King of Bavaria
Reign 18 October 1921 – 2 August 1955
Predecessor Ludwig III
Successor Albrecht VI
Spouse Duchess Marie Gabrielle in Bavaria
Princess Antonia of Luxembourg
Luitpold, Hereditary Prince of Bavaria
Princess Irmingard Maria of Bavaria
Albrecht VI of Bavaria
Prince Rudolf of Bavaria
Prince Heinrich of Bavaria
Princess Irmingard of Bavaria
Princess Editha, Mrs. Schmert
Princess Hildegard, Mrs. de Loayza
Princess Gabrielle, Duchess of Croÿ
Princess Sophie, Duchess of Arenberg
House House of Wittelsbach
Father Ludwig III of Bavaria
Mother Archduchess Maria Theresia of Austria-Este
Born 18 May 1869
Munich, Bavaria Flag of Bavaria (striped).svg
Died 2 August 1955 (aged 86)
Schloß Leutstetten, Starnberg, Germany Flag of German Reich (1933–1935).svg
Religion Catholic

Rupprecht (German: Rupprecht Maria Luitpold Ferdinand; 18 May 1869 – 2 August 1955) was King of Bavaria from 1921 to 1955. During the first half of the World War he commanded the German Sixth Army on the Western front. From August 1916 he commanded Army Group Rupprecht of Bavaria, which occupied the sector of the front opposite the British Expeditionary Force. A supporter of German democracy he made several attempts to limit or prevent Nazi influence and centralization in Bavaria.

Life[edit | edit source]

Childhood[edit | edit source]

File:Franz von Lenbach - Porträt des Kronprinzen Rupprecht von Bayern (ca.1874).jpg

Portrait of Rupprecht as a child by Franz von Lenbach c. 1874.

Rupprecht was born in Munich, the eldest of the thirteen children of King Ludwig III of Bavaria and of Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria-Este, a niece of Duke Francis V of Modena. He was a member of the lineage of both Louis XIV of France and William the Conqueror. As a direct descendant of Henrietta of England, daughter of Charles I of England, he was claimant to the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland in the Jacobite succession as Rupert I. His early education from the age of seven was conducted by Freiherr Rolf Kreusser, an Anglo-Bavarian. In his youth, he spent much of his time at Schloss Leutstetten, Starnberg, and at the family's villa near Lindau, Lake Constance, where he was able to develop a keen interest in sports. His education was traditional and conservative, but he became the first member of the royal house of Bavaria to spend time at a public school, when he was educated at the Maximilian-Gymnasium in Munich, where he spent four years. Apart from his academic studies and his training in riding and dancing, at school he was also obliged to learn a trade, and his choice fell on carpentry.

Pre-World War[edit | edit source]

Rupprecht's grandfather, Luitpold, became de facto ruler of Bavaria when King Ludwig II and his successor Otto both were declared insane in 1886. Rupprecht's own position changed somewhat through these events as it became clear that he was likely to succeed to the Bavarian throne one day.

After graduating from high school, he entered Bavarian Army's Infanterie-Leibregiment as a Second Lieutenant. He interrupted his military career to study at the universities of Munich and Berlin from 1889 to 1891. He rose to the rank of a Colonel and became the commanding officer of the 2nd Infanterie Regiment Kronprinz but found enough opportunity to travel extensively to the Middle East, India, Japan and China. His early journeys were made with his Adjutant, Otto von Stetten. Later he was accompanied by his first wife.

At the age of 31, Rupprecht married his kinswoman Duchess Marie Gabrielle in Bavaria, with whom he had five children before her early death in 1912 at the age of 34. In 1900 he became the 1,128th Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece in Austria. In 1906, Rupprecht was made commander of the Bavarian I Army Corps, with the rank of lieutenant general of the infantry, promoted to full general in 1913. In 1912, Luitpold was succeeded in the position of Prinzregent by his son Ludwig. On 5 November 1913, Ludwig was made king by vote of the Bavarian Senate, becoming Ludwig III. This decision also made Rupprecht the crown prince of Bavaria.

