The King is Still Dead
November 7, 2007 10:41 AM   Subscribe

King Ludwig II of Bavaria was known as the "Fairy-tale King" and the "Mad King" due to his unusual upbringing, eccentric behavior and architectural projects based on Wagnerian operas. For the last 121 years the official word on his death was that he committed suicide along with his psychiatrist, Professor Bernhard von Gudden, by drowning himself in Lake Starnberg. New evidence suggests what many have long suspected.....dum dum dum....Murder.
posted by chillmost (19 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Awesome, I love Mad Kind Ludqig stories.
posted by Artw at 10:46 AM on November 7, 2007

Interesting. Well, it certainly sounds more plausible than suicide, which always struck me as a pretty thin story.

After all, why would the psychiatrist jump in and drown himself, too? He wasn't crazy, by all accounts.

I wonder what ever happened to the body of the psychiatrist? Maybe they can dig him up, if Ludwig's descendants won't let them exhume the king. At the very least, a good forensics person ought to be able to see if he's got a bunch of bullets inside him that ought not be there.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:54 AM on November 7, 2007

Nice post, but that "evidence" (a rumor of a coat, a "secret archive,") isn't actual evidence.
posted by Floydd at 10:54 AM on November 7, 2007

Neuschwanstein was one of the finalists in the "new 7 wonders" poll.

It was also featured on the cover of the last Pole album.

I can't believe it (and the Alhambra, fer chrissake) were beaten by a 38 meter statue built in 1931.
posted by fleetmouse at 10:55 AM on November 7, 2007

And the irony being that if he was shot, it was likely because he was bankrupting the nation by building his pointless castles, and now jump forward a century and look at how much revenue they bring in.

Hell, Neuschwanstein alone has become the epitome of a fairy tale castle. So much so, that Disney has used it as the inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty estate.
posted by quin at 11:01 AM on November 7, 2007

Uh huh. This guy says that when he was a kid a friend of his mothers showed her guests an old coat with two holes in it. Oh, and the coat has disappeared. I know I'm convinced.
posted by languagehat at 11:06 AM on November 7, 2007

In fairness to the malibu abomination that burned down I should point out that Neuschwanstein isn't a proper castle either. Though as exercises in architectural whimsy by nutjob rich people go it's much nicer.
posted by Artw at 11:07 AM on November 7, 2007

Ludwig II is one of the central figures of The Waste Land. His whole family, in fact.
posted by Kattullus at 11:10 AM on November 7, 2007

I always thought that Neuschwantstein was the model for the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland. says, however, "Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland looks similar in many ways to Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, but actually a number of medieval European castles were used as the model."

Mad King Ludwig always had a special fascination for me because family folklore has it that my great great grandfather fled Bavaria because of the looney king. My grandfather told me about the grand state dinners that Ludwig held in which he was the only diner. I couldn't find any reports of such dinners but the biography in the second link does talk about grand plays and performances in which he was the only spectator. "The famous "Private Performances" also date from around this time. Sitting alone in the Residenz Theatre or the Court Theatre in Munich, the King would attend plays, concerts and operas put on for him alone."
posted by Sculthorpe at 11:13 AM on November 7, 2007

Well, Disney would say that.
posted by Artw at 11:23 AM on November 7, 2007

There's also a particularly strange volume in the French comic series Lefranc where the eponymous hero either travels back in time to witness the death of King Ludwig or hallucinates it or it's recreated.

Lefranc is by French comics great Jacques Martin most famous for his Alix series. He apprenticed with Hergé.
posted by Kattullus at 11:34 AM on November 7, 2007

Neuschwanstein is probably better described as a "palace".
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:31 PM on November 7, 2007

My grandfather told me about the grand state dinners that Ludwig held in which he was the only diner.

Ludwig spent a lot of time at Linderhof, where he had a system in the dining room where the table would descend through a trap door, the servants would fill the table, and raise it back into the dining room. So not only are there no unpleasant guests to deal with, but no obtrusive waitstaff, either!

Our tour guide at Linderhof was absolutely smitten by Ludwig...which was nearly as charming as it was creepy.
posted by malocchio at 2:16 PM on November 7, 2007

Yep, there it is in that obscure source Wikipedia.

The dining room is famous for its disappearing dumb-waiter called "Tischlein deck dich". This table was installed so that Ludwig could dine alone here. Yet the staff had to lay the table for at least four persons because it is said that the king used to talk to imaginary people like Louis XV, Mme de Pompadour or Marie Antoinette while he was eating. For Ludwig II enjoyed the company of those people and admired them.

Thanks for pointing me in the right direction, malocchio.
posted by Sculthorpe at 2:42 PM on November 7, 2007

Marvelous, fascinating post. Always been interested in this really erratic monarch. In 1970 November, drove from Innsbruck, Austria up to Munich and passed by Neuschwanstein. wow. Just staggering. The entire area is packed with extraordinary palaces and castles.

This story of the bullet holes coat sounds logically true. The shrink, Bernhard von Gudden, who only saw Ludwig a couple of days, was highly unlikely, in light of his very successful career, to commit suicide with a patient who was almost a total stranger. It's likely, the way people-in-power intrigue has always been riddled with assassination stories, they were both offed.
posted by nickyskye at 6:35 PM on November 7, 2007

Back in 1972, German New Wave director Hans-Jürgen Syberberg released his surrealist back-projection opus Ludwig: Requiem for a Virgin King. Clips -- sorry, kids, no subtitles, but gorgeous photography nevertheless, here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

You know who else Syberberg made a film about?
posted by Kinbote at 6:36 PM on November 7, 2007

Neuschwanstein isn't a proper castle either

Practically nothing built since the 17th century (some would say the 15th or 16th) is a proper castle. Neuschwanstein was part of the Neo-Romantic or Gothic Revival movement, and deliberately fantastic, a dream-castle if you will. Technically, another example of a slightly different bent is Westminster. The castle also has key similarities to the onetime largest house in America, Biltmore. In context it's not an outlier.

You can almost imagine it being the seat of government of a modern Bavarian monarchy, absent a good deal of actual history.
posted by dhartung at 1:04 AM on November 8, 2007

I agree with nickyskye, coat with bulletholes or not, it doesn't seem likely there was a double suicide here. Ludwig was under arrest when he died or was murdered. It seems to me that the link was hinting (or shouting) that Ludwig was one of those repressed gay guys that get really really weird. Only in this case, said gay guy had a thing for Wagner. So, upper level weird.
posted by CCBC at 1:54 AM on November 8, 2007

Ah, Neuschwanstein. Back in Hyderabad, in India, there's an awful baroque simulacrum built into the historical Naubat Pahad, an architectural abonimation that not only demonstrates bad-taste, it also shows a shocking contempt towards local history.

Knew the original had some weird stuff going on about it. Only a warped mind could build a building as crazy as that (and an even worse megalomaniac could bring it to India).
posted by the cydonian at 3:36 AM on November 8, 2007

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