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Ludwig I of Bavaria

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Ludwig I
Portrait by Joseph Stieler, 1825
King of Bavaria
Reign13 October 1825 – 20 March 1848
PredecessorMaximilian I Joseph
SuccessorMaximilian II
Born(1786-08-25)25 August 1786
Strasbourg, Kingdom of France
Died29 February 1868(1868-02-29) (aged 81)
Nice, Second French Empire
(m. 1810; died 1854)
German: Ludwig Karl August
English: Louis Charles Augustus
FatherMaximilian I Joseph of Bavaria
MotherAugusta Wilhelmine of Hesse-Darmstadt
ReligionRoman Catholicism
SignatureLudwig I's signature

Ludwig I or Louis I (German: Ludwig I.; 25 August 1786 – 29 February 1868) was King of Bavaria from 1825 until the 1848 revolutions in the German states. When he was crown prince, he was involved in the Napoleonic Wars. As king, he encouraged Bavaria's industrialization, initiating 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, with his Bavaria joining the Zollverein economic union in 1834. After the July Revolution of 1830 in France, Ludwig's previous liberal policy became increasingly repressive; in 1844, Ludwig was confronted during the Beer riots in Bavaria. During the revolutions of 1848 the king faced increasing protests and demonstrations by students and the middle classes. On 20 March 1848, he abdicated in favour of his eldest son, Maximilian.

Ludwig lived for another twenty years after his abdication and remained influential. An admirer of ancient Greece and the Italian Renaissance, Ludwig patronized the arts and commissioned several neoclassical buildings, especially in Munich. He was an avid collector of arts, amassing paintings from the Early German and Early Dutch periods as well as Graeco-Roman sculptures.

All living legitimate agnatic members of the House of Wittelsbach descend from him.

Crown prince[edit]

Born in the Zweibrücker Hof in Straßburg as Ludwig Karl August von Pfalz-Birkenfeld-Zweibrücken, he was the son of Count Palatine Maximilian Joseph of Zweibrücken (later Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria) by his first wife Princess 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. On 12 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. Until 1816 the crown prince served as governor-general of the Duchy of Salzburg, whose cession to Austria he strongly opposed. His second son Otto, the later King of Greece, was born there. Between 1816 and 1825, he spent his years in Würzburg. He also made numerous trips to Italy and stayed often in the Villa Malta [de] in Rome, which he later also bought (1827). 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 whose policies he had opposed. He succeeded his father on the throne in 1825.


Ludwig I of Bavaria, c. 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 disappeared under Napoleon when France first annexed the left bank of the Rhine, including about half of the Palatinate, and then gave what remained on the right bank including, Mannheim and Heidelberg, to Baden during the German Mediatization of 1803. In 1815, Baden's possession of Manheim and Heidelberg was confirmed and only the left bank territories were given back to Bavaria. Ludwig founded the city of Ludwigshafen there 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 of 1830 in France, Ludwig's previous liberal policy became more and more repressive. The Hambacher Fest in 1832 revealed the discontent of the population caused by high taxes and censorship. In connection with the unrest of May 1832, some 142 political trials were initiated. The seven death sentences that were pronounced were commuted to long-term imprisonment by the king. About 1,000 political trials were to take place during Ludwig's reign. The strict censorship, which he had reinstated after having abolished it in 1825, was opposed by large sectors of the population.

In 1837 the Ultramontanes backed by the Roman Catholic Church gained control of the Bavarian parliament and began a campaign of changes to the constitution, such as removing civil rights that had earlier been granted to Protestants, as well as enforcing political censorship. On 14 August 1838, the King issued an order for all members of the military to kneel in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament at Corpus Christi processions and church services. The policy, which had been in place when Bavaria was still almost purely Catholic before 1803, had been discontinued after the inclusion of large Protestant areas. Catholic disturbances 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 had been a strong opponent of Protestantism in spite of his marriage to a 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 that 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 the royal family and the Cabinet now 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 be searched by the police on 17 March, which was the worst humiliation for him.[clarification needed] Not willing to rule as a constitutional monarch, Ludwig abdicated on 20 March 1848 in favour of his eldest son, Maximilian.

Ludwig lived for another 20 years after his abdication and remained influential, especially as he continued several of his cultural projects. For most of his time in Munich his residence was the neo-Gothic Wittelsbacher Palais, once built for his successor and unloved by Ludwig. He died at Nice in 1868 and was buried in St. Boniface's Abbey, Munich, which he had ordered to be built.

Ludwig I of Bavaria, c. 1860
Arms of the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1835

Cultural legacy[edit]

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 commissioned the Walhalla temple, the Befreiungshalle, the Villa Ludwigshöhe, the Pompejanum, 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 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 Temple of Aphaea 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, a monument in the Walhalla

Because of King Ludwig's philhellenism, the German name for Bavaria today is spelled "Bayern" instead of "Baiern", while the German dialect 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 mocking poems in Ludwig's style. Ironically, Ludwig's Walhalla temple added Heine's bust to its collection in 2009.