File:Rupprecht von Bayern.jpg

Rupprecht in uniform prior to World War I

World War[edit | edit source]

He commanded the German Sixth Army at the outbreak of the World War in Lorraine. While part of the German army was participating in the Schlieffen plan, the Crown Prince led his troops on to the Battle of Lorraine. The appointment to command of the Sixth Army was as a result of his royalty, but the level of study he had performed before he took command was a factor behind his successful direction of the Sixth Army, and he proved to be a highly able commander. Rupprecht's army gave way to the French attack in August 1914, in the Battle of Lorraine, and then launched a counteroffensive on the 20th. Rupprecht failed to break through the French lines. He was later in command of the 6th Army in Northern France and remained on the Western Front during the stalemate that would last until the end of the war. Only a few days after the battle, his oldest son Luitpold died of polio in Munich.

During the spring of 1915, Rupprecht sent an answer to von Bissing, the Governor-General of Belgium, on the latter's inquiry about Bavaria's opinion on the "Belgian question". Rupprecht envisaged an economic and military association of Belgium with Germany by introducing the Netherlands, enlarged by the Flemish areas of Belgium and northern France, and Luxembourg, enlarged by Belgian Luxembourg, as new federal states of the German Empire. To the Kingdom of Prussia Rupprecht suggested other areas of northern France, Walloon Belgium with Liege and Namur, and the salient of the Netherlands round Maastricht. The Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine and the rest of Lorraine was to be partitioned between Bavaria and Prussia. Rupprecht's goal was to reduce Prussia's hegemonic role in the Reich by building a sort of an imperial triumvirate of power between Prussia, Bavaria and the Netherlands.

Rupprecht achieved the rank of field marshal (Generalfeldmarschall) in July 1916 and assumed command of Army Group Rupprecht on 28 August that year, consisting of the 1st, 2nd, 6th and 7th armies. Rupprecht has been considered by some to be one of the best Royal commanders in the Imperial German Army of the World War, possibly even the only one to deserve his command. Rupprecht opposed the "scorched earth" policy during withdrawals, but his royal position made a resignation on those grounds impossible for him, even though he threatened it.

He became engaged to the much younger Princess Antoinette of Luxembourg in 1918, but the situation in Luxembourg delayed their marriage.

Links to military aviation[edit | edit source]

Max Immelmann, one of the most famous German World War Flying Aces, referred in a letter written on 25 June 1915 to a visit by Rupprecht to an airfield to inspect the new Fokker Eindecker aircraft.

Primarily to see these fighting machines, yesterday the Crown Prince of Bavaria visited the field and inspected us and Abteilung 20. Director Fokker, the constructor of the combat aircraft, was presented to him.

Reign[edit | edit source]

Rupprecht returned to Bavaria in September 1919 leading Bavarian troops on a victory parade in Munich. While away from Bavaria, he succeeded his mother, Maria Theresia of Austria-Este as the Jacobite heir. This occurred upon her death on 3 February 1919. As such, under his anglicized name he would be King Robert I (or Rupert) (King of England) and IV (King of Scotland), although he never claimed these crowns and "strongly discouraged" anyone from claiming them on his behalf. He was styled "Duke of Cornwall and Rothesay" because of his mother's claim.

The changed political situation however allowed him finally to marry Princess Antoinette of Luxembourg on 7 April 1921. The ceremony was carried out by the nuncio to Bavaria, Eugenio Pacelli, later Pope Pius XII. Shortly after the 1922 Washington Naval Conference, he made a statement regarding the possible ban of aerial bombing, poison gas, sea blockades and long range guns, blaming them for a majority of civilian casualties during the last war.

While opposed to the the slightly more centralized constitution, Rupprecht was in favor of democracy in Germany. Upon his father's death in October 1921, Rupprecht succeeded him as King of Bavaria. Rupprecht was never enticed to join the far right in Germany, despite Hitler's attempts to win him over through Ernst Röhm. He ordered Gustav von Kahr to not support Hitler during the Beer Hall Putsch. Hitler confided in private to a personal dislike of the King. The King in turn confessed to King George V at a lunch in London in the summer of 1934 that he considered Hitler to be insane.

