This Day in History – October 12th, 1810

Three weeks ago in Cincinnati, Ohio, in addition to the Cincinnati Comic Expo, many people thronged the streets to drink German beer while eating pretzels, bratwursts, and other “German” foods for this year’s Oktoberfest. Many don’t know why Oktoberfest exists, even more don’t care, just as long as the strong beer is flowing, but the festival actually stems from the celebration of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria on this day in 1810. The Bavarian Royal Family invited the people of Munich to the Prince’s marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen and 204 years later the party still continues.


Ludwig the First of Bavaria (1825)

Ludwig’s rule was strongly affected by his enthusiasm for the arts and women and by his overreaching royal assertiveness. An enthusiast for the German Middle Ages, Ludwig ordered the re-erection of several monasteries in Bavaria which had been closed during the German Mediatisation. He reorganized the administrative regions of Bavaria in 1837 and re-introduced the old names Upper Bavaria, Lower Bavaria, Franconia, Swabia, Upper Palatinate and Palatinate. He changed his royal titles to Ludwig, King of Bavaria, Duke of Franconia, Duke in Swabia and Count Palatine of the Rhine. His successors kept these titles.

Already in 1844 Ludwig was confronted with the Beer riots in Bavaria. During the revolutions of 1848 the king faced increasing protests and demonstrations by the students and the middle classes. The King had ordered to close the university in February and on March 4th a large crowd assaulted the Armory to storm the Munich Residenz. Ludwig’s brother Prince Karl managed to appease the protesters, but now the royal family and the Cabinet turned against Ludwig. He had to sign the so-called “March Proclamation” with substantial concessions. On March 16th 1848 it was followed by renewed unrest because Lola Montez had returned to Munich after a short exile. Ludwig had to let her be searched by the police on 17 March, which was the worst humiliation for him. Not willing to rule as a constitutional monarch, Ludwig abdicated on 20 March 1848 in favor of his eldest son, Maximilian.

Ludwig lived for another twenty years as abdicated monarch and was still influential, especially as he continued several of his cultural projects. He died at Nice in 1868, and was buried in St. Boniface’s Abbey, Munich he had ordered to be built.


Today, Oktoberfest is the world’s largest funfair held annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. It is a 16-day festival running from late September to the first weekend in October with more than 6 million people from around the world attending the event every year. Locally, it is often simply called Wiesn, after the colloquial name of the fairgrounds (Theresienwiese) themselves. The Oktoberfest is an important part of Bavarian culture, having been held since 1810. Other cities across the world also hold Oktoberfest celebrations, modeled after the original Munich event.

So next time that you attend an Oktoberfest, be sure to raise your beers and make a toast to Ludwig and Therese on their wedding anniversary.

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