- Kingdom of Bavaria
Infobox Former Country
native_name = "Königreich Bayern"
conventional_long_name = Kingdom of Bavaria
common_name = Bavaria
continent = Europe
region = Germany
country = Germany
status = Member of
Confederation of the Rhine(1806-13)
German Confederation(1815-66) Member of German Empire(1871-1918)
year_start = 1806
1 January 1806
event_start = Established
year_end = 1918
7 November 1918
event_end = Disestablished
p1 = Electorate of Bavaria
flag_p1 = Flag of Bavaria (lozengy).svg
p2 = Bishopric of Würzburg
flag_p2 = Flagge Großherzogtum Baden (1871-1891).svg
s1 = Bavaria
flag_s1 = Flag of Bavaria (lozengy).svg
image_map_caption = Kingdom of Bavaria within the
capital = Munich
government_type = Monarchy
Bavarian gulden> Goldmark (1873-1914) Papiermark (from 1914)
title_leader = King
leader1 = Maximilian I (first)
year_leader1 = 1806-1825
leader2 = Ludwig III (last)
year_leader2 = 1913-1918
stat_pop1 = The Kingdom of Bavaria ( _de. Königreich Bayern) was a German state that existed from 1806–1918. Elector Maximilian I Joseph of the
House of Wittelsbachbecame the first King of Bavaria in 1806. The monarchy would remain held by the Wittelsbachs until the kingdom's dissolution in 1918. Most of Bavaria's modern-day borders were established after 1814 with the Treaty of Paris, in which Bavaria ceded Tyroland Vorarlbergto the Austrian Empirewhile receiving Aschaffenburgand parts of Hesse-Darmstadt. As a state within the German Empire, the kingdom was second in size only to the Kingdom of Prussia. Since the unification of Germanyin 1871, Bavaria has remained part of Germany to the present day.
Peace of Pressburgrecognized Maximilian I's claim to be King of Bavaria. The elector declared himself to be king on 1 January 1806, officially changing the Electorate of Bavariato being the Kingdom of Bavaria. The new kingdom faced challenges from the outset of its creation, relying on the support of Napoleonic Franceand having to change its constitution in accordance with France's wishes. The kingdom faced war with Austria in 1808 and from 1810 to 1814, lost territory to Württemberg, Italy, and then Austria.
However with the defeat of Napoleon's France in 1814, Bavaria was compensated for some of its losses, and received new territories such as the
Grand Duchy of Würzburg, the Archbishopric of Mainz(Aschaffenburg), parts of the Grand Duchy of Hesse, and in 1816, the Rhenish Palatinate from France.
26 May 1818, the constitution of the Kingdom of Bavaria was proclaimed. The parliament would have two houses, an upper house comprising the aristocracy and noblemen, including the high-class hereditary landowners, government officials and nominees of the crown. The second house, a lower house, would include representatives of small landowners, the towns and the peasants. The rights of Protestants were safeguarded in the constitution with articles supporting the equality of all religions, despite opposition by supporters of the Roman Catholic Church. The initial constitution almost proved disastrous for the monarchy, with controversies such as the army having to swear allegiance to the new constitution. The monarchy appealed to the Kingdom of Prussiaand the Austrian Empire for advice, the two refused to take action on Bavaria's behalf, but the debacles lessened and the state stabilized with the accession of Ludwig I to the throne following the death of Maximilian in 1825.
Ludwig I, Maximilian II and the Revolutions
Ludwig Iaccended to the throne of Bavaria. Under Ludwig, the arts flourished in Bavaria, and Ludwig personally ordered and financially assisted the creation of many neoclassicalbuildings and architecture across Bavaria. Ludwig also increased Bavaria's pace towards industrialization under his reign. In foreign affairs under Ludwig's rule, Bavaria supported the Greeksduring the Greek War of Independencewith his second son, Otto being elected King of Greecein 1832. As for politics, initial reforms advocated by Ludwig were both liberal and reform-oriented. However, after the Revolutions of 1830, Ludwig turned to conservative reaction. In 1837, the Roman Catholic-supported clerical movement, the Ultramontanes, came to power in the Bavarian parliament and began a campaign of reform to the constitution, which removed civil rights that had earlier been granted to Protestants, as well as enforcing censorship and forbidding the free discussion of internal politics. This regime was short-lived due to the demand by the Ultramontanes of the naturalization of Ludwig I's Irish mistress, which was resented by Ludwig, and the Ultramontanes were pushed out.
