cousin once removed, Duchess Sophie Charlotte in Bavaria. Sophie was the younger sister of Ludwig’s close friend, Duchess Elisabeth. After postponing the marriage several times, Ludwig eventually broke off the engagement in October of the same year. Most historians believe that Ludwig was actually gay, although he struggled to suppress his desires due to his strong Catholic faith.

Ludwig was just 18 years old when he became king upon his father’s death on March 10, 1864. He continued with his father’s policies and retained his ministers, but his interests were not in ruling the country. His interests lay almost solely in the arts. Soon after becoming King, he established a new Court Theater (now the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz) and began what would become a lifelong project of constructing numerous palaces and castles. He strongly disliked public functions and formal social events, and by 1876 had largely withdrawn from public life. Despite this, and the tension it caused with his ministers, Ludwig remained very popular with the Bavarian people.

His reign saw Bavaria’s defeat in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, having sided with Austria. After the war, Bavaria was forced to enter into a mutual defense treaty with Prussia. Four years later, the country was forced to side with Prussia in the Franco-Prussian War. In late 1870, Bavaria joined the North German Confederation, losing its status as an independent Kingdom, but retaining a much more privileged status than many of the other constituent states.

In December 1870, King Ludwig was coerced into endorsing the creation of the new German Empire. Despite his endorsement, the King was strongly opposed to it, and refused to attend the proclamation ceremony held at the Palace of Versailles. In his place, he sent his brother Otto and his uncle Luitpold.

Richard Wagner, 1871. source: Wikipedia

By 1871, Ludwig was spending most of his time pursuing his interests in the arts, music and architecture. At a very young age, he first saw an opera by famed composer Richard Wagner, and became enthralled with his work. Shortly after becoming King, he summed Wagner to court, and soon became his primary patron. Many credit King Ludwig, and his support, with establishing Wagner’s career and legacy. When Wagner was forced to leave Munich in 1865, the King considered abdicating in order to follow him into exile, but Wagner insisted that he remain. Ludwig provided Wagner with a home in Switzerland, and continued to support him from afar. Eventually, Wagner returned and the relationship between the two continued. Along with Wagner, King Ludwig supported many other artists, and saw over 200 private performances of plays ballets, and operas in the court theaters.

Along with his interest in the arts, King Ludwig is probably best known for his love of architecture. Using his personal funds, he built several magnificent palaces and castles, the most famous being Neuschwanstein Castle.

Neuschwanstein Castle, c1900. source: Wikipedia

Neuschwanstein Castle was built near Hohenschwangau Castle where Ludwig spent much of his youth, and was dedicated as a tribute to Richard Wagner. The cornerstone was laid in 1869 and construction went on for man years. It wasn’t until 1884 that King Ludwig was able to take up residence.  Others projects included Linderhof Palace, Herrenchiemsee, and the royal apartment at the Munich Residenz.

By 1885, the king was millions of marks in debt due to his spending on his castles and palaces, and had all but withdrawn from his duties as King. Several of his ministers began trying to find grounds to depose him, believing him to be mentally ill. The King’s uncle, Luitpold, agreed to become Regent, provided that the ministers could reliably prove that the King was unfit to rule. In early 1886, a medical report was drawn up, listing a string of bizarre behavior, the King’s unwillingness to deal with state business, and many other supposed examples of his mental instability. In June of 1886, the report was completed, and signed by a number of psychiatrists, including Dr. Bernhard von Gudden, the chief of the Munich Asylum. None had met the king other than von Gudden who met him one time nearly 12 years earlier.

King Ludwig, c1882. source: Wikipedia

On the morning of June 10, 1886, von Gudden and several others arrived at Neuschwanstein to present the King with a document of deposition. However, the king had been made aware of the situation by a servant, and had ordered the castle to be surrounded by the local police. That same day, Ludwig’s uncle Luitpold was proclaimed Prince Regent. The commission returned again on the morning of June 12, and King Ludwig was taken to Berg Castle on Lake Starnberg.

