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His life his work

Engagement and friendship

His life
Chapter 4
Engagement and friendship
Sophie and Ludwig II,
official photography  of the fiancés,
january 1867 

 King Ludwig remained a fiancé in his cousin Sophie-Charlotte for ten months, from January 1867 till November of the same year. Why such a fleetingness? The answers are multiple, but the cause of the break is not, as it has too often and too hastily advanced, claimed homosexuality of the king.

Discouraged of the departure of Wagner in December, 1865, Ludwig had the opportunity to entrust his bitterness and to share it with his cousin Sophie, a friend of childhood and sister of empress Elisabeth. The girl, of two years the younger junior of the king, shared his enthusiasm for the musician. They thus began to see itself dedicatedly during the year 1866, and to exchange a followed correspondence. This friendship soon seemed suspect to Ludovica, the mother of Sophie. Ludwig was then instructed to declare himself once for all: Sophie could not indeed continue any more to frequent the king, because it began to chatter. Ludwig, shocked that we can to interpret this brotherly friendship otherwise wrote to Sophie to finalize things. From her part, Sophie, pushed by her mother who dreamed for her of such a good match, feigned the love to her cousin and declared himself openly discouraged, letting understand that she could take holy orders. The guile scored in the Ludwig’s honest heart: profoundly saddened at the idea of losing this friendship which was dear to him, he let know around him that his feelings for Sophie exceeded the frame of simple brotherly connections. He believed it himself sincerely.

After all, what he did know about the love? Sophie was maybe the woman whom it was necessary to him. He eventually allows this idea, and the engagement was concluded on January 22nd, 1867. But little by little, both young people discovered that they had to say nothing to themselves and absolutely nothing in common. Ludwig, who had perhaps never loved Sophie otherwise than as a sister, understood fast that a marriage would be a heresy which would make them both unfortunates.

Sophie, as for her, betrayed the king of Bavaria by maintaining a relation at least epistolary and ardent with a photographer of the court, Edgar Hanfstaengl. Their published correspondence fifteen years ago gives evidence of it:

” My dear Edgar, I so love you that I forget almost all my duties to my poor king! “

Numerous indications let think that the king was informed about this affair, what gave him better consciousness to break. Even if he did not love Sophie, what was mutual, Ludwig was hurt doubtless profoundly. He will say later to one of his domestics who was going to get married:

” Get married never! The women are quite false and treacherous. “

Ludwig had thus had to make the painful experience. Sophie was very fast married, on hardly one year after the break, to avoid that the scandal of its relation is displayed. She became a duchess of Alençon and died, heroic, in the fire of the General Mess of the Charity in 1897, in Paris.

The relation of the king with the sister of Sophie, Elisabeth, was on the other hand quite other.

Sissi was eight-year-old furthermore than her royal cousin, and of this fact maintained only late followed and really narrow connections with him. Ludwig got angry with her on the occasion of the break of his engagement, but took up at the end of 1870s. They discovered while they shared both of numerous common points further to the various disappointments which had swamped them. They had the taste of the solitude, the concern to avoid as much as possible their contemporaries who judged them bad, the poetry of the soul and a profound understanding of the humanity. 1880s transfer to be born between them a followed correspondence where they gave themselves respectively the name of the Eagle and the Seagull.

Their love which remained probably platonic was above all established on a big community of spirit, even if Elisabeth by moments preferred to avoid her cousin, not understanding that it had at this moment doubtless a big need of her. Sissi was discouraged by Ludwig’s death and accused, with good reason, the regency of being responsible for it.

The friendships of the king went as well to the men people as to the women, if Ludwig judged the one or the other one deserving of interest. His friendly relations are not to be confused with illicit courtship, it is there even no doubt. Among the acquaintances which marked his life there was numerous actresses, of whom Lila von Buylyowsky with whom things went rather far and who Ludwig frequented for six years. It is the Queen mother Marie who meant her vacation to the actress by saying that the king would never get married as long as Lila would stay in Bavaria.

If Ludwig frequented rather mature women, it is because of a profound frustration in its relation with her mother who granted him only not enough interest. On the other hand, the premature death of his nursemaid while he was not deprived yet also explains the disturbance in its feminine relations. All his life, Ludwig had a constant thirst of affection and looked for it desperately. He will consciously or not tends to reconstruct this broken link, and will be afraid at the same time of becoming attached too much by fear of suffering.

Towards the men people, Joseph Kainz and Richard Hornig (if we except Wagner) were doubtless the most striking friendships in the life of the king: the first one symbolizing a kind of spiritual son, forcing him to a real initiatory route on the tracks of William Tell in Switzerland, second symbolizing rather the ideal vassal beside his Lord. He will betray his king in 1886, delivering of perjury, subjected to the governmental pressure. He will try to redeem itself by participating in the escape attempt of the king.

© Copyright 2015 Elisabeth Fontaine-Bachelier

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