Friday, January 1, 2016

Luxarazzi 101: House of Wittelsbach

Happy New Year to all of you! And now back to our regularly scheduled coverage: 
a Luxarazzi 101 for the eighth day of Christmas...

The House of Wittelsbach - truth be told, about this family we could write about ten Luxarazzi 101s and would probably not been done with their history yet - after all they ruled Bavaria for a staggering uninterrupted 738 years. That's longer than the the Nassaus have ruled Luxembourg, the Liechtensteins Liechtenstein, the Bernadottes Sweden and the Glücksborgs Norway combined. As such, it won't come as a surprise to you that there are also numerous ties between the Wittelsbachs and the monarchies of Luxembourg and Liechtenstein - for example, Princess Antonia of Luxembourg was a Wittelsbach by marriage and Hereditary Princess Sophie of Liechtenstein is one by birth.

Otto I, Duke of Bavaria. A later
idealized version from Die Chronik Bayerns.
Ruling Bavaria as dukes (1180–1623), then prince-electors (1623–1806) and finally kings (1806–1918), the Wittelsbachs take their name from the former Burg Wittelsbach in Aichach. While the origin of the family isn't entirely clear - legend has it they either descent from Charlemagne or all the way back from the Trojans - one can say for certain that Count Otto I of Scheyern, born ca. 1020, is their oldest certain ancestor. Otto's grandson by the same name, Otto V, moved the family to Burg Wittelsbach. His son, Otto VI, after serving the German king and Holy Roman Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa, was invested duke of Bavaria, as Otto I in 1180. From that date until the abolishment of the monarchy in Germany in 1918, Bavaria was ruled by the Wittelsbachs.

During different points in history, the power of the Wittelsbachs exceeded the borders of their home, Bavaria. In 1214, the Electorate of Palatinate became part of the Wittelsbach claim, under the power of Duke Ludwig I, or Louis I, the seventh child but oldest surviving son of Duke Otto I (not to be confused with Count Otto I, mentioned above). For a little historical context, the Electorate of the Palatinate would remain part of the Wittelsbach territory until 1805. In 1806, Napoleon's reorganizations made Bavaria into a kingdom, and as of 1815, parts of the Electorate of the Palatinate joined Bavaria as the Rhine Palatinate.

Back to the 13th century, though, Duke Ludwig went on to father Duke Otto II, whose sons Henry and Louis then divided the Wittelsbach territory between themselves. It was not meant to last: the descendants of Duke Henry XIII of Lower Bavaria died out around the middle of the 14th century, and this region rejoined Upper Bavaria and the Palatinate under the rule of Duke Louis II's son.

This son, as it happens was not just Duke of a reunited Bavaria, however: he was also the first of two Holy Roman Emperors that the Wittelsbach family produced, and he held power as Emperor Louis IV. The second Wittelsbach Emperor would not make his appearance until the 18th century, with Charles VII.

Duke Rudolf I, shown on the right. From a
parchment located in Koblenz.
While the divided territories of Bavaria might have been rejoined in 1340, the family faced a split in 1329 that more or less remained in effect until 1777. The Treaty of Pavia, specific to the Wittelsbach clan, divided the family into two branches: the line of his brother Duke Rudolf I received the Upper Palatinate, while Emperor Louis IV retained the traditional territory of Upper, and then after 1340 Lower, Bavaria. But Louis IV's line itself expired in 1777, and the other surviving Wittelsbach branch absorbed the titles and territories.

But because there were over four centuries of two Wittelsbach branches, we'll quickly take a look at what happened to each. Emperor Louis IV's Bavarian branch of Wittelsbachs rapidly expanded their territory to incorporate Brandenburg and Tyrol, as well as Hainaut (modern-day Belgium), and Holland and Zeeland (modern-day Netherlands). Louis IV seems to have been wise in encouraging expansion, after giving up the Palatinate to the other branch of the family, since he left six sons of his own to inherit the newly acquired territories. Unfortunately for this branch of the Wittelsbachs, however, they did not retain the new regions for long. Before the end of the 14th century, Brandenburg and Tyrol had been transferred out of the Wittelsbach line, and by the end of the 15th century Hainaut, Holland, and Zeeland belonged to others as well. The Bavarian Wittelsbachs retained Bavaria, however, and for a brief time in the 16th century the County of Kladsko in Bohemia.

Perhaps fortunately for the Wittelsbachs, the Protestant Reformation gave them something to focus on instead of lost territories. As the family is traditionally Catholic, they committed themselves to fighting the Reformation and went on to assume high-ranking clerical roles throughout the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. Also in the 17th century (1623), under the rule of Duke Maximilian I, the Dukes of Bavaria also became Electors, and Bavaria itself became an Electorate. The 18th-century rule of Elector Maximilian II Emanuel also overlapped directly with the history of Luxembourg, as he was Duke of Luxembourg from 1712-1714. Maximilian II's son Charles became the aforementioned Holy Roman Emperor Charles VII, while also the King of Bohemia, but Charles VII's son Elector Maximilian III Joseph ended the Bavarian line with his death in 1777.