The following day, June 13, 1886, Ludwig went for a walk in the grounds of the castle, accompanied by Dr. von Gudden and several attendants. They went out again that evening, this time unaccompanied, but never returned. Several hours later, King Ludwig II’s body was found in the water of Lake Starnberg, along with that of Dr. von Gudden.

His death remains a mystery. It was ruled a suicide by drowning, but no water was found in his lungs during an autopsy. One belief is that the King was murdered while trying to escape; another is that he died of natural causes, possibly due to the extreme cold temperature of the water.

King Ludwig II lying in state, June 1886. Source: Wikipedia

After laying in State in the royal chapel at the Munich Residenz, a grand funeral was held, and his remains were interred in the crypt of the Michaelskirche in Munich. In keeping with tradition, his heart was entombed at the Shrine of Our Lady of Altötting. He was succeeded as King by his brother, Otto. However, Otto had also been declared mentally ill – also by Dr. von Gudden – and so their uncle Luitpold remained Prince Regent.

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King Maximilian II of Bavaria

source: Wikipedia

King Maximilian II of Bavaria

King Maximilian II of Bavaria was born November 28, 1811 in Munich, the eldest son of King Ludwig I of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. He had eight younger siblings:

Maximilian studied history and constitutional law at the University of Göttingen and the Friedrich Wilhelm University of Berlin (now Humboldt University) from 1829-1931, and reportedly said that had he not been born into his position, he would have liked to be a professor. In 1830, he was named a member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. He was also an avid hiker, and while on a hike in 1829, he came across the ruins of Hohenschwangau Castle. Three years later, he purchased the castle and had it rebuilt as a summer residence for his family.

On January 23, 1842, Maximilian became engaged to Princess Marie Friederike of Prussia, the daughter of Prince Wilhelm of Prussia and Marie Anne of Hesse-Homburg. The two married on October 12, 1842 in Munich, and had two sons:

King Maximilian II with his wife and sons, Ludwig (left) and Otto (right). source: Wikipedia

Maximilian came to the throne suddenly on March 20, 1848, when his father abdicated, and quickly introduced reforms to the constitution to establish a more constitutional monarchy. Unlike his father, who focused much on his personal interests and extravagance, Maximilian focused primarily on his duties. However, his tendency to rely heavily on advice of his ministers, along with his frequent travels, often led to long delays before any decisions were made.

The King found to preserve Bavaria’s independence in the German Confederation, and refused to accept the constitution put forth by the Frankfurt National Assembly in 1849. At home, he was a strong supporter of science and the arts. He worked to transform Munich into one of the most cultural and educational cities in Europe, and funded studies into the art, costumes and customs of the Bavarian people, promoting a sense of national identity in the face of growing Pan-Germanism. He also supported many writers, and developed a close friendship with the danish writer, Hans Christian Anderson.

Another of Maximilian’s passions was architecture and the building and restoring of several royal residences. In addition to rebuilding Hohenschwangau Castle, he oversaw the rebuilding of Hambach Castle, and the redesigning of Berg Castle. He also had several other residences built, including a villa on Rose Island which later became a favorite getaway of his son, King Ludwig II.

King Maximilian II, c1860. source: Wikipedia

King Maximilian II died suddenly on March 10, 1964, after a very brief illness. He is buried in a small chapel in the Theatinerkirche in Munich, while his heart is entombed at the Shrine of Our Lady of Altötting.

