Nineteenth-century History

Kings of Bavaria: King Ludwig II

King Ludwig II of Bavaria

King Ludwig II of Bavaria
Source: Wikipedia

King Ludwig II was the fourth king of Bavaria. Of all Bavaria’s kings, Ludwig II is arguably the most famous. His legacy is entrenched in Bavaria’s collective memory as the Märchenkönig (Fairy Tale King) and his picturesque palaces and castles have changed the Bavarian landscape. Tourists visiting Bavaria will almost certainly hear about Ludwig II as he was responsible for building some of what would become the most popular tourist destinations in Germany such as the castle Neuschwanstein or Herrenchiemsee Palace.

Ludwig Otto Friedrich Wilhelm was born on August 25, 1845 at Nymphenburg Palace in Munich. He was originally going to be named Otto, but at the insistence of his grandfather, Ludwig I, his parents named him after his grandfather since they shared a birthday.

Unlike his father and grandfather he had little interest in academic and state affairs, but was an enormous patron of the arts, especially the operas of Richard Wagner. Much of his childhood was spent at Hohenschwangau Castle near Füssen in southern Bavaria whose interior is decorated with richly painted murals of famous old German sagas and myths such as Parzival and Nibelungen. Both of these became the basis for some of Richard Wagner’s operas whom Ludwig would later become close friends with and a patron of. The castle, built by his father, Maximilian II on the site of the ruins of an old medieval castle, sparked young Ludwig’s imagination and were the beginnings of the fantasy world he would later escape to as king.

Ludwig ascended the throne on March 10, 1864 at the age of eighteen upon the death of his father after a three-day illness. He was still quite young and unprepared for the office he had just inherited, but his popularity among the Bavarian people led to a smooth and steady transition. He initially kept his father’s ministers and continued his father’s policies only branching out after gaining some confidence in his own ability to serve as king. Even in his early reign, however, he was considered eccentric since he disliked public and social events. Ludwig thus tried to stay away from the Bavarian capital of Munich as much as possible and tried to avoid state events, including participation in the government. Despite this, however, he still remained popular among his subjects throughout much of his early reign.

Ludwig II and Sophie of Bavaria

Ludwig II and Sophie of Bavaria
Source: Wikipedia

One of the first and most important tasks of any young monarch is to produce an heir. Although Ludwig ultimately failed in this regard, he had no exemption from the pressure to do so. In 1867, he became engaged to Duchess Sophie Charlotte in Bavaria. The engagement was announced on January 22, 1867, but was doomed to fail. Ludwig continually postponed the wedding date until he finally broke off his relationship entirely in October of that year. He never had another relationship nor any known mistresses. In fact, many of his private documents and letters point to homosexuality suppressed by his devotion to the Roman Catholic Church, but this theory is not proven. A few years after his engagement, a major turn of events would cause Ludwig to withdraw into his fantasy world.

1871 was not only a very eventful year for Ludwig II, but also for German history. The end of the Franco-Prussian War led to the unification of all of the German states under the leadership of the Prussian monarch, Wilhelm I, and the founding of the German Empire by Otto von Bismarck. Ludwig’s ministers were, however, able to secure a special status for Bavaria in the new imperial system meaning they were allowed to keep their own diplomatic corps and army. As with the kings and princes in other German states, Ludwig was able to retain his crown, but was nonetheless subjugated to the new German Emperor. This subjugation dealt a blow to his self-confidence and caused him to retreat into his fantasy world of knights and castles even further. Through financial incentives for Ludwig’s building projects, Otto von Bismarck was able to convince him to write a proclamation declaring Wilhelm I the new German Emperor — the so-called Kaiserbrief. After 1871, Ludwig was seen even less in public and eventually withdrew entirely, immersing himself fully in his building projects.

