Ludwig II of Bavaria, commonly known as “Mad King Ludwig” was of the Wittelsbach line. Who are the Wittelsbachs, you ask? They’re not exactly a household name here in the US. But in the southern German state of Bavaria, they’re a big deal.
The House of Wittelsbach was founded in 1180 and its members ruled Bavaria until 1918, when the Bavarian monarchy was dissolved at the end of WW I.
Some tidbits you may not know about the Wittelsbachs:
- The Wittelsbachs didn’t just rule in Bavaria. The family also provided 2 Holy Roman Emperors (1328 and 1742), a King of Greece (1832) and a King of Denmark and Norway (1440).
- At the 1880 celebration of the family’s 700 year history, King Ludwig was too shy make an appearance and opted not to attend.
“Mad” King Ludwig is shown enjoying one of his favorite pastimes, opera. Photo, Time.
- Eccentricity (to put it mildly), or possibly even insanity popped up in the family from time to time, no doubt exacerbated by intermarriages. “Mad” King Ludwig liked to pretend he was eating with Marie Antoinette or King Louis XIV. His brother, Otto, was declared insane in his 20s and lived under constant supervision at Fürstenried Castle most of his adult life. Ludwig’s aunt Alexandra suffered throughout life from the belief that she had swallowed a glass piano.
- The Wittelsbach family opposed the Nazi regime in WWII, and several members were sent to concentration camps.
Franz, seen center in brown coat – photo, The Atlantic
- The current head of the family is Franz, Duke of Bavaria. He was born in 1933, and his great-grandfather, Ludwig III, was the final king of Bavaria. He lives in an apartment in Nymphenburg Palace, where King Ludwig II was born. Franz is unmarried, and upon his death the position of family head would transfer to his brother, Prince Max, Duke in Bavaria.
Susan and Lisa have been cyber-friends for several years. Susan blogs at Girls in White Dresses, and her new book about Mad King Ludwig, “Not So Happily Ever After: The Tale of King Ludwig II,” is available at Amazon.