King Ludwig II of Bavaria 'The Swan King' (1845-1886)

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Ludwig II Otto Friedrich Wilhelm, King of Bavaria (Nymphenburg, 25 August 1845 - drowned in Starnbergersee, 13 June 1886)


Dynasty: Wittelsbach

Reign: 1864 - 1886 (from June 10 1886 under the regency of Prince Luitpold of Bavaria)

Predecessor: King Maximilian II of Bavaria

Successor: King Otto of Bavaria

Parents: King Maximilian II of Bavaria and Princess Marie of Prussia

Brother: King Otto of Bavaria
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Part I of this wikipedia article (still free of copyrights):

Ludwig Friedrich Wilhelm II, King of Bavaria (August 25, 1845 – June 13, 1886) was king of Bavaria from 1864 until shortly before his death. He is also referred to as the "Swan King" in English and "der Märchenkönig" ("the Fairy tale King") in German.
Ludwig is best known as an eccentric who died under mysterious circumstances. (Ludwig's psychological condition was questioned towards the end of his life resulting in his deposition without medical examination.) Ludwig's legacy is also intertwined with the history of art and architecture, as he commissioned the construction of several extravagant fantasy castles (the most famous being Neuschwanstein) and was the patron of the composer Richard Wagner.

Childhood and adolescent years
Born in Nymphenburg castle (today located in suburban Munich), he was the eldest son of King Maximilian II of Bavaria and his Queen, Princess Marie of Prussia.
In an age where Kings were responsible for the governance of most of Europe, Ludwig was continually reminded of his royal status as a child. King Maximilian wanted to instruct his sons Ludwig and Otto in the burdens of royal duty from their childhood onwards. Ludwig was extremely indulged and yet severely controlled by his tutors and subjected to a strict regimen of study and exercise. There are some who explain much of his odd behavior as an adult due to the stress of growing up in a royal family. Ludwig did not have a very close relationship with either of his parents. King Maximilian's advisers had suggested that on his daily walks he might like to at times be accompanied by his future successor. The King replied, "But what am I to say to him? After all, my son takes no interest in what other people tell him." Ludwig referred to his mother as "my predecessor's consort".

He was far closer to his grandfather, the deposed and notorious King Ludwig I, who came from a family of eccentrics.
Ludwig's childhood years did have happy moments. He lived for much of the time at Castle Hohenschwangau, a fantasy castle his father had built near the Swan Lake near Füssen. It was decorated in the gothic style with countless frescoes of the walls of heroic German sagas. He also visited Lake Starnberg with his family. As an adolescent, Ludwig became best friends with his aide de camp, the Prince Paul Maximilian Lamoral of Thurn and Taxis of Bavaria's wealthy Thurn and Taxis family. The two young men rode together, read poetry aloud, and staged scenes from the Romantic operas of Richard Wagner. The friendship cooled somewhat when Paul became engaged. During his youth Ludwig also initiated a lifelong friendship with his older cousin, Elizabeth, Duchess of Bavaria, later Elisabeth, Empress of Austria. They loved nature and poetry, and nicknamed each other "the Eagle" (Ludwig) and "the Seagull" (Elisabeth).