Ludwig is especially known for the palaces and castles he built throughout his reign. Linderhof Palace, Neuschwanstein Castle and Herrenchiemsee Palace are his most famous creations. Of all of these, only Linderhof was fully completed. His premature death and financial problems led to Neuschwanstein and Herrenchiemsee only being partially finished, despite the fact that Neuschwanstein would become Germany’s most famous castle and one of the most popular tourist attractions. He also had a few lesser known buildings erected such as the royal apartment in the Residenz Palace in Munich and the Winter Garden on the roof of the Residenz Palace. Other buildings were planned, but these plans were never actually executed, primarily due to financial problems. Two examples include a castle built on the ruins of Falkenstein Castle as well as an elaborate opera house on the banks of the Isar River in Munich. This obsession with building and living out his fantasies would be the downfall of Ludwig II.

King Ludwig II ca. 1882

King Ludwig II ca. 1882
Source: Wikipedia

After several years of having entirely withdrawn into his building projects and fantasies, Ludwig’s image was tarnished beyond repair. He was entirely absent from government and from the public. Since the Bavarian king was still constitutionally the head of state and was required to sign all new laws, his absence and disinterest in politics caused major problems for the Bavarian government which was considerably weakened by his inaction. By 1885, he was also 14 million marks in debt and rather than cutting expenses, he continued to build and plan even more elaborate castles while demanding loans from other European monarchs. This caused further embarrassment to the Bavarian government. Eventually enough was enough and his ministers, led by Count von Holnstein, rebelled.

Between January and March, 1886, his ministers secretly put together a medical report by going through his files, his trashed documents, collecting testimony from his servants through bribery and other means, and by observing his behavior with the intention to declare him insane and unfit to rule. By July, the report was completed and signed by four psychiatrists led by Dr. Bernhard von Gudden, head of the Munich Asylum. None of them had examined Ludwig.

At 4 am on June 10, 1886, a government delegation which included von Holnstein and Dr. von Gudden arrived at Neuschwanstein Castle. They intended to serve Ludwig with the document of deposition and take him into custody, but having already received a warning about the delegation, Ludwig had the local police arrest them and they were held captive for several hours. The police formed a guard around the castle, preventing the delegation from reaching the king. The servants still faithful to him urged him to flee or show himself in Munich, but he hesitated too long which allowed the government to disperse any supporters he had and drive away the local police force protecting him. Meanwhile his uncle, Prince Luitpold, was proclaimed prince regent.

On June 12, 1886, Ludwig was woken up in his bedroom in Neuschwanstein Castle by a second delegation that was able to finally seize him and force him into a waiting carriage. They hurried to Berg Castle on Lake Starnberg (south of Munich) where he was held prisoner. His captivity did not last long, however. The next day, June 13, 1886 at around 6 pm, he went for a walk with Dr. von Gudden on the grounds of the castle along the shore of Lake Starnberg. They were last seen around 6:30 pm. Three hours later, their bodies were found in the lake. Ludwig’s watch was stopped at 6:54.

No one really knows exactly what the circumstances around Ludwig’s death were. He had always wanted to leave a mysterious legacy and he successfully accomplished that. Since it is well-known that Ludwig was a capable swimmer and that the water where the bodies were found was only waist-deep, there have been many theories as to assassination or murder, but the truth of the matter may never be known. Other theories include government conspiracies to not only depose, but also dispose of Ludwig, or even of Prussian involvement to weaken Bavaria’s influence within the German Empire. Nothing is proven though.

Upon his death, his younger brother, Otto, was proclaimed king, but having already been declared insane, their uncle, Prince Luitpold, continued to serve as prince regent.

Ludwig’s legacy is one made of mystery as well as brick and mortar. His mysterious death has captivated the imaginations of many generations of Bavarians and of many millions of tourists. Whether Ludwig was actually insane or not remains a hot topic of debate even today. The castles and palaces he built are a reminder of his influence on Bavaria, Germany, and even the world. Neuschwanstein would become the idealistic fairy tale castle and even serve as the prototype for Walt Disney’s famous castle. Prince Luitpold’s son, Ludwig III, would eventually give Ludwig II’s castles and palaces to the Bavarian state. These continue to attract large number of tourists every year and, although they were partially responsible for Ludwig’s downfall and financial ruin, have ironically become a large source of income for the Bavarian government today.



This post is part of a multi-part series about the kings of Bavaria. See the rest of the series either on the Kings of Bavaria project page or in the category of the same name.


