Prince Leopold of Bavaria

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Prince Leopold of Bavaria
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
(m. 1873)
FatherLuitpold, Prince Regent of Bavaria
MotherArchduchess Augusta of Austria

Prince Leopold of Bavaria (Leopold Maximilian Joseph Maria Arnulf; 9 February 1846 – 28 September 1930) was born in Munich, the second 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. 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. From 1881 to 1887 Leopold was the commander of the 1st Royal Bavarian Division, from 1887 to 1892 of the I Royal Bavarian Corps. In both commands he would be succeeded by his younger brother, Prince Arnulf of Bavaria. In 1892 Leopold became the inspector general of the 4th Army Inspection, replacing Leonhard Graf von Blumenthal. After his appointment, the 4th Army Inspection gradually became consistent of Bavarian corps.[3] He remained in the Bavarian Army and was finally promoted to the rank of field marshal (Generalfeldmarschall) on 1 January 1905.[2] 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.[4] He retired from active duty in 1913 to give chances to Rupprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria.

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.

Prince Leopold signing Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.

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.[5]

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:

Decorations and honors[edit]

German decorations

Other countries

The orders above which were from Allied nations were awarded prior to World War I.[20]



  1. ^ Bavarian War Ministry, Militär-Handbuch des Königreichs Bayern, 1914
  2. ^ a b Bavarian War Ministry, Militär-Handbuch des Königreichs Bayern, 1914
  3. ^ Biographie, Deutsche. "Leopold - Deutsche Biographie". (in German). Retrieved 2021-12-18.
  4. ^ "Scottishboating: The Ralle II, a Scottish German detective story". 15 October 2010.
  5. ^ Polskie Towarzystwo Historyczne (Polish Historical Society), Przegląd historyczny (Historical Review), volume 60, page 87.
  6. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Königreich Bayern (1908), "Königliche Orden" pp. 7, 11, 15
  7. ^ a b c "Leopold Maximilian Joseph Maria Arnulf Prinz von Bayern K.H." the Prussian Machine. Archived from the original on 2017-10-23. Retrieved 7 August 2020.
  8. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Großherzogtum Baden (1910), "Großherzogliche Orden" p. 40
  9. ^ Braunschweig, Staat (Hg.) (1905): Hof- und Staatshandbuch des Herzogtums Braunschweig für 1905. In: Hof- und Staatshandbuch des Herzogtums Braunschweig 1905. p. 11
  10. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Großherzogtum Hessen (1879), "Großherzogliche Orden und Ehrenzeichen" pp. 11, 130
  11. ^ Staatshandbuch für das Großherzogtum Sachsen / Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach (1900), "Großherzogliche Hausorden" p. 16 Archived 2020-09-06 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Königreich Württemberg (1907), "Königliche Orden" p. 29
  13. ^ Boettger, T. F. "Chevaliers de la Toisón d'Or - Knights of the Golden Fleece". La Confrérie Amicale. Archived from the original on 29 July 2018. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  14. ^ "A Szent István Rend tagjai" Archived 22 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ "Militär Maria-Theresien-Orden 1914-1918". Archived from the original on 20 June 2014. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  16. ^ Italia : Ministero dell'interno (1900). Calendario generale del Regno d'Italia. Unione tipografico-editrice. p. 54.
  17. ^ Acović, Dragomir (2012). Slava i čast: Odlikovanja među Srbima, Srbi među odlikovanjima. Belgrade: Službeni Glasnik. p. 369.
  18. ^ "Real y distinguida orden de Carlos III", Guóa Oficial de España (in Spanish), 1929, pp. 219, 223, retrieved 4 March 2019
  19. ^ The London Gazette, issue 28058, p. 6150
  20. ^ 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
Military offices
Preceded by Commander, 1. Königlich Bayerische Division
16 June 1881 – 3 March 1887
Succeeded by
Preceded by Commander, I. Königlich Bayerisches Armeekorps
3 March 1887 – 27 June 1892
Succeeded by
Preceded by Commander, IV Army Inspection
27 June 1892 – 27 March 1913
Succeeded by
Preceded by 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
Preceded by Oberbefehlshaber Ost
29 August 1916 – 1918
Succeeded by