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Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, Queen of Bavaria

Queen Therese, painting by Joseph Stieler, 1825. source: Wikipedia

Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, Queen of Bavaria

Princess Therese Charlotte Luise Friederike Amalie of Saxe-Hildburghausen was the wife of King Ludwig I of Bavaria. She was born on July 8, 1792 at Jagdschloss Seidingstadt, the summer residence of the Dukes of Saxe-Hildburghausen, to Friedrich, Duke of Saxe-Hildburghausen (later Duke of Saxe-Altenburg) and Duchess Charlotte Georgine of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. She was the sixth of eleven children, and her siblings included:

Therese was raised primarily at Schloss Hildburghausen, where the family’s finances were often strained. Her mother, who was very intelligent and artistic, often brought musicians and artists to the court to teach the children, along with various prominent scholars. Therese proved to be a very good student, mastering several languages at a young age, and excelling in the arts.

source: Wikipedia

In 1809, Therese was included on a list of prospective brides for the French emperor Napoleon who was looking to marry into one of the old royal houses of Europe. However, it was the future King Ludwig I of Bavaria who would become her husband. Ludwig was the son of King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria and Princess Augusta Wilhelmine of Hesse-Darmstadt. The couple met in December 1809 when Ludwig visited Hildburghausen, and the couple became engaged on February 12, 1810. After prolonged negotiations, primarily due to Therese’s unwillingness to convert to Catholicism, she and her family traveled to Munich for the marriage.

Therese and Ludwig married on October 12, 1810, and celebrations were held for several days following at the Theresienwiese, a large outdoor space named in her honor. Theresienwiese is the site of Oktoberfest, held each year to commemorate the wedding. (You can read more about Oktoberfest and its royal connection HERE.) Ludwig and Therese had nine children:

Seemingly always pregnant, Therese still managed to participate in charitable events and organizations. While living in Salzburg, she organized meals for the poor and was patron of the Salzburg Women’s Association. In October 1825, Ludwig and Therese became King and Queen of Bavaria following the death of King Maximilian I Joseph. Therese soon began a more public role, devoting much of her time to providing assistance for the poor, widows, orphans and the sick. She became Patron of several organizations, including the Women’s Association for Infant Care Institutions. In 1827, she established The Order of Therese which still exists to this day.

Queen Therese with her family, c1830. source: Wikipedia

Queen Therese maintained a great interest in the affairs of state and was very aware of the politics of the day. She often deputized for the King while he was out of the country, and kept him fully informed of what was happening at home. Sadly, however, her marriage was not always a very happy one. King Ludwig had a constant stream of mistresses, few of which were kept very private. Therese often left the country in defiance of her husband’s actions, and maintained a massive amount of sympathy and support from the Bavarian people. When Ludwig’s relationship with Lola Montez began in 1846, however, Queen Therese refused to back down. She publicly chastised the King and refused his request to grant Montez the Order of Therese.

Queen Therese, painting by Julie von Egloffstein, c1836. source: Wikipedia

In March 1848, refusing to reign as a constitutional monarch, and having lost the support of his family and his ministers, King Ludwig I abdicated. Following the abdication, Queen Therese enjoyed a more private life with her growing family. She died on October 26, 1854 in Munich, and was initially buried in the royal crypt at the Theatinerkirche in Munich. Three years later, her husband had her remains moved to St. Boniface’s Abbey, where he was also buried after his death in 1868. As she was not Catholic, her heart was not interred at the Shrine of Our Lady of Altötting with the other Bavarian Kings and their consorts. Instead, it is interred at St. Boniface’s Abbey.

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King Ludwig I of Bavaria

source: Wikipedia

King Ludwig I of Bavaria

King Ludwig I of Bavaria (Ludwig Karl August) was born on August 25, 1786 at the Hôtel des Deux-Ponts in Strasbourg, France. He was the eldest son of the future King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria and his first wife, Princess Augusta Wilhelmine of Hesse-Darmstadt, and was named for his godfather, King Louis XVI of France. Ludwig had four full-siblings, and seven half-siblings from his father’s second marriage to Caroline of Baden:

When Ludwig was born, his father was serving with the French army stationed at Strasbourg. By the time he was 13, his father had become Duke of Zweibrücken, and then Elector of Bavaria and Count Palatine of the Rhine. On January 1, 1806, Ludwig became Crown Prince when his father became the first King of Bavaria.

Ludwig studied with Johann Michael Sailer at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Landshut (now in Munich), and then the University of Göttingen, and became proficient at several languages, including French, Italian, Spanish and Russian. He also received a strong religious education from the Catholic priest Joseph Anton Sambuga.

