Tracy S. Morris

Quirky Mysteries, Screwball Fantasy and Sassy History

I’m Not Making This Up – How Do You Solve A Problem Like Mad King Ludwig?

Written By: Tracy - Sep• 19•16

He sort of looks like a broody vampire.

You have to admire Mad King Ludwig. Unlike other mad royals (Jonna of Castile, for one) Ludwig aggressively owned his crazy.  Or did he?

When Ludwig came to the throne in 1846, people thought he was a little eccentric. But then again, aren’t all wealthy folk? And who cares, when you have brooding good looks and a tendency to support the arts? (It worked for Edward Cullen)

But right from the beginning, the signs were there. Distant parents, and a tendency to get lost in his own little fantasy world.

Then Ludwig suffered a crushing defeat to Prussia. For the rest of Ludwig’s life, he’d only rule as a vassal of Prussia.

The pressures of ruling (combined with his sexual orientation and pressure to get married and produce an heir) may have caused Ludwig to retreat into his increasingly active fantasy life. Which would have been fine, if it wasn’t wrecking Bavaria’s economy.

Ludwig commissioned private operas, lavish gardens, fanciful sleighs for traveling at night (he slept all day and stayed up at night), gave lavish gifts to peasants (peasants!) and built fantasy castles that would later inspire Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle.

Although Ludwig used his personal fortune to build each of his three castles and his royal apartments in Munich, his debt lowered Bavaria’s credit. His ministers asked him to slow down the spending and economize. (Much like a parent might ask their college kids: do you really need three credit cards, the Bavarian Ministers asked Ludwig, do you really need three castles?)

Eventually, the ministers had enough. Ludwig’s spending, his refusal to schmooze with his courtiers or even visit Munich, his refusal to attend state functions (or do anything kingly) and his insistence on behaving like an artist rather than a monarch (the nerve) was too much for Ludwig’s ministers. They asked dear uncle Lutipold to step in.

Lutipold refused, unless they could prove beyond any doubt that Ludwig was crazy. To which the ministers no doubt said: noooo problem. In no time, the ministers hired a specialist who diagnosed Ludwig sight unseen. Lutipold took over as regent, and Ludwig was confined to one of his fantasy castles, where he promptly died (officially drowned, but possibly shot during an escape attempt) along with the physician who declared him insane (convenient, that).

So was Mad King Ludwig really insane? Modern psychology would disagree with a diagnosis when the doctor didn’t even see the patient. It’s possible that if Ludwig hadn’t been a prince, he would’ve been a successful artist and architect.

Every dollar Ludwig sank his country into debt, they make back now on tourism.

 

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