A short biography of some of Europe’s most loved and hated Monarchs – Pt 3 King George II — King Ludwig II of Bavaria, named after his grandfather, was born in Nymphenburg Castle outside Munich on August 25, 1845 and is the eldest son of King Maximillian II and Queen Marie. As a boy, Ludwig’s favorite time of the year is a summer vacation spent at Royal Castle Hohenschwangau whose father was restored between 1832 and 1836.
In 1858, at the age of thirteen, Ludwig was introduced to Wagner-Lohengrin opera, a story centered around the medieval Swan-knight knight Lohengrin, by his nanny. The young Ludwig immediately fell in love with the concept and it was the beginning of a lifelong love with all of Wagner’s works. It was not long before he obtained and read every book written by Wagner. On February 2, 1861, Ludwig attended his first Wagner opera – Lohengrin, Knight of the Swan which left a lasting impression on the young Prince.
In March 1864, his father died at the age of 53 and Ludwig, at the age of eighteen, became King Ludwig II. With the days leading up to the throne, a young and impressionable King instructed his officials to find Wagner and bring him back to Munich, making him Wagner’s protector. He paid off his debt, and built it comfortably in an Italian-style villa.
The people of Munich are getting tired of Wagner’s pride and also getting jealous of their young King. Eighteen months after his arrival, Wagner left Munich for Switzerland and Ludwig escaped to Hohenschwangau. The only person who brought joy in his life has been taken away from him.
In 1866 a war broke out between Austria and Prussia in what is known as the Seven-Week War. Due to his strong connection with Austria, Bavaria was drawn into the conflict on the part of Austria. In the secret treaty King Ludwig II placed the Bavarian army at the disposal of the Prussian General Staff.
Ludwig was to be married in August 1867 but he was not happy with the relationship so changed the date to October 12, which incidentally was the date that his grandfather and father married. Ludwig is very uneasy at the prospect of marriage and therefore voices his concern to the Secretary of the Court, admitting that he prefers to drown himself rather than marry. He writes to Wagner, “Oh, if only I could be brought to the magic carpet for you … in the loving and peaceful Tribschen (Lucerne, Switzerland.) – Even for an hour or two.
In November, King Ludwig II broke his engagement escaping to the Alps he loved. He wrote to Wagner of Hohenschwangau on November 21, 1867; “I write these sentences, sitting in comfortable gothic windows, with my lonely lights, while outside a blizzard blazes in. This is very peaceful, this silence is stimulating, while in the midst of the roar of the world I feel really miserable. “Good thing I’m alone at last. My mother is a long way away, as does my ex-bride, which will make me very unhappy. Before I stand bust of one, the true Friend I will love to death. . . If only I had a chance to die for you. “
It was at this point that Ludwig began to plan and build his palace. The task of becoming king becomes a heavy burden. He at the age of just 20, sends thousands of his compatriots to fight in the Seven-Week War. Two years after his failed love story, Ludwig once again had to send his countrymen into battle. This time against France in what became the Franco-Prussian War. From that moment Ludwig withdrew and entered the confident world. Plans for Neuschwanstein and Linderhof date from this period in his life (1869).
Ludwig is a changed person. He went from a lean youth to a big man in just a few years, spending all his time in the mountains in Hohenschwangau and Linderhof as well as a small Gothic-imperial fort at Berg, next to Lake Starnberg. He refused any contact with his ministry staff and was only looking for the fellowship of the mountain people. The only time King Ludwig II roams out of the mountains and into Munich is at the coronation and annual banquet given at the Residenz for the Knights of the Order of St. George, the highest Bavarian Warrior Order that Ludwig is the Grand Master.
Shortly after Prussia’s victory in the Franco-Prussian War, Bismark sought Ludwig’s approval for Bavaria to enter the German Empire united with Prussia as leader. After a few days, Ludwig surrendered and wrote a letter inviting Wilhelm II to become a united German Emperor. King Ludwig II surrendered his beloved Bavaria, becoming a lonely figure in a constitutional monarchy. Ludwig’s life has been dealt a blow after blow and it is the events that are the root of his alienation and the alleged “activity