With such an overabundance of Royals, it became devilishly difficult for Germans to unite. For Bavaria, a long lived but schizophrenic King Otto was sidelined by his uncle and therefore the inevitable unification happened. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.
What is a Kingdom to do when the King is drugged and confined to castle. Do you do a nice portrait and put him on the stamp anyway? In Bavaria’s case, the coat of arms was used on the stamps of the period. The Regency is going fairly smoothly after all, so the system is working well enough.
Todays stamp is issue A5, a 40 Pfennig stamp issued by the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1900. The stamp had gone through numerous variations from 1867-1910. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth $1.10 used. A lilac 10 Kreuzer version from 1870 is $4,800 used.
In the nineteenth century, the Kingdom of Bavaria sought the type of dominance that Prussia had in northern Germany, for itself in Southern Germany. It was natural that there would be rivalries with Prussia to the north and Austria to the south. Bavaria did not have the military tradition of Prussia and was landlocked, so was playing a weaker hand.
Part of that weak hand and head was the state of the Royal House of Wittelsbach that had ruled for centuries. During the troubles of 1848, the last Bavarian King to have his sanity abdicated. His son, Ludwig was more interested in building castles than ruling and his cabinet was forced to declare him insane and remove him. He was found dead in a lake two days later under mysterious circumstances. That left the throne to Otto, who was King for 27 years but never ruled. Bavaria had agreed to affiliate with Prussia and Prince Otto had fought with the Bavarian army during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. He found the unification of Germany humiliating even though Bavaria was allowed some separateness. including an army and postal service. His mental state though was rapidly deteriorating with the onset of schizophrenia. There is debate whether this was caused by post-traumatic stress disorder from his war service or syphilis. Either way, Bavaria declared Otto melancholic and had his uncle Luitpold named Prince Regent. Otto had made a spectacle of himself by charging into the Catholic Cathedral during high mass in hunting clothes and then dropping to his knees and begging forgiveness for his sins from the Arch Bishop. He was then taken to his castle and heavily drugged the rest of his long life.
The Regent presided quietly allowing ever more integration with Germany but also much work building Munich as a cultural center. When he died at age 92 in 1912 his son took over the regency. Bavaria then finally changed it’s rules so that if there is not prospect for the King to actually serve after a year the regent becomes King. King Ludwig III was a lot like the earlier Ludwig and was more interested in the Royal Estates than his people. At the end of World War I, the Royal line was deposed and the people were finally heard from in the form of the short lived Bavarian Socialist Republic of 1919. Even defeated Prussia/er Germany wouldn’t have that and sent the Weimar Army to bring them back into the fold. The House of Wittelbach was anti Nazi and the current pretender to the thrown, Franz spent time in his youth at Nazi concentration camps. He still lives alone in Nymphenburg Castle, but not restrained there like crazy King Otto was.
Well my drink is empty and I will open the conversation in the below comment section. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.