mad men (and women) of bavaria

my cousin, wearing one of her all-white ensembles

Princess Alexandra Amalie, the brilliant daughter of Ludwig I, had what in today’s world would be characterized as OCD.  She was obsessed with cleanliness, wore only white (um, who does that sound like?), and, by the time she reached her twenties she became plagued with the notion that she had once swallowed a glass piano.

Her afflictions deemed her unmarriable, and from the halls of the nunnery-slash-asylum, where she spent much of her short life, she developed quite an illustrious literary career.  Poor cousin Amalie (as we called her–for most of us seemed to be referred to by middle names) had a tendency toward reclusive behavior, and her eccentricities made her a natural associate of her mad nephew, Ludwig II.

All of Mad King Ludwig’s life was an enigma, right from the moment of his birth to his mysterious death by either gunshot or drowning–read on for more about that.

As an homage to his grandfather, Ludwig I, his parents and their retinue falsified the hour of birth so as to make it correspond with that of Ludwig I, and thereby earn him the noble namesake.

Crown Prince Ludwig, they called him growing up, and he was a constant consternation to his father Maximilian II, as he shared none of his interests. Not hunting, shooting or riding.  Instead, Ludwig II enjoyed the arts, and the design of fanciful castles.  The Fairytale King, the locals dubbed him, but I called him Eagle.  (And he called me Dove).  Eagle and Dove, together in the forest, listening to Wagner, choosing upholstery material for the Neuschwanstein Castle-it was a fine break from the stuffy confines at Court.

crazy, perhaps, but he sure knew how to wear a red sash

But, alas, my dear Ludwig never could stomach the idea of marrying a woman (you would not have to lay with her, necessarily, I urged), so into seclusion he crept. A recluse and a dreamer until that day, June 13, 1886, that he and his psychiatrist Dr. Bernhard von Gudden, were found dead in Lake Starnberg. Did they drown?  Was it murder-suicide?  Perhaps they were both shot dead?  Really, what we needed was a CSI Bavaria.

Naturally, this left Bavaria without a ruler.  Under normal circumstances, the king’s brother Prince Otto would ascend the throne, but, alas, dear Otto was also insane, so my cousin (Eagle and Otto’s uncle) Prince Luitpold became Prince Regent of Bavaria.