I am sorry to report that History Rhymes experienced some downtime yesterday and this morning. There was a major problem with the server which hosts History Rhymes which led to the website not being reachable. Everything seems to now be up and running again and I hope that this problem with not occur again in the future.

Thank you for your patience!

— Alex


Kings of Bavaria: Maximilian II Joseph

Maximilian II Joseph

King Maximilian II Joseph of Bavaria
Source: Wikipedia

King Maximilian II Joseph was the third king of Bavaria. He was born on November 28, 1811 in Munich and was the first Bavarian king to be born in Bavaria.

Similar to his father, King Ludwig I, Maximilian had a very strong natural interest in academics curated by his studies at the University of Göttingen where he studied between 1829-1830 and at the Frederick William University in Berlin — now know as the Humboldt University of Berlin. His primary foci were history and constitutional law which both became lifelong interests of his. Because of his interest in academics, he was made an honorable member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities in 1830.

A year before, in 1829, while hiking in the Bavarian Alps, he encountered the medieval ruins of Hohenschwangau Castle which captured his imagination. He purchased them in October 1832 and commissioned Domenico Quaglio to reconstruct them as a summer residence. This became significant to the Bavarian cultural as it was this residence which inspired his son, King Ludwig II, to build Germany’s most famous castle, Neuschwanstein, just up the hill from it.

On October 12, 1842, he married Princess Marie of Prussia. She was the daughter of Prince Frederick William Karl of Prussia, the youngest son of King Frederick William II. Together they had two sons who would both become kings of Bavaria: Ludwig Otto Friedrich Wilhelm (later King Ludwig II) and Otto Wilhelm Luitpold (later King Otto I).

Maximilian became King Maximilian II Joseph after his father’s scandalous abdication on March 20, 1848. Shortly thereafter, he enacted constitutional reform designed to shake up the Bavarian Parliament. The Lower Chamber was to no longer only be elected by profession and Parliament received the right of initiative, or the ability to propose new laws. These reforms were encouraged by Maximilian’s choice of ministers which led to a liberal government.

King Maximilian II Joseph of Bavaria ca. 1860

King Maximilian II Joseph of Bavaria ca. 1860
Source: Wikipedia

The King’s governments throughout his reign would remain more or less liberal compared to his predecessors’. Internally, he oversaw many different types of reforms in many different aspects of government. He reformed the parliamentary voting process, loosened the censorship of the press, gave his subjects the right to congregate and was an advocate for Jewish emancipation — a sore point for many of his arch-conservative Catholic subjects.

Outside of Bavaria, he was a staunch defender of Bavarian independence within the German Confederation. He saw Bavaria as the third major German power whose job it was to help maintain the balance of power between Germany’s other two major states: Austria and Prussia. Shortly after becoming king, Maximilian rejected the proposed constitution for a unified German state which had been written at the Frankfurt Parliament after the Revolutions of 1848. His rejection was a major factor in the collapse of the Frankfurt Parliament and also led to the Palatine Uprising which he crushed with the help of the Prussian military.

While he was not reforming or defending Bavaria politically, Maximilian was reforming Bavaria culturally and academically. Like his father, he had a thorough appreciation of the arts and sciences. Professors were brought into Munich from all over Germany to teach at the Ludwig-Maximilian University. These primarily liberal, Protestant academics did not always sit well with his largely conservative, Catholic subjects, however, although no major conflicts occurred. Starting in 1854, he conducted weekly symposia with Munich’s academic elite which were designed to encourage research and the advancement of knowledge as well as to feed his own academic curiosity. In 1857, he founded the Maximilianeum which was a foundation for gifted students whose purpose it was to support its students in their research interests. Today, the foundation’s building in Munich houses the Bavarian Parliament.

King Maximilian II Joseph died suddenly on March 10, 1864 after suffering for three days from an illness which was diagnosed by his doctors as Erysipelas — an acute infection. He is buried in the Theatinerkirche in Munich near the Munich Residence and his beloved university. He was succeeded by his son, Ludwig II, whose reign and mysterious death would capture the imagination of Bavarians and the world even to this day.

