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dimanche 10 mars 2019

Is King Otto an insane man ? An american article from 1900.

Growing Belief that the Bavarian Ruler is Being Confined for Political Reasons Only.

Is King Otto really insane, or is it possible that his confinement is the result of a political scheme on the part of his enemies? These are questions that have been asked more than once in high European circles of late and the semi official announcement of the Augsburg Abendzeitung that the king has had sane moments with remarkable frequency of late, has led to the revival of all the rumors that once threatened to make no end of trouble in Bavaria.

It is safe to say that the matter will now be well investigated, and if it is discovered that the confinement of the king has been the result of court intrigue, something will drop in Bavaria that will be heard all over Europe.

Those who have no personal knowledge of affairs in Bavaria little realize the extent of affection that common people feel for their king. They idolize Otto just as they idolized Ludwig, and the greatest Bavarian festival is still the annual celebration of the royal house of Wittelsbach. Before King Ludwig lost his few wits he was the most loved ruler in Europe, and when he became insane the people still loved him with a sympathetic pity such as one would give to a sick child. When Ludwig died and his brother Otto assumed his position as king the people accepted him with pleasure, and when it was announced that be, too, was crazy they could scarcely believe the fact. It was stated that he was suffering from an incurable malady, and that a regency must be declared.

After some hesitation the people submitted to what seemed the inevitable, but those who know Bavaria have long been aware that there were many people who still believe that the story of the king's insanity was a piece of political fiction.


The fact that years have passed and left Otto still a prisoner, has done much to quiet these rumors, but now that it is admitted that there are times when he is sane, all the sleeping suspicions have been aroused, and already the people are talking about the day when the loved Otto will once more sit upon the throne.

How much reason there is in these suspicions it would be difficult to state. Of course, it would not be the first time that a king has been the victim of court intrigue and romances are as posible today as they were a few hundred years ago. Still the supposition that the king Is really insane is a perfectly reasonable one. It would never do to deny the crazy streak in the Wittelsbach brain. The strange life and stranger death of Otto's music-mad brother, Ludwig II., the quirks of their grandfather, Ludwig I., the insane passions which, the chroniclers say, distinguished even the founder of the house, bespeak for this last scion a clear title to madness.

The history of the realm of Bavaria goes far back into the dim past of the Middle Ages. Otto the Great of Germany, who renewed the imperial office, invadig Rome and establishing a Holy Roman Empire of the German nation, encountered trouble of a serious kind with a rebellious duke of Bavaria. 

Henry the Quarrelsome of Bavaria claimed the regency under the Infant emperor Otto III., but was denied by the mastery in the chaotic political conditions of the times. Bavaria fell to the lot of the adherents of one or the other as the tide of battle flowed. 

But in the time of Frederick I., the heroic Barbarossa, a definite landmark appears in the annals of the picturesque and ancient duchy. In 1180, when Henry the Lion of  Saxony had been humbled for the moment by the Emperor, Bavaria, as one of the dependencies of the imperial sway, was allotted to the Count Palatine of Wittelsbach, Otto, or Othon. From that time to the foundation of the present royal line by the Count Palatine Christian II., the succession is sufficiently, clear.


The present King, Otto Wilhelm Luitpold, is the son of King Maxmilian II. and Princess Marie of Prussia. He was born at Munich on April 27. 1848, and it is claimed that he has been insane more than half his life. He nominally succeded to the throne on June 10, 1886, when his brother committed suicide by drowning himself in the beautiful lake of Starnberg, in the Park of Berg Castle, hree days after his deposition upon the score of insanity.

Whatever may be the case today one thing at least is certain—the unfortunate Otto was not born insane. The taint, if taint there was, was in his blood, and was made virulent and active by the circumstances of his life, for while his brother Ludwig found consolation in music, poetry, and beautiful architectural creations, even after madness had laid its dark hand upon his mind, Otto, of a grosser nature, was sinking to the lowest moral plane.

It is difficult to say that Bavaria has not been better off for the confinement of this king. Sane or mad there was that about his character that would have made him an unwise if not unkind ruler, whereas Prince Luitpold, who succeeded him as regent, was a man of refinement beneath whose reign a country could not but prosper.

Still for all that, the Bavarians have not been satisfied. They know that Prince Luitpold was never kindly disposed towards King Otto and they have felt that things might not have been so bad with their ruler as they had been given to imagine. 

In fact, this sad condition had been described with such detail that they were suspicious that the tales had been told to quiet them, and more than one effort has been made to penetrate to the Palace of Fuerstenried, in the depths of the Bavarian forest, in which the king has been confined.

From time to time obscure rumors have arisen that Otto was being ill used and that his mental condition was being intentionally aggravated by those who feared that he might recover and assume his legitimate position, but to all of these rumors the regent has made such fair replies that the people have not dared to harbor suspicion against him or any of his associates, who have insisted that the rumors were being served up simply to irritate or embarrass Luitpold who is certainly ruling wisely and well.

Of course, it is quite possible that this explanation is the true one and that the present rumors are of a similar character, and yet he found to be sane and capable of ruling instead of gathering about him twigs, leaves and grass with which to build his nest, he being under the glooomy impression that he is the black eagle of Prussia.

Daily inter mountain, July 07, 1900, p.7.

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