Ludwig ascended to the Bavarian throne at 18, following his father's death. He had just come of age and was not prepared for high office when Maximilian II died after a three-day illness. His youth and brooding good looks made him popular in Bavaria and elsewhere. One of the first acts of his reign was to summon composer Richard Wagner to his court in Munich. Ludwig had admired Wagner since first seeing his opera, Lohengrin. On May 5, 1864, the 51 year old Wagner met Ludwig in the Royal Palace in Munich. Wagner's operas appealed to the king's fantasy-filled imagination. Wagner had a notorious reputation as a revolutionary and was constantly on the run from creditors. Ludwig was the saviour of Wagner, who wrote of his first meeting with Ludwig, "Alas, he is so handsome and wise, soulful and lovely, that I fear that his life must melt away in this vulgar world like a fleeting dream of the gods." Without Ludwig, it is doubted that Wagner's subsequent operas would have been composed. Ludwig called Wagner 'the friend'. Wagner's extravagant and notorious behaviour in Munich unsettled the conservative people of Bavaria and he was asked to leave by the King.
The greatest stresses of Ludwig's early reign were pressure to produce an heir, and relations with militant Prussia. Both issues came to the forefront in 1867. Ludwig became engaged to Duchess Sophie in Bavaria, his cousin and Empress Elisabeth of Austria's youngest sister. Their engagement was publicized on January 22, 1867, but after repeatedly postponing the wedding date, Ludwig finally cancelled the engagement in October. A few days before the engagement had been announced, Sophie had received a letter from the king telling her what she already knew: "The main substance of our relationship has always been ... Richard Wagner's remarkable and deeply moving destiny." After the engagement was broken off, Ludwig wrote to his former fiancee, "My beloved Elsa! Your cruel father has torn us apart. Eternally yours, Heinrich" (the names Elsa and Heinrich came from characters from Wagner operas) Ludwig never married, but Sophie later married Ferdinand Philippe Marie, duc d'Alençon (1844–1910).
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Though Ludwig had sided with Austria against Prussia in the Seven Weeks' War, his army was defeated. Peace conditions forced him to accepted a mutual defence treaty with Prussia in 1867. Under the terms of this treaty, Bavaria joined with Prussia against France in the Franco-Prussian War. On the request of the Prussian Minister President, Bismarck, Ludwig wrote a letter in December 1870 calling for King Wilhelm I of Prussia to be declared German Emperor or Kaiser at the creation of the German Empire. He received financial concessions in return for his support. Ludwig had little choice in the matter. The creation of the German Empire relegated Bavaria to a secondary position within the Empire. The days of Bavaria as an independent kingdom were over. Ludwig registered a protest on the changes by choosing not to attend the ceremony at Versailles Palace in France where Wilhlem I was declared German Emperor.
Throughout his reign, Ludwig had a succession of close friendships with men, including his chief equerry and Master of the Horse, Richard Hornig, Hungarian theatre actor Josef Kainz, and courtier Alfons Weber. In 1869, he began keeping a diary in which he recorded his private thoughts and his attempts to suppress his sexual desires and remain true to his Roman Catholic faith. Ludwig's original diaries were lost during World War II, and all that remains today are copies of entries made prior to the war. These copied diary entries, along with private letters and other surviving personal documents, suggest that Ludwig struggled with homosexuality throughout his life.
Due to the loss of Bavarian independence, Ludwig became increasingly withdrawn from the royal court and government. In the 1880s, Ludwig spent much of his time in seclusion in the Bavarian Alps, where he built several expensive fairytale castles with the assistance of stage designer Christian Jank. Neuschwanstein Castle was built high above the Pollat Gorge, near his childhood home, Hohenschwangau Castle, in tribute to the Nordic sagas of Lohengrin, Tristan and Isolde and Der Ring des Nibelungen (Ring of the Nibelungen) series. Neuschwanstein was never completed. Linderhof Castle, located in the Grswang valley, was built in the style of the time of King Louis XIV of France, and was the only one of his three castles that was completed. His other castle, Herrenchiemsee, was located on the Herren Island in Lake Chiemsee. It is a copy of the central section of Versailles Palace in France, and was never completed. With the reduction of his monarchy to that of a mere titular one within the new German Empire, Ludwig longed for the time of absolutism, when kings had real power.

