Louis II


Louis II
1. German, Ludwig II. ("the German") A.D. 804?-876, king of Germany 843-876 (son of Louis I).
2. A.D. 822?-875, king of Italy 844-875; emperor of the Holy Roman Empire 855-875 (son of Lothair I).

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or Ludwig II also known as Mad King Ludwig

born Aug. 25, 1845, Nymphenburg Palace, Munich
died June 13, 1886, Starnberger See, Bavaria

King of Bavaria (1864–86).

The son of Maximilian II of Bavaria, he supported Prussia in the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71). He brought his territories into the newly founded German Empire in 1871 but concerned himself only intermittently with affairs of state, preferring a life of increasingly morbid seclusion. A lifelong patron of the composer Richard Wagner, he developed a mania for extravagant building projects; the most fantastic, Neuschwanstein, was a fairy-tale castle decorated with scenes from Wagner's operas. He drowned himself three days after he was formally declared insane.

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▪ count of Flanders
also called  Louis Of Mâle,  French  Louis De Mâle,  Dutch  Lodewijk Van Male 
born Nov. 29, 1330, Mâle Castle, near Bruges, Flanders
died Jan. 30, 1384, Saint-Omer, Flanders

      count of Flanders, Nevers, and Réthel (1346–84), who, by marrying his daughter Margaret to the Burgundian duke Philip the Bold (1369), prepared the way for the subsequent union of Flanders and Burgundy.

      The reign of Louis of Mâle was one long struggle with the Flemish communes, headed by the town of Ghent, for political supremacy. Louis was as strong in his French sympathies as his father, Louis I of Nevers, and relied upon French help in enforcing his will upon his refractory subjects, who resented his arbitrary methods of government and the heavy taxation imposed upon them by his extravagance and love of display. Had the great towns with their organized gilds and great wealth held together in their opposition to the Count's despotism, they would have proved successful, but Ghent and Bruges (Brugge), always keen rivals, broke out into open feud. The power of Ghent reached its height under Philip van Artevelde in 1382. He defeated Louis, took Bruges, and was made regent of Flanders. But the triumph of the White Hoods, as the popular party was called, was of short duration. On Nov. 27, 1382, Artevelde suffered a crushing defeat from a large French army at Roosebeke and was himself slain. Louis of Mâle died two years later, leaving his only daughter Margaret, duchess of Burgundy. Flanders then became a portion of the great Burgundian domain.

▪ duke of Anjou

born Oct. 7, 1377, Toulon, Fr.
died April 29, 1417, Angers

      duke of Anjou, count of Maine and Provence (1384–1417), king of Naples, Sicily, and Jerusalem, who attempted, with only temporary success, to enforce the Angevin claims to the Neapolitan throne initiated by his father, Louis I.

      In 1389 Louis inherited his father's titles and was crowned king of Naples by the antipope Clement VII, although Naples was, in fact, ruled by Ladislas of the Durazzo branch of the Angevin family. Louis occupied Naples in 1390–99, until driven out by Ladislas. He then withdrew to Provence.

      In 1409 Louis abandoned Pope Benedict XIII and recognized the antipope Alexander V (Alexander (V)), who named him king of Naples once more. He entered Rome to fight the Neapolitan army, which occupied the city, and then began an unsuccessful campaign to retake Naples (1409–10). Called to Rome again, this time by the antipope John XXIII (John (XXIII)), Louis finally defeated Ladislas at Roccasecca (May 11, 1411). He failed to follow up this victory, however, and, losing the support of the Pope, who had switched allegiance to Ladislas, he was forced to return to France to administer his lands. There he instituted the Parliament of Aix (1415) and increased the privileges of universities in Aix and Angers.

▪ emperor of Franks
born c. 822
died Aug. 12, 875, near Brescia, Lombardy

      Frankish emperor (850–875) who, as ruler of Italy, was instrumental in checking the Arab invasion of the peninsula.

      The eldest son of the Frankish emperor Lothar I, who ruled the “middle realm” of what had once been Charlemagne's empire, Louis took over the administration of Italy on his father's behalf in 844 and was crowned king of the Lombards in Rome on June 15 of that year. In April 850 he was crowned emperor. When his father divided his realm in September 855, Italy was allotted to Louis. After Lothar's death a few weeks later, Louis was sole emperor, a dignity which at that time implied rule over only part of the Carolingian dominions, without suzerainty over the whole.

