A lot has been written about King Ludwig II, the Bavarian monarch behind the building of the famous Schloss Neuschwanstein, Allgäu region in Southern Germany, Although the castle is undeniably King Ludwig II’s most important legacy to the people of Bavaria, mention is always made that Neuschwanstein is the embodiment of the imaginations of a Mad King.
Yet to the majority of Bavarians, King Ludwig II was a ruler after their own heart, and that he was unjustly branded as a madman for his political ineptitude. Most scholars of today are inclined to agree as their studies show several factors contributed to the king’s peculiarity as a person, and as ruler of a kingdom.
A Man Young without Political inclination and Orientation Amidst Political Turmoils
First off, his lineage had forced him to assume the duties and responsibilities of a king at the early age of 18, even if he did not receive training and preparation for such an important role. The inexperienced young king was expected to handle political affairs amidst the turmoil that was taking place in Europe during his reign. After the Austro-Prussian War and later the Franco-Prussian War, the king found himself the ruler of a diminished kingdom, where his kingly powers became subject to the governance of the Prussian Kaiser.
To the neophyte young Ludwig, this was a setback as he was more inclined to use his powers in furthering his interest in the field of arts, music and architecture. Gradually and intentionally, he became less interested in facing the political realities affecting his kingdom. The forced connection with the German Kaiser only presented problems and confusion that drove the young king to depression.
Isolation and Lack of Deeper Connection with His Peers
Most modern psychiatrists believed that lack of political skills caused Ludwig to become increasingly emotional, unhappy and possibly irrational particularly in financial matters. His only source of happiness was the hours he spent listening to the musical compositions of German composer Richard Wagner. It provided some form of escapism as he had imagined himself as one of the heroes of Wagnerian operas.
Although King Ludwig II had plans of marrying his cousin Sophie Charlotte with whom he shared a passion for Wagner’s music, he later realized that it was the only reason why he sought her company. He later broke off their engagement and no longer entertained the idea of getting married. However, the young king felt isolated as most of his male companions were not as interested in the arts and music as he was, particularly in Wagner’s operas.
Interludes with Wagner Triggered Emotional Confusion
.As he grew more lonely and depressed, he focused on cultivating a personal relationship with Richard Wagner, Apparently, the relationship sowed more confusion in Ludwig II’s mind. Although the psychiatrists who tried to help Ludwig sort out his emotional turmoil suspected that the Bavarian king was homophilic, this was not discussed in their reports. Years later after King Ludwig II’s death, their suspicions were confirmed when Wagner’s letters to the king revealed the deeper aspects of their relationship.
Homophilla by the way, is not the same as having homosexual tendencies. The close relationship shared with person/s belonging to the same gender is founded on having the same interests and not necessarily due to sexual or physical attraction. While the letters did not confirm Wagner’s reciprocation of the King’s homophilic infatuation toward him, the musician’s amorous words seem to explain why King Ludwig II went to such extent as building the Neuschwanstein Castle for himself and for Wagner and his operas. .
While King Ludwig II’s mental condition was exploited by the political forces around him as a way to strip him of his powers, the people of Bavaria continues to remember him with fondness. They recognize the fact that the legacies that King Ludwig II left behind helped the region thrive and flourish to become an important part Germany.