Maximilian II. Joseph (Bavaria)

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Maximilian II of Bavaria (depiction with collar and star of the Order of Hubert )

Maximilian II. King of Bavaria (born November 28, 1811 in Munich ; † March 10, 1864 ibid) from the Wittelsbach family was King of Bavaria from 1848 to 1864 . He was married to Marie Friederike von Prussia , from this marriage the later Bavarian kings Ludwig II and Otto I emerged. His younger brothers were King Otto of Greece and Prince Regent Luitpold . Under Maximilian, despite setbacks such as the uprising in the Palatinate, there was cautious liberalization, and ministerial responsibility was introduced. The king went down in history as a promoter of science and popular culture, and the Maximilian style is also named after him.

Crown Prince

Göttingen , memorial plaque for the former prince's house and its well-known guests

He was the eldest son of King Ludwig I and his wife Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen . From 1829 to 1830 he studied at the University of Göttingen and from 1830 to 1831 at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität zu Berlin , where he especially attended lectures in history and constitutional law . Maximilian was a student of the scholars Friedrich Dahlmann and Arnold Heeren in Göttingen, Friedrich von Raumer and Leopold von Ranke in Berlin and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling in Munich. His understanding of history was strongly influenced by them. In 1830 he was made an honorary member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences .

During a hike in April 1829 Maximilian saw the dilapidated ruins of Hohenschwangau Castle . He bought it in October 1832 and had Domenico Quaglio rebuild it as a summer residence. The castle became the model for the fairytale castles of his son Ludwig II. In 1842 the loyal owners also made the castle ruins of Hambach Castle a wedding gift to the Bavarian crown prince, which was then rebuilt.

In 1838 there was upset with the Russian Tsar Nicholas I , who wanted his daughter Olga to be married to the Bavarian heir to the throne Maximilian. Ludwig I and the queen as well as Maximilian himself, who felt nothing for Olga after a meeting in Berlin, declined. In 1844 the tsar planned a cure in Bad Kissingen and wanted "no broadcasts" from the Bavarian court. The absent Ludwig instructed his wife to write at least one "letter of compliment" signed by her for Nicholas, but rejected this plan again. Therese consulted with Ministers Gise and Abel on this matter .

In December 1841, the thirty-year-old Crown Prince Maximilian decided to marry the sixteen-year-old Hohenzollern Princess Marie . The engagement in Berlin, scheduled for January 1842, had to be postponed because the bride had measles. And before a wedding celebration could be thought of, there was another celebration, the confirmation of the bride. In addition to King Friedrich Wilhelm IV and Queen Elisabeth Ludovika , their nephew, Marie's Catholic bridegroom Maximilian, also took part in the ceremony in the village church in Fischbach . The solemn evangelical procurative wedding of the princess with the crown prince Maximilian of Bavaria took place on October 5th, 1842 in Berlin. At the bride's side was not her future husband, but Wilhelm Prince of Prussia as the representative of the Bavarian Crown Prince. While the marriage of Maximilian's aunt Elisabeth Ludovika with the later Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV. In 1823 required four years of diplomatic negotiations because of the denomination, Marie was now allowed to keep her Protestant denomination without any problems. (Both queens only converted to their respective husbands' denominations in later years.)

During his time as Crown Prince Maximilian traveled extensively in Europe, including Greece, Italy and England.


Political activity

Maximilian II of Bavaria, ca.1860

On March 20, 1848, after his father's abdication, he took over the business of government. After taking the oath, he declared in his speech from the throne: “I am proud to call myself a constitutional king .” Shortly after taking office, he granted a reform of the constitution that his father had allowed. Under his government, the state parliament then announced liberal reforms in the areas of state election law, press censorship , assembly and association law and the judiciary, as well as the liberation of peasants . Since 1848, the principle of ministerial responsibility has been in effect , and jury courts have been introduced in the judiciary and oral and public proceedings have been decreed. A new electoral law was passed, the members of the 2nd Chamber were no longer elected according to professional groups, and the state parliament was given the right to initiate legislation. However, implementing these reforms took a long time. Maximilian's plan for a law to emancipate Jews met with strong popular opposition. In 1849 the office of chairman of the Council of Ministers was created, which was subsequently mostly connected with the office of Foreign Minister. With the appointment of the conservative minister Ludwig von der Pfordten , the reform phase under Maximilian II ended as early as 1849. There were attempts to withdraw reforms, so the king succeeded in revising the Bavarian army's oath to the constitution in 1852, despite the fact that the king was able to change the constitution still respected, their freedom and co-determination rights were not allowed to turn against the kingship. In 1851, the establishment of savings, loan, health benefit and pension funds became mandatory when a factory was set up. The 1850s brought the final breakthrough to industrialization in Bavaria - even if only in individual regions of the country. Even more than his father, King Maximilian was open to the social consequences of industrialization.

