Frederick William III of Prussia, German Empire, German Reich, Kingdom of Bavaria, Linderhof Palace, Ludwig II of Bavaria, Marie of Prussia, Maximilian II of Bavaria, Palace of Versailles
Linderhof Palace (German: Schloss Linderhof) is a Schloss in Germany, in southwest Bavaria near Ettal Abbey. It is the smallest of the three palaces built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria and the only one which he lived to see completed.
Ludwig II (August 25, 1845 – 13 June 1886) was King of Bavaria from 1864 until his death in 1886. He is sometimes called the Swan King or der Märchenkönig (“the Fairy Tale King”). He also held the titles of Count Palatine of the Rhine, Duke of Bavaria, Duke of Franconia, and Duke in Swabia.
Born at Nymphenburg Palace, he was the elder son of the then Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Bavaria, who became King Maximilian II of Bavaria Queen Marie in 1848 after the abdication of the former’s father, Ludwig I, during the German Revolution.
Ludwig’s mother, Marie of Prussia, was a daughter of Prince Wilhelm of Prussia, (a younger brother of King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia) and his wife Landgravine Marie Anna of Hesse-Homburg.
His parents intended to name him Otto, but his grandfather insisted that his grandson be named after him, since their common birthday, August 25, is the feast day of Saint Louis IX of France, patron saint of Bavaria (with “Ludwig” being the German form of “Louis”). His younger brother, born three years later, was named Otto.
Ludwig II commissioned the construction of two lavish palaces and Neuschwanstein Castle, and he was a devoted patron of the composer Richard Wagner. Ludwig spent all his royal revenues (although not state funds as is commonly thought) on these projects, borrowed extensively, and defied all attempts by his ministers to restrain him. This extravagance was used against him to declare him insane, an accusation which has since come under scrutiny. Today, his architectural and artistic legacy includes many of Bavaria’s most important tourist attractions.
Development of the building
Ludwig already knew the area around Linderhof from his youth when he had accompanied his father King Maximilian II on his hunting trips in the Bavarian Alps. When Ludwig II became King in 1864, he inherited the so-called Königshäuschen from his father, and in 1869 began enlarging the building. In 1874, he decided to tear down the Königshäuschen and rebuild it on its present-day location in the park. At the same time three new rooms and the staircase were added to the remaining U-shaped complex, and the previous wooden exterior was clad with stone façades. The building was designed in the style of the second rococo-period. Between 1863 and 1886, a total of 8,460,937 marks was spent constructing Linderhof.
Although Linderhof is much smaller than Versailles, it is evident that the palace of the French Sun-King Louis XIV (who was an idol for Ludwig) was its inspiration. The staircase, for example, is a reduction of the famous Ambassador’s staircase in Versailles, which would be copied in full in Herrenchiemsee. Stylistically, however, the building and its decor take their cues from the mid-18th century Rococo of Louis XV, and the small palace in the Graswang was more directly based on that king’s Petit Trianon on the Versailles grounds.
The symbol of the sun that can be found everywhere in the decoration of the rooms represents the French notion of absolutism that, for Ludwig, was the perfect incorporation of his ideal of a God-given monarchy with total royal power. Such a monarchy could no longer be realised in Europe in the second half of the nineteenth century. The bedroom was important to the ceremonial life of an absolute monarch; Louis XIV of France used to give his first (lever) and last audience (coucher) of the day in his bedchamber. In imitation of Versailles, the bedroom is the largest chamber of Linderhof Palace. By facing north, however, the Linderhof bedroom inverts the symbolism of its Versailles counterpart, showing Ludwig’s self-image as a “Night-King.”
The location of the palace near Ettal Abbey again presents another interesting point. Because of its architecture Ludwig saw the church of the monastery as the room where the holy grail was preserved. This fact connects the idea of a baroque palace to the one of a “medieval” castle such as Neuschwanstein and reminds of the operas of Richard Wagner whose patron Ludwig was. Ludwig was also not unaware that the abbey had been founded by his ancestor and namesake, Holy Roman Emperor Ludwig IV.
In 1878, construction was completed on Ludwig’s Schloss Linderhof. The grounds contained a Venus grotto lit by electricity, where Ludwig was rowed in a boat shaped like a shell. Ludwig saw himself as the “Moon King”, a romantic shadow of the earlier “Sun King”, Louis XIV of France. From Linderhof, Ludwig enjoyed moonlit sleigh rides in an elaborate eighteenth-century sleigh, complete with footmen in eighteenth century livery.