      In 859 Louis II acquired territory from his brother Lothar II, king of Lotharingia (Lorraine), and at the death of his other brother, King Charles of Provence, in 863, he received a large part of that kingdom.

      Louis II's most important task was the war against the Arabs, who had seized Bari and various other places in southern Italy. In 866 he began an extensive campaign that, with the help of the Byzantine fleet, culminated in the conquest of the Arab headquarters at Bari (February 871). In August 871, however, the emperor was made prisoner by Adelchis, duke of Benevento. The duke feared that Louis would attempt to assert his sovereignty, and he extracted from his prisoner a promise not to reenter the southern part of the peninsula.

      Adelchis soon set Louis free, but after obtaining from the pope a dispensation from his oath, the emperor returned to southern Italy. Although he won another victory, near Capua, in 872, his power and energy no longer sufficed for a decisive blow against the Arabs. He gave up his hopes and withdrew to northern Italy, where he died shortly thereafter. His only child was a daughter, and the elder male line of the Carolingian dynasty thus expired with him.

▪ king of Bavaria
byname  Mad King Ludwig,  German  Der Verrückte König Ludwig 
born Aug. 25, 1845, Nymphenburg Palace, Munich
died June 13, 1886, Starnberger See, Bavaria
 eccentric king of Bavaria from 1864 to 1886 and an admirer and patron of the composer Richard Wagner (Wagner, Richard). He brought his territories into the newly founded German Empire (1871) but concerned himself only intermittently with affairs of state, preferring a life of increasingly morbid seclusion and developing a mania for extravagant building projects.

      Louis was the elder son of King Maximilian II of Bavaria and Marie of Prussia. Politically a romantic conservative, he came to the throne after his father's death in 1864 before he had completed his studies. Louis entered the Seven Weeks' War (1866) on the side of Austria but, on his defeat, signed an alliance with Prussia (1867) and, through his prime minister, Chlodwig, Fürst von Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst, worked for a reconciliation between Germany's two great powers. A German patriot, he resisted the overtures of Napoleon III for a Franco-Austrian-Bavarian alliance and immediately joined Prussia in the war of 1870–71 against France. In December 1870, on the initiative of Bismarck, Louis addressed a letter to Germany's princes calling for the creation of a new empire. His fears for the independence of his crown were allayed by a number of special privileges for Bavaria, although his demands for a substantial territorial increase and the alternation of the imperial title between Prussia and Bavaria remained unfulfilled. Disappointed with the empire, alarmed by the Bavarian population's Pan-German enthusiasm, and weary of feuding with his ministers over his moves to strengthen the church, he retired more and more from politics, devoting himself increasingly to his private pursuits.

      Soon after his accession, the king called Richard Wagner to Munich. After little more than a year, however, he was forced to expel the composer because of governmental and popular objection to the friendship and Wagner's own improprieties, though Louis remained a lifelong patron of the musician. The king worshiped the theatre and the opera, and henceforth concerned himself almost exclusively with his artistic endeavours, developing an extravagant mania for building in the Bavarian mountains that he loved. The palace at Herrenchiemsee (Herrn-Insel), constructed from 1878 to 1885 and never completed, was a copy of Versailles; the Linderhof castle (1869–78) was patterned after the Trianon palace; and Neuschwanstein (Neuschwanstein Castle), the most fantastic, was a fairy-tale castle precariously situated on a crag and decorated with scenes from Wagner's romantic operas.

      In the early 1880s the king withdrew from society almost completely. Finally, on June 10, 1886, he was declared insane by a panel of doctors. His uncle Prince Luitpold became regent. Removed to Schloss Berg near the Starnberger See by the psychiatrist Bernhard von Gudden, he drowned himself in the lake on June 13. Gudden also perished attempting to save the king's life.

Additional Reading
Wilfrid Blunt, The Dream King: Ludwig II of Bavaria (1970, reissued 1984).

▪ king of France
byname  Louis The Stammerer,  French  Louis Le Bègue 
born 846
died April 10, 879, Compiègne, Fr.
 king of Francia Occidentalis (the West Frankish kingdom) from 877 until his death.