His government policy was characterized by repeated requests for advice from his ministers and the scholars around him, which often delayed decisions for a long time. In addition, Maximilian was often on trips in Italy and Greece, whereby the work stayed for a long time. The relationship with his father, who continued building work, was tense. Maximilian was regarded by his contemporaries as hesitant and withdrawn. However, the king was open to the social hardship of the workers. Yet he was not very popular with the people. The king also distrusted his people and feared an overthrow all his life, as he threatened in 1848. In this context, there are the monthly polling reports from the Minister of State of the Interior, secret alarm plans in numerous Bavarian cities and even the construction of the huge Max II barracks in the capital, intended as the citadel of the court .

In terms of foreign policy, he tried to preserve Bavaria's independence in the German Confederation . By the on March 28, 1849 Frankfurt National Assembly adopted constitution he refused. This triggered the Palatinate uprising . The king called in the Prussian military, and on June 10, 1849, a Bavarian army corps marched into the Palatinate, which put down the uprising. Together with his minister Ludwig von der Pfordten, Maximilian pursued the concept of triad politics in the years that followed . This envisaged developing the German medium-sized states under the leadership of Bavaria into a third force alongside the two great powers Prussia and Austria. The four kings alliance was concluded on February 27, 1850, between the kingdoms of Bavaria, Saxony , Hanover and Württemberg . Against this background, Bavaria actually torpedoed the Erfurt Union project . In the autumn crisis of 1850 , Bavaria stood on the side of Austria and also marched with its troops into Kurhessen, where Bavarian-Austrian and Prussian armies faced each other. Bavarian-Austrian occupation troops held parts of Kurhessen ( penal Bavaria ) from November 1850 to summer 1851 as part of a federal intervention to enforce the conservative counterrevolution . After the agreement between Austria and Prussia in the Olomouc Treaty in December 1850, the triad concept lost its importance in the following years. Bavaria and the other German Central Powers tried in vain to persuade the government in Vienna to join the German Customs Union . The Bamberg Conference initiated by Maximilian during the Crimean War ended in 1854 with a considerable loss of diplomatic prestige for Bavaria, as Austria remained neutral but did not consult the German Confederation or take note of the conditions of the German medium-sized states. Greece, ruled by Maximilian's brother Otto, had joined the Russian side in the Crimean War. After Austria was defeated in the war against France and Sardinia-Piedmont in 1859 , the Austrian Foreign Minister suggested joining the German Customs Union in 1862, but the Prussian Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck defeated the initiative by threatening the members of the Zollverein with Prussia's exit . The Würzburg Conferences did not bring about any reform of the German Confederation . The Frankfurt Fürstentag , in which Maximilian took part, also failed in 1863. King Wilhelm I of Prussia was absent from the opening, although Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria had invited him. Then in February 1864 the German-Danish War broke out. The political impotence of Bavaria and the German Confederation against the great powers Austria and Prussia was evident until the very end.

At the suggestion of the Kingdom of Bavaria, the Federal Assembly of the German Confederation set up a commission on February 21, 1856 to draw up a commercial code . King Maximilian II is said to have personally suggested this project. The then Prussian Bundestag envoy Otto von Bismarck did not vote against the Bavarian proposal , contrary to the instructions of the Prussian Prime Minister Otto Theodor von Manteuffel .

Laying out of King Max II (1864) after a drawing by Karl Appold

Promoter of science and culture

Tomb of Maximilian II

The king was a patron of science and art and he was open to the technical innovations of his time. The appointment of famous professors - the so-called "Northern Lights" - to the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich cemented Munich's reputation as a university city, but also caused fears among the more conservative population, as most of the appointed were Protestant and more liberal.

The Bavarian King was particularly keen to promote historical studies based on the Prussian model in Bavaria . From September 25 to October 13, 1854, his academic teacher Leopold von Ranke stayed at the king's summer residence in Berchtesgaden at the invitation of the king . According to Maximilian II's will, the subject of history should be given significantly more weight at all three state universities of Erlangen , Munich and Würzburg as well as at schools throughout the kingdom , in keeping with the zeitgeist of the time . With the help of his advisor and Ranke student Heinrich von Sybel , who was also a professor of history at Munich University , historical seminars were to be founded at the state universities. At the University of Erlangen the seminar was founded in close cooperation with Heinrich von Sybel by the historian Karl Hegel . On August 20, 1858, the Historical Commission, particularly supported by Maximilian II, was constituted at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences in Munich. In 1855 the king founded the Bavarian National Museum .