As was expected at the time, Ludwig also pursued a military career. Despite being against his father’s alliance with the French Emperor Napoleon I, he fought with the allied Bavarian troops in the French wars. He served as commander of the 1st Bavarian Division in VII Corps, and led his division into the Battle of Abensberg in 1809. At the Treaty of Ried in 1813, Bavaria left the Confederation of the Rhine and joined the Sixth Coalition against Napoleon. Just days later, Bavaria formally declared war against France – a move which Ludwig strongly supported.

He served briefly as governor-general of the Duchy of Salzburg, and spent much of the next 10 years in Würzburg, and at Villa Malta, his home in Rome. During this time, he was an ardent supporter of the Greek War of Independence, even providing a loan of 1.5 million florins from his personal funds for the effort. Some years later, his generosity would be rewarded when his second son, Otto, was named King of Greece.

source: Wikipedia

On October 12, 1810, Ludwig married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, the daughter of Friedrich, Duke of Saxe-Hildburghausen and Duchess Charlotte Georgine of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. The wedding took place in a large outdoor space called the Theresienwiese, in Munich. Named for his bride, Theresienwiese is the site of Oktoberfest, held every year to commemorate the wedding. (You can read more about Oktoberfest and its royal connection HERE.) Ludwig and Therese had nine children:

King Maximilian II (1811) – married Princess Marie of Prussia, had issue
Princess Mathilde Caroline (1813) – married Ludwig III, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine, no issue
Prince Otto, later King Otto I of Greece (1815) – married Duchess Amalie of Oldenburg, no issue
Princess Theodelinde (1816) – died in infancy
Luitpold, Prince Regent of Bavaria (1821) – married Archduchess Auguste of Austria, had issue
Princess Adelgunde (1823) – married Francis V, Duke of Modena, had issue
Princess Hildegard (1825) – married Archduke Albert of Austria, had issue
Princess Alexandra (1826) – unmarried
Prince Adalbert (1828) – married Infanta Amelia Philippina of Spain, had issue

Ludwig became King of Bavaria upon his father’s death on October 13, 1825. His reign saw the reorganization of the administrative regions of Bavaria, and the establishment of the city of Ludwigshafen. The King established the Ludwig Canal between the Main and Danube rivers, and in 1835, the first German railway was constructed between the cities of Fürth and Nuremberg.

However, his previous liberal policies became more repressive after the July Revolution of 1830. Several years earlier, he had reinstated policies of strict censorship which were greatly opposed by the population. In 1837, he saw the Ultramontanes, backed by the Roman Catholic Church, gain control of Parliament and begin making drastic changes to the constitution, including the removal of civil rights granted to Protestants. Ludwig himself was a strong opponent of Protestantism, but his views changed in 1841 following the funeral of his Protestant stepmother, Queen Caroline. Large demonstrations were held by Catholic factions, and the King, who had a very close relationship with Queen Caroline, was greatly disturbed by the disturbances, simply because of religion.

Lola Montez, photographed c1851. source: Wikipedia

In 1846, Ludwig met Lola Montez, an Irish dancer and actress who had come to Munich, and she quickly became his mistress. She was very unpopular with the Bavarian people, because of her influence over the King, and became even more so when they found out that she was trying to become a naturalized citizen. The Ultramontanes fought strongly against the naturalization, resulting in the King removing them from power. The following year, after become naturalized, the King granted her the title Countess of Landsfeld along with a large annuity.

By 1848, Ludwig’s reign was coming to an abrupt end. Facing protests and demonstrations by students and the middle classes, the King had ordered the closure of the university. Shortly after, the crowds raided the armory on their way to storm the Munich Residenz. Ludwig’s brother, Karl, managed to appease the protesters, but the damage was done. The King’s family and advisors turned against him, and he was forced to sign the March Proclamation, giving substantial concessions toward to a constitutional monarchy. Unwilling to rule this way, King Ludwig I abdicated on March 20, 1848.

