King Ludwig II of Bavaria: Art, Madness, and Eccentricity with Tom Mills

King Ludwig II of Bavaria: Art, Madness, and Eccentricity with Tom Mills


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Known best as the 'Swan King', Ludwig II remains a mystery even today. Together, we will examine a man whose complex love life, his passion for music and art would ultimately lead to his own destruction.

Ludwig II once said, "I wish to remain an eternal enigma both to myself and others" and in this, the King got his wish. Today his life remains the ultimate mystery in Bavarian history: the aim of the seminar is to try to get beyond the myth to the real man. We will delve into the tragic and often bizarre life of a man who seemingly had it all but still struggled at every step. King at eighteen, handsome, intelligent, and charming he looked every inch a monarch from a fairy tale. Yet like many old German fairy tales there would be no happy ending: a promising young man with a life cut mysteriously short, at the age of forty at Lake Starnberg after being betrayed by his own government and family.

During the seminar, we will discuss the wondrous world he built in his palaces such as Neuschwanstein Castle, how he saved and championed Wager’s music, and we will cover the brutal politics of the age. A man of peace, Ludwig was no match against the Iron Chancellor of Prussia, Otto von Bismarck who destroyed Bavarian independence in his forging of the German Empire. We will also examine Ludwig’s inner demons, increasing eccentricity, and conflicted sexuality which would end up in a nationwide scandal. We will conclude with a discussion about his apparent insanity that caused his downfall and look at his still unsolved death.

Led by an expert on Bavarian history, Tom Mills, this interactive seminar will examine the life and times of Ludwig II, the Swan King. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of not just the King’s life but of the art and culture of the age as well as how Germany was born.

Tom Mills was born in Wolverhampton in the heart of England before studying History and Archaeology at Bangor University. Emerging with an MA he worked as an archaeologist and afterward a historic conservator for the National Trust. Moving to Munich in 2012 he began a career as a tour guide and many years later is still there.

This conversation is not suitable for children under age 16

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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