Deposition and death
On June 10, 1886, Ludwig was officially declared incapable of executing his powers due to what the four reporting psychiatrists described as "paranoia", although no medical examination had taken place, and was deposed by the government. His father's younger brother Prince Luitpold was complicit in the action and was declared regent. The psychiatrist Professor Bernhard von Gudden headed the psychiatric team. Their chief "evidence" were stories of Ludwig's odd behaviour, collected from palace servants and his political enemies. The majority of these stories were hearsay and may have been obtained with bribery or threats, and their reliability is questionable. Most historians believe that Ludwig was indeed sane, an innocent victim of political intrigue. Others believe he may have suffered from the effects of chloroform used in an effort to control chronic toothache rather than any psychological disorder. Empress Elisabeth held that "The King was not mad; he was just an eccentric living in a world of dreams. They might have treated him more gently, and thus perhaps spared him so terrible an end."
Ludwig was taken into custody in secret after repeated attempts to detain him. The events proved as unusual as any in his life. An eccentric but loyal baroness arrived at the gates of Neuschwanstein castle to wave her umbrella menacingly and to harangue the first Commission of men who came to imprison Ludwig. The king himself ordered all kinds of punishments against his treasonous ministers. The most extreme punishments were never carried out. The commission was, however, locked up in the castle, and later released. A huge force of loyal citizens swarmed from the village below Neuschwanstein to protect their King. They were willing to escort Ludwig under guard across the border to save him, but Ludwig refused. The battalion of soldiers at nearby Kempten had been summoned to Neuschwanstein, but it was detained by the government.
Ludwig attempted to issue the following proclamation to the public:
The Prince Luitpold intends, against my will, to ascend to the Regency of my land, and my erstwhile ministry has, through false allegations regarding the state of my health, deceived my beloved people, and is preparing to commit acts of high treason. [...] I call upon every loyal Bavarian to rally around my loyal supporters to thwart the planned treason against the King and the fatherland.
This was printed by a Bamberg newspaper on June 11, 1886, but the copies were seized by the government fearful of the consequences of their distribution. Most of Ludwig's telegrams to the newspapers and his friends were intercepted. Ludwig received a message from Bismarck advising him to go to Munich and show himself to the people, but Ludwig felt unable to do so and therefore sealed his fate by refusing to leave Neuschwanstein and rally his people. On the morning of the twelfth, a second Commission reached the castle. The King was arrested at 4:00 am and taken to an awaiting carriage. He asked the person overseeing the operation, Dr. Gudden, "How can you declare me insane? After all, you have never seen or examined me before." Nevertheless, Ludwig was transported to Castle Berg on the shores of Lake Starnberg, south of Munich.
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Mystery surrounds Ludwig's death on Lake Starnberg (then called Lake Würm). On June 13, at 6:30 pm, Ludwig asked to take a walk with Professor Gudden. Gudden agreed, and told the guards not to follow them. The two men never returned. King Ludwig and Professor Gudden were found dead floating near the shore of Lake Starnberg at 11:30 pm.
After his death, a small memorial chapel was built overlooking the site. A remembrance ceremony is held there each year on June 13.
Ludwig's death was officially ruled a suicide by drowning. This is not accurate. The cause of Ludwig's death has never been truthfully explained. Ludwig was known to be a strong swimmer, the water was less than waist-deep where his body was found, and the official autopsy report indicated that no water was found in his lungs. It is therefore impossible that he died from drowning. His cause of death remains unsolved as the Wittelsbach family to this day refuses to solve the mystery. Many hold that Ludwig was murdered by his enemies while attempting to escape from Berg. It is claimed that he was shot. The King's personal fisherman, Jakob Lidl stated, "Three years after the king's death I was made to swear an oath that I would never say certain things - not to my wife, not on my deathbed, and not to any priest ... The state has undertaken to look after my family if anything should happen to me in either peace time or war." Lidl kept his oral oath but left behind notes which were found after his death. According to these, he had hidden behind bushes with his boat,waiting for the king, in order to row him out into the lake, where escape helpers were waiting. "As the king stepped up to his boat and put one foot in it, a shot rang out from the bank, apparently killing him on the spot, for the king fell across the bow of the boat." Another theory suggests that Ludwig died of natural causes (such as a heart attack or stroke) during an escape attempt due to the extreme cold of the lake. Some believe it would be easy to solve the mystery by exhuming his remains, since it would be easy to detect a gunshot wound, even after so many years.
The remains of Ludwig were dressed in the regalia of the Order of the Knights of St. Hubert and lay in state in the royal chapel at the Munich Residence Palace. In his right hand he held a posy of white jasmine picked for him by his cousin the Empress Elisabeth of Austria. After an elaborate funeral on June 19, 1886, Ludwig's remains were interred in the crypt of the Michaelskirche in Munich. His heart, however, does not lie with the rest of his body. Bavarian tradition called for the heart of the king to be placed in a silver urn and sent to the Gnadenkapelle (Chapel of the Miraculous Image) in Altötting. Ludwig's urn sits beside those of his father and grandfather inside the chapel. Today visitors pay tribute to the late King by visiting his grave as well as his castles

Two portraits:

