King Ludwig I.

September 17, 2023 – March 31, 2024


King Ludwig I (1786-1868) is primarily remembered as a Bavarian monarch. That he felt a deep affinity for the present-day Palatinate and left behind numerous still visible traces here is far less known. The Historical Museum of the Palatinate is exploring his life and impact as a patron of the arts, culture and industry in its exhibition “King Ludwig I: Longing for the Palatinate”.

Ludwig I grew up in Mannheim and nearby Rohrbach. After the Electoral Palatinate had been partitioned in 1803, he continued to maintain ties to the left-Rhenish Palatinate, which was part of Bavaria as of 1816. He left behind cultural properties there, such as the classicist Villa Ludwigshöhe in Edenkoben. In Speyer, he had the cathedral decoratively painted in the Nazarene style and commissioned the construction of the westwork with its two front towers. He was largely responsible for the development of industries and established the first east-west rail service through the Palatinate. The present-day spelling of “Speyer” with a Y ultimately stems from him as well.

Politically, his reign, which he had held since 1825, was dominated by numerous upheavals. The Hambach Festival gave expression to Palatines’ discontent with the Bavarian government in 1832, before citizens everywhere rose up against the reactionary government during the revolutions of 1848-1849 and brought about Ludwig’s abdication.

Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century works of art in the exhibition are augmented with excerpts of poems written by Ludwig I and passages from his correspondence with contemporaries, which afford a very personal glimpse of the king’s lifeworld.

The show continues the series of cultural history exhibitions that situate Palatine regional history in the European context.