1799-1815 1849-1871

Bavaria, 1815-1849

At the Vienna Congress, Bavaria gained compensation for the territories ceded back to Austria. Bavaria resisted Prussia's plan to annex the entire Kingdom of Saxony, Bavaria's policy succeeding when she was joined by Austria and England. Bavaria failed in her policy to gain recognition as a power. The Vienna Congress recognized sovereignty and independence of the German states, which included Bavaria. Bavaria in 1815 joined the German Federation, the purpose of which was to uphold the independence and inviolability of the German states.
The territorial changes of the last decades made a revision of the organization of the Catholic Church in Bavaria necessary; this was accomplished in an 1817 Concordat. Montgelas, minister of foreign affairs, the interior and finances, was ousted in 1817. In 1818, Bavaria promulgated a new constitution. The position of the King was defined as that of a guardian of the state; he had the right to call the estates to assemble (at least once every three years) and to dissolve their assembly; the latter was not defined as an independent legislative, but subject to the crown. For raising direct and indirect taxes, the King required the approval of the estates. The diet was bicameral; the first chamber consisted of appointed councillors (mostly noblemen), the second of elected representatives. The representatives were elected according to a system, which grouped the voters by the amount of taxes they paid; this resulted in an overrepresentation of owners of landed estates and to an underrepresentation of farmers.

Student Karl Sand, whose assassination of Russian diplomat August von Kotzebue (1819) triggered the Carlsbad Resolutions, was a (neo-)Bavarian subject. The Carlsbad Resolutions were implemented in Bavaria as elsewhere in Germany. Yet by implementing the resolutions, the Bavarian constitution of 1818 was violated. In 1825, King Max I. Joseph died; he was succeeded by his son, Ludwig I. The young king was loyal to the Bavarian constitution; the Carlsbad Resolutions were now implemented less strict than in Prussia and Austria. The Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung, published in Augsburg, (neo-) Bavaria, became the German newspaper with the largest circulation throughout the first half of the 19th century. Ludwig I. was a patron of the arts; he built musea and galleries (Walhalla, Glyptothek, the Propyläen, the Hall of Liberation), which were open to the general public. These edifices were built in Neoclassicist style, which was not only fashionable in those days, but expressed solidarity with the Greeks who in the 1820es struggled for their independence, a struggle the Bavarian Wittelsbach dynasty supported. In 1833, Ludwig's second son Otto was crowned King of Greece. Bavaria took over the task to protect Greece. As King Otto was still a minor, Bavarian officials administrated the country in his name.
In 1828 Bavarian higher education was reformed. Bavaria's population numbered 3.7 million in 1818, 4.5 million in 1849. Bavaria's expenses and her revenues were balanced; despite large expenses on lavish construction projects (palaces, musea etc.) and on the Greek adventure. Yet, Bavaria had a huge state debt of 110 million guilders, inherited from his father's government, a figure which could have been reduced if Ludwig had shown more restraint when it came to his construction projects.
Bavaria still was a predominantly agricultural country. Still, in 1835, between Nürnberg and Fürth, Germany's first railway line was opened. Only in 1842, chambers of commerce were established in Bavaria. Another attempt to liberate the peasants in 1825 failed, as the peasants regarded the sum they were to pay for their freedom as too high. In 1828 Bavaria and Württemberg established a customs union. In 1834 Bavaria and Württemberg joined the Deutscher Zollverein, which abolished customs tariffs in the trade between member states. In 1828-1848 Ingolstadt Fortress was reconstructed.
King Ludwig I. assumed a very active role in the administration of Bavaria; he regarded it his duty to serve the state. Regarded a liberal in his youth, he turned more conservative over the years. In 1830 he temporarily closed the University of München. In 1831 King and Diet conflicted over reintroduced press censorship and freedom of the press; the Diet succeeded. In 1832 the Hambach Festival was staged on Bavarian territory; speakers agitated German nationalism, expressed their sympathy for the revolutionaries in France and Poland. King Ludwig dispatched troops to the Pfalz region (where Hambach is located); some participants were arrested, others fled. Now Bavaria pursued a more reactionary policy, attempts were made to control the press, clubs and societies, universities. Temporarily the Landtag (diet) was disempowered (1834-1837). From 1837 to 1847 Karl von Abel served as first minister. In 1847, Spanish dancer Lola Montez (29), of whom it was assumed that she was the mistress of 62 year old King Ludwig I., became the center of a political scandal, in the course of which the king dismissed the entire cabinet (1847), a second cabinet (late 1847) and, in March 1848, he abdicated, in favour of his son Maximilian II. The year 1848 saw political reforms implemented by the Landtag, in agreement with Kings Ludwig and Maximilian. These included the reintroduction of press freedom, a new electoral law, ministerial responsibility. In March 1849 King Max II. temporarily suspended parliament and appointed new, conservative ministers.

Bavarian History, from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1914 edition
Das K&ounl;nigreich Bayern (1806-1918) (The Kingdom of Bavaria), from Politische Geschichte Bayerns (Political History of Bavaria) posted by HDBG, in German, illustrated
Article Karl August von Abel, from BBKL, in German
The Abdication of King Ludwig I. of Bavaria, by Tony Johnson-Woods
Article Lola Montez, from Encyclopedia of 1848 Revolutions
Article Bavaria, from Encyclopedia of 1848 Revolutions
DOCUMENTS Historical flags of Bavaria, from FOTW
List of Dukes, Kings of Bavaria, from World Statesmen by Ben Cahoon; scroll down for Bavaria
Die erste deutsche Eisenbahn von Nürnberg nach Fürth (the first German railway from Nürnberg to Fürth), anonymous account, posted by Verkehrswerkstatt, in German
Jakob Schnerr, Zur Eröffnung der ersten deutschen Eisenbahn von Nürnberg nach Fürth (poem, on the opening of the first German railway line), from Verkehrswerkstatt, in German
Verfassungsurkunde fur das Konigreich Bayern, 1818 (Constitution of 1818), from Documentarchiv, in German
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 8th 2003, last revised on November 11th 2004

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