Bavarian Royalty: Ludwig I (1825-48)

Figure 1.--

I had always thought that Ludwig II, Mad King Ludwig, was the most colorful Bavarian monarch, but his grandfather Ludwig I achieved considerable notariety himself during his reign. King Ludwig I of Bavaria, Max Joseph's son, brought artists such as Klenze, Gärtner and Cornelius to Munich. He moved the University from Landshut to the city in 1826 and appointed renowned scientists, philosophers and historians to important positions. He built extensively and was responsible for the Feldherrnhalle, the Alte Pinakothek and the Ludwigsbrücke. Ludwig I was forced to agree to a democratic consitution as part of the revolutions sweeping Europe. Rather than rule in a democratic Bavaria, Ludwig I abdicated. There were also complications arising from his relationship with dancer Lola Montez. Interestingly, the world also owes Oktoberfest to the Bavarian family--the Wittelsbach dynasty. Oktoberfest began as a public celebration of the wedding in 1810 of the Crown Prince, who later became King Ludwig I, to Princess Theresia. The event was such success that it has been continued every year since.



Kurfürst Max IV Joseph, a distant cousin of Kurfürst Karl Theodor, succeeded to the throne. He was elevated in 1806 to King Maximilian I Joseph by Napoleon through the treaty of Pressburg, , in thanks for Bavaria's joining the French cause. Bavaria was now a kingdom for the first time in its history. The king, formerly the Elector Maximilian I Joseph, assisted Napoleon in his wars, and in return received large additions of territory. In 1813, however, Maximilian contrived to change sides opportunely, and thus managed to have confirmed to him, by the treaties of 1814-15, an extent of territory nearly as valuable as the possessions which he had gained as an ally of Napoleon, and which he had now to restoreto Austria. A new constitution was granted in 1818 which restablished the the authority of the Crown. Max Joseph arranged a grand festival in 1810 to mark the wedding of his son, crown prince Ludwig, to Therese Charlotte Luise, Princess of Saxony-Hildburghausen. This was the first Oktoberfest. Another son is noted for a daughter, the Princess Elizabeth, a future Queen of Belgium.


Max Joseph married twice. His first wife and Ludwig I's mother was Augusta Wilhelmine of Hesse-Darmstadt. The couple was married in 1785. Her father was Georg Wilhelm of Hessen-Darmstadt (1722- ) and Maria Luise Albertine of Leiningen-Dagsburg-Falkenburg (1729- ). Augusta Wilhelmine died in 1796.


We have virtually no information about Ludwig's boyhood. He was born in Strassbourg in 1786. Ludwig as a small child was deafened by a cannon blast. Some suggest that this is part of the reason that as an adult he was so interested in the visual arts.

Childhood Clothing

We do not know how Ludwig was dressed as a boy.


One source suggests that King Maximillian after the fall of Napoleon, to placate the Church, agreed to appoint a Benedictine as a tudor to Crown Prince Ludwig. The tudor apparently had a great impact on the young Ludwig who supported the Church after he became king. This does not sound correct, however, as in 1815 Ludwig was almost 30 years old.


Interestingly, the world also owes Oktoberfest to the Bavarian family--the Wittelsbach dynasty. Oktoberfest began as a public celebration of Ludwig's wedding in 1810 to Princess Theresia. Ludwig at the time was the Crown Prince. The event was such success that it has been continued every year since.


The Catholic Church had been suppressed by both the French Revolution and Napoleon, This included the foreign realms that Napoleon's armies had conquered. Relgious orders were curpressed and monestaries closed. This was true in Germany and Ludwig's father had benefitted by the wealth of closed monestaries turned over to him. After Napoleon's fall, a reaction set in to the anticlerical policies of the Revolution and Napoleon. No where in Germany was this reaction more powerfully felt than in Bavaria. King Ludwig's Benediction tudor had predisposed him to support this movement. He supported Catholic theologians and philosophers in Munich. Only 6 years into his reign, by 1831, he had restored 43 monasteries and built several new seminaries. [Hacker, p. 106.]


Ludwig had a poetic soul. His favorire poet was Lord Byron. Ludwig was, however, rather vain. He considered hinmself a poet and didn't care for competition. Thus the poet Heinrich Heine, who wrote among other works "Die Lorelei", was banished. Heine was Jewish and years later the NAZIs attemted to distroy his poertry in public book burnings--but the German people would not let go of his works.


