Ludwig II (1845-1886) was the king of Bavaria. He was of the Wittelsbach family.
Ludwig II (born Ludwig Otto Friedrich Wilhelm) was the son of Maximilian II, who became king of Bavaria in 1848. When Maximilian died, Ludwig ascended to the throne of Bavaria in 1864 at the age of 18.Within just two years of his taking the throne, Bavaria was thrown into the middle of a conflict between Austria and Prussia. Ludwig sided with Austria, and both went on to be defeated by Prussian forces in just 7 weeks. The peace treaty that ended the conflict effectively left Bavaria under the rule of Prussia, though it was still nominally an independent state.
Four years later, 1870, Bismarck, the Prussian chancellor, wanted to unify Germany, and to aid in this he connived a diplomatic crisis with France, sparking the Franco-Prussian War. Once France was defeated, no other major European nations held claim to regions within Germany, freeing Bismarck to unify the country. In December 1870, Bismarck convinced Ludwig, through financial concessions, to write a letter endorsing the creation of the German Empire. Ludwig suggested that Prussian King Wilhelm I lead the unified country under the name of Kaiser Wilhelm. Under the agreement, Bavaria remained semi-autonomous, retaining its king and granting rule of its army by Germany only in the event of a war.
In the following years Bismarck, now Prime Minister, began a systematic persecution of the Catholics within Germany, which caused significant strain due to Bavaria's large Catholic population, including Ludwig himself.
Ludwig was pressured into siring an heir. He became engaged to Duchess Sophie Charlotte, sister of Elisabeth, Empress of Austria in 1867. However, Ludwig claimed that Elisabeth's father wanted to dissolve the arrangement, and the engagement was broken off 9 months later. Ludwig never married, and it is believed he struggled all his life with his sexual orientation as a gay man trying to repress his sexual urges.
After 1871, little more than a figurehead king, Ludwig devoted himself to building huge, opulent castles, personally approving details of their architecture, decoration, and furnishing. He also became a chief patron of composer Richard Wagner, whose operas Ludwig had long been obsessed with. All of Wagner's later operas, Tristan und Isolde, Die Meistersinger, the Ring Cycle and Parzifal were premiered or composed under Ludwig's patronage.
By 1885, all of these activities left Ludwig in an extreme amount of debt. When his ministers advised him to reign in spending, Ludwig threatened to have them all dismissed. In response, the cabinet conspired to have him removed from the throne. They first sought out his uncle, Prince Luitpold, who agreed to take the throne when Ludwig was removed. The conspirators then settled on the rationale that the king should be removed by constitutional means, as he was insane.
It is unclear whether Ludwig was truly clinically mentally ill, or whether his profligate spending, being just grossly irresponsible, was instead just a convenient excuse to have him declared insane. The conspirators compiled a large medical report to prove their case. When this report was shown to Bismarck, he doubted the accusations, and recommended the Bavarian Diet take up the matter. Undeterred, the conspirators sought approval from four psychiatrists, who endorsed the charge of insanity, and claimed that Ludwig's insanity was hereditary, as his younger brother Otto had also been declared insane.
Count von Holnstein, Ludwig's political rival, led a government commission to the castle of Neuschwanstein to take the king into custody on June 10, 1886. The king, however, rallied local police to protect him. Having been repelled, the commission nonetheless publicly proclaimed Luitpold the Prince Regent, and Ludwig a fugitive. Ludwig was urged to either flee or turn up in Munich to fight for his position, but instead he penned a statement that was to be printed and distributed. The government successfully suppressed this publication, seizing most of the printed copies. On June 12th, another group surprised the king at Neuschwanstein and took him into custody.
Ludwig was transported to Berg Castle on the shores of Lake Starnberg, south of Munich. The next day, around 6 P.M., Ludwig asked Dr. Bernhard von Gudden, lead psychiatrist on the commission that found him insane, to take a walk with him along the lake shore. The bodies of both the King and von Gudden were found six hours later, in the shallow water near the shore. The King's watch had stopped at 6:54 P.M.
The official autopsy found no water in Ludwig's lungs, but his autopsy nonetheless ruled his death suicide by drowning. Gudden's body showed blows to the head and neck and signs of strangulation, suggesting he was possibly strangled by Ludwig.
