King Maximilian II of Bavaria

by Scott Mehl

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 1829-1831 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 the advice of his ministers, along with his frequent travels, often led to long delays before any decisions were made.

The King wanted 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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