This post is part of a multi-part series about the kings of Bavaria. See the rest of the series either on the Kings of Bavaria project page or in the category of the same name.

Kings of Bavaria: King Ludwig I

King Ludwig I of Bavaria

King Ludwig I of Bavaria
Source: Wikipedia

King Ludwig I was the second king of Bavaria. Although, like his father, King Maximilian I Joseph, he was born outside of Bavaria before the establishment of the Bavarian kingdom, his legacy is still felt to this day with no place being as strongly impacted as his capital city, Munich.

Ludwig Karl August was born on August 25, 1786 in Strasbourg in modern-day France to Maximilian I. Joseph and Princess Auguste Wilhelmine Maria von Hessen-Darmstadt. His godfather was King Louis XVI of France and his birth coincided with the death of Prussian King Frederick the Great who had died just five days before. He was the uncle of the famous Austrian Empress, Elisabeth, known primarily by her nickname “Sisi”.

As a young man, he was very studious. He attended the University of Landshut where he studied under Theologist Johann Michael Sailer and the final years of his education were spent at the University of Göttingen. At both universities, he focused on Ancient History as well as French, Spanish and Italian literature. Later, he added Russian to his repertoire of languages.

On October 12, 1810, he married Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. Ludwig celebrated the wedding publicly in Munich with a celebration that became the Munich tradition of Oktoberfest. The field where Oktoberfest takes place in Munich every year was named after Ludwig’s wife, Theresienwiese.

As Crown Prince, Ludwig became more involved in the day-to-day politics of his father’s government. He attended the Congress of Vienna where he advocated a pro-German nation stance and, in 1817, he even took part in the rising opposition to his father’s prime minister, Maximilian Graf von Montgelas, which led to the prime minister’s dismissal on February 2, 1817.

In 1821, the Greek War of Independence (1821-1832) broke out. His official support for the eventually successful revolutionaries and a loan of 1.5 million guilders given to them from his personal fortune led to his second son, Otto, being crowned King of Greece in May, 1832 in London.

Ludwig became King of Bavaria upon his father’s death on October 13, 1825. He received the title “King of Bavaria” which he changed to “King of Bavaria, Duke of Franconia, Duke in Swabia and Count Palatine of the Rhine” (“König von Bayern, Herzog von Franken, Herzog in Schwaben und Pfalzgraf bei Rhein“) in 1837. The new titles were a revival of the titles his family, the Wittelsbachers, had held in the Middle Ages and were largely symbolic. All of his successors carried these titles as well.

At the opening of his reign, King Ludwig’s policies were overwhelmingly liberal. Just a month and a half after his ascension to the throne, he lifted the censorship of the press and gave them more freedom — a feat none of his predecessors would have dreamed about doing. In 1826, he had the Ludwig-Maximilian University moved from Landshut to its current home in Munich. He was also a strong supporter of the arts and of Bavarian culture. Throughout his reign, he worked to reverse his father’s secularization policies by re-erecting monasteries and returning confiscated property to the Church.

Former King Ludwig I ca. 1860

Former King Ludwig I ca. 1860
Source: Wikipedia

With the July Revolution of 1830 in Paris, France, Ludwig’s fortunes and popularity began to wane — albeit primarily from his own doing. He reintroduced censorship of the press which he had abolished just five years previously and his reign became altogether more repressive. In March 1844, the Beer Riots broke out in Munich in protest to the increased price in bread and, as a result, of beer.

More fatally, however, was his extramarital affair with Irish dancer Lola Montez which started in 1846. Although he had had many affairs, the intensity of this one caused public outrage. He visited her almost every day and even ennobled her with the title of Duchess of Landsfeld (“Gräfin von Landsfeld“). The affair led to protests at the Ludwig-Maximilian University which the King then ordered shuttered. More riots were the result which forced Ludwig to eventually reopen the university and expel Montez from Munich.

