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Ludwig I
Portrait by Joseph Stieler, 1825
Preceded by Maximilian I
Succeeded by Maximilian II
Personal details
Born (1786-08-25)25 August 1786
Strasbourg, Kingdom of France
Died 29 February 1868(1868-02-29) (aged 81)
Nice, Second French Empire
Spouse(s) Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen

Ludwig I (also rendered in English as Louis I; 25 August 1786 – 29 February 1868) was king of Bavaria from 1825 until the 1848 revolutions in the German states.

Crown prince

Born in Strasbourg, he was the son of Count Palatine Maximilian Joseph of Zweibrücken (later Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria) by his first wife Augusta Wilhelmine of Hesse-Darmstadt. At the time of his birth, his father was an officer in the French army stationed at Strasbourg. He was the godson and namesake of Louis XVI of France.

Crown Prince Ludwig, 1807 by Angelica Kauffman

On 1 April 1795 his father succeeded Ludwig's uncle, Charles II, as duke of Zweibrücken, and on 16 February 1799 became Elector of Bavaria and Count Palatine of the Rhine, the Arch-Steward of the Empire, and Duke of Berg on the extinction of the Sulzbach line with the death of the elector Charles Theodore. His father assumed the title of King of Bavaria on 1 January 1806.

Starting in 1803 Ludwig studied in Landshut where he was taught by Johann Michael Sailer and in Göttingen. In October 1810, he married Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen (1792–1854), the daughter of Frederick, Duke of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The wedding was the occasion of the first ever Oktoberfest. Ludwig strongly rejected the alliance of his father with Napoleon I of France but in spite of his anti-French politics the crown prince had to join the emperor's wars with allied Bavarian troops in 1806. As commander of the 1st Bavarian Division in VII Corps, he served under Marshal François Joseph Lefebvre in 1809.[1] He led his division in action at the Battle of Abensberg on 20 April.[2] With the Treaty of Ried of 8 October 1813 Bavaria left the Confederation of the Rhine and agreed to join the Sixth Coalition against Napoleon in exchange for a guarantee of her continued sovereign and independent status. On 14 October, Bavaria made a formal declaration of war against Napoleonic France. The treaty was passionately backed by Crown Prince Ludwig and by Marshal von Wrede. Already at the 1815 Congress of Vienna, Ludwig advocated a German national policy. Between 1816 and 1825, he spent his years in Würzburg. He also made numerous trips to Italy and bought the Villa Malta in Rome. Ludwig supported generously as a Philhellene the Greek War of Independence, in which he in the war of 1821 provided a loan of 1.5 million florins from his private funds.

In 1817 Ludwig was also involved in the fall of Prime Minister Count Max Josef von Montgelas. He succeeded his father on the throne in 1825.


Ludwig I of Bavaria, ca 1830

Ludwig's rule was strongly affected by his enthusiasm for the arts and women and by his overreaching royal assertiveness.

An enthusiast for the German Middle Ages, Ludwig ordered the re-erection of several monasteries in Bavaria which had been closed during the German Mediatisation. He reorganized the administrative regions of Bavaria in 1837 and re-introduced the old names Upper Bavaria, Lower Bavaria, Franconia, Swabia, Upper Palatinate and Palatinate. He changed his royal titles to Ludwig, King of Bavaria, Duke of Franconia, Duke in Swabia and Count Palatine of the Rhine. His successors kept these titles. Ludwig's plan to reunite the eastern part of the Palatinate with Bavaria could not be realized. The Electoral Palatinate, a former dominion of the Wittelsbach, had been split up in 1815, the eastern bank of the Rhine with Mannheim and Heidelberg was given to Baden, only the western bank was granted to Bavaria. Here Ludwig founded the city of Ludwigshafen as a Bavarian rival to Mannheim.

Ludwig moved the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität from Landshut to Munich in 1826. The king also encouraged Bavaria's industrialization. He initiated the Ludwig Canal between the rivers Main and the Danube. In 1835 the first German railway was constructed in his domain, between the cities of Fürth and Nuremberg. Bavaria joined the Zollverein in 1834.

As Ludwig had supported the Greek fight of independence his second son Otto was elected king of Greece in 1832. Otto's government was initially run by a three-man regency council made up of Bavarian court officials.

After the July Revolution in France 1830, Ludwig's previous liberal policy became more and more repressive. The Hambacher Fest in 1832 showed the discontent of the population with high taxes and censorship. In connection with the unrest of May 1832 142 political processes were initiated. The seven death sentences were converted by the king in long terms of imprisonment. In his reign, there were about 1,000 political processes. Also Ludwig's stricter censorship - which he even had before abolished in 1825 - provoked the opposition of the population.

In 1837, the Roman Catholic supported clerical movement, the Ultramontanes, came to power in the Bavarian parliament and began a campaign of change to the constitution, which removed civil rights that had earlier been granted to Protestants, as well as enforcing censorship and forbidding the free discussion of internal politics. On 14 August 1838 the King dictated against considerable odds with the "squat adopting" the military back a squat in front of the Blessed Sacrament at Corpus Christi processions and church services. This squat had been the practice until 1803 in what was still almost purely Catholic Bavaria, but was then removed with the inclusion of large Protestant areas. The Catholic harassments during the funeral of the Protestant Queen Caroline of Baden in 1841 caused a scandal. This treatment of his beloved stepmother permanently softened the attitude of Caroline's stepson Ludwig I, who up until that time had been a strong opponent of Protestantism in spite of his marriage to the Protestant princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The Ultramontanes regime only ended due to their demands against the naturalization of Ludwig I's Irish-born mistress Eliza Gilbert (better known by her stage name Lola Montez). Ludwig resented this move and the Ultramontanes under Karl von Abel were pushed out. Already in 1844 Ludwig was confronted with the Beer riots in Bavaria. During the revolutions of 1848 the king faced increasing protests and demonstrations by the students and the middle classes. The King had ordered to close the university in February and on 4 March a large crowd assaulted the Armory to storm the Munich Residenz. Ludwig's brother Prince Karl managed to appease the protesters, but now the royal family and the Cabinet turned against Ludwig. He had to sign the so-called "March Proclamation" with substantial concessions. On 16 March 1848 it was followed by renewed unrest because Lola Montez had returned to Munich after a short exile. Ludwig had to let her search by the police on 17 March, what was the worst humiliation for him.[Clarification needed] Not willing to rule as a , Ludwig abdicated on 20 March 1848 in favour of his eldest son, Maximilian.

