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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” or “der Märchenkönig” (the Fairytale King.)
Ludwig ascended to the Bavarian throne at 18, following his father’s early death. His youth and brooding good looks made him wildly popular in Bavaria and elsewhere. One of the first acts of his reign was to summon opera composer Richard Wagner to his court in Munich. Ludwig had admired Wagner since first seeing his opera, and for the rest of his live he would be Wagners patron and a great influence on his works. King Ludwig lived in a fairytale world, so he felt at home in Wagner’s stormy operas about old mythes and sagas.
At the end of his life, Ludwig was declared insane by his family. Many 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 mental illness.
Mystery surrounds Ludwig’s death on Lake Starnberg (then called Lake Würm). On June 13, at 6:30 p.m., Ludwig asked to take a walk with Professor Gudden, the psychiatrist that headed the team of Ludwigs doctors. Gudden agreed, and told the guards not to follow them. The two men never returned. King Ludwig and Professor Gudden were found dead floating in the water near the shore of Lake Starnberg at 11:30 p.m.
Mystery! Suspense! Ludwig built many beautiful castles, but I’m saving those for a next post.