Saturday, March 31, 2007
All about his mother
Ludwig's mother was Marie of Prussia (so it's interesting that he so quickly submitted to Prussia's military will; see post below). She married Ludwig's father, Maximilian II, at 17 (he was twice her age), and gave birth to Ludwig at 19; she was also her husband's cousin. Marie was considered a socially engaged monarch, and was well-liked by Bavaria's Catholics, even though she herself was an Evangelical Protestant (not quite like today's evangelicals, however; those of Marie's day were dedicated to personal salvation and piety, and such social causes as temperance and abolitionism). While no intellectual - she once wondered aloud why anyone would spend time reading - Marie nevertheless revived the dormant Bavarian Women's Association, a service organization which eventually was taken over by the Red Cross. She had the reputation of being a well-meaning, but distant, mother - by most accounts, Ludwig found what motherly affection he came by from his governess (not dramatized in Valhalla), Sybille Meilhaus. Meanwhile Ludwig's father doted on his brother Otto, who was considered a far happier child than Ludwig, who even as a boy was perceived as inclined to romantic melancholy. To "correct" this tendency, his governess was replaced by a strict military tutor when Ludwig was nine (tellingly, he remained in touch with her for the rest of his life). After Maximilian's death, Marie converted to Catholicism, at first living with Ludwig in the castle her husband had built for them. But as Ludwig grew more eccentric, she slowly withdrew, spending more and more of her time at her own estate in the Alps. She outlived Ludwig by three years.