The fascinating tale of
Bavaria's Mad King
Written in history as ‘der Märchenkönig’ translating to the ‘Fairy Tale King’ or the ‘Mad King of Beveria’; the life and death of King Ludwig II of Bavaria still remains a mystery 133 years on. Ludwig II’s unconventional reign, love for extravagance and controversial death has left a trail of theories and astounding architecture to explore and discover.
Building a kingdom
King Ludwig II. ruled Bavaria from 1864 to 1886 however, his final year felt the weight of the great defeat as the expanding state of Prussia conquered Austria and Bavaria in the ‘German War’. The loss haunted the king and he consciously distanced himself further from reality. His extreme avoidance of social gathering and crowds resulted in his withdrawal from Munich into his beloved alpine countryside. Here, with his private money, which commonly for kings was spent on royal functions and events, Ludwig chose to invest in the building of magnificent castles. Located on the foothills of the Alps; Neuschwanstein, Herrenchiemsee and Linderhof Castles today are regarded as the architectural jewels of Bavaria. The fairy-tale beauty of the Neuschwanstein Castle even bewitched Walt Disney, inspiring the creation and design of both Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty’s Palaces.
Dethroning the King
However, such lavish castles and lifestyle came at a price, Ludwig fell into great dept. To avoid a government crisis and public unrest, Bavarian Ministers took measures to remove the king from the thrown. With only witnesses to discuss Ludwig’s eccentric behaviour, the panel of psychiatrists, without a psychiatric evaluation declared the king insane.
Ludwig II final moments
They transferred the dethroned King to the Castle Berg on Lake Starnberg on the 12th of June 1886 for further evaluation and observation. The following evening Ludwig took a stroll with Dr Von Gudden who was the overseeing physician. However, they never returned, instead a search party located their floating bodies on the lakeshore, the king appearing uninjured however the doctor had experienced a head trauma. Numerous theories have been claimed and tested arguing either accident, suicide or murder but we will never know.
Ludwig II once expressed his longing for his life to be an “eternal enigma”. If not attained with the mystery of his life, it was certainly achieved with his death.
Explore King Ludwig's stunning castles on one of our Bavarian tours