Prince Leopold of Bavaria

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Prince Leopold
Leopold II of Bavaria (1907).jpg
Born(1846-02-09)9 February 1846
Munich, Kingdom of Bavaria, German Confederation
Died28 September 1930(1930-09-28) (aged 84)
Munich, Bavaria, Weimar Republic
SpouseArchduchess Gisela of Austria
IssuePrincess Elisabeth
Princess Auguste
Prince Georg
Prince Konrad
FatherLuitpold, Prince Regent of Bavaria
MotherArchduchess Augusta of Austria
ReligionRoman Catholicism

Leopold Maximilian Joseph Maria Arnulf, Prinz von Bayern (9 February 1846 – 28 September 1930) was born in Munich, the son of Prince Regent Luitpold of Bavaria (1821–1912) and his wife Archduchess Augusta of Austria (1825–1864). He was a Field Marshal (Generalfeldmarschall) who commanded German and Austro-Hungarian forces on the Eastern Front in World War I.


Military career[edit]

Prince Leopold entered the Bavarian Army at the age of 15, and received his patent as a lieutenant dated 28 November 1861.[1] He saw first combat during the Austro-Prussian War in 1866, where he commanded an artillery battery at Kissingen and Rossbrunn.

In 1870, King Ludwig II of Bavaria sent Leopold to the battlefields of France, where the Bavarian Army was fighting alongside the Prussian Army in the Franco-Prussian War. He served with the 3rd Bavarian Artillery Regiment and saw action at Sedan and Beauvert. He was promoted to major in December 1870.[2] For his bravery against the enemy he received both the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Classes, the Bavarian Military Merit Order Knight 1st Class, the Knight's Cross of the Military Order of Max Joseph, Bavaria's highest military decoration, and decorations from several other German states.

In the post-war years, Prince Leopold spent most of his time travelling, visiting Africa, Asia and countries of Europe. In 1911 he ordered a 6m racing yacht "Ralle II" from the great British yacht designer Alfred Mylne, built at the Rambeck yard on Lake Starnberg.[3] He was married on 20 April 1873 at Vienna to his second cousin Archduchess Gisela of Austria, daughter of Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria and the Empress Elisabeth. He remained in the Bavarian army and was finally promoted to the rank of field marshal (Generalfeldmarschall) on 1 January 1905.[2] He retired from active duty in 1913.

First World War[edit]

Prince Leopold's retirement, however, did not last long. On 16 April 1915, he was given command of the German 9th Army, replacing General August von Mackensen. Leopold quickly proved himself an able commander as he took Warsaw on 4 August 1915. Following this success, he was put in command of Army Group Prince Leopold of Bavaria (Heeresgruppe Prinz Leopold von Bayern), which was a German force in the central/northern sector of the Eastern Front. He was awarded the Grand Cross of the Military Order of Max Joseph on 5 August 1915, the prestigious Pour le Mérite, Prussia's highest military decoration, on 9 August 1915 and the oak leaves to the Pour le Mérite on 25 July 1917.

On 29 August 1916, after the brutal summer campaigns succeeded in reversing the Brusilov Offensive against the Austrians, Leopold became the Supreme Commander of the German forces on the Eastern front (Oberbefehlshaber Ost), succeeding Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg. Leopold held this post for the rest of the war. Because of his position, Leopold was a potential German candidate for the throne of the puppet Kingdom of Poland.[4]

On 4 March 1918, Leopold received yet another high honor, the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross, awarded only five times during World War I.

Prince Leopold retired again in 1918 after the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which had ended the war on the Eastern Front. This treaty was highly favorable to Germany, and Leopold ended his career with success. He died on 28 September 1930 in Munich and is buried in the Colombarium in the Michaelskirche in Munich.

Postcard from WW1 era: General Field Marshal Leopold von Bayern
Back of postcard from WW1 era: General Field Marshal Leopold von Bayern

Military ranks[edit]


Prince Leopold and his wife Gisela had four children:

Greek succession[edit]

Leopold is also, according to the provisions of 1843 Greek Constitution, the heir of the deposed King Otto of Greece. Due to the renunciation by his elder brother Ludwig of all his rights to the Greek succession and since the Greek Constitution forbade the sovereign to be ruler of another country (Ludwig became King of Bavaria), Leopold technically succeeded upon his brother's renunciation to the rights of the deposed Otto I, King of Greece. At Leopold's death his rights were inherited by his son Georg.[5]

Decorations and honors[edit]

German decorations

Other countries

The orders above which were from Allied nations were awarded prior to World War I.[6]



  1. ^ Bavarian War Ministry, Militär-Handbuch des Königreichs Bayern, 1914
  2. ^ a b Bavarian War Ministry, Militär-Handbuch des Königreichs Bayern, 1914
  3. ^
  4. ^ Polskie Towarzystwo Historyczne (Polish Historical Society), Przegląd historyczny (Historical Review), volume 60, page 87.
  5. ^ Martha Schad, Kaiserin Elisabeth und ihre Töchter(München: Langen Müller, 1998)
  6. ^ Decorations as of 1914 from the Bavarian War Ministry, Militär-Handbuch des Königreichs Bayern, 1914. World War I decorations from award rolls, Erhard Roth, Verleihungen von militärischen Orden und Ehrenzeichen des Königreichs Bayern im Ersten Weltkrieg, 1997 (ISBN 3-932543-19-X), and Ferry W. von Péter, Verleihungen nichtbayerischer Orden und Ehrenzeichen an bayerischer Militärangehörige 1914-1918, 2001 (OCLC 163144588)

Further reading[edit]

  • Leopold Prinz von Bayern 1846-1930: aus den Lebenserinnerungen, edited by Hans-Michael Körner and Ingrid Körner. Regensburg: F. Pustet, 1983.
  • Wolbe, Eugen. Generalfeldmarschall Prinz Leopold von Bayern: ein Lebensbild. Leipzig: R.F. Koehler, 1920.

External links[edit]

Prince Leopold of Bavaria
Born: 9 March 1846 Died: 28 September 1930
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
King of Greece
Succeeded by
Military offices
Preceded by
Generalleutnant Hugo Ritter von Diehl
Commander, 1. Königlich Bayerische Division
16 June 1881 – 3 March 1887
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Prince Arnulf of Bavaria
Preceded by
General der Infanterie Karl Freiherr von Horn
Commander, I. Königlich Bayerisches Armeekorps
3 March 1887 – 27 June 1892
Succeeded by
Generaloberst Prince Arnulf of Bavaria
Preceded by
Generaloberst August von Mackensen
Commander, 9th Army
17 April 1915 – 30 July 1916
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Commander, Heeresgruppe Prinz Leopold von Bayern
5 August 1915 – 30 July 1916
Succeeded by
Remus von Woyrsch
Preceded by
Generalfeldmarschall Paul von Hindenburg
Oberbefehlshaber Ost
29 August 1916 – 1918
Succeeded by