Louis I, Duke of Bavaria

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Duke Louis I of Bavaria
Spouse(s) Ludmilla of Bohemia
Noble family House of Wittelsbach
Father Otto I Wittelsbach, Duke of Bavaria
Mother Agnes of Loon
Born (1173-12-23)23 December 1173
Died 15 September 1231(1231-09-15) (aged 57)

Duke Louis I of Bavaria (German: Ludwig I der Kelheimer, Herzog von Bayern, Pfalzgraf bei Rhein) (Kelheim, 23 December 1173 – 15 September 1231 in Kelheim) was the Duke of Bavaria in 1183 and Count Palatine of the Rhine in 1214. He was a son of Otto I and his wife Agnes of Loon. Louis was married to Ludmilla, a daughter of Duke Frederick of Bohemia.


In the summer of 1192, he received the knighting in the presence of Emperor Henry VI. A little later the emperor finished the Bavarian feuds and turned to the side of Louis. Until the death of the emperor Louis remained a loyal supporter of Henry VI and accompanied the Hohenstaufen in 1194 also to Italy on his second expedition for the conquest of the kingdom of Sicily, which was entitled Henry's wife Constance as sole heir. In the struggle for the throne after the death of Henry VI. he remained one of the main supporters of the Hohenstaufen Philip of Swabia.

Louis extended the duchy of Bavaria and founded many cities. Among the cities he founded were Landshut in 1204, Straubing in 1218 and Landau an der Isar in 1224. After Philip's murder he supported the Welf Emperor Otto IV, who therefore confirmed the everlasting reign of the Wittelsbach family in Bavaria. But in 1211 Louis joined the Hohenstaufen party again; Emperor Frederick II rewarded him with the Palatinate of the Rhine in 1214: His son Otto was married to Agnes of the Palatinate, a granddaughter of Duke Henry the Lion and Conrad of Hohenstaufen. With this marriage, the Wittelsbach inherited the Palatinate and kept it as a Wittelsbach possession until 1918. Since that time also the lion has become a heraldic symbol in the coat of arms for Bavaria and the Palatinate.

In 1221 Louis participated in the Fifth Crusade and was imprisoned in Egypt by Al-Kamil but later released. In 1225 Louis took over the guardianship for the young king Henry. Subsequently, however, the ratio of Louis deteriorated to both, his ward and to the emperor. With the latter, there were differences in matters of church policy, during the conflict with Henry (Ludwig intrigued with the Pope against the Staufer) in 1229 he even fought with military means, but the Bavarian Duke was defeated. Thus under pressure he moved in 1230 back to Kelheim Castle.

Louis was murdered in 1231 on a bridge in Kelheim. The crime was never cleared up since the murderer was immediately lynched. Due to the following aversion of the Wittelsbach family the city of Kelheim lost its status as one of the ducal residences. His son and successor, Otto the Illustrious, let break down the bridge in the following year and changed its gate to a chapel. Louis was buried in the crypt of Scheyern Abbey.


  • Holzfurtner, Ludwig (2005). Die Wittelsbacher: Staat und Dynastie in acht Jahrhunderten (Urban-Taschenbucher). Kohlhammer. ISBN 978-3170181915. 
  • Peltzer, Jörg (2013). Die Wittelsbacher und die Kurpfalz im Mittelalter: Eine Erfolgsgeschichte?. Schnell & Steiner. ISBN 978-3795426453. 
  • Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen, Mannheim (2013). Die Wittelsbacher am Rhein. Die Kurpfalz und Europa: 2 Bände. Schnell & Steiner. ISBN 978-3795426446. 
  • Vogel, Susanne (2012). Die Wittelsbacher: Herzöge - Kurfürsten - Könige in Bayern von 1180 bis 1918. Biografische Skizzen. Staackmann. ISBN 978-3886752485. 

Louis I, Duke of Bavaria
Born: 1173 Died: 1231
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Otto I
Duke of Bavaria
Succeeded by
Otto II
Preceded by
Henry VI
Count Palatine of the Rhine