According to The Beast Within, Ludwig II met Paul Gowden, aka Baron Louis von Glower, known as The Black Wolf, in 1864, at a performance of one of Wagner's operas. They began a relationship which is strongly suggested to have been sexual in nature. Unknown to Ludwig, however, Gowden had been sent by Bismarck to force Ludwig to sign a treaty. In May of 1864, Schattenjager Christian Ritter discovers Gowden's designs, but is silenced before he can tell the king.According to Ludwig's diary, Gowden is still trying to convince Ludwig to sign this treaty eight years later, in 1872. However, by 1872 Bavaria was already part of unified Germany, so it is unclear what treaty this is meant to be.
Gowden convinces Ludwig to take a trip to Schachen in June of 1872, whereupon he bites Ludwig, making him a beta werewolf. Ludwig was, from that day forward, plagued by the desire to eat human flesh, but he was still lucid much of the time. Why Ludwig signed the treaty that Bismarck wanted is, again, unclear. In the game, Josef Dallmeier suggests that the treaty gave Bavaria up to unify Germany, which is inconsistent with the true timeline. Dallmier also suggests that Ludwig got unfavorable terms in the deal.
In 1880, Ludwig discovers Gowden's deception and breaks ties with him, although Gowden continues to try to visit Ludwig. He maintains his vow not to feed upon human flesh, though it torments him constantly. The king takes frequent sleigh-rides at night, sometimes going into the woods to hunt as a wolf. Changes into wolf form are a constant danger, and he instructs his servants to enter his room bent over so that they cannot see him.
In 1881, Ludwig attends a performance in Wagner's theater, where he discovers that the music nearly pulls him into wolf form. He reveals his curse to Wagner, and they devise a plan to expose Gowden as a werewolf. Ludwig, having studied the occult, may know that if Gowden is killed, he will be released from his curse. Wagner experiments with music and acoustics with Ludwig in the Singer's Hall of Neuschwanstein until they find a combination that forces Ludwig to become a wolf. They then plan to perform the opera with Gowden in the Mittel Loge, forcing him to change in front of all the other audience members.
Wagner dies after completing the opera, and Ludwig plans to continue the plan without him. He has trouble raising the funds necessary to manufacture the crystals that will direct the sound toward Gowden, and these delays persist until Ludwig's arrest in 1886. Despairing that he will ever be able to break the curse, Ludwig kills Dr. Gudden and commits suicide.
Fact vs FictionEdit
There are a few points of inconsistency or ambiguity between the fictional Ludwig II and the historical record, even within the internal logic of the game:
- Based on the dates stated in-game, the treaty that Bismarck wants Ludwig to sign cannot be the one forming unified Germany, as it had already been within unified Germany for two years at that time. However, Dallmeir suggests that this is indeed the same treaty.
- Both Dallmeir and Ludwig's diary suggests that Ludwig was dissatisfied with the deal to join unified Germany, but Ludwig agreed quite readily with the deal after negotiations with Bismarck, and he himself suggested Wilhelm rule the country as Kaiser.
- Ludwig was engaged to Duchess Sophie during most of 1867, 3 years after his relationship with Gowden began. Ludwig and Sophie shared a deep love of Wagner together. It is hard to see how she would not notice the relationship with him.
- Dallmeir states that Ludwig was "no prude" and didn't hide his sexual affairs with young men, but his diary suggests that he did struggle to suppress these urges.
- In Sidney, looking up Ludwig II leads to the Wittelsbach article.
- The game doesn't explicitly say whether Ludwig's eternal soul is liberated by von Glower's death. The book Lycanthropes: Lore and Law indicates that if the alpha is killed by some act of the beta, the curse is broken, so long as the person has not yet tasted of human blood. Ludwig's spirit aids Gabriel and Grace to kill von Glower, and it's unclear whether this results in his absolution. However, the game goes to great lengths to imply that Ludwig never tasted human blood.
- The character glossary in the back of the The Beast Within: Official Player's Guide lists him under König Ludwig II von Bayern (King Ludwig II of Bavaria in english).