Like Byron, Ludwig was charmed by the archelogical trasures of Greece and the rest of the Ancient world. Bavaria, with its Alpine settings had natural beauty, but not the archeological treasures of ancient Greece. This goes back to the Germanic-Latin cultural divide. Asing King, Ludwig dispatched archeologists to find and bring back treasures of ancient archetecture and culture. This helped fuel an interest throughout Germany for archetecture. German archeologists made numerous discoveries. It was, for example, Schleman that proved that Troy was not mythic, but actually found the city's ruins.

The Arts

Ludwig's interests were not limited to archeology. He was passionate about art. He became interested in religious art during a 1818 visit to Rome where he was introduced to a group of German artists known as the Nazarenes. [Scheffler, p. 43.] Ludwig built numerous monuments to the arts throughout Bavaria. Luswig built the Glyptothek art museum to display the collection of great art that the Bavarian Wittelsbach royal family had acquired over the centuries. Ludwig at Ratisbon built a replica of the Parthenon to house the ancient artifacts that Ludwig was acquiring. He even had a statue sculpted of himself in a toga. Pf course his passion for building was carried on by his even more excentric grandson--Lugwig II.


Ludwig acceeded to the throne in 1825 upon the death of this father, Maximillian I. A a young prince, Ludwig had helped craft the liberal Bavarian constitution of 1818. The constitution was often overruled or just ignored by King Ludwig's conservative ministers. The Bavarain Diet, complained, but Ludwig as king resused to take his issue with his ministers or the conservative Jesuit udeology that they persued. The Kings's real interest was in the arts. King Ludwig I attracyed important artists such as Klenze, Gärtner and Cornelius to Munich. He moved the University from Landshut to the Munich in 1826 and appointed respected scientists, philosophers and historians to important university positions. Ironically, despite all this support for the uuniversity, it was to be rioting by students that was to depose him. He built extensively and was responsible for the Feldherrnhalle, the Alte Pinakothek and the Ludwigsbrücke.


Bavaria borders on Austria which in the early 19th centuy was one of the great European powers. Prince Metternich, the Austrian chancellor, headed a coalition of European powers determined to maintain coservative monarchial government in power throughout Europe. Prince Ludwig had the reputation as a social Liberal. With Ludwig's accession to the throne, Metternich worried about the growth of liberalism so close to Austria's borders. Ludwig's interest in the arts raised some eyebrows, but it possible liberal political reforms that most worried the Austrians. Metternich approach was to support the Jesuits in Bavaria.

The Jesuits

The Jesuits were already a political force in this strongly Catholic country. King Ludwig does not appear to have objected greatly to the Jesuit forces. He seems to have given less attention to politics as his passion for the arts absorbed much of his daily activities. In fact Ludwig built beautiful churches for rhem and allowed them to participate in matters of state. The Jesuits had been expelled from several countries, but remained an influential force in Austria and a powerful conservative force. Many Jesuits were involved in reachinvg and thus influenced young people in Bavaria. The Jesuits became exceeding important. Many important Government officials were Jesuits. The Prime Minister Baron Abel was a Jesuit. Schools and universities were extensively staffed with Jesuits.


Ludwig married Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, in Munich during 1810.


The Royal couple had nine children.

Maximilian II (1811-64)

Their eldest son Maximillian succeeded his father as King Maximillian II of Bavaria. He was born in 1811. Bavaria was a center for anti-Prussian and anti-unification sentiment within the German Federation. Partly as a result of a heavily Catholic population it was a bulwark against socialism among the German states. Maximillian accepted the Crown after his father abdicated. He also had a large building program and brought many prominent scientists and artists to Munich. He was a reformer who overhauled the judicial system and introduced freedom of the press. A new road, Maximilianstraße, was built on his instructions. The Maximilianeum, at the eastern end of the road, is now the seat of the Bavarian parliament. Maximillian had two sons, Ludwig and Otto. He had excentric ideas about raising his children and his inflexible rule was probably the major cause of the mental instability of both boys. Eventually their uncle Luitpold, Maximillian's younger brother, had to serve as regent.