On March 4, 1848, in coincidence with other riots in German-speaking lands, a large crowd stormed the Munich Residence with weapons stolen from the King’s armory. Ludwig’s brother, Prince Karl, was able to diffuse the situation, but the Royal Family as well as the King’s Cabinet turned against him. They forced him the sign the “March Proclamation” with substantial concessions.

Lola Montez returned to Munich on March 16, 1848 despite her expulsion and a day later, the King was forced the endure the humiliation of allowing her to be searched by police. On March 20, 1848, King Ludwig I abdicated in favor of his oldest son, Maximilian II. He claimed he was not willing to rule under these conditions anymore.

Ludwig lived another twenty years as an abdicated monarch. He spent his time continuing to support and enjoy the arts from his private fortune and was still very influential. He died on February 29, 1868 at the age of 81 years old in Nice. He is buried in St. Boniface’s Abbey in Munich which he had had built.

This post is part of a multi-part series about the kings of Bavaria. See the rest of the series either on the Kings of Bavaria project page or in the category of the same name.

Film of London in 1926

Thanks to The History Blog, I spent a good hour or so going through old videos of England taken in the 1920s. Even though this is slightly out of the normal time range for History Rhymes, I found the videos so fascinating that I couldn’t help but share them. Of all of them, my favorite was a film made of London in 1926 — the same year Queen Elizabeth II was born — which I’ve embedded below. I absolutely love watching the people back then just imagining what it would have been like to live in such a different era to our own.

For more videos and more detailed background information about them, take a look at the article posted on The History Blog.

Five Years of History Rhymes

"The South Pass" from Roughing It by Mark Twain

“The South Pass” from Roughing It by Mark Twain

It is really hard to believe that History Rhymes has been around now for five years. I have scheduled this entry to be posted exactly five years to the minute after my my first introduction post. So much has happened in the time since I wrote that post that it makes it seems as though it was ages ago. The way has been long since my first post on April 14, 2008 on a hosted blog, but well worth it. Since then I have finished college, found a job and have settled down into a comfortable life. Although my job is not history-related as I had originally hoped for, I do still enjoy it and am able to use History Rhymes as a means to pursue this passion of mine.

Originally, I planned on writing a short, informative post every day. I managed to do just that for the first month or so, but then I realized just how strenuous that goal really was and that unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to do that. It was an ambitious goal, but once I gave it up, I settled down to a pattern of writing longer articles once or twice a month depending on my schedule. There is, however, unfortunately a large gap in posts between January 2012 and October 2012 which was really the first long period when I just couldn’t find time to devote to the blog. At the time, I was in my last semester while doing a MA in history and simply just did not have the time.

Now that I have a more settled life though, I have been writing more articles History Rhymes and I hope to continue to do so well into the future. Even if I’m not pursuing a history-related career yet, it is through this blog I mean to make use of my passion for history.

I would like to thank all of my readers for the past five years and I am looking forward to another five and beyond!

— Alex


Kit Carson

A young Kit Carson

A young Kit Carson

No one person in the history of the American west played so many important roles in the shaping of this vast American landscape than Kit Carson. Despite his modest upbringing and the modest attitude he would carry with him throughout his life, the epic adventures he would lead in his lifetime would make him a celebrity in his own time and a legend in history.

Christopher “Kit” Carson was born on December 24, 1809 to Lindsey Carson and Rebecca Robinson in Madison County, Kentucky, but moved shortly thereafter to a rural area near the small town of Franklin, Missouri. His father was killed in 1818 when he was only fourteen, forcing him to drop out of school and begin working. He got a job as an apprentice to a saddlemaker in Franklin where he listened to tales of people returning from the west via the Sante Fe Trail. These tales invoked a longing in Carson to experience the west himself. At the age of sixteen, he broke his contract with the saddlemaker when he secretly signed up for a job as teamster and caretaker of horses, mules and oxen for a large trading company heading out to Sante Fe, Arizona. This was his first major trip to the west and he would never return to settle down again in the east.

