Little Bits of History

Mysterious Ludwig II of Bavaria

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 13, 2014
Ludwig II of Bavaria

Ludwig II of Bavaria

June 13, 1886: King Ludwig II of Bavaria dies mysteriously. Ludwig became King in 1864 at the age of 18. His father, Maximilian II was ill for three days before suddenly dying and leaving his elder son the throne. The young man was ill-prepared for rule, but his youth and good looks made him popular with the ruled. He continued the state policies his father had set in motion and kept the ministers his father had selected. Ludwig’s real interests were in art, music, and architecture. He disliked large public functions and avoided formal events which made ruling Bavaria difficult. He was also loathe to marry and leave an heir. He was engaged, but broke it off. Diaries left behind indicate strong homosexual leanings which were ignored in honor of his religion, Catholicism.

Two years after ascending the throne, the Austro-Prussian War broke out and Ludwig sided with Austria. Prussia won the war and Bavaria came under Prussian control. In 1870, the Franco-Prussian War ended with Prussian victory again and Bismarck moved to complete the Unification of Germany. Bavaria came into the German Empire and was no longer an independent kingdom. Ludwig maintained some autonomy in this situation but lacked a true country to rule. He continued to build lavishly, using his own funds and running himself into poverty. He built himself several castles and decorated them lavishly. Even so, Bavaria suffered fallout from the King’s expenditures. By 1885, Ludwig was 14 million marks in debt. The cabinet was against the King and before Ludwig could fire them, they sought to depose the king.

Conspirators met between January and March 1886 and charges and counter-charges were filed. A panel of psychologists led by Dr. Berhnard von Gudden declared the King to be paranoid and unfit to rule. On June 10, 1886, the King found out he was to be deposed and placed in custody. He was taken to Berg Castle. On this day, the King and von Gudden left the castle to go for a walk in the parkland. No others came with them. When they did not return, a party went out in search of the two men. It was storming out with gale winds and heavy rain when both men were found with their upper bodies out of the water, but legs submerged in the lake. The king’s watch had stopped at 6:54. He was said to be free of any trauma although von Gudden had been assaulted.

The cause of death to the 40-year-old king remains unknown. There is speculation that the king’s enemies assassinated him while he attempted to escape Berg. A loyal man was forbidden to discuss what he had seen, but after his death notes hinted that the king had been shot despite an autopsy report of no foul play. There was also a theory of drowning, but that same autopsy report found no water in the king’s lungs. It is possible that the king died of natural causes as he attempted to escape. The water was only 54⁰ F and he may have suffered a heart attack or stroke while in the cold water. A small memorial chapel was built overlooking the site of his death and each year on this day, there is a remembrance ceremony held.

A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other. – Charles Dickens

The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery. – Anais Nin

One may say the eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility. – Albert Einstein

We have to stop and be humble enough to understand that there is something called mystery. – Paulo Coelho

Also on this day: You Have the Right – In 1966, the US Supreme Court decides Miranda v Arizona.
Diamonds Are Forever – In 1955, the Mir Mine was discovered.
Hic, Pause, Hic – In 1922, Charles Osborne got a case of hiccups.
Crushed – In 1881, the USS Jeanette sunk in the polar ice.


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