Luitpold, Prince Regent of Bavaria
|Regency||10 June 1886 - 12 December 1912|
|Spouse||Archduchess Augusta of Austria|
|Ludwig III of Bavaria
Prince Leopold of Bavaria
Princess Theresa of Bavaria
Prince Arnulf of Bavaria
|House||House of Wittelsbach|
|Father||Ludwig I of Bavaria|
|Mother||Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen|
12 March 1821|
|Died||12 December 1912
|Burial||Theatinerkirche, Munich, Bavaria|
Luitpold, Prince Regent of Bavaria (German: Prinzregent Luitpold Karl Joseph Wilhelm Ludwig von Bayern) (12 March 1821 – 12 December 1912), was the de facto ruler of Bavaria from 1886 to 1912, due to the incapacity of his nephews, King Ludwig II and King Otto.
Luitpold was born in Würzburg, the third son of King Ludwig I of Bavaria and his wife, Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. He was the younger brother of King Maximilian II of Bavaria and of King Otto of Greece. Luitpold was in line to succeed to the throne of the Kingdom of Bavaria, and was also heir presumptive to the throne of Greece, since his brother Otto had no children. However, the Greek law of succession required that Otto's heir should belong to the Eastern Orthodox Church. Otto was deposed in 1862 and replaced by a Danish prince who became King George I of Greece. Otto died in 1867, leaving Luitpold and his descendants as representatives of Otto's claim. However, Luitpold never pursued that claim.
At the age of fourteen Luitpold joined the Bavarian Army and was promoted Captain of the Artillery in 1835. During the revolutions of 1848 Prince Luitpold mediated and facilitated an audience of discontented citizens with his father. During the rule of his brother Maximilian II (1848–64), Luitpold did not play a significant political role. With the reign of his nephew Ludwig II (1864–1886) Prince Luitpold had increasingly to represent the royal house due to the king's long absence from the capital. In the Austro-Prussian War in 1866 Luitpold was commander of the 3rd Royal Bavarian Division. In 1869 he became Inspector General of the Bavarian Army, during the Franco-Prussian War 1870/71 he represented Bavaria in the German General Staff . In that capacity he handed over Ludwig's Kaiserbrief to the Prussian King William I on 3 December 1870, which offered the crown of the German Empire. With the creation of the Empire, Bavaria lost its status as an independent kingdom and became another state in the empire. Ludwig II attempted to protest these alterations by refusing to attend the ceremony in Versailles where William I was proclaimed the new empire's first emperor. So Ludwig's brother Prince Otto and his uncle Luitpold represented Ludwig in the Palace of Versailles. Otto then criticized the celebration as ostentatious and heartless in a letter to his brother. In 1876 Luitpold was appointed Field Marshal.
On 10 June 1886, Luitpold's nephew King Ludwig II was declared mentally incompetent and Luitpold was named Regent. Luitpold's part is still controversial. Following Ludwig II's mysterious death a few days later, Luitpold continued to serve as regent for the new king, Otto, Ludwig's insane brother. Prince Luitpold was even accused by some people of the murder of his nephew, but soon the decent and affable prince became one of Bavaria's most popular rulers. One of his first actions (on 1 August 1886) was to open several of the palaces of Ludwig II to the public.
During the regency of Prince-Regent Luitpold relations between Bavarians and Prussians remained cold with Bavarians remembering the anti-Catholic agenda of Bismarck's Kulturkampf as well as Prussia's strategic dominance over the empire. With the Centre politician Georg von Hertling the prince regent appointed to the head of government for the first time a representative of the Landtag's majority .
Luitpold continued to serve as regent until 1912, when he contracted bronchitis and died in Munich. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Ludwig. He is buried in the crypt of the Theatinerkirche in Munich.
The Prinzregentenzeit ("prince's regent's time"), as the regency of Luitpold is often called, was due to the political passiveness of Luitpold an era of the gradual transfer of Bavarian interests behind those of the German empire. In connection with the unhappy end of the preceding rule of King Ludwig II this break in the Bavarian monarchy looked even stronger. Finally, the constitutional amendment of 1913 brought the determining break in the continuity of the king's rule in the opinion of historians, particularly as this change had been granted by the Landtag as a House of Representatives and meant therefore indirectly the first step from constitutional to the parliamentary monarchy. Today the connection of these two developments is regarded as a main cause for the unspectacular end of the Bavarian kingdom without opposition in the course of the November revolution of 1918. However the course of his 26-year regency Luitpold knew to overcome, by modesty, ability and popularity, the initial uneasiness of his subjects. These prince's regent's years were transfigured, finally – above all in the retrospect – to a golden age of Bavaria, even if one mourned the "fairy tale king" Ludwig II furthermore what happens in a folkloric-nostalgic manner till this day.
Tutored as a child by Domenico Quaglio the Younger, Luitpold had a great feeling for the arts. Luitpold's years as regent were marked by tremendous artistic and cultural activity in Bavaria where they are known as the Prinzregentenjahre ("The Prince Regent Years") or the Prinzregentenzeit. Bavaria prospered under a liberal government and Munich became a cultural centre of Europe. Thomas Mann wrote about this period "Munich shone" (1902 Gladius Dei). Schwabing became an important artists' quarter in Munich.
There are numerous streets in Bavarian cities and towns called Prinzregentenstrasse or Luitpoldstrasse. Many institutions are named in Luitpold's honour including the Prinzregententheater in Munich and the Luitpoldarena and the Luitpoldhalle in Nürnberg. In 1891 Luitpold established the Luitpold Gymnasium in Munich. Prinzregententorte is a multi-layered cake with chocolate butter cream named in his honour. The vessel SMS Prinzregent Luitpold of the Imperial German Navy and the Luitpold Coast were named for Luitpold.
Luitpold's great passion next to the arts was hunting, and his legendary hunts took place throughout Bavaria.
- Ludwig III, King of Bavaria (1845–1921). Married Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria-Este; had issue.
- Leopold Maximilian Joseph Maria Arnulf, Prince of Bavaria (1846–1930). Married Archduchess Gisela of Austria; had issue.
- Therese Charlotte Marianne Auguste, Princess of Bavaria (1850–1925)
- Franz Joseph Arnulf Adalbert Maria, Prince of Bavaria (1852–1907). Married Princess Theresa of Liechtenstein and had a son, Heinrich Luitpold (1884–1916), killed in action during World War I.
- Nohbauer, 1998, p. 37.
- Dr. Theodor Toeche-Mittler: Die Kaiserproklamation in Versailles am 18. Januar 1871 mit einem Verzeichniß der Festtheilnehmer, Ernst Siegfried Mittler und Sohn, Berlin, 1896
- H. Schnaebeli: Fotoaufnahmen der Kaiserproklamation in Versailles, Berlin, 1871
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