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His legacy
Ludwig II is remembered as one of the most beloved and unusual rulers in Bavarian history. He was quite popular among his subjects, for three major reasons. First, he attempted to avoid wars, giving Bavaria some years of peace. Whether this was due to a belief in pacifism or a lack of interest in politics is debatable. Ludwig always believed Bavaria was closer to Austria than Prussia. Second, Ludwig funded the construction of his famous castles with his personal income, not from the state budget. This gave many people employment and brought a considerable flow of money to the regions involved. Third, his public eccentricities could be quite charming. He hated crowds and formal affairs, but did not consider himself above socializing with his subjects. He enjoyed traveling in the Bavarian countryside and chatting with farmers and labourers he met along the way. Ludwig also delighted in rewarding those who were hospitable to him during his travels with lavish gifts. Ludwig lived mainly away from the court in his castles in the Bavarian countryside. He is still remembered in Bavaria as "Unser Kini" which means "our darling king" in the Bavarian dialect of German.
Although the construction of his castles very nearly bankrupted Bavaria's Wittlesbach royal family, they were never built with funds from the Bavarian treasury. It is the ultimate irony that the very castles that were claimed, incorrectly, to be ruining Bavaria financially, the reason for his deposition, have today become extremely profitable tourist attractions for the Bavarian state. The palaces have paid for themselves many times over and attract millions of tourists from all over the world to Germany each year.