King Ludwig I, c1860. source: Wikipedia

King Ludwig spent the rest of his life in Bavaria, devoting his time to supporting and fostering the arts. He published several books of poems during his reign, as well as several translations of plays. On February 29, 1868, King Ludwig died in Nice, having survived his wife and five of his children. His remains were brought back to Bavaria, and buried at St. Boniface’s Abbey in Munich. Keeping with tradition, his heart was entombed at the Shrine of Our Lady of Altötting.

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Oktoberfest’s Royal Connection

by Susan Flantzer

Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen and King Ludwig I of Bavaria, Photo Credit – Wikipedia

October 12, 1810 – Wedding of King Ludwig I of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen

Oktoberfest is a well-known festival held each autumn for 16 days in Munich, Bavaria, Germany.  Six million people attend Oktoberfest in Munich and more than one million gallons of beer are consumed. Cities around the world have their own Oktoberfests, but many people do not know that it all began with a royal wedding on October 12, 1810.  On that day Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen.  The Bavarian royal family invited the citizens of Munich to attend the festivities, held on the fields in front of the city gates. These famous public fields were named Theresienwiese  (“Therese’s fields”) in honor of the new crown princess, but in Munich the name became known as the “Wies’n,” and it is on these fields that Oktoberfest has been held since 1810.

Horse races were held to mark the end of the wedding festivities and the decision to repeat the horse races in subsequent years started the tradition of Oktoberfest.  The horse races, which had at one time been the most popular event of the festival are no longer held today.
An agricultural show designed to boost Bavarian agriculture began in 1811 and is still held every three years during the Oktoberfest on the southern part of the festival grounds. Amusement rides, a carousel and two swings, made their first appearance in 1818, and visitors to the festival were able to quench their thirst at small beer stands, which grew rapidly in number. In 1896, the beer stands were replaced by the first beer tents set up with the backing of the breweries.  Since 1810, Oktoberfest was canceled 24 times due to cholera epidemics and war.

Today there are fourteen large beer tents and twenty small tents at Oktoberfest.  Only beer conforming to the Reinheitsgebot, with a minimum of 13.5% Stammwürze (approximately 6% alcohol by volume) may be served at Oktoberfest. The beer must also be brewed within the city limits of Munich. The breweries that can produce Oktoberfest Beer under the criteria are:

(Having visited Munich in August of 2012 and sampled beers from several of these breweries, I can attest that they are wonderful.  I never liked beer until I discovered Belgian and German beer.  In fact, as I wrote this, I was drinking some Paulaner Oktoberfest beer.)

Inside one of the tents at Oktoberfest, Photo Credit – Wikipedia

King Ludwig I (born in 1786) was the son of King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria and his first wife Augusta Wilhelmine of Hesse-Darmstadt.  Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen  (born in 1792) was the daughter of Frederick, Duke of Saxe-Hildburghausen and Charlotte Georgine Luise Friederike of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.  Ludwig succeeded his father as King of Bavaria in 1825.

Although the marriage of Ludwig and Therese began with great celebration and promise, it was not a happy marriage.  Ludwig had many affairs which Therese reluctantly tolerated.  Several times, she left while Ludwig was having affairs and she refused to associate with his mistresses.  Among Ludwig’s mistresses were the scandalous English aristocrat Lady Jane Digby, Italian noblewoman Marianna Marquesa Florenzi, and Lola Montez (born Eliza Rosanna Gilbert), an Irish dancer and actress who became famous as a “Spanish dancer.”  It is likely that Ludwig’s affair with Lola Montez contributed to his abdication in 1848.  Therese died in 1854 in Munich and was buried in St. Boniface’s Abbey in Munich.  Ludwig lived for another twenty years after his abdication, died at Nice, France in 1868 and was buried next to his wife.

