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October 26th, 2021

Mad Kings And Commoners…

This came across the LGBTQ Heritage/Memorial Project page this morning…

 

…and it reminded me to go dig into this man’s story a little more. Because last Disney trip I took while we were still talking to each other, I discovered that a certain someone kept a photo of this King of Bavaria in his wallet, and I don’t think that was entirely out of Bavarian pride.

They still call him the “Mad King”, but it doesn’t look to me like he was actually mad, but simply different in the way many gay men are. That view of him seems to be changing. He wasn’t a warrior king. He liked his artistic pursuits, was a big fan of Richard Wagner, brought the best of European theater to Munich, and built amazing castles. He looked to the French for the way they glorified their culture in the arts, architecture, and music, and saw how lacking Bavaria was by comparison. He used his own money to build his castles, not by raiding the state treasury as is sometimes claimed. And those castles have paid for themselves many times over in tourist money. He made Bavaria rich in the arts and architecture.

But…Bavaria. To bring the arts to Bavaria was perhaps amusing, but to have a gay King was intolerable. So I think when his only engagement fell through then were plans to depose and, yes, murder him put into motion; because as Emerson said, if you strike at the king you must kill him. In exile he might have felt even freer to be the man he was. Bavaria. They weren’t having it. The official version puts it as suicide by drowning, but you look at the conflicting stories and it’s probably he was shot trying to escape.

You wonder how many gay Bavarians see something of their own stories in his.

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