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His life his work

Naissance et jeunesse

His life

Chapter 1

Birth and youth

The royal family of Bavaria by 1850, in front of Hohenschwangau castle. Colored lithography by Erich Correns.

Ludwig Otto Friedrich Wilhelm was born on August 25th, 1845 near midnight and half in a big room of the castle of Nymphenburg, summer residence of the royal family of Wittelsbach. His father, Maximilien, is still only the crown prince, and it until 1848, date of the abdication of king Ludwig I., grandfather of the newborn child. The brother of Maximilien, prince Luitpold, was delighted to there at the infertility of the princely couple, because he, from his part, was recently father of a little boy named Ludwig also. If this situation went on, it is to his family that, sooner or later, would return the power. Now, regrettably for him, a few months later was born the future Ludwig II. Of resentment, by learning this news, the wife of Luitpold raised her son of the cradle and says: «today my son, you are nothing more! »

From his part, princess Marie of Bavaria, mother of Ludwig, is Hohenzollern, Prussian of birth. Both form a heterogeneous couple, him a conscientious and little expansive scholar, her, an eager for big spaces, for nature, quite in simplicity. They will be for the future Ludwig II, and for his brother Otto been born in 1848, little present parents, although doubtless mold good intentions. When Maximilien will be a king and when his elder son will become in his turn the crown prince, he will decide for him of a strict, ambitious education, and exhausting: raise at 5. am the summer, at 6. am the winter, the fast and frugal breakfast, then hours of study hardly punctuated with one or two hours of relaxation. Let us add to the theoretical and universal instruction the physical discipline, as the dance, the fencing, the manipulation of weapons, the equitation, the swimming, the drawing, the music. All these knowledges will annoy for the greater part the young prince, except the literature, the history, the natural sciences, the religious history and the teaching French which it will possess later in the perfection. All this education thus leaves only little room with the human contacts, and in particular with the filial connections.

Maximilien does not understand his elder son who seems so sensitive, who likes only the solitude and by top all the dreamlike universe of the big Scandinavians legends. He does not know how to speak to him and does not moreover look for the contact. As for Marie, if Ludwig shares with her the passion of the climbing and the mountain, he can hardly find more understanding from her part, because she considers ridiculous «the surges” of her son, as she calls them, what hurts him cruelly. Furthermore, Otto, his brother, more opened, more smiling, more spread has her preference, and is much less complicated to educate. Ludwig thus withdraws on him and will develop face to face people in charge of his education, feelings often more lively than towards his parents of whom he is afraid or who annoy him.

Louis will spend a childhood punctuated with tops and with bottom in a nevertheless magnificent frame which will fill its life in a significant way: the grand site, the summer, of Hohenschwangau where he will live thanks to painted frescoes all the big legends mythical as Lohengrin, Charlemagne, Jerusalem delivered, the story of Hohenstaufen, Nibelungen. He will wake up literally in an internal life which will take the place of that, by too disappointing, the outside world. Ludwig is going to grow, little by little, in this world which suppresses him and to which he would like to give the dimensions of the Art.

He is going to become big, very big, and very beautiful, his idealistic and visionary character will assert itself more and more according to its Scott’s readings, Schiller and Goethe. He will assimilate so-so the theoretical, but incomplete data, which do not prepare him for the future royal job. And so on March 10th, 1864, after a short disease even today suspect, Maximilien II gave up the ghost at the age of only 53 years. He leaves the crown in the hands of his son Ludwig, 18-year-old, and armed with the best will of the world for lack of being prepared as it is necessary in its heavy responsibility.

Ludwig II of Bavaria’s reign begins.

© Copyright 2015 Elisabeth Fontaine-Bachelier