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King Ludwig II : The Mystery Shrouding His Mental Illness and His Death

Citizens of Bavaria have questioned for more than 150 years whether their King Ludwig II, who ruled from 1845 to 1886 was truly mentally ill at that time. While there are theories that suggest that his behavior was typical of a young man who was eccentric and quite gifted at the same time.

After, King Ludwig II, was like his namesake and grandfather King Ludwig I, who was also fond of the arts. However, King Ludwig II had led a life of isolation due to the lack of peers he can relate with in his lifetime and in Germany’s social circle.

Many Bavarians believe that his psychiatrist had merely acted on the government’s side, by declaring King Ludwig II as insane and not mentally fit to act as ruler of Bavaria. en became responsible for his early death. There was no consideration over the fact that Ludwig was crowned as a king in 1864 at a young age of 18, whilst totally unprepared to take on the throne.

While at first many held high hopes that he would finally come to terms with his responsibilities as King of Bavaria, he disappointed such expectations as Ludwig became more and more reluctant to act accordingly. He avoided fulfilling his social and political obligations, which also led to his depression. He began to realize that his true potential is in the arts, by being a patron of the opera and by becoming a building contractor.

A More Detailed Background on Why King Ludwig II was Branded a Mad King

During the year 1886, Bernhard von Gudden and three other psychiatrists diagnosed King Ludwig II as suffering from paranoia, which was good enough reason for the German government to remove him from the throne. Yet the evaluations weren’t thorough, but merely backed by eyewitnesses whose claims were used as evidences for the diagnosis.

The king was a huge enthusiast of musician Richard Wagner as they both shared ideas of an idealistic society. He started to relate with Wagner’s opera characters, and later on became the musician’s admirer for life. His first governmental order was to find Richard Wagner and summon him to Munich. All these were in large part considerations for the diagnosis of his mental illness.

At the same time, his interest in an absolutist state grew as he imagined himself as a monarch similar to Louis XIV. He built multiple projects, particularly the Königsschloss Neuschwanstein the magnificent yet extravagant medieval-style castle that caused his kingdom to fall into a financial crisis.

Psychiatrists believed that with his behavior becoming more and more abnormal along with his imaginations that were termed as hallucinations, they were certain of the diagnosis. The psychiatrists refrained from mentioning that King Ludwig II was also homophilic. At that time, it was a scandal to be more interested in persons of the same sex. Since the Bavarian King II was not interested in women, he was unmarried when he died at age 44.

The questions regarding King Ludwig II’s sanity remain unanswered, because when the Bavarian King died by drowning in Starnberg lake on the same day he was officially declared as insane, the psychiatrist who made the declaration died along with the king in the same lake and on the same day.