Ludovicus Rex Bavariae
Ludovicus Rex Bavariae, (Ludwig II of Bavaria, "Mad Ludwig,"). (1845 - 1886) King of Bavaria from 1864 to 1886. He was best known for being a patron of Richard Wagner, for being the builder of several fairy-tale castles in the Bavarian Alps (including the beautiful Neuschwanstein), and for his mysterious death in the Starnbergersee in Bavaria -- usually represented as a suicide.
A superstitious man from his early youth, Ludwig believed devoutly in spirits, fairy tales, and especially the Germanic legends that fueled Wagner's operas. He built the Bayreuth opera house where Wagner's operas were first performed and continue to be celebrated today. Ludwig was also known to set places for dinner at his palace at Herrenchiemsee (a replica of Versailles Palace in Paris) for the ghosts of Marie Antoinette, Anne of Austria, and other deceased ladies of history.
Historically, Ludwig was a benign ruler, keeping the Kingdom of Bavaria out of the wars that plagued other German states at the time. During the time of Ludwig's reign, Otto von Bismark was attempting to bring Prussia to a peak of military power and to unite the German states into one empire. Ludwig did not resist the idea -- he was indifferent to it. It's because of this indifference that speculation grew that his drowning in the Starnberger Sea -- at a time when Bismark was pressuring Bavaria to join Prussia in moving into world colonization efforts -- was no accident.
Lugwig died on Sunday, June 13, 1886.
- Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludwig_II. A good overview of Ludwig's life.
- Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Wagner. Discusses Wagner's connection with Ludwig.
- http://www.koenig-ludwig.org/ (In German) A web site dedicated to the life and legend of Ludwig II.
- http://www.koenig-ludwig.org/de/geschichten/detail.php?nr=352&kategorie=geschichten (in German). The story of Bismark, Ludwig, and the rise of the German empire.