Private life and issue[edit]

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 Jane Digby, an aristocratic English adventuress. Another affair was the Italian noblewoman Marianna Florenzi. His affair with Lola Montez also caused some scandal.

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 May 1862 married, 1833, Ludwig III, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine; no issue
Otto Friedrich Ludwig 1 June 1815 26 July 1867 became the first 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 12 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 October 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


Greater Royal Coat of Arms of King Ludwig I of Bavaria


See also[edit]


  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.
  3. ^ Hof- und Staatshandbuch des Königreichs Bayern: 1824. Landesamt. 1824. pp. 5, 10, 14, 27.
  4. ^ Georg Schreiber, Die Bayerischen Orden und Ehrenzeichen, Prestel-Verlag, Monaco, 1964.
  5. ^ M. & B. Wattel. (2009). Les Grand'Croix de la Légion d'honneur de 1805 à nos jours. Titulaires français et étrangers. Paris: Archives & Culture. p. 420. ISBN 978-2-35077-135-9.
  6. ^ Staatshandbuch für den Freistaat Sachsen: 1865/66. Heinrich. 1866. p. 3.
  7. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Großherzogtum Baden (1834), "Großherzogliche Orden" p. 31
  8. ^ "A Szent István Rend tagjai" Archived 22 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Boettger, T. F. "Chevaliers de la Toisón d'Or – Knights of the Golden Fleece". La Confrérie Amicale. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  10. ^ Württemberg (1866). Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Königreichs Württemberg: 1866. p. 29.
  11. ^ Bille-Hansen, A. C.; Holck, Harald, eds. (1867) [1st pub.:1801]. Statshaandbog for Kongeriget Danmark for Aaret 1867 [State Manual of the Kingdom of Denmark for the Year 1867] (PDF). Kongelig Dansk Hof- og Statskalender (in Danish). Copenhagen: J.H. Schultz A.-S. Universitetsbogtrykkeri. p. 2. Retrieved 16 September 2019 – via da:DIS Danmark.
  12. ^ Liste der Ritter des Königlich Preußischen Hohen Ordens vom Schwarzen Adler (1851), "Von Seiner Majestät dem Könige Friedrich Wilhelm III. ernannte Ritter" p. 19
  13. ^ Sergey Semenovich Levin (2003). "Lists of Knights and Ladies". Order of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First-called (1699–1917). Order of the Holy Great Martyr Catherine (1714–1917). Moscow.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  14. ^ Hessen-Darmstadt (1868). Hof- und Staatshandbuch des Großherzogtums Hessen: für das Jahr ... 1868. Staatsverl. p. 8.
  15. ^ "Hellenic Orders and Decorations: Order of the Redeemer". Presidency of the Hellenic Republic. Archived from the original on 27 June 2015. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  16. ^ Bragança, Jose Vicente de (2014). "Agraciamentos Portugueses Aos Príncipes da Casa Saxe-Coburgo-Gota" [Portuguese Honours awarded to Princes of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha]. Pro Phalaris (in Portuguese). 9–10: 5. Retrieved 28 November 2019.
  17. ^ Adreß-Handbuch des Herzogthums Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha (1837), "Herzogliche Sachsen-Ernestinischer Hausorden" p. 13
  18. ^ H. Tarlier (1854). Almanach royal officiel, publié, exécution d'un arrête du roi (in French). Vol. 1. p. 37.
  19. ^ Staat Oldenburg (1865). Hof- und Staatshandbuch des Großherzogtums Oldenburg: für ... 1865. Schulze. p. 25.
  20. ^ Sveriges och Norges statskalender (in Swedish). 1866. p. 433. Retrieved 6 January 2018 – via runeberg.org.
  21. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch für das Herzogtum Anhalt: 1867. Dünnhaupt. 1867. p. 17.
  22. ^ Almanacco di corte. p. 30.
  23. ^ "Seccion IV: Ordenes del Imperio", Almanaque imperial para el año 1866 (in Spanish), 1866, p. 243, retrieved 29 April 2020
  24. ^ Almanacco Toscano per l'anno 1855. Stamperia Granducale. 1855. p. 274.
  25. ^ Napoli (Stato) (1857). Almanacco reale del Regno delle Due Sicilie: per l'anno ... Stamp. Reale. pp. 400, 405.
  26. ^ Angelo Scordo, Vicende e personaggi dell'Insigne e reale Ordine di San Gennaro dalla sua fondazione alla fine del Regno delle Due Sicilie (PDF) (in Italian), p. 9, archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016


  • Heinz Gollwitzer, Ludwig I. von Bayern. Königtum im Vormärz, Munich 1986 (²1997).

External links[edit]

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