Bavaria, gulden 1865, Ludwig II.

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One of the first coins of Fairy Tale King!

Bavaria, gulden 1865, Ludwig II. (1864-1886)
Obv.: head of Ludwig II King of Bavaria
Rev.: denomination




Ludwig II Otto Friedrich Wilhelm of Bavaria (1845 - 1886), from the House of Wittelsbach, was King of Bavaria from 1864 until his death. After his incapacitation in 1886, his uncle Luitpold took over the affairs of state in the Kingdom of Bavaria as Prince Regent, since Ludwig's younger brother Otto was incapable of ruling due to mental illness.

Ludwig II was born in 1845, the eldest son of Crown Prince Maximilian and Crown Princess Marie. Although he was baptized Otto Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig, however, his Christian name was to be Ludwig at the insistence of his grandfather of the same name. The latter had been born on the same day in 1786. It was also he who encouraged Ludwig's love of literature and architecture, which was already evident in his childhood. Since the little prince particularly enjoyed playing with his building blocks and using them to build churches or monasteries, his grandfather gave his grandson a kit of the Munich Victory Gate in 1852. Ludwig never married, but in 1867 he became engaged to Duchess Sophie Charlotte in Bavaria from a collateral line of the House of Wittelsbach. The marriage did not take place, however, and in the same year the king dissolved the relationship. Instead, there are references to homosexual tendencies in his diaries.

Ludwig II came into contact with the mythical world of the Middle Ages in his earliest childhood, as it was depicted in many murals and curtains at Hohenschwangau Castle, where the prince grew up together with his younger brother. After his grandfather Ludwig I abdicated as King of Bavaria in 1848, his father Maximilian ascended the throne and Ludwig became Crown Prince.

In 1864, at the age of 18, Ludwig II unexpectedly became king after the sudden death of his father. From the beginning, the monarch was committed to promoting culture, supporting Richard Wagner but rejecting his anti-Semitic stance. Nevertheless, the composer had great influence on the king, who asked him for advice in all situations of life and political questions. In addition, he withdrew further and further from the public eye and did not even attend the premiere of Rheingold, to which numerous dignitaries as well as the emperor traveled to Bayreuth in 1876. Ludwig II also increasingly isolated himself from his family.

In the war against Prussia in 1866, Ludwig II wanted to remain neutral, but ultimately fought as a member of the German Confederation on the side of Austria against the Prussian troops. In the subsequent peace treaty after the defeat, Bavaria undertook to pay a war indemnity of 30 million guilders to Prussia. At the same time, territorial losses also remained low. Under the negotiated protection and defense alliance, Bavaria, like all southern German states, now subordinated its army to the Prussian supreme command, which considerably limited Bavaria's room in foreign policy. Because of this alliance, however, Bavaria had to enter the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. Although Ludwig II acted more decisively this time than he had in 1866, he clearly lost prestige because Bavaria had to give up its sovereignty at the end of the war. Instead, all the southern German states signed treaties of accession to the North German Confederation.

Under Ludwig, the leadership of the country now effectively passed to the Council of Ministers. Contrary to widespread opinion, the king conscientiously carried out his official duties almost to the end, despite frequent absences. Communication between the king and ministers went through the cabinet secretary; documents and inquiries were processed swiftly and often annotated. Ludwig II also intervened in appointments and petitions for clemency. In addition, he supported the implementation of a trade code based on the Prussian model, which provided for a free right of establishment for most professions. In 1868, the king also ensured the legal equality of the Jews. He also possessed remarkable detailed knowledge of economic policy and state-church law. In terms of personnel policy, Ludwig II continued his predecessors' tradition of filling ministries against the majority in the state parliament. Since the constitutional monarchy had little room for maneuver, the aim was to neutralize the political forces in the state and to keep the influence of the people's representatives as low as possible.

After his withdrawal from the public eye, Ludwig II devoted himself more and more to his great passion of building. Thus, after 1870, numerous castles were built. The king supervised some of the construction work personally, as was the case with Neuschwanstein Castle. For this purpose, he withdrew to Linderhof Castle, which replaced Munich as his main residence during his last years in power. The monarch envied his namesake Louis XIV for his absolute power. In his honor, Herrenchiemsee Palace was to become a single homage to the Sun King. However, these ambitious building projects caused high debts, which were initially paid by the Bavarian state. However, the king's building addiction increased even more as a result, which is why the cabinet finally refused to guarantee a loan of six million marks at the beginning of 1886. Ludwig then turned to Bismarck, who advised him to order his ministry to apply to Parliament for approval of the sum. Ludwig complied with this advice and demanded that the request be presented to the Landtag. Instead, the ministry initiated his incapacitation.

On June 9, 1886, Ludwig was declared mentally disturbed and incurable without examination and incapacitated by the government under Johann von Lutz. His uncle Luitpold took over the reins of government on the day after his incapacitation. Ludwig subsequently behaved very passively and also rejected the proposal to flee to nearby Tyrol. On June 13, Whitsunday of that year, the king was allowed to take a walk in the palace park of Herrenchiemsee without a guardian and only in the company of the physician Bernhard von Gudden. When the men did not return at the appointed time, search parties were sent out, which found Ludwig and his physician drowned in the water. Whether it was suicide or murder cannot be clearly determined to this day.

Additional product information

Origin Germany
Occasion Accession to power
Grading EF-BU
Material Silver
Full weight


Literature J. 100, AKS 177

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