With the worsening of the Great Depression in 1932, a plan was floated to give Rupprecht dictatorial powers in Bavaria. The plan attracted support from a wide coalition of parties, including the SPD and the Bavarian Minister-President (First Minister) Wilhelm Hoegner but the legal appointment of Hitler as Reichskanzler in 1933 by the Kaiser and the hesitant Bavarian government under Heinrich Held ended all hopes for the idea. Rupprecht continued to believe that democracy in Germany could work, an opinion he voiced to the British ambassador Eric Phipps in 1935.

It was at this time that H.G. Wells wrote his vision of future history, The Shape of Things to Come, in which a "Prince Manfred of Bavaria" in the later part of the 20th century was depicted as the leader of a widespread rebellion against the rise of a world government and its unification of the world. Presumably, Wells envisioned that "Prince Manfred" to be a descendant of King Rupprecht and an heir to Rupprecht's ambitions.

Death[edit | edit source]

Rupprecht died in 1955 at Schloss Leutstetten at the age of 86, he was succeeded by his eldest son Albrecht who would be the last King of Bavaria. His life had spanned the independent Kingdom of Bavaria, the German Empire, and Nazi Germany. He is buried in the crypt of the Theatinerkirche in Munich near his grandfather Prince Luitpold and great-great-grandfather King Maximilian I, between his first wife Duchess Maria Gabrielle and his oldest son Prince Luitpold.

Children[edit | edit source]

Rupprecht married twice and had a total of eleven children:

  • Duchess Marie Gabrielle in Bavaria, daughter of Duke Karl-Theodor in Bavaria (9 October 1878 – 24 October 1912), married on 10 July 1900 in Munich
    • Luitpold Maximilian Ludwig Karl, Hereditary Prince of Bavaria (8 May 1901 – 27 August 1914); died of polio.
    • Princess Irmingard Maria Therese José Cäcilia Adelheid Michaela Antonia Adelgunde of Bavaria (21 September 1902 – 21 April 1903); died of diphtheria.
    • Albrecht VI, King of Bavaria (3 May 1905 – 8 July 1996).
    • Stillborn daughter (6 December 1906).
    • Prince Rudolf Friedrich Rupprecht of Bavaria (30 May 1909 – 26 June 1912); died of diabetes.
  • Princess Antonia of Luxembourg, daughter of William IV, Grand Duke of Luxembourg — (7 October 1899 – 31 July 1954), married on 7 April 1921 in Lenggries
    • Prince Heinrich Franz Wilhelm of Bavaria (28 March 1922 – 14 February 1958). Married non-dynastically Anne Marie de Lustrac (1927–1999). No issue. Heinrich was killed in an auto accident in Argentina. His wife Anne was killed in a similar accident in Milan forty years later.
    • Princess Irmingard Marie Josefa of Bavaria (29 May 1923 – 23 October 2010). Married her first cousin Prince Ludwig of Bavaria (1913–2008) and had issue.
    • Princess Editha Marie Gabrielle Anna of Bavaria (16 September 1924 – 4 May 2013). Married first Tito Tommaso Maria Brunetti (1905–1954) and second Prof. Gustav Christian Schimert (1910–1990). Had issue by both.
    • Princess Hilda Hildegard Marie Gabriele of Bavaria (24 March 1926 – 5 May 2002). Married Juan Bradstock Edgar Lockett de Loayza (1912–1987) and had issue.
    • Princess Gabrielle Adelgunde Marie Theresia Antonia of Bavaria (b. 10 May 1927). Married Carl, Duke of Croÿ (1914–2011), and has issue.
    • Princess Sophie Marie Therese of Bavaria (b. 20 June 1935). Married Jean-Engelbert, Prince and 12th Duke of Arenberg (1921–2011) and has issue.

Styles[edit | edit source]

Monarchical styles of
Rupprecht of Bavaria
Coat of Arms of the Kingdom of Bavaria.png
Reference style His Majesty
Spoken style Your Majesty
Alternative style Sir
  • 18 May 1869 – 5 November 1913: His Royal Highness Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria
  • 5 November 1913 – 18 October 1921: His Royal Highness The Crown Prince of Bavaria
  • 18 October 1921 – 2 August 1955: His Majesty The King of Bavaria

Rupprecht of Bavaria
Born: 18 May 1869 Died: 2 August 1955
German royalty
Preceded by
Ludwig III
King of Bavaria
18 October 1921 – 2 August 1955
Succeeded by
Albrecht VI
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