Mathilde (1813-62)

Mathilde was born in 1813 at Augsburg. She married Grand Duke Ludwig III von Hessen und bei Rhein (18??-1877), the son of Ludwig II, Grand Duke von Hessen und bei Rhein who reigned from 1830-1848 and Princess Wilhelmine von Baden (1806-77). The marriage took place in Munich during 1833. Ludwig III replaced his father as Grand Duke during the 1848 revolutions which swept Germany anfd the rest of Europe. Princess Mathilde died in 1862 at Darmstadt.

Fredrich Ludwig (1815- )

Freferich Ludwig was born in 1815 at Salzburg. He married Duchess Amelie von Oldenburg (1818-75), daughter of Paul Friedrich August, Grand Duke von Oldenburg and Princess Adelheid von Anhalt-Bernburg-Schaumburg-Hoym. The marriage took place in Oldenburg during 1836. Frederich Ludwig accepted the throne offered him by the European powers and was crowned King Otto I of the Hellenes in 1832. Otto was only 17 years of age so a Bavarian regency was destablished to rule the war-devestated county. The Bavarians ruled imperiously, imposing high taxes and attempted to set up a centarlized bureacracy. Some of the German influence in Greece, such as in Greek art and academia, probably originate with the Bavarian monarchy. A bloodleess revolt occurred in 1843. Otto was compeled to dismiss his Bavarian advisers and accept a democratic constitution. His unpopularity inceased when in 1854 supported France and England when war broke out in the Crimea. An army revolt and subsequent national assembly deposed Otto in 1862. The Great Powers acquised. He returned to Bavaria and died at Bamberg in 1867.

Theodolinde (1816-17)

Princess Theolinde died in infancy.

Luitpold (1821-1912)

Prince Luitpold was born in 1821 at Wuerzburg. He married Archduchess Auguste of Austria (1825-64), Princess of Tuscany, daughter of Leopold II, Grand Duke of Tuscany, Archduke of Austria and Princess Maria Anna of Saxony. The marriage took place at Firenze in 1844. Luitpold became Prince-Regent of Bavaria 1886. Prince Luitpold was the fourth child of King Ludwig I and Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. Mephews Ludwig and Otto reigned as kings. Prince Luitpold acted as regent (1886-1912) during the reign of Otto I. This was of some concern to Chancellor Bismark as Bavaria was part of the German Empire. Perhaps out of consideration of his brother, Prince Luitpold was never crowned and served as regent. Many commentators assume that Prince Luitpold instigated the conspiracy to declare Otto insane. The view is that Prince Luitpold usurpered the Bavarian Crown. Others argue that nothing could be further from the truth. The Prince in fact waited and considered matters for nearly 3 months before accepting the advise of Prime Minister Lutz and the Cabinet. The Prince married Archduchess Augusta of Tuscany (Habsburg-Lotharingen) in 1844. They had four children. The eldest was Ludwig (1845). After over 20 years as Regent, Prince Luitpold was finally succeeded by his son, Ludwig III in 1913. Bavaria while Ludwig II was still king was swept up in the War against France and the unification of German under the Crown of Prussia. Bavaria entered the North German Confederation by treaty on November 23, 1870, becoming a part of the German Empire.

Adegunde (1823-1914)

Princess Adegunde was born in 1823 at Wuerzburg. She married Francesco V, Duke of Modena (1819-75), Archduke of Austria-Este, son of Francesco IV, Duke of Modena, Archduke of Austria-Este and Princess Maria Beatrice de Savoie. The marriage tookmplace in Munich during 1842. The Princess died in Munich during 1914.

Hildegarde (1825-64)

Princess Hildegarde was born in 1825 at Wuerzburg. She married Archduke Albrecht Friedrich Rudolf of Austria (1817-95), Duke of Teschen, son of Archduke Karl Ludwig of Austria, Duke of Teschen and Princess Henriette von Nassau-Weilburg. They were married in Munich during 1844. Princess Hildegarde died in Vienna in 1864.

Alexandra (1826-75)

Princess Alexandra was born at Aschaffenburg in 1826. She died in 1875 at Munich.

Adalbert (1828-75)

Prince Adalbert Wilhelm Georg was born in 1828 at Munich. He married the Infanta (Princess) Amalia of Spain (1834-1905), daughter of Infant (Prince) Francisco de Paula of Spain, Duke of Cadiz and Princess Luisa of The Two Sicilies. The marriage took place in Madrid during 1856. There were five children.