Ludwig lived for another twenty years as abdicated monarch and was still influential, especially as he continued several of his cultural projects. He died at Nice in 1868, and was buried in St. Boniface's Abbey, Munich he had ordered to be built.

Ludwig I of Bavaria, ca 1860

Arms of the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1835.

Cultural legacy

Bavaria with Ruhmeshalle in Munich.

As admirer of ancient Greece and the Italian renaissance Ludwig patronized the arts as principal of many neoclassical buildings, especially in Munich, and as fanatic collector. Among others he had built were the Walhalla temple, the Befreiungshalle, the Ludwigstrasse, the Bavaria statue, the Ruhmeshalle, the Glyptothek, the Old and the New Pinakothek. His architects Leo von Klenze and Friedrich von Gärtner also strongly influenced the cityscape of modern Athens. Already as crown prince Ludwig collected especially Early German and Early Dutch paintings, masterpieces of the Italian renaissance, and contemporary art for his museums and galleries. He also placed special emphasis on collecting Greek and Roman sculpture. Through his agents, he managed to acquire such pieces as the Medusa Rondanini, the Barberini Faun, and, in 1813, the figures from the Aphaea temple on Aegina. One of his most famous conceptions is the celebrated "Schönheitengalerie" (Gallery of Beauties), in the south pavilion of his Nymphenburg Palace in Munich. A collection of 36 portraits of the beautiful women painted between 1827 and 1850 mostly by Joseph Karl Stieler.

Also after his abdication, Ludwig remained an important and lavish sponsor for the arts. This caused several conflicts with his son and successor Maximilian. Finally Ludwig financed his projects from his own resources.

Ludwig I of Bavaria, monument in the Walhalla

Because of King Ludwig's phihellenism, the German name for Bavaria today is spelled "Bayern" instead of "Baiern," while the language spoken there has retained its original spelling "Bairisch"—note the I versus the Greek derived Y.

Ludwig was an eccentric and notoriously bad poet. He would write about anything, no matter how trivial, with strings of rhyming couplets. For this the king was teased by Heinrich Heine who wrote several mockery poems in Ludwig's style. Ironically Ludwig's Walhalla temple added Heine's bust to its collection in 2009.

Private life and issue

In private life Ludwig was, in spite of his royal assertiveness, modest and companionable and was even known for his often shabby attire. Ludwig was hard of hearing and had a birthmark on his forehead which was often concealed in portraits.

Ludwig had several extramarital affairs and was one of the lovers of Lady Jane Digby, an aristocratic English adventuress. An other affair was the Italian noblewoman Marianna Marquesa Florenzi. Ludwig also became tainted with scandals associated with Lola Montez, another of his mistresses. It seems likely that his relationship with her contributed greatly to the fall from grace of the previously popular king.

Issue by Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen ( 8 July 1792 – 26 October 1854; married on 12 October 1810 in Theresienwiese, Munich)

Name Birth Death Notes
Maximilian Joseph 28 November 1811 10 March 1864 succeeded as King of Bavaria
married, 1842, Princess Marie of Prussia; had issue
Mathilde Karoline Friederike Wilhelmine Charlotte 30 August 1813 25 August 1862 married, 1833, Ludwig III, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine; no issue
Otto Friedrich Ludwig 1 June 1815 26 July 1867 become the 1st King of Greece
married, 1836, Duchess Amalia of Oldenburg; no issue
Theodolinde Charlotte Luise 7 October 1816 12 April 1817 died in infancy
Luitpold Karl Joseph Wilhelm Ludwig 21 March 1821 12 December 1912 Regent of Bavaria
married, 1844, Archduchess Augusta of Austria-Tuscany; had issue
Adelgunde Auguste Charlotte Caroline Elisabeth Amalie Marie Sophie Luise 19 March 1823 28 January 1914 married, 1843, Francis V, Duke of Modena; had issue
Hildegard Luise Charlotte Theresia Friederike 10 June 1825 2 April 1864 married, 1844, Archduke Albert of Austria, Duke of Teschen; had issue
Alexandra Amelie 26 August 1826 21 September 1875 never married; no issue
Adalbert Wilhelm Georg Ludwig 19 July 1828 21 September 1875 married, 1856, Infanta Amalia of Spain; had issue


See also

  • Swami Laura Horos


  • Heinz Gollwitzer, Ludwig I. von Bayern. Königtum im Vormärz, Munich 1986 (²1997).
  1. Bowden, Scotty & Tarbox, Charlie. Armies on the Danube 1809. Arlington, Texas: Empire Games Press, 1980. 61.
  2. Petre, F. Loraine. Napoleon and the Archduke Charles. New York: Hippocrene Books, (1909) 1976. 134.

External links

Ludwig I of Bavaria
House of Wittelsbach
Born: 25 August, 1786 Died: 29 February, 1868
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Maximilian I Joseph
King of Bavaria
Succeeded by
Maximilian II

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