After Carson’s experience as a teamster, he began work in the trapping industry which at that time in the early nineteenth century was flourishing in the west. Soon he became a very well-known mountain man for his skills in trapping and navigation in the hostile, wild lands of the west. In 1829, he signed on to a team led by Ewing Young. The team wandered from Santa Fe to Sacramento and Los Angeles and then to Taos, New Mexico after trapping along the Colorado River. At various times during his career as a trapper, he work for Jim Bridger and the Hudson Bay Company and in the early 1840s, he worked for William Bent as a hunter at Bent’s Fort.

As was the case with most trappers and mountain men of his time, he was quite integrated into the world of Native Americans. He not only spoke several Native American languages, but his first two wives were also an Arapaho woman named Singing Grass and a Cheyenne woman called Making-Our-Road. He had two daughters with Singing Grass and no children with Making-Our-Road who left him to follow her tribe’s migration. In 1843, at the age of 33, he married his third wife, Josefa Jaramillo, who was the daughter of a prominent Taos family. Together, they had a total of eight children.

Frémont's Expeditions

Frémont’s Expeditions

In 1842, Carson had a chance encounter with explorer John C. Frémont on a Missouri River steamboat while bringing his family back to Missouri. Frémont, who had been looking for a guide for his first expedition to the South Pass on the Continental Divide, soon hired Carson because of his experience with the area and knowledge of the landscape. It was through Frémont’s reports about the expedition in which he praised Carson for his outstanding work as a guide that Carson was propelled to national fame and became one of the most famous mountain men of his time.

Carson went on to accompany Frémont on two more expeditions. The first of which was to survey the Great Salt Lake in Utah and then to Fort Vancouver in the Pacific Northwest. The second of which was the 1845-1846 expedition to California and Oregon. It was during this last expedition that Carson became involved in the Mexican-American War when Frémont’s mission was suddenly changed into a military operation. In 1846, Carson accompanied Frémont and his battalion when they helped support the short-lived Bear-Flag Rebellion in California. After securing victory, Frémont sent Carson to Washington D.C. to deliver the news. Later that year, he also guided General Stephen Kearney’s forces from New Mexico into California when the American occupation of Los Angeles came under threat.

Old Kit Carson

Old Kit Carson

After the war, Carson returned to New Mexico to work as a rancher. He and his partner drove sheep to California where they earned a handsome profit from miners during the gold rush era. However, his roaming nature would not allow him to settle down to a life of ranching and in 1853, he became the Federal Indian Agent for northern New Mexico in which capacity he primarily worked with the Utes and the Jicarilla Apaches. He was unique among his peers in that he saw Indian attacks on white settlers as acts of desperation and was inclined to side with the Native American tribes. He was a big advocate for the reservation system as he thought it would solve the issue by creating clear boundaries for both parties.

Carson held his post as Federal Indian Agent until the outbreak of the Civil War in in 1861 when he resigned to join the First New Mexico Volunteer Infantry Regiment organized by Ceran St. Vrain. He served as the regiment’s colonel and fought for the Union. Although he saw some military action at the Battle of Valverde in 1862, most of his time during the war was spent keeping the Navajo in their newly setup reservation located at Fort Sumner in New Mexico. Carson led a brutal economic war on the Navajo. Starvation and desperation finally caused the Navajo to surrender in 1864 and they were led 300 miles from Arizona to Fort Sumner on what became known as the “Long Walk”. It was a black period in Carson’s otherwise generally sympathetic reputation with the Native Americans.

After the Civil War, Carson moved to Colorado where he hoped to pick up ranching again. This, once again, did not last long as he was named a brigadier general in 1865 and became the commander of Fort Garland in the middle of Ute territory the year after. In this capacity, he negotiated a peace treaty with the Utes, when he personally escorted Ute chiefs to Washington D.C. to meet President Andrew Johnson. Shortly after this trip, his wife, Josefa, died due to complications after giving birth to their eighth child. Carson returned to Colorado soon afterwards in terrible condition. He died a month later on May 23, 1868 at Fort Lyon in Colorado at the age of 58. His final words were, “Doctor, compadre, adios!”

In the years since his death, Carson has become a larger-than-life legend in the history and mythology of the old American west. He has featured in many works of fiction about that time and much research has been done about him. Of all the men of the west, he has come to symbolize the old west of the earlier nineteenth century more prominently than almost all of his contemporaries. His legend lives on and, although the facts are often distorted, he still continues to capture the imaginations of Americans to this day.