Revolutions of 1848and Ludwig's low popularity, Ludwig I abdicated the throne to avoid a potential coup, and allowed his son, Maximilian II, to become the King of Bavaria. Maximilian II responded to the demands of the people for a united German state by attending the Frankfurt Assembly, which intended to create such a state. Maximilian II stood alongside Bavaria's ally, the Austrian Empire, in opposition to Austria's enemy, the Kingdom of Prussia, which was to receive the imperial crown of a united Germany. This opposition was resented by many Bavarian citizens, who wanted a united Germany, but in the end Prussia declined accepting the crown and the constitution of a German state they perceived to be too liberal and not in Prussia's interests.
Bavaria within a Divided Germany
In the aftermath of the failure of the
Frankfurt Assembly, Prussiaand Austriacontinued to debate over which monarchy had the inherent right to rule Germany. A dispute between Austria and the Electoral Princeof Hesse-Kassel(or Hesse-Cassel) was used by Austria and its allies (including Bavaria) to promote the isolation of Prussia in German political affairs. This diplomatic insult almost led to war when Austria, Bavaria and other allies moved troops through Bavaria towards Hesse-Kassel in 1850. However the Prussian army backed down to Austria and caved in to the acceptance of dual leadership. This event was known as the Punctation of Olmützbut also known as the "Humiliation of Olmütz" by Prussia. This event solidified the Bavarian kingdom's alliance with Austria against Prussia. Attempts by Prussia to reorganize the loose and un-led German Confederation were opposed by Bavaria and Austria, with Bavaria taking part in its own discussions with Austria and other allies in 1863, in Frankfurt, without Prussia and its allies attending.
Maximilian IIdied, and his eighteen year-old son, Ludwig II, arguably the most famous of the Bavarian kings, became King of Bavaria as escalating tensions between Austria and Prussia grew steadily. Prussia's Minister-President Otto von Bismarck, recognizing the immediate likelihood of war, attempted to sway Bavaria towards neutrality in the conflict. Ludwig II refused Bismarck's offers and continued Bavaria's alliance with Austria. In 1866, violence erupted between Austria and Prussia and the Austro-Prussian Warbegan. Bavaria and most of the south German states, with the exception of Austria and Saxony, contributed far less to the war effort against Prussia. Austria quickly faltered after its defeat at the Battle of Königgrätzand was totally defeated shortly afterward. Austria was humiliated by defeat and was forced to concede control, and its sphere of influence, over the south German states. Bavaria, from this point on, steadily progressed into Prussia's sphere of influence.
Franco-Prussian War and the Proclamation of the German Empire
With Austria's defeat in the Austro-Prussian War, the northern German states quickly unified into the
North German Confederation, with Prussia's King leading the state. Bavaria's early inhibitions towards Prussia changed, along with those of many of the south German states, after French emperor Napoleon IIIbegan speaking of France's need for "compensation" from its loss in 1814 and included Bavarian-held Palatinate as part of its territorial claims. Ludwig II joined an alliance with Prussia, in 1870, against France, which was seen by Germans as the greatest enemy to a united Germany. At the same time, Bavaria increased its political, legal, and trade ties with the North German Confederation. In 1870, war erupted between France and Prussia in the Franco-Prussian War. The Bavarian Army was sent under the command of the Prussian crown prince against the French army.
With France's defeat and humiliation against the combined German forces, it was
Ludwig IIwho proposed that Prussian King Wilhelm Ibe proclaimed German Emperor or "Kaiser" of the German Empire(" Deutsches Reich"), which occurred in 1871 in German occupied Versailles, France. The territories of the German Empire were declared, which included the states of the North German Confederation and all of the south German states, with the major exception of Austria. The Empire also included the formerly French territory of Alsace-Lorraine, which was annexed in large part due to Ludwig's desire to move the French frontier away from the Palatinate.
