Lola Montez

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Lola Montez, miniature by Joseph Heigel , ca.1837
Lola Montez, portrait of Joseph Karl Stieler in the gallery of beauty in Nymphenburg Palace
Lola Montez ( gouache by Carl Buchner , 1847)
Der Engelssturz, single-sheet print from Bavaria (probably 1848), satirical depiction of the outcome of the affair between Ludwig I and Lola Montez
Lola Montez, daguerreotype by Southworth & Hawes (1851)

Elizabeth Rosanna Gilbert , known as Lola Montez (born February 17, 1821 in Grange, County Sligo , † January 17, 1861 in New York ), was an Irish dancer and lover of King Ludwig I of Bavaria , who made her Countess Marie von Landsfeld rose.

Youth and first notoriety

Elizabeth Rosanna Gilbert was born in 1821 to the Scottish officer Edward Gilbert and an Irish nobleman, Eliza Oliver. In 1822 the family moved to Calcutta , where their father died of cholera shortly after their arrival . From about 1823/1824 to 1834 she grew up first with her stepfather Captain John Craigie and then with her step-uncle in Scotland and then attended a boarding school for older daughters in Bath, England, until 1837 .

To avoid a marriage of convenience with the much older judge Sir Abraham Lumley, she was kidnapped by the English officer Thomas James in Ireland in 1836. The following year she married him and went to India with him in 1838. The couple separated in Simla in 1839.

In 1842 Gilbert returned to London , where she learned the Spanish language and Spanish dances, which she deepened on a short trip to Spain . In 1843 she came back to London under the name "Maria de los Dolores Porrys y Montez" alias "Lola Montez" and posed as a Spanish dancer from Seville . After a successful debut on 3 June 1843 was as impostor unmasked and fled from England.

She then traveled through Europe under the name Lola Montez and caused scandals through her numerous affairs , first with Heinrich LXXII. in Reuss-Ebersdorf in Thuringia . On September 3, 1843 danced in front of Frederick William IV. Of Prussia and Tsar Nicholas I , the Los Boleros de Cadiz in Berlin . Then she had a guest appearance in Warsaw, which ended with tumult. She was expelled from Reuss-Ebersdorf, Berlin, Warsaw and Baden-Baden . After her appearance at the Paris Opera in 1844, she caused a sensation in 1846 after her lover, the editor of the newspaper La Presse , Alexandre Dujarian (1815–1845), was shot in a duel. The writers Alexandre Dumas the Elder (1802–1870) and Alexandre Dumas the Younger (1824–1895) as well as Franz Liszt (1811–1886) were among her admirers.

The affair in Munich

After two years in the Parisian demi-world , she came to Munich on October 5, 1846 , stayed at the Bayerischer Hof on Promenadeplatz and applied for a job as a dancer. Because August von Frays , director of the Munich Hofbühne, would not let her perform, she went to see the Bavarian King Ludwig I , who received her for the first time on October 7, 1846. On October 10th she gave a guest appearance at the Munich Court and National Theater . She had another gig there on October 14th. Later she lived in the hotel Zum golden Hirschen , then in a private apartment on Theresienstraße. Her housekeeper, Mrs. Desch, who was put on as a police spy, falsely accused her of receiving students at night. A portrait of her was also created at this time, which is now in the so-called beauty gallery in Nymphenburg Palace .

The 25-year-old became the lover of the 60-year-old king. Ludwig I had his will changed a month and ten days after her appearance. In it she was promised a payment of 100,000 guilders if she were neither married nor widowed when he died. In addition, she should be paid 2,400 guilders annually up to a marriage. In fact, by the end of the relationship in 1850, she received 158,084 guilders. In addition, the king gave her a palace at 7 Barer Strasse in Munich as her place of residence. She moved there in June 1847.

Ludwig visited her there, as he did at the other residences, often between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. Sometimes she received other gentlemen, mostly careerists, who hoped for a good word from the king.

The relationship quickly became known and generally frowned upon. When the king demanded that she be granted Bavarian citizenship, since her only identification was a passport issued in the Principality of Reuss-Ebersdorf , his cabinet, especially Interior Minister Karl von Abel , considered this illegitimate. On February 11, 1847, all ministers asked for their dismissal, which took place on March 1, and a new cabinet was formed with difficulty. Nevertheless, Lola Montez was naturalized, which led to tumult in Theresienstraße. On August 25, 1847 she was raised to Countess von Landsfeld - "because of the many benefits shown to the poor in Bavaria".

Lola Montez was very unpopular with the Munich population. She triggered one scandal after the other when, smoking a cigar, she wandered through Munich with her Great Dane Turk. Montez, who liked the idea of ​​a student bodyguard, managed to get the senior and other corps boys of the Corps Palatia Munich to join her under the new corps name Alemannia . The people of Munich immediately contemptuously called them Lolamanni . She had an intimate relationship with the corps student and chairman of the student associations Elias Peißner (1825–1863). Their behavior caused some anger in the student body, so that ultimately all the other Munich corps (Suevia, Palatia, Bavaria, Isaria) were hostile to the Alemannia . Professors and high officials were dismissed. When Montez was finally recognized by an angry crowd on Theatinerplatz, there were fights, whereupon she fled to the Theatinerkirche . Thereupon Ludwig I ordered the immediate closure of the university on February 9, 1848 until the winter semester 1848/49 and ordered all students to leave the city within three days. On February 10, 1848, students and other citizens moved in front of the residence and riots broke out in the city.

