1618-1648 1700-1745

Bavaria, 1648-1700

Duke Maximilian I. died in 1651. He was succeeded by his son, Duke Ferdinand Maria, born in 1636 (Duke 1651-1679). During his reign Bavaria enjoyed a period of peace, necessary for the country to recover from the damage caused by the 30 Years War. The Bavarian Estates (Landtag) assembled for the last time in 1669; Bavaria entered the era of Absolutism. The head of the Bavarian administration, the chancellor became the most prominent figure in Bavarian politics next to the Duke; the chancellor overseeing the transition to full absolutism was Kaspar von Schmid.
In 1652 Ferdinand Maria married Princess Henriette Adelheid of Savoy-Piemont; the marriage was the result of Cardinal Mazarin's diplomacy and brought Bavaria into the French orbit. The Bavarian capital of München attracted Italian architects, composers, opera singers.
In 1654 the population of Bavaria was estimated at just under 1 million, München with suburbs 39,000 inhabitants. Bavaria, following the French model, pursued a mercantilist policy. The administration hoped that manufactures, such as the gobelin manufacture founded by Maximilian I., would be successful. An attempt was made to establish a silk industry in Bavaria; the enterprise failed after a few years. Temporarily, even the establishment of Bavarian colonies overseas was discussed - in a landlocked country. In 1689 the Commercial College was established, as a (government) committee to supervise Bavaria's economy. An attempt to monopolize cloth production and trade in Bavaria by banning imports and establishing a privileged cloth manufacture and trading company (1689) failed the year after. Another manufacture in the textile industry was more successful; army contracts (uniforms) and privileged treatment (exemption from customs tariffs) provided the foundation. Overall, Bavaria made a rather odd experience with Mercantilism, due to the largely unrealistic, impractical policies suggested by the two most important economic politicians, Johann Joachim Becher and Johann Senser.
The Bavarian state accumulated debt, as state revenues were insufficient to finance expenses, the two most important expenses were those for the Ducal court in München and the Bavarian army. Foreign subsidies (mostly French) added to the revenue, the total still being insufficient. The Bavarian administration was organized in a way that the central economic authority did not even know the exact amount of state revenues, as a number of districts paid their taxes directly to the army.
Both French and Habsburg diplomacy competed for Bavaria's cooperation. From 1662 onward, Bavaria leaned toward France. In 1670, following the War of Devolution (1667-1668, France and Bavaria signed a formal alliance, which resulted in French subsidies for Bavaria. During theDutch War of Louis XIV. (1672-1678), Bavaria maintained a policy of neutrality. When the Holy Roman Empire declared war on France in 1674, Bavaria's position became precarious, as Bavaria refused to send a troop contingent. Duke Ferdinand Maria died in 1679; he was succeeded by his son Max Emanuel, who in 1683 concluded a defensive alliance with the Emperor, directed against France and the Ottoman Empire. Bavarian troops marched on Vienna to relieve the besieged city and participated in the Battle of Kahlenberg. Max Emanuel married a daughter of the Emperor; he himself took command of a force in the Habsburg-Ottoman War (1683-1699). His relations with the Emperor deteriorated over the question of compensation for Bavarian losses; Max Emanuel also felt ill-treated.
In 1688 Joseph Clemens of Bavaria, Max Emanuel's brother, was elected Princebishop of Cologne. France, which had pushed for another candidate, declared war - the War of the Grand Alliance (1689-1697). In 1689 Bavaria joined the Grand Alliance, after Max Emanuel had been appointed stadholder of the Spanish Netherlands, for lifetime. The war was fought mainly in the southern Netherlands; Bavaria played only a minor role.

Bavarian History, from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1914 edition
Karlheinz Scherr Bayern im Zeitalter des Furstlichen Absolutismus (17./18. Jahrhundert) (Bavaria in the Era of Ducal Absolutism) in : Politische Geschichte Bayerns (Political History of Bavaria), posted by HDBG
REFERENCE Territorien-Ploetz : Geschichte der Deutschen Länder (History of the German Territories), Vol.1, Würzburg 1964, in German
Andreas Kraus, Geschichte Bayerns von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart (History of Bavaria, from the origins to the present day), München : Beck (1983) 2nd edition 1988, in German

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on November 6th 2003, last revised on November 11th 2004

Click here to go Home
Click here to go to Information about KMLA, WHKMLA, the author and webmaster
Click here to go to Statistics

Impressum · Datenschutz