Bavaria's entry into the German Empire changed, from jubilation over France's defeat, to dismay shortly afterward, over the direction of Germany under the new German Chancellor and Prussian Prime Minister,
Otto von Bismarck. The persecution of the Catholic Church in Bismarck's " Kulturkampf" frustrated the predominantly Catholic southern German states, including Bavaria, although Bismarck was eventually compelled to moderate his policies.
The fall of the "Mad King"
After Bavaria's unification into Germany, Ludwig II became increasingly detached from Bavaria's political affairs and spent vast amounts of money on personal projects, such as the construction of a number of fairytale-like castles and palaces, the most famous being the
Wagnerian-style Castle Neuschwanstein. Although Ludwig used his personal wealth to finance these projects instead of state funds, the construction projects landed him deeply in debt. These debts caused much concern among Bavaria's political elite, who sought to persuade Ludwig to cease his building; he refused, and relations between the government's ministers and the crown deteriorated.
At last, in 1886, the crisis came to a head: the Bavarian ministers deposed the king, organizing a medical commission to declare him insane, and therefore incapable of executing his governmental powers. A day after Ludwig's deposition, the king died mysteriously after asking the commission's chief psychiatrist to go on a walk with him along
Lake Starnberg(then called Lake Würm). Ludwig and the psychiatrist were found dead, floating in the lake. An autopsy listed cause of death as suicide by drowning, but some sources claim that no water was found in Ludwig's lungs. While these facts could be explained by dry drowning, they have also led to some conspiracy theories of political assassination.
The crown passed to Ludwig's brother Otto I, but since Otto had a clear history of mental illness, the duties of the throne actually rested in the hands of the brothers' uncle, Prince Luitpold, serving as
During the regency of Prince-Regent Luitpold, from 1886 to 1913, relations between Bavarians and Prussians remained cold, with Bavarians remembering the anti-Catholic agenda of Bismarck's "
Kulturkampf", as well as Prussia's strategic dominance over the empire. Bavaria protested Prussian dominance over Germany and snubbed the Prussian-born German Emperor, Wilhelm II, in 1900, by forbidding the flying of any other flag other than the Bavarian flag on public buildings for the Emperor's Birthday, but this was swiftly modified afterwards, allowing the German imperial flag to be hung side by side with the Bavarian flag. In 1912, Luitpold died, and his son, Prince-Regent Ludwig, took over as regent of Bavaria. A year later, the regency ended when Ludwig declared himself King of Bavaria and from that point on was known as Ludwig III.
World War I and the end of the Kingdom
In 1914, a clash of alliances occurred over
Austria-Hungary's invasion of Serbiafollowing the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Bosnian Serbmilitant. Germany went to the side of its former rival-turned-ally, Austria-Hungary, while France, Russia, and the United Kingdomdeclared war on Austria-Hungary and Germany. Initially, in Bavaria and all across Germany, recruits flocked enthusiastically to the German Army. In 1914, Bavaria's corps even accepted the service of one foreigner who would later become infamous in both Bavaria, Germany and the world as a whole, the young Austrian, and future German dictator, Adolf Hitler. Over time, with a stalemated and bloody war on the western front, Bavarians, like many Germans, grew weary of a continuing war. By 1918, civil unrest was spreading across Bavaria and Germany; Bavarian defiance to Prussian hegemony and Bavarian separatism being key motivators. In 1918, the kingdom attempted to negotiate a separate peace with the allies but failed. In November 1918, William II abdicated the throne of Germany, and Ludwig III, along with the other German monarchs, issuing the Anif declaration, followed in abdication shortly afterwards. With this, the Wittelsbach dynasty came to an end, and the former Kingdom of Bavaria became the Free State of Bavaria, which it is still named today.
King of Bavaria
History of Bavaria
History of Germany
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