on TIMOTHY WARRINGTON LOOKSATTHEPECU~ CHARACTER OF KING LUDWIG n OF BAVA1W5.
mettwurst, any wurst as long as it's sausage shaped. But of all the Bavarians, no one coveted the cabana or puckered for a pepperoni
quite like King Ludwig
Known as "Mad King Ludwig,"
"The Fairy King," this muncher
"The Swan King," or more appropriately,
taboo, and in a culture where exposed table legs were considered the height of impropriety, a gay king who made no bones about his penchant for penis, was
and generally ill equipped
for affairs of state;
he dutifully took the top job.
History is full of closet cases, suppressing
biting the pillow. Ludwig II wasn't cautious or straight acting. He once exclaimed, "if! didn't have my hair curled every day, I couldn't Even when butching up for military manoeuvres, Ludwig carried an umbrella not a rifle; he had "no intention of spoiling [his] coiffure." People began to gossip. But Ludwig didn't care; he yearned for male intimacy and indulged himself incessantly; ostentatiously
fervently and fTom the depths of my heart as I love you," he wrote. Ludwig showered
the older man with
gifts, settled his debts and installed him in a beautiful villa. It's likely Wagner was taking advantage
young patron, and suspecting banished the composer.
Wagner had set
which became a form of
forsaken and lonely on this earth... where I shall always feel a stranger." In 1867, in a final attempt to conform, Ludwig proposed to his cousin Sophie. It was a disaster: he postponed
permanently, abandoning marriage altogether. Lud\vig yearned for loyal affection and thought
twice and then broke it
was still more theoretical
than practical at this stage. But
the two certainly enjoyed a romantic
to each other. However,
with Paul after hearing rumours
22 reFRESH June 2005
but rather unqualified
young men. In one instance, a
From time to time it seemed Ludwig might settle down; there was Richard "Beloved of my Soul," and Joseph Kainz, a
actor. There were the usual letters, gifts and trips
abroad, but like history repeating, Lud\vig would tire; quarrelling would begin and the relationships ended. Feeling isolated, Ludwig retreated preferred
and he continued
about his relationships
love letters and Lud\vig broke it off
building castle after castle at enormous
expense. The most famous, Neuschwanstein,
was the model
for Sleeping Beauty's castle in Disneyland. Soon Lud\vig was bankrupt and Bavaria was teetering on the brink of an internationally scandal. Ruled by an unstable king whose behaviour was becoming increasingly erratic, the Bavarian Government
had had enough;
it was time to act. There were a king; however,
insanity was one of them and this constitutional loophole to topple Ludwig. Four psychiatrists working \vith exaggerated
claims fTom disgruntled he was removed.
staff, created a report declaring
Three days later the King was dead: drowned
Ludwig was insane and
\vith one of his physicians.
Evidence at the scene suggests it was unlikely the King was murdered. Theories abound; some plausible and others less believable. What's certain is the two men struggled
he'd found it in the
deliciously noble, Prince Paul von Thurn und Taxis (his "beloved angel"). As with Wagner, it's doubtful if the couple consummated their relationship, as it appears homosexuality
escapism for Ludwig; the only place he could exist as a gay man. "I feel so
Gossip in the court was rife \vith stories of
senior court official observed a lowly servant wearing one of the King's diamond rings after a recent royal "audience".
enjby my food."
reality and sought solace in a land of make-believe.
trying to create a
sleigh rides, naked youths dancing about campfires and royal
this fantasy world to music in operas like "Lohengrin,"
and his role as a
distract Lud\vig fTom his
few options available for overthrowing
The young king was devastated. he'd shunned
"sexual kisses" and "sensual passions." midnight
LONELY ON THIS EARTH... WHERE I SHALL ALWAYS FEEL A STRANGER.
life. "I love no one
fTom family, mends and
But even the building of fuirytale castles couldn't
Wagner was the first of many; he
sensual longings. The dalliances continued, with a slew of stable boys and young officers. Each receiving special privileges and presents in return for Ludwig's
spoiling his favourites.
became the love of Ludwig's
of the Catholic fuith. And so he withdrew:
appointments their homosexuality
his turmoil about being gay; it
him. He was so appalled by his homoerotic
court. He threw himself into his building projects, desperately sanctuary where he could be himsel[
When he came to power in 1864, 18-year old Ludwig was love-starved, haughty, shy, superstitious
every kiss and caress. He was torn between his sexual longings
banished to the nursery and starved of affection, he later admitted to dreaming pulling his father out of his coffin and stamping on his mother's breasts.
10 or more glasses of champagne;
In 1869, Ludwig started a diary documenting consumed
in Victorian society was
bound to get in the poo eventually, figuratively speaking of course. Born in 1845, to fTosty Catholic parents, Ludwig had an unhappy
then would he mount the "scaffold." He was so terrified of appearing in public, he would often hide behind a screen of flowers.
fTom Munich was certainly one of the more
risque gay icons of the nineteenth
Ludwig became increasingly
only attend state functions
before their deaths. It's likely the King attempted
or tried to swim across the lake to fTeedom; the doctor tried to prevent him and was drowned; finally the King, exhausted, succumbed to the cold lake water. Was Ludwig insane? Probably not. Was he eccentric, fTustrated? Certainly. Ludwig's
fTiend, Empress Elizabeth
of Austria provided
suitable epitaph, "The King wasn't mad: he was just an eccentric living in a world
of dreams. They might have treated him more gently, and thus perhaps spared
him so terrible an end."