Elector Frederick V of the Palatinate and
King of Bohemia
Back to the Palatinate line, they had been given the power of Electors back in 1356, but the early 15th-century death of Elector Rupert III (also King of Germany and grandson of Duke Rudolf I) saw the Palatinate lands splintered into a number of different family branches. Around the middle of the 16th century, the Elector role passed to Frederick III, of the Palatinate-Simmern branch, who - unlike his Bavarian cousins - was a devout Calvinist. And he was not the first Protestant Elector Palatine: Frederick V, also King of Bohemia, led the predominantly Protestant Bohemian nobles in rebellion agains his Bavarian (and Catholic) cousin Elector Maximilian I, but lost. (As a point of interest, Frederick's wife Elizabeth Stuart was born a daughter of King James I of England, so that monarch lent what support he could to Frederick's cause. Also, Frederick's sons spent time in exile, and his third son - known as Rupert of the Rhine - went down in popular legend.) Frederick's son Charles I Louis did regain power, though, as future Elector of the Palatine.

By 1685, the Palatinate-Simmern line had reached its end, and the Elector Palatine role went to the (Catholic) Palatinate-Neuburg line, under the new Elector Philip William, whose mother had been born into the Bavarian line. The Palatinate-Neuburg ended in 1742, when the Elector Palatine was assumed by a member of the Palatinate-Sulzbach line. Remember, of course, that the Bavarian line ended in 1777, so it was Elector Charles Theodore of the Palatinate-Sulzbach line that ultimately gained control over Bavaria, as well as the Palatinate. His line was later succeeded by the branch Palatinate-Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld, but even this was a bit more complicated than expected. Initially, it was decided that the Palatinate-Zweibrücken branch would inherit the title of Elector of Bavaria, while the Palatinate-Birkenfeld line received the title Duke in Bavaria.

Princess Ludovika, mother of the future
Empress Elisabeth of Austria
The elevation of Bavaria to a kingdom in 1806 resulted in Maximilian Joseph of the Palatinate-Zweibrücken line becoming King of Bavaria. As for the line of Dukes in Bavaria, they also saw their descendants in illustrious roles. The first Duke in Bavaria, Wilhelm, became the great-grandfather of the Empress Elisabeth of Austria. Additionally, the Dukes in Bavaria frequently intermarried with the Kings of Bavaria, ensuring that the Wittelsbach lined remained closely knit: Duke Wilhelm in Bavaria married Maria Anna, sister of Maximilian Joseph, and his grandson Duke Maximilian Joseph married the sixth daughter of King Maximilian Joseph, Ludovika (born when her father was aged 52).

The House of Wittelsbach ended its nearly 740-year rule in Bavaria in 1918, when King Ludwig III released anyone in an official position from statements of loyalty to him as monarch and Bavaria became a republic. Ludwig died in 1921, but despite concerns about a public funeral, he and his wife Maria Theresa (who had died in 1919) were given an honorable burial in the crypt of their ancestors at Munich Frauenkirche, with Bavarian officials, members of the military, and an estimated 100,000 members of the pubic in attendance.

As for the remainder of the 20th century, many of the Wittelsbach family found themselves in concentration camps during World War II for their public anti-Nazi stance, among them Luxembourg's Princess Antonia who was married to the last Bavarian crown prince. In the 21st century, members of the Wittelsbach family can still be found. Duke Franz of Bavaria, was born in 1933 and is alive today. He is the son of Duke Albrecht of Bavaria. As Duke Franz doesn't have any descendants, the headship of the house will eventually pass to the descendants of one of his cousins, Prince Luitpold.

Perhaps more immediate for Luxarazzi readers, Hereditary Princess Sophie of Liechtenstein, married to Hereditary Prince Alois, is the daughter of Duke Max in Bavaria, also a son of Duke Albrecht of Bavaria. The seeming disparity in semantics is worth a closer look here: that is, the difference between Duke of Bavaria and Duke in Bavaria. Despite being the son of Albrecht and being a born Prince of Bavaria, however, Duke Max was actually adopted during adulthood by his grand-uncle Ludwig Wilhelm, Duke in Bavaria, giving Prince Max the right to use the title Duke in Bavaria (Herzog in Bayern). As Prince Max has no sons himself and the inheritance associated with the Duke in Bavaria title seem to have been distributed between his daughters, it's unclear what will happen to the title in the future.

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