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Mad King Ludwig: straight or gay?Image: AP

Court to Decide if Mad King was Gay

DW staff (sms)
September 16, 2005

The relatives of Bavarian King Ludwig II are resigned to the fact that they have a colorful legacy to look back on, but a descendant of the king's stable master doesn't want anyone to pass that legacy onto his forebear.


King Ludwig II (1845-86), who was rumored to have been a good-looking man with an excellent reputation among his subjects, was known to keep a diary that documented his difficulties reconciling his Catholic faith and his sexual desires. Indeed, many people suspected him of overly-friendly relationships with his male servants -- especially the head of the stables.

The relationship was so well-known that it made its way into a song in Alfred Wolfsteiner's book, Geschichte in Liedern : Eine Zeitreise durch die Oberpfalz (History in Song: A Trip in Time Through the Upper Palatinate), which alludes to a homosexual relationship between the Ludwig and the stable master.

Deutschland Tourismus, Schloss Neuschwanstein
Ludwig's Castle NeuschwansteinImage: dpa

While the king's sexual preference is open to debate -- he postponed his wedding numerous times before canceling it altogether -- the stable master's great-grandson Michael Siegfried Graf von Holnstein doesn't want anyone calling his father's-father's-father gay.

"It injures his reputation and is an insult. I'm not going to let that happen." he said, according to Berlin's tabloid BZ. "If it remain uncontested, it could be seen as a confirmation."

And von Holnstein isn't taking it lying down, but is instead trying to protect his ancestor's reputation by suing Wolfsteiner as well as the book's publisher, Herbert Wittl, for 250,000 euros ($305,000).

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