      Louis, the son of King Charles II the Bald, was made king of Aquitaine under his father's tutelage in 867. Charles became emperor in 875 and two years later left Louis as regent while he defended Italy for Pope John VIII. Louis was elected king of the West Franks in December 877. At a council at Troyes in 878, the Pope attempted to force Louis to take up the role of defender of the papacy, but Louis refused. Louis and his cousin Louis the Younger, ruler of the East Frankish kingdom, agreed to maintain the division of Lotharingia that their respective fathers had negotiated in the Treaty of Mersen in 870. Louis had hoped to redistribute offices of state but was frustrated by the Frankish magnates, who had accepted him as king on the condition that he respect their possessions and rights.

▪ king of Hungary and Bohemia
born , July 1, 1506
died Aug. 29, 1526, Mohács, Hung.
 king of Hungary and of Bohemia from 1516, who was the last of the Jagiełło line to rule those countries and the last king to rule all of Hungary before the Turks conquered a large portion of it.

      The only son of Vladislas II of Hungary and Bohemia, Louis was sickly as a child but intelligent. To assure the succession, he was crowned king of Hungary (June 4, 1508) and of Bohemia (May 11, 1509), and became king on his father's death (March 1516). He was declared of age to rule on Dec. 11, 1521. He married Maria of Austria the following January 13, and both pursued a life of riotous pleasure, soon disqualifying the teenage king from affairs of state.

      The Ottoman Turks attacked Hungary in the summer of 1526, and Louis, with an inadequate force, advanced against them. He was routed at Mohács (Mohács, Battle of) on the Danube (Aug. 29, 1526) and is said to have drowned fleeing the battlefield. After that defeat, Hungary was divided between the Turks and the Austrian Habsburgs.

▪ king of the East Franks
byname  Louis the German , German  Ludwig der Deutsche 
born c. 804, Aquitaine?, Fr.
died Aug. 28, 876, Frankfurt

      king of the East Franks, who ruled lands from which the German state later evolved.

      The third son of the Carolingian emperor Louis I the Pious, Louis the German was assigned Bavaria at the partition of the empire in 817. Entrusted with the government of Bavaria in 825, he began his rule the following year. Louis took part in the revolts against his father (830–833) and joined his half-brother, Charles the Bald (Charles II), in opposing the claim of his brother, Lothar I, to imperial suzerainty over the whole empire after their father's death in 840. By the Treaty of Verdun (Verdun, Treaty of) (August 843), Charles, Lothar I, and Louis divided the western, middle, and eastern parts of the empire, respectively, between them. Louis received the territory of the Franconians, the Swabians, the Bavarians, and the Saxons, together with the Carolingian provinces to the east.

      In 853 a group of nobles opposing Charles the Bald, then king of the West Franks, appealed to Louis for help; in 854 Louis sent his son Louis the Younger to Aquitaine, and in 858 went west himself to try to depose Charles; both expeditions failed. At the Peace of Coblenz (860) Louis renounced his claims to Charles's dominions.

      When Lothar I died in 855, his lands were divided among his sons, one of whom, Lothar, received Lotharingia (Greater Lorraine). This Lothar had no legitimate children, and Louis the German and Charles the Bald agreed (865 and 867/868) on the partition of their nephew's dominions between themselves on his death. When Lothar died (869), however, Charles broke the agreements by annexing Lotharingia. Louis invaded Lotharingia (870), and the country was divided between Louis and Charles by the Treaty of Mersen (Meerssen), under which Louis received Friesland and an extremely large expansion of this territory west of the Rhine.

      Louis in 865 and 872 divided his territories between his sons Carloman, Louis the Younger, and Charles III the Fat. Quarrels and discontent at the partitions led to revolts by one or another of the sons between 861 and 873.

      Although Louis the German supported Frankish Catholic missions in Moravia, he could not maintain control in that area and lost a war that led to the founding of Greater Moravia, independent after 874.

      Louis the German unsuccessfully sought the imperial dignity and the succession in Italy for his line after the death of Lothar I's son, the emperor Louis II; but though Louis II declared (874) in favour of Carloman, eldest son of Louis the German, as the next emperor (August 875), Charles the Bald had himself crowned by Pope John VIII after Louis II's death in August 875. Meanwhile, Louis the German unsuccessfully attempted to invade Charles's possessions in Lotharingia. At the time of his death, Louis the German was again preparing for war against Charles.

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Universalium. 2010.

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