LGBTQ* People You Should Know — Love Letters You Never Saw
(and a castle you should recognize)
Ludwig Friedrich Wilhelm II (pictured above) to Richard Wagner (Composer)
My one Friend, my ardently beloved!
This afternoon, at 3.30, I returned from a glorious tour in Switzerland! How this land delighted me! – There I found your dear letter; deepest warmest thanks for the same. With new and burning enthusiasm has it filled me; I see that the beloved marches boldly and confidently forward, towards our great and eternal goal.
All hindrances I will victoriously overcome like a hero. I am entirely at thy disposal; let me now dutifully prove it. – Yes, we must meet and speak together. I will banish all evil clouds; Love has strength for all. You are the star that shines upon my life, and the sight of you ever wonderfully strengthens me. – Ardently I long for you, O my presiding Saint, to whom I pray! I should be immensely pleased to see my friend here in about a week; oh, we have plenty to say! If only I could quite banish from me the curse of which you speak, and send it back to the deeps of night from whence it sprang! – How I love, how I love you, my one, my highest good! …
My enthusiasm and love for you are boundless. Once more I swear you faith till death!
Ever, ever your devoted
Note: Ludwig II was the King of Bavaria from 1864-1886. Many historians argue that Ludwig was gay but Ludwig fought such urges following a Roman Catholic upbringing. There are speculations of Ludwig’s involvement with military men and important men of the theatre, including a friendship of question with Josef Kainz. Adding to the rumors, Ludwig’s engagement (to Duchess Sophie of Bavaria) never finished in a marriage. Ludwig called it off, stating that no love or reason is enough to marry.
As a young man Ludwig discovered the works of Wagner and became one of the composer’s biggest fans.Wagner never returned the attraction. His letters were less of admiration and more of political strategy. During the time in Ludwig’s court, rumor circulated that Wagner may be homosexual. It has been argued Wagner was a womanizer and was using the young king for his money and advancements. After Ludwig’s court kicked Wagner out of the King’s castle(s) and royal engagements, Ludwig continued to think of and write to the composer. Wagner had such an impression on Ludwig that many of his castles where designed in dedication to Wagner or themes within Wagner’s work, including Neuschwanstein.
Recognize it? Maybe you will recognize its famous illustrated/trademark form:
For more information:
King, Greg. The Mad King: The Life and Times of Ludwig II of Bavaria. (1996)
McIntosh, Christopher. The Swan King: Ludwig II of Bavaria. (1982)
Wrba, Ernst (photos) & Kühler, Michael (text). The Castles of King Ludwig II. (Verlagshaus Würzburg, 2008)
Till, Wolfgang: Ludwig II King of Bavaria: Myth and Truth (2010)