Since 1854, the Bavarian King has also held weekly symposia with Munich's intellectual elite and the so-called “Northern Lights” (including Justus von Liebig , Emanuel Geibel ). He is also the founder of the Maximilianeum , a Bavarian gifted foundation, in whose building the Bavarian State Parliament now resides.

Under King Maximilian, the architectural style for royal urban planning concepts changed fundamentally. Many buildings in Munich, but also outside the capital, were now built in the neo-Gothic Maximilian style , such as Maximilianstrasse under the direction of the architect Friedrich Bürklein, or were designed as glass-cast-iron constructions that were new at the time, such as the Glass Palace (designed by August von Voit ).

Despite his distance, ultimately connected to the people and loving his home, he also tried to promote the art and customs of the people in order to also set a Bavarian national feeling against the German unification efforts. He supported Bavarian costumes, customs, folk music and manners. The king even officially included traditional costume wearers in his court ceremony, wore traditional jackets with lederhosen himself when hunting and wrote in 1849 that he saw the preservation of national costumes as "of great importance" for the national feeling. Since then the costume has been acceptable in Munich.

He toured his kingdom in the summers of 1849 and 1855. From June 24th to July 27th, 1858 he undertook a walking tour through his country, which began in Lindau . Because of the frequent rain, however, he had to use the body he was carrying several times.

Death and succession

The king had been in a sickly condition for many years, so he suffered from headaches throughout his life and typhoid fever in 1835 had weakened him lastingly. In 1863 he traveled to Italy again to seek relief there before the crisis in Schleswig-Holstein called him back.

Maximilian died in March 1864 after a severe illness that lasted only three days. The doctors explained this as a rapidly spreading red rash disease on the chest. He was buried in a side chapel in the Theatine Church. His heart was buried separately and is located in the Chapel of Grace in Altötting .

When Maximilian died, the young heir to the throne, Ludwig II, was only insufficiently introduced to his future tasks, which was not only due to his age, but also to the distant relationship between father and son. As can be seen from the memory of Franz von Pfistermeister, the long-time cabinet secretary, the king found it very difficult to take his older son with him on his morning walk. He only did it a few times because he didn't know "what to talk to him about".


The Maxmonument in Munich
The Maximilian II monument in Bayreuth
Ornate kegs from master cooper Melchior Röhm from Sommerach for King Max II.


King Maximilian II Joseph got engaged on January 23, 1842 to Princess Marie Friederike von Prussia (1825–1889), daughter of Prince Friedrich Wilhelm Karl of Prussia and his wife Maria Anna Amalie von Hessen-Homburg . The marriage in Munich on October 12, 1842 resulted in two sons:


In Munich, the boulevard Maximilianstrasse (with the Maxmonument ) and the Maximilianeum commemorate the king. The former Maximilian II barracks was also named after him.

The town of Maximiliansau and the famous mineral spring in the spa town of Bad Dürkheim , in the former Bavarian Rhine Palatinate , were named after King Maximilian II Joseph; also the market square of Tirschenreuth , the Maxhütte steelworks in Sulzbach-Rosenberg , as well as the Maximilian colliery sunk by this in Hamm-Werries in Westphalia .

In 1853, Maximilian II founded the Maximilian Order for Science and Art , which - after an interruption between 1933 and 1980 - is still awarded today as the highest Bavarian honor.


Individual evidence

  1. Martha Schad: Bavaria's queens. Piper 2005, p. 133 f.
  2. HdBG - reforms in the time of Maximilian II.
  3. ^ At Heinz Häfner - A king is eliminated . Munich 2008 - it says on p. 103: "Over 800 templates are said to have piled up."
  4. Maximilian II.
  5. HdbG - The German Question 1848–1864
  6. Christoph Bergfeld: Prussia and the General German Commercial Code , in: Ius Commune, Vol. XIV (1987), p. 101 (107) fn. 9.
  7. Ibid., P. 101 (108).
  8. See last Marion Kreis: Karl Hegel. Historical significance and scientific history location (= series of publications of the historical commission at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. Vol. 84) Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen u. a. 2012, ISBN 978-3-525-36077-4 , especially pp. 159ff. ( E-book and reading sample )
  9. - The disintegrated father

Web links

Commons : Maximilian II. (Bavaria)  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
predecessor Office successor
Ludwig I. Kingdom of BavariaKingdom of Bavaria King of Bavaria
Ludwig II.