How I research articles

Nineteenth-century library

Nineteenth-century library

Lately several people have written to me asking how I research articles for History Rhymes. I feel, therefore, it is appropriate to address this question publicly so that everyone who would like to know has the opportunity to find out.

The research process I use is pretty straightforward and is the culmination of experienced gained through years of academic research as an undergraduate and graduate student. Once I’ve chosen a topic, I begin writing about it based on my own knowledge of the subject. Most of the topics I write about I am pretty well-versed in and so most of the time I can write relatively freely with just the occasional need to look up a date or small fact. Of course, there are other topics which I know less about and use the excuse of writing an article for the blog as a means to learn more about it.

When that is the case, I begin by consulting any books that I might have on the subject. Since I’ve always loved history books, I have a relatively large collection of them. Most of the information I get for my articles comes from these books and from having read the majority of them. Occasionally I will need to consult books from the library, but it is rather rare. Generally I don’t use the internet for research very often unless I am looking at digitalized primary source documents or eBooks which I don’t have access to otherwise. If I do use the internet for other research, I primarily use it to confirm facts or to quickly look up dates which can sometimes be quite difficult to find in a book.

Most of the time I don’t cite my sources on History Rhymes because it is a blog and not a formally published article. There are occasions when I have cited sources though, but that is rather rare as I find it a bit superfluous for a blog. I am always glad to discuss what sources I have used though for any given article, so if that is information you would like, please do get in touch either by email or by leaving a comment on the appropriate article.

Images are, however, a different story. Most of the time I will include the source for the image in the caption. This is because people often want a larger version of the image that I have uploaded to the website. I try to use images from Wikipedia that are in the public domain so as not to run into any copyright and publishing issues, but of course that is not always the case. Some of the images I use (such as the picture of the nineteenth-century library above) I have had in my personal collection for many years and no longer have any idea where they came from.

I hope this has given you a better overview of how I research articles for History Rhymes. If you have any questions about it, please don’t hesitate to ask.


Kings of Bavaria: King Maximilian I Joseph

King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria

King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria
Source: Wikipedia

King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria, also known as King Max I Joseph, was the very first king of Bavaria. His reign marked the beginning of a kingdom which lasted for just over a century.

Born on May 27, 1756 in Schwetzingen in what is today Baden-Württemburg, Maximilian came from the Palatine lineage of the Wittelsbach family. His father, Frederick Michael of Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld, was the count of Pfalz-Birkenfeld-Bischweiler and his mother, Maria Francisca of Pfalz-Sulzbach was also of noble birth. As a child, he received a very good education under the careful guidance of his uncle, Duke Christian IV of Zweibrücken and he would carry on his interest in education throughout his life.

In 1778 he received his first official title when he became Count of Rappoltstein. Upon the death of his older brother, Charles II August, in 1795 he unexpectedly inherited the duchy of Palatinate-Zweibrücken which was already under French occupation. Only four years later in 1799, he became the Prince-Elector (Kurfürst) of Bavaria and Count of the Palatine of the Rhine — the highest and most powerful position in Bavaria at that time — upon the death of the current Prince-Elector and Count, Charles Theodore. He was known as Maximilian IV Joseph.

Between 1802 and 1803, under the guidance of his prime minister, Maximilian Graf von Montgelas, he oversaw the process of secularization whereby many monasteries, churches and other properties owned by the Catholic Church were confiscated by the state. The reason behind this was to gain access to the vast amount of wealth possessed by the church in Bavaria. While Maximilian IV Joseph oversaw this process, it was the result of gears that had been set into motion years before he came to power. They remained in secular possession until his son, King Ludwig I, gave them back to the church.

