Ludwig Meets His Match (F)


Filed on October 13th, 1810

Munich — Yesterday, on a cold, damp, drizzly Friday afternoon, October 12th, 1810, Bavaria’s Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese Charlotte Luise Frederica Emilie of Saxony-Hildburghausen, at the Hofkapelle inside Munich’s Residence, in front of about 200 witnesses. Bavaria’s favorite son, and Saxony’s most eligible lady-in-waiting, tied the knot just after 2 pm. During a short respite of the rainy weather, the bells of Theatiner Kirche rang above the gathered throngs on Odeonsplatz, at 2:36 pm, sending the citizens into a tizzy.

Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria
The Crown Prince settled down just long enough to have his portrait painted. It remains to be seen if he will do the same with his new bride.

Shortly afterwards, the groom’s father, Maximilian Joseph I, announced that in five days hence a large reception would take place on the large meadow Wies’n just southwest of the main gate at Karlstor, to celebrate the nuptials. The long interim between the wedding and reception is to allow bakeries to bake extra bread, and for the other food purveyors a chance to set up their operations. All 40,000 residents are invited, and it will be a city holiday. Everyone is asked to wear their Sunday best – no lederhosen will be permitted.

There was a collective audible gasp of excitement when the princess entered the Kapelle. She epitomized all the things that Germans find attractive. The princess had steely eyes, a regal face and demeanor, and curves which were both beautiful and practical. She was not fragile in appearance – au contraire, she looked strong in shape with a determined countenance. Her beauty is the type that will only increase with age.

Therese Charlotte Luise Frederica Emilie of Saxony-Hildburghausen
Princess Therese in late 1809

A few months past her 18th birthday, she was given away by her father, Frederick, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg. There were five bridesmaids and the Maid of Honor, all in light blue chiffon dresses.

The bride wore an exquisite dress, made by the Parisian dressmaker Claude Le Croix, which secreted her modest bosom and accented her strong and shapely arms and face. The dress hung a bit loosely and left much to the imagination, but that is the style of the day, and monsieur Le Croix captured the mood impeccably. The bride wore her thick dark hair parted down the middle and in tight ringlets, another ‘mode du jour’, which allowed her to accentuate her matinee necklace of sapphires.

There was little wonder to those in attendance as to the reasons why she was on Napoleon Bonaparte’s short list for brides last year. He had been searching for an eligible princess to bear him an heir, and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen’s name had often come up. Her court said she had resigned herself to the idea that she would be his empress, but was overjoyed when Napoleon selected for his wife Maria Ludovica Leopoldina Franziska Therese Josepha Lucia von Habsburg-Lothringen (more names), or Maria-Louise of Austria, for short. Either way, Napoleon married a German which he had insisted on, for both political and carnal reasons. (It is widely known that Napoleon suggested to his brother, Lucien, that he should also marry a German for their bedroom prowess, after Napoleon had had an affair with a German duchess.)

Emperor Napoleon of France
The deterioration of his empire’s relationship to Russia’s empire seems to have caused his ulcer to act up again.

Crown Prince Ludwig, 24, known for his wandering eye, appeared smitten with his bride, however, whom he had only met a few days before. (It is also rumoured that she resolutely and absolutely refused his invitations to his bedchamber before the wedding. He sought solace elsewhere.) He also must have felt some sense of satisfaction for winning the princess, solidifying his position in both Bavaria and Saxony, and irking Napoleon in the process as a schoolboy might. It is well-known that Ludwig has little love for Napoleon, unlike his father, who is much more than mere cosy with the French emperor.

The wedding was non-denominational, due to the fact that the Crown Prince Ludwig is Roman Catholic, and Therese is a Lutheran. Prior to the wedding the men took part in baumstamm sägen (log sawing), and the engaged couple had a polterabend (plate-smashing), with a few close friends and family.

The horse race
Our London Times artist’s rendering of what he witnessed on October 17th, 1810.

Update: October 24th, 1810, Munich: The wedding reception of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese, took place this past October 17th, on the large meadow southwest of Munich. It was a picture-perfect ‘Altweibersommer’ (old widow’s summer) day.

Much beef, pork and chicken was served to the nearly 35,000 guests. Some wine was provided for the upper-classes to imbibe, but the regular ‘Volk’ had to provide their own drink. All who attended wished the new couple ‘viel Glück’ (much happiness), and many children. The finale of the reception was a horse race. It was won by the National Guard Cavalryman and hackney coachman Franz Baumgartner. Unconfirmed reports allege he was the person who actually proposed the race.

Horse Race
The Wittelsbachs’ court painters did this within a week of the horse race’s completion.

Due to the overwhelming success of this year’s party, with much adoration for the Wittelsbach family apparent, there are plans already underway (a German characteristic) to have another festival next year, and to showcase the latest Bavarian farm equipment, in addition to the horse race. Discussions are underway with local breweries to procure proper beverages for the populace. Perhaps international guests will attend. It would be an opportunity for much of Europe to experience Bavaria, this land of tradition and innovation, that is as old as Charlemagne.

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