- By God in Bavaria nothing is impossible

by Rudolf Reiser

'By God in Bavaria nothing is impossible!' Leo Klenze, the architect, wrote this sentence in his diary exactly 150 years ago, when he realized that the most famous dancer on the European continent, Lola Montez, was on the point of taking over the running of the Bavarian government. King Ludwig, who gave Munich its famous Glyptothek and two Pinakothek galleries as well as that magnificent boulevard named after him, was prepared to fulfil her every wish for her favors. Just after the 1846 Oktoberfest the 28-year-old prima ballerina from Ireland gave her first performance in the royal theater and in the royal chambers.

A lot has been written about the saucy, stylish dancer who pretended to be a Spaniard while she was in Munich. 'That is how fairies in fairy tales must have been,' said Luise Kobell. Another contemporary went into raptures about her 'delicate, slim figure, her enchanting blue eyes and her dazzling hair.' Not all that much however has been written about the influence she had on the Wittelsbacher dynasty.

In Klenze´s 'Memorabilia' (as yet unpublished) he goes into minute detail about how Ludwig´s politics of the day were closely linked to the nights he had spent in Lola´s arms. He described the beauty as 'flaming meteor' and called himself ' a confidante of the King´s confidantes'. The book is a portrayal of Bavarian life and customs including some quite remarkable capricious, if not despotic elements.

When, on 9th October 1846, the newspapers announced the arrival of the famous Spanish dancer Lola Montez - famous also for her strong language, Ludwig I put an end to his relationship with Litzius, his 49th mistress. Klenze reported the King put Lola down for every 'Cotillion' on his dance card and in 1846 after his first kiss from Lola said 'Now I know what real love is.'

The ambassador for Prussia, Bernstorff, said when reporting back to his court in Berlin that the King and the lady had fallen for each other the moment they met. On 30th November he sent a dispatch, 'Lola Montez has turned the 61-year-old monarch´s head so passionately that the gentleman is a completely different person; he only has eyes for her and, absolutely out of character for him, spares no expense whatsoever to fulfil her every wish.'The affairs of the land are suffering considerably due to the fact that 'the king spends almost every waking moment absorbed in his relationship with her - the rest of the time he is either too morally or physically exhausted.' And now for the sentence that really shocked the Berlin of that time - 'Lola Montez is a perfectly depraved person and it is a well known fact that she has had indecent relationships with many other men.'

For the King of Prussia this was really the last straw. He wasted no time at all in informing his 'colleague' in Munich about Lola´s lifestyle. Ludwig, however, whose sister was married to the monarch in Berlin, replied scornfully, 'You are pointing the finger at Lola Montez. You - you who has never done the like himself!' When Archbishop Reisach of Munich included him in his prayers because of the dancer, Ludwig shot back with a little rhyme, 'You keep wearing your 'stola', I´m staying with my Lola!' Ludwig was over the moon when he told Klenze with great gusto that he had 'achieved what is normally reserved for the Gods.'

Basically the people of Bavaria did not begrudge him this divine pleasure. Shortly before all this, the famous theatre manager from Vienna, Laube, said that the hearts of the beautiful women of Munich were 'all aflame'.The number of illegitimate births in the country was very high, the loose lifestyle of the dairymaids up in the Alps. Indignation at Ludwig´s escapades was somewhat superficial.

But the Lady was disliked. She was after all the one who was leading the King astray - not only to breaking his marriage vows, but also to breaking the law. With every embrace she filled his ear with urgent requests that were to be fulfilled immediately. Klenze managed to capture the extent to which this was happening quite impressively. It was not the big decisions like price increases for beer or bread that upset the Bavarians, but the dubious promises that Lola managed to get out of him.

It is this list of royal promises to his lover that makes Klenze´s writings one of the crown jewels of Bavarian history. It gets very close indeed to the roots of the Revolution of 48 and, after the diary entries were published, substantial corrections had to be made in Bavarian history of the 19th century. Three simple examples that Klenze handed down show alone just how seemingly harmless events can lead to catastrophes.

Case one. Lola Montez wrote a letter that she wanted to retrieve, so she went to munich's main post office and demanded the envelope. The clerk refused to give it to her saying that the rules forbade him to hand out mail. Klenze -'Enraged with anger she started to beat, slap and kick the clerk despite his official uniform and left the post office threatening to get the King onto him.'

The postal clerk, who had had not only his body hurt, but also his honor, decided to get his own back and sued her. The case ended up at the police station and Lola was summoned. On arrival she tore up the summons saying she did not understand German. Lola also tore up a second summons despite the fact that it said an interpreter would be present. After this the Chief of Police Pechmann received a note from the King himself threatening him with dismissal if he did not intervene immediately.

Architect Klenze was outraged and cursed, 'In a state upon whose constitution the King has sworn an oath and whose principles are based on fairness, lawfulness and equality in the eyes of the law, that same King has committed the most flagrant offence one could possibly think of - all for the sake of a whore. A king who completely of his own accord has chosen to do this!' and now for the really important bit, ' Everyone will judge him in a way he thinks fit and it goes without saying what feelings of bitterness will be felt.'

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