After violent protests from businessmen, landlords and citizens, the university was reopened a day later and in February 1848 the order was issued that Countess Landsfeld had to leave the city within an hour. On February 11, 1848, she fled in a carriage under the eyes of the angry population via Blutenburg Castle to Lindau and Switzerland . In the Privy Council on March 16, Ludwig made the declaration that Lola Montez was no longer a Bavarian citizen. On March 17th, a search notice was issued.

All these episodes and arguments of the years 1847 and 1848 in Munich quickly became very popular theater and revue material. In the general mood of unrest in 1848 ( March Revolution ), the monarch abdicated on March 20 after Lola Montez had reportedly secretly returned.

While escaping from Munich, the enthusiastic collector Count Maximilian von Arco-Zinneberg got hold of a Montez cigarette butt, which he labeled as a souvenir and which is now on display in the Munich City Museum.

Later years

Lola Montez lived in Switzerland from February 1848, where she hoped to meet Ludwig again. The numerous letters between her and Ludwig I show that she lived in great luxury with the money handed over. In the meantime, she also got involved with the impostor Auguste Papon - who pretended to be "Marquis de Sard" - and tried to blackmail Ludwig. When Ludwig finally found out about the affair between Peißner and Montez, the relationship cooled down considerably. Both still wrote each other letters, mainly about getting more money from him.

In 1849 she returned to London. Here the "Covent Garden" announced an appearance by Lola Montez in the later withdrawn drama Lola Montez ou la Comtesse pour une heure .

After her marriage there to a young British officer named George Trafford Heald (1828-1853), Ludwig broke off relations with her completely. With her first husband, Thomas James, still alive, she was charged with bigamy and had to flee the UK. She traveled to the Mediterranean with her illegitimate husband, from whom she soon separated in an argument. After another attempt to perform her Spanish dances in front of an audience in Paris and Belgium , and the publication of her memoir in the daily Le pays , she went to the United States in 1851 .

On Broadway , she appeared in the theater revue Lola Montez in Bavaria in 1852 , in which she played herself. She toured the east coast until 1853, then went to San Francisco in May . In July 1853 she married Patrick Hull (died 1853) and in August settled in the California gold rush town of Grass Valley .

From 1855 she was on tour in Victoria , Australia , where she entertained, among other things, gold diggers with her performances. In 1856, she opened the Theater Royal in the gold rush town of Castlemaine with a performance. In 1857 she returned to New York. Montez recently made a name for herself in the United States and Great Britain with readings that enabled her to make a living. She wrote beauty guides, got involved with “ Fallen Girls ” and became a professed Christian under the influence of the Protestant journalist Charles Chauncey Burr (1817–1883) . After stroke-like symptoms had already shown in the summer, the 39-year-old contracted pneumonia at Christmas 1860 and died on January 17 in New York. Her grave is in Green-Wood Cemetery , Brooklyn .


  • Memoirs. Edited by A. Papon et al. Scheible, Stuttgart 1849 ( digitized version ); newer edition: Memoirs of Lola Montez (Countess v. Landsfeld). Edited and with an afterword by Kerstin Wilhelms. 2 vols. Zweiausendeins, Frankfurt am Main 1986.
  • The Arts of Beauty; Or, Secrets of a Lady's Toilet: With Hints to Gentlemen on the Art of Fascinating. New York 1858 ( digitized )
  • Anecdotes of Love. Being a true Account of the Most Remarkable Events Connected with the History of Love, in All Ages and Among all Nations. New York 1858. ( digitized version )

Lola Montez as a motif of art



  • Sorceress Lola , operetta by Eduard Künneke (music), Alfried Brieger and Sigmund Graff (text), world premiere: Dortmund 1937
  • Bacchanale , ballet, 1939, by Léonide Massine
  • Lola Montez , ballet, 1946, by Edward Caton
  • Lola Montez , "Dramma per musica" (musical), 1972, by Peter Kreuder (music) and Maurus Pacher (libretto)
  • Lola Montez - the wrong Spaniard , drama, 2018, by Bernhard Setzwein


  • Cécil Saint-Laurent : Drunk with happiness and sadness. Publisher of the European library HM Hieronimi, Bonn 1956 (novel-like biography), (original title: Lola Montès ).
  • Jacqueline Wilmes / Jaques Prezelin : Lola Montez. Curse of Beauty Editions Rencontre Lausanne, Lausanne 1971 (novel-like biography)


  • The Danish band Volbeat released the piece Lola Montez on their album Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies in April 2013 . The single was awarded a gold record in Denmark .
  • The Munich band BETA released the track “Lola Montez” in August 2019 as a single from their album “Teletext”, which was released in February 2020. The piece deals with parallels between the band's lifestyle and Lola Montez.

Exhibition hall


TV documentary

  • Lola and Ludwig - The mistress and her king , director: Wolf Truchsess von Wetzhausen, ZDF, 2016

Web links

Commons : Lola Montez  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Lola Montez  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Gerhard Jelinek : affairs that moved the world. 2011, ISBN 3-7110-5017-4 ; Digital scan
  2. ^ Ina Ulrike Paul:  Montez, Lola. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 18, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1997, ISBN 3-428-00199-0 , p. 50 f. ( Digitized version ).
  3. Lola Montez and her admirer Elias Peißner. "Country and People" series from May 29, 2016, Bayerischer Rundfunk , Bayern 2 (article and audio)
  4. ^ Page of the Munich City Museum on the cigarette butt; with photo
  5. Information on the grave of Lola Montez
  6. Gabriella Lorenz: Much idle and even more noise. Lola Montez in the Cuvilliéstheater at, January 30, 2013
  7. Tobias Schwarzmeier: “What can I do that you all love me” at, July 1st, 2018