Ludwig and the arts
Ludwig was a major patron of composer Richard Wagner, and he funded the construction of the Bayreuth Festspielhaus. Without Ludwig's support, it is almost certain that Wagner would have been unable to complete his opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen or to write his final opera, Parsifal. Ludwig also sponsored the premieres of Tristan und Isolde, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and, through his financial support of the Bayreuth Festival, those of Der Ring des Nibelungen and Parsifal.
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His buildings
It is not surprising that Ludwig II had a great interest in building. His paternal grandfather, King Ludwig I, had largely rebuilt Munich. It was known as the 'Athens on the Isar'. His father, King Maximillian II had also continued with more construction in Munich as well as the construction of Hohenschwangau Castle, the childhood home of Ludwig II, near the future Neuschwanstein Castle of Ludwig II. Ludwig II had planned to build a large opera house on the banks of the Isar river in Munich. This plan was vetoed by the Bavarian government. Using similar plans, a festival theatre was built later in his reign from Ludwig's personal finances at Bayreuth.
Ludwig II left behind a large collection of plans and designs for other castles that were never built, as well as plans for further rooms in his completed buildings. Many of these designs are housed today in the King Ludwig II Museum at Herrenchiemsee Castle. These building designs date from the latter part of the King's reign, beginning around 1883. As money was starting to run out, the artists knew that their designs would never be executed. The designs became more extravagant and numerous as the artists realized that there was no need to concern themselves with economy or practicality.
  • Winter Garden, Residenz Palace, Munich, an elaborate winter garden built on the roof of the Residenz Palace in Munich. It featured an ornamental lake with gardens and painted frescos. It was roofed over using a technically advanced metal and glass construction. After the death of Ludwig II, it was dismantled in 1897 due to water leaking from the ornamental lake through the ceiling of the rooms below. Photographs and sketches still record this incredible creation which included a grotto, a Moorish kiosk, an Indian royal tent, an artifically illuminated rainbow and intermittent moonlight.
  • Neuschwanstein Castle, or "New Swan Stone Castle", a dramatic Romanesque fortress with Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic interiors, which was built high above his father's castle: Hohenschwangau. Numerous wall paintings depict scenes from Wagner's operas. Christian glory and chaste love figure predominantly in the iconography, and may have been intended to help Ludwig live up to his religious ideals. The castle was not finished at Ludwig's death. The residence quarters of the king can be visited along with the servant's rooms, kitchens as well as the monumental throne room. Unfortunately the throne was never completed although sketches show how it might have looked on completion.
    Neuschwanstein Castle is a landmark well-known by many non-Germans, and was used by Walt Disney in the twentieth century as the inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty Castles at Disneylands around the world.
  • Linderhof Castle, an ornate palace in neo-French Rococo style, with handsome formal gardens. The grounds contain a Venus grotto where opera singers performed while Ludwig was rowed in a shell-like boat on an underground lake lit with electricity, a novelty at that time. The lighting can change from red to blue. In the grounds a romantic woodsman's hut was also built around an artificial tree. Inside the palace, iconography reflects Ludwig's fascination with the absolutist government of Ancien Régime France. Ludwig saw himself as the "Moon King", a romantic shadow of the earlier "Sun King", Louis XIV of France. From Linderhof, Ludwig enjoyed moonlit sleigh rides in an elaborate eighteenth century sleigh, complete with footmen in eighteenth century livery. He was known to stop and visit with rural peasants while on rides, adding to his legend and popularity. The sleigh can today be viewed with other royal carriages at the Carriage Museum at Castle Nymphenburg in Munich. There is also a Moorish Pavilion in the ground of Linderhof Castle.
  • Herrenchiemsee, a replica of the central section of the palace at Versailles, France, which was meant to outdo its predecessor in scale and opulence. It is located on the Herren Island in the middle of the Chiemsee Lake. Most of the palace was never completed once the king ran out of money, and Ludwig lived there for only the 10 days before his mysterious death. It is interesting to note that tourists come from France to view the recreation of the famous Ambassador's staircase. The original Ambassador's staircase Versailles in France was demolished in 1752.
  • Ludwig also outfitted Schachen king's house with an overwhelmingly decorative Arabian style interior, including a replica of the famous Peacock Throne. There are allegations of luxurious parties with the king sometimes reclining in the role of Turkish sultan while the most handsome soldiers and stable boys served him as scantily clad dancers.
  • Falkenstein, a planned, but never executed "robber baron's castle" in the Gothic style. A painting by Christian Jank shows the proposed building as an even more fairytale version of Neuschwanstein, perched on a rocky cliff high above Castle Neuschwanstein.
  • Ludwig also had plans for several other buildings that were never constructed, such as a Chinese summer palace and Byzantine palace.
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Literature, stage and film
  • The 1972 film Ludwig, directed by Luchino Visconti was based on his life. It traces the life of Ludwig II from his accession to death, and stars Helmut Berger as Ludwig II and Romy Schneider as the Austrian Empress Elisabeth.
  • The 1972 German film Ludwig - Requiem für einen jungfräulichen König (Ludwig - Requiem for a Virgin King), written and directed by Hans-Jürgen Syberberg provides a more personal, sympathetic and idiosyncratic account of the King's life from his boyhood to his death. It stars Harry Baer and Balthasar Thomass as Ludwig II, and Gerhard Maerz and Anette Tirier as Richard Wagner.
  • An earlier film, directed by Helmut Kautner, entitled Ludwig II (1955), starred O. W. Fischer in the role of Ludwig II and Ruth Leuwerik in the role of Empress Elizabeth.
  • An epic film, Wagner (1983), directed by Tony Palmer for the London Cultural Trust, on the life of Richard Wagner, starring Richard Burton in the role of Wagner, also features Laszlo Galffi in the substantial role of King Ludwig.
  • The early 21st century play Valhalla by playwright Paul Rudnick prominently features Ludwig as the play unfolds in 19th century Bavaria and 1940s Texas.
  • A play by Jordan Harrison, "Doris to Darlene, a cautionary valentine," features Ludwig II and his relationship with Wagner as two central characters. It premiered at Playwrights Horizons in New York in December 2007.
  • There is also a three-volume manga published by Kadokawa Shoten called Ludwig II (ルートヴィヒⅡ世, Ruutovihi II sei) by the artist Higuri You (氷栗優), a highly fictionalized account of Ludwig's love life.
  • The Busch Gardens Europe ride Curse of DarKastle features Ludwig as a king whose parents, and later, party guests "mysteriously disappeared", and who now haunts his old castle terrorizing guests riding golden sleighs. As with Gabriel Knight: The Beast Within, werewolves figure in the ride.
  • Takarazuka Revue has adopted the life of the emperor for a musical production.
  • Ludwig figures in The Alabaster Egg, a novel by Gillian Freeman.
Video and Computer Games:
The computer game Gabriel Knight: The Beast Within features several Ludwig II-related locations and includes extensive discussion of his life, although numerous fictional elements (including werewolves and a lost Wagner opera entitled Der Fluch des Engelhart ("The Curse of Engelhart")) are added to fit in with the supernatural mystery plot of the game.

A number of musicals based on the life of Ludwig II have been staged. One was called, Ludwig: The Musical by Rolf Rettburg and another, Ludwig II: Longing For Paradise with music by Franz Hummel and lyrics by Stephen Barbarino. A special theatre was constructed on the shores of the lake at Fussen, not far from Castles Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein, specifically for the musical performances.
The Clean's spoken-word song Ludwig is about him.
The electronic duo Matmos recorded a song entitled "Banquet for King Ludwig II of Bavaria" on their 2006 album The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast.
Electronic music composer Klaus Schulze wrote the song "Ludwig II von Bayern" on his album X.
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Thank you he is one of my favourite people in history
I love staying in the town of Fussen. There is a hotel in town that opens to the side of the Castle. To wake up in the morning and see it in all its splendour is a treat indeed.
Thanks for the article. Too bad we'll never know the true circumstances surrounding Ludwig's death
King Ludwig has been in the news lately, according to psychiatrist Heinz Häfner in his biography 'Ein Koenig wird beseitigt' the king was not gay but he did sexually abused (male) soldiers (as he forced them).

