About Bavaria > History > Kingdom of Bavaria

Kingdom of Bavaria

King Ludwig II.

The history of the Kingdom of Bavaria starts with the end of the German Empire in 1806. As long as there was an emperor, none of the imperial princes, except for the King of Böhmen, were allowed to carry the title of King (This is why the Elector of Brandenburg did not crown himself King of Brandenburg in 1701, but declared himself King of Prussia instead, a neighboring state that lay outside the borders of the Empire, despite Brandenburg being the main territory he ruled over).

As one of the conditions of the Peace Treaty of Pressburg (26 December 1805) between Napoleonic France and resigning Emperor Franz II, several of the electorates allied with Napoleon are declared kingdoms. Prince Elector Maximilian IV Joseph of Bavaria officially adopted the title King Maximilian I of Bavaria on 1 January, 1806.

Until then, Maximilian had been Duke of Zweibrücken, a position granted to him after the death of his predecessor Karl II in August of 1795. Following the extinction of the older Bavarian Wittelsbach line, Maximilian, a representative of the younger line, additionally became the new ruler of Bavaria and thus, king. To this day, there are heated debates as to whether Bavaria constitutes part of the Pfalz, or if the Pfalz became part of Bavaria instead.

The most influential Bavarian kings were Ludwig I, who turned the capital Munich into a hub of arts and culture, and Ludwig II, the "Fairy-Tale King", who came to be known around the world for the magnificent castles built under his name.

Maximilian`s successors were able to withstand National Socialism, and Bavaria turned into a protector of the smaller Germanic states, whose leaders felt threatened by Prussia or Austria within the Germanic Confederation of States. Bonds of religion were effective for Bavaria until its defeat in the German War of 1866. On 22 August 1866, King Ludwig II signed a treaty with Prussia, de facto surrendering Bavarian sovereignty.

Under the treaty of 23 November 1870, Bavaria became part of the newly proclaimed Deutsche Reich (18 January 1871). However, in its position as second largest German state after Prussia, it was able to secure certain special rights, such as being allowed to keep its own army, postal and railway systems. The kings of Bavaria kept their titles and their own diplomatic corps.

The Kingdom of Bavaria was divided into 8 administrative districts, namely: Oberbayern (Upper Bavaria) (district capital and district government of Munich), Niederbayern (Lower Bavaria) (Landshut), Pfalz (Speyer), Oberpfalz (Upper Pfalz) and Regensburg (Regensburg), Oberfranken (Upper Franconia)(Bayreuth), Mittelfranken (Central Franconia) (Ansbach), Unterfranken (Lower Franconia) and Aschaffenburg (Wuerzburg), Schwaben (Swabia) and Neuburg (Augsburg). These districts were again divided into district authorities.

When, with the end of World War I, the Empire was abolished in November 1918, the last Bavarian king, Ludwig III, was the first German monarch forced to resign during the November revolution. Like all German monarchies, the Kingdom of Bavaria was dissolved, and the Republic of Bavaria came into existence.

Kings of Bavaria:

  • 1806-1825 Maximilian I Joseph
  • 1825-1848 Ludwig I Augustus
  • 1848-1864 Maximilian II
  • 1864-1886 Ludwig II
  • 1886-1913 Otto I
         Prince Regent Luitpold of Bavaria 1886 - 1912
         Prince Regent Ludwig III of Bavaria 1912 - 1913
  • 1913-1918 Ludwig III

If you want to learn more about Bavaria's kings you should see the Museum of the Bavarian Kings which you will find in Hohenschwangau just below castles Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau. The Museum is depicting the history of the Wittelsbach family, highlighting on kings Maximilian II. and his son, the eccentric Swan King Ludwig II.

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