King Maximilian I Joseph at his desk

King Maximilian I Joseph at his desk

Prince-Elector Maximilian IV Joseph became the first king of Bavaria on January 1, 1806 and resumed the name and title King Maximilian I Joseph. During Napoleon’s occupation of most of the German-speaking countries, Bavaria was one of Napoleon’s closest allies in the Confederation of the Rhine. Napoleon rewarded him with the Treaty of Pressburg of December 26, 1805 which turned Bavaria into a kingdom and gave the Wittelsbach family royal status among Europe’s elite. This gave them far more influence in the Confederation as well as in Europe as a whole.

After Napoleon’s defeat and the collapse of the Confederation of the Rhine, King Maximilian I Joseph resisted any efforts of German unification that would threaten Bavaria’s independence and sovereignty. He attended the Congress of Vienna personally rather than sending a representative to fight for Bavarian territorial rights. While he was forced the cede much land to Austria, including Salzburg, Inn and Hausruck, he gained other parts such as Palatinate which the Wittelsbach family had lost possession of during the Napoleonic Wars. Overall, Bavaria shrunk in size and the king’s influence waned slightly.

During his reign as both Prince-Elector and King, he secularized many of the Catholic Church’s properties,but he also emancipated the Protestants within Bavaria. The capital city of Munich was also significantly expanded, setting the trend for growth that was to continue throughout the nineteenth century and into the early twentieth. He was extremely popular among his subjects and one of his favorite pastimes was to dress as a member of the bourgeois, walk through the city and engage people of all ranks in conversation. He was married twice, the result of which was a total of thirteen children – five from the first marriage and eight from the second.

King Maximilian I Joseph died at Nymphenburg Palace near Munich on October 13, 1825. He was succeeded by his son, Ludwig I, whose reign would also leave an even bigger impact on the city of Munich and Bavaria as a whole.

This post is part of a multi-part series about the kings of Bavaria. See the rest of the series either on the Kings of Bavaria project page or in the category of the same name.

Rocky Mountain Mining Towns: Idaho Springs, Colorado

Idaho Springs in 2006

Idaho Springs in 2006
Source: Wikipedia

There are few mining towns of the old west which are still operational. Most mining operations were shut down for a large variety of different reasons and the towns supporting them then slowly dried up and eventually became ghost towns. Idaho Springs, Colorado, however, is one of the few which are still inhabited and still operational. Located in a very scenic valley about forty minutes away from Denver, it makes for a gorgeous stop for any fans of the old west. The downtown area still retains most of its old western splendor, but of course with many modern buildings interspersed between the old parts.

Although the modern town is nice to visit, its history is what makes it so interesting. The town was founded in 1859 during the days of the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush by George A. Jackson at the junction of Chicago Creek and Vasquez Creek. The area was originally known as “Jackson’s Diggings”. As the town became more settled, it took on various names such as “Sacramento City”, “Idahoe”, “Idaho City” before the name “Idaho Springs” was finally decided on. The town reached its peak population at the height of the gold rush in the 1860s with 12,000 people — compared to today’s 1,800 residents.

Jackson settled the area because it was rich in gold ore. On his first attempt at panning, he found nine dollars worth of gold. He marked the area, then returned the following April with twenty-two men from the Chicago Mining Company. Within the first seven days, they managed to dig up $1,900 worth of ore, close to one million dollars in today’s currency. With that amount of gold being pulled out of the ground, it was only a short matter of time until word got out and the prospectors started pouring in. In 1874, President Grant gave R. B. Griswold, the town’s first elected mayor, the government deeds which were then handed out to settlers who populated the area.

Other than the gold, Idaho Springs is famous for its hot springs. Jackson was first alerted to the area by a blue haze which covered the area. At first, he mistook it for an Indian campfire, but quickly discovered it was just mist caused by the hot springs.

Idaho Springs remained a small, relatively unknown mining town until the late 1950s and early 1960s when the State of Colorado built I-70 which runs right through the town. The construction of the interstate has led to a huge tourist boom in the town and, other than the continuing mining operations, is one of its most important sources of income.

For another well-written, detailed piece about the history of Idaho Springs as well as more photos and more modern activities to do in and around the town, take a look at Clear Creek County’s website.

This post is part of a multi-part series about mining towns in the Rocky Mountains. See the rest of the series either on the Rocky Mountain Mining Town project page or in the category of the same name.

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