The Bavarian monarchist movement is furious and accused the author of looking for sensation and of infamous lese-majeste. Stefan Jetz, the chairman, says that the king was far too catholic to sexually abuse others.Peter Glowatz, another Ludwig-author disagrees with Haefners concusion, he says they prove that the king did hae interest in men, sexually, but it does not prove he did anything.

Haefner also disagrees that the king suffered from a mental illness, his forced abdication in 1886 was due to his homosexuality.

Article in Dutch from here.

In the end, Ludwig II only lived in the palace of
Neuschwanstein for a total of 172 days.

Even after his debts had reached 14 million mark, Ludwig insisted on continuation of his architectural projects; he threatened suicide if his creditors seized his palaces.
In early 1886 Ludwig asked his cabinet for a credit of 6 million mark, which was denied.
In April he followed Bismarck's advice to apply for the money to his parliament.

In June, the Bavarian government decided to depose the king, who was living at Neuschwanstein at the time.
On June 9 he was incapacitated, and on June 10 he had the deposition commission arrested in the Gatehouse.
In expectation of the commission he had alarmed the gendarmerie and fire brigades of surrounding places for his protection.
A second commission headed by Bernhard von Gudden arrived on the next day, and the king was forced to leave the palace in the same night.

Ludwig was put under the supervision of von Gudden.
On June 13 both died under mysterious circumstances in the shallow shore water of Lake Starnberg near Castle Berg.

poor Ludvig... forced out of his magnificent
Neuschwanstein and only days later he is dead .

Im wondering, did the scheming Bismarks advice
have anything to do with his misfortune ?
and how vindictive of the Bavarian Government to vote to depose their King... no doubt bringing on his state of paranoia .

( bit surprised if this thread is all there is about Ludwig 2nd in this forum.... surely he deserves a lot more )
Don't forget that at the time homosexuality was considered as a mental illness. In certain countries it could bring death penalty....
Who were Count Berlioz and Duke Pfeitmeister?

While researching King Ludwig II's diaries, I stumbled upon two names and I don't know who these individuals were. I cannot find any information on them. Please help. The names are

Count Berlioz and Duke Pfeitmeister
Was Ludwig II considered as a possible husband for the Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna (the future wife of Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh)?
Bavaria's mad king

Thoughts on how Ludwig II of Bavaria died? Personally, I'm pretty convinced it was an assassination.
I really liked him and I don't think he was mad at all !
He was a suffering man that's all.
We will never know unfortunately... unless we meet him there up above and ask him !!!!
Anyone know where I can obtain a copy of Ludwig's diary? Preferably an online version. Thanks!! :)
In a book I think you can find easily but best wishes !!!!
Thank you. Honestly at that time every original attitude (I mean far from the social norms) was considered insanity..... They couldn't accept difference
Thank you. Honestly at that time every original attitude (I mean far from the social norms) was considered insanity..... They couldn't accept difference

You are correct, Rominet09. Ludwig II was different. Could people not understand his artistic outlook? If his father Maximilian II had lived longer, would he have been a good role model for Ludwig?
I'm sure there is a thread about him here but I can't find him either. He was certainly a fascinating and unusual character-- the close friendship with the Empress Elizabeth of Austria (Sisi) his second cousin, broken engagement to her sister, his sexual orientation, the tempestuous relationship with Richard Wagner, his compulsive castle building and mysterious death. The debate about his mental condition at the end of his life too, of course.

There are several good biographies on Ludwig, in English. I enjoyed The Mad King by Greg King but read it so long ago that I've forgotten most of it, lol.

An overview of Ludwig's life here, from Unofficial Royalty.

King Ludwig II of Bavaria | Unofficial Royalty
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He has Always fascinated me too ! I hope you can get an English translation of the French article as they give another serious version of the events !
Some people do think that Prince Ludwig of Bavaria, son of Prince Luitpold looks very much like King Ludwig II of Bavaria.
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