Ludwig and Therese had nine children:

  • Maximilian (1811–1864), married Princess Marie of Prussia, King of Bavaria as Maximilian II from 1848 – 1864
  • Mathilde Caroline (1813–1862), married Ludwig III, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine
  • Otto (1815–1867), Amalie of Oldenburg, King of Greece as Otto I from 1832-1862
  • Theodelinde (1816–1817)
  • Luitpold (1821–1912), married Archduchess Auguste of Austria, was Prince Regent of Bavaria from 1886–1912
  • Adelgunde (1823–1914), married Francis V, Duke of Modena
  • Hildegard (1825–1864), married Archduke Albert of Austria, Duke of Teschen
  • Alexandra (1826–75), never married
  • Adalbert (1828–1875), married Infanta Amelia of Spain

Official Website of Oktoberfest (in English)
Wikipedia: Oktoberfest
Wikipedia: Ludwig I of Bavaria
Wikipedia: Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen

King Otto of Greece

by Scott Mehl

King Otto, 1867. Photo: Wikipedia

Prince Otto of Bavaria was born at Mirabell Palace in Salzburg on June 1 1815, the second son of King Ludwig I of Bavaria and Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. In 1832, the Convention of London established Greece as a kingdom, and the Great Powers appointed Otto to be the new kingdom’s first King. (He was actually the second choice – the throne was initially offered to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, who declined, choosing instead to become the first King of the Belgians.) Only 17 at the time, he arrived in his new country on a British warship, accompanied by 3,500 Bavarian troops and his advisors, who would form a Regency Council to rule Greece until Otto’s majority. He quickly made steps to endear himself to the Greek people, even taking on the Greek version of his name – Othon.

In many ways, Otto didn’t stand a chance of truly being accepted by the Greek people. Although he deemed that his heirs would be raised in the Greek Orthodox faith, he himself refused to convert from his Roman Catholicism. Tasked with making Greece a viable and flourishing kingdom, heavy taxes were imposed to get the necessary funds to do so. Neither of these went over well with the population. His marriage in 1836 to Amalia of Oldenburg at first seemed to calm the waters, as she was initially welcomed by the Greek people. However, she quickly became involved in the politics of the Kingdom, and her refusal to give up her protestant faith and the couple’s lack of an heir led to her becoming greatly disliked by the people.

Having dismissed the Regency Council in 1835, Otto ruled as an absolute monarch for a few years, until uprisings from the Greek people, demanding a Constitution. His original Bavarian troops having left Greece, the King had no recourse but to give in to the demands and allow for a constitution and convention of a Greek National Assembly.

Throughout his reign, King Otto had the full support and backing of the three Great Powers. This would begin to change in 1850. The Athens home of a British subject was vandalized by a group of antisemitic Greeks, while the authorities watched and did nothing to stop it. This became known as the Pacifico Affair. The British quickly responded, demanding retribution and compensation for the victim. The British Royal Navy was sent in to block off Piraeus, the primary port in Athens. This led to tension between the three Powers, but the British held firm for several months until the Greek governement finally agreed settle the affair with Don Pacifico. Several years later, King Otto’s intent to join Russia in her battle against Turkey (supported by the other two Powers) in the Crimean War, proved to be another significant event in Otto’s reign. Again, the British blocked off the port of Piraeus, forcing Greece to reconsider and remain neutral.

While away from Athens in 1862, a coup led to the formation of a provisional governement, and Otto was deposed. Under advice of the Great Powers, Otto accepted the situation, and he again boarded a British warship and returned to Bavaria. He would continue to wear his Greek uniforms, and secretly gave most of his fortune to support the Greek troops in the Cretan Rebellion of 1866. He spend his exile living at the New Palace in Bamberg, Bavaria, where he died on July 26 1867. He is buried in the Wittlesbach Royal Crypt at the Theatinerkirche, Munich. At his specific request, he was buried in his Greek uniform.

Tomb of King Otto at the Theatinerkirche, Munich. Photo: Wikipedia

Wikipedia: King Otto of Greece
The Mad Monarchist: King Otto of Greece