Ludwig's difficulties in 1848 were not all due to his Countess. Revolutiion was sweeping Europe and Bavarians were demanding liberal democratic reforms. Weakened by the affair with the Countess and rather than face up to the public demands for liberal reforms. Ludwig I abdicated in 1848 in favor of his son Maximmillian II. King Maximillian did not prove as liberal as anticipated and in the end asked for Prussian military intervention.

Lola Montez

Lola Montez is one of the most coloful figures in mid-19th century Europe. We are used to prim stay at home mothers during the early Victorian era. Lola Montez was about as un-Victorian as one can get. King Ludwig met Lola when he was 60 years in 1846. She was 26 years old and a beautiful actress. She burst into his study with a complaint of mistreatment by a theater owner. Ludwig had been warned that she was coming, but an aide thought he might find her diverting. Montez, to make her entrance dramatic, slit open her dress. Apparently she made her point, King Ludwig dimissed the shocked guards. Many stories were told of her, almost all untrue. She claimed to have inspired the 1830 Warsaw uprising against the Russians. Her origins were even more misterious. She does appart to ahve had an affair with composer Fran Liszt and later was the object of a duel. Only 5 days later, Luwuig introduced her to his ministers and court. She starred in court productions and began to influence the King on state matters. Modern journalists would have focused on the moral impropries involved, but Madam Montez's involvement in political affairs that concerned the ministers and Jesuits around King Ludwig. Being an actress and performer, Montez had mixed with the liberal intelligentsia that in the 1840s was increasingly questioning consevative rule. While not a deep thinker by any means, Montez had progressive ideas and did not hesitate to express them. She was critical of conservative Bavarian society and Jesuite influence. Even worse, Ludwig began replacing some of the Jesuits around him. Prime Minister Baron Abel told the King that Montez was the "Whore of Revelations". King Ludwig, however, was so smitten with Montez that he fored Baron Avel and the rest of his cabinent. Austrian Archduchess Sophie, Ludwig's half sister attemted to interve, calling Montez a gold digger, but to little affect. (Archduchess Sophie is better known as the mother of Emperor Franz Josef and Emperor Maximillian of Mexico.) Ludwig proceeded to appoint a new liberal cabinent and made Montez Countess of Landsfeld and Baroness Rosenthal. He directed his lavish spending toward building her a fairy-tale palace. The Countess proved, however, very unpopular with the Bavarian people. The Broadway song line, "What Lola wants Lola gets" originated with Bavarian gossip firected at the Countess. All sorts of scandalous rumors circuklated about the Countess, some of them quite possibly true. Ludwig and the Countess goverened Bavaria together for 2 years, with the cionservatives, Jesuites, and Meternich in Austria conspiring against them. Finally the Countess precipitated public disturabance when she sicked her pet bulldog on Professor von Lassaulx at the University. When a group of professors complained to the King they were fired, prompting a riot by the students. Soon Munich became a war zone. Montez taunted the rioters from her balcony, pelting them with champaign bottles and bon bons and finally the offending bulldog. Ludwig tried to close the university, but that did not work. A student was killed, further enflaming passions. After 3 days of rioting, Ludwig finally banished Montez. Ludwig's own repitation was so badly damaged that he eventually had to abdicate in favour of his son Maximilian II. Montez for her part, continued to lead a colorful life. There are rumors that Ludwig later in life secretly married her. Montez eventually ended up in America. [Wilson and Anonamous]

Final Years

King Ludwig lived many years after abdivating in 1848. He died in 1868 in Nice in the south of France.


Anonamous, "The Abdication of King Ludwig I"

Hacker, Rupert. Die Beziehungen zwichen Bayern und dem Heiligen Stuhl in der Regierungszeit Ludwigs I (1825-1848) (Tuebingen: Max Niemeyer, 1967).

Scheffler, Gisela. Deutsche Kuenstler um Ludwig I in Rom, Muenchen: Katalog der Ausstellung in der Neuen Pinakothek, 1981).

Wilson, Rowan. "King Ludwig I and Lola Montez".


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Created: February 14, 2003
Last updated: February 14, 2003