BAVARIA. The duchy of Bavaria, which became a prince-electorate in 1623, was one of the larger and more important territories of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1801 it covered about 590 square miles and had about 880,000 inhabitants. Unlike other territories, Bavaria was a nation rather than merely a random territorial unit. The Bavarian people had emerged in a process of ethnogenesis during the reign of the Ostrogoth king Theodoric the Great (c. 453–526; ruled 474/493–526) in the former Roman province of Noricum. From 1180 until it became a republic in 1918, it was ruled by the local Wittelsbach dynasty. After a period of dynastic divisions and succession wars following the reign of the Holy Roman emperor Louis IV "the Bavarian" (ruled 1314–1347), Bavaria became and remained unified at the beginning of the early modern period. This was a result of the law of primogeniture, which was introduced by Duke Albert IV "the Wise" (ruled 1465–1508) in 1506, accepted by the Bavarian Estates, and enshrined in the constitution (Landesordnung) of 1516. The Bavarian parliament (Landschaft) consisted of prelates, the nobility, and the towns. During the minority rule of William IV (ruled 1508–1550) the Estates in fact governed the country for several years, and afterwards they retained the right of taxation and the administration of finances. However, during the reign of Albert V (1550–1579) the relationship between the Estates and the ruler deteriorated because the higher nobility and parts of the citizenry of major towns like Munich adopted Protestantism and urged the duke to follow their example. However, this was a hopeless idea, since Duke Albert actually became a leader of the Catholic cause during the Council of Trent. When the Estates tried to use tax grants as a weapon in their struggle for religious liberation, it came to a showdown. The duke raided the castles of the most prominent Protestant nobles, Ladislaus von Fraunberg (1505–1566), Pankraz von Freyberg (1508–1565), Wolfdietrich von Maxlrain (1523–1586), and Count Joachim von Ortenburg (1530–1600). Their excellent contacts with Protestant nobles and princes in other parts of the empire, and throughout Europe, were labeled a conspiracy, and political Protestantism in the country was crushed in 1564. According to the Religious Peace of Augsburg of 1555, Protestants were forced to either reconvert or emigrate, and the emigration of Protestant burghers damaged the urban economy substantially.
By assuming leadership of the Counter-Reformation, the Bavarian dukes rose to European importance. In a deliberate program of reeducation, with the University of Ingolstadt as the headquarters of Jesuit influence and with a number of Jesuit high schools, Bavaria managed to shape the ideas of future Catholic elites. Commissioned by the dukes, Jesuits like Petrus Canisius, Gregory of Valencia, and Jacob Gretser molded the religious ideas of the next two generations of Catholic political leaders, including Holy Roman emperor Ferdinand III, and the generation of the Catholic League and of religious warfare in the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648). In 1568 Duke Albert forged an alliance with the house of Lorraine, the political leaders of the French Catholic League. Duke William V "the Pious" (ruled 1579–1597) and his wife Renata of Lorraine led the life of saints and brutally suppressed heresy and witchcraft. They also introduced new and highly popular forms of piety: new forms of prayer, of spirituality, and of religious practices like weekly processions; pilgrimages to Bavarian national shrines such as Mother Mary of Altötting; annual Corpus Christi processions in the capital; and monumental mystery plays. There were new religious brotherhoods such as the Marian Congregation and new religious orders like the female Jesuits of Mary Ward (1585–1645), an English emigrant from Yorkshire who was protected by the Bavarian dynasty even after formal recognition by the Jesuits and the pope had been denied her. Mother Mary was chosen the patroness of Bavaria, with widespread veneration, and Marian columns erected at the central places of all market towns. In 1583 the Bavarian rulers intervened in their first international conflict, sending an army to northwestern Germany to depose the archbishop of Cologne, prince-elector Gebhard Truchsess von Waldburg (ruled 1577–1583), who had converted to Protestantism. The Cologne War secured Catholic domination in the Holy Roman Empire since the Catholic votes (Mainz, Cologne, Trier, and Bohemia) outweighed the Protestant ones (Saxony, Brandenburg, and the Palatinate). Furthermore, it secured the prince-electorate of Cologne for the Bavarian Wittelsbachs (1583–1761), who managed to control a complex of ecclesiastical lands in the north (Cologne, Münster, Hildesheim, Paderborn, Lüttich/Lièges, and the imperial abbacies of Stavelot and Malmédy) well into the mid-eighteenth century.
Bavaria's influence on an international level culminated under the powerful rule of Duke Maximilian I (ruled 1597–1651). Educated by leading Jesuits, married first to a Lorraine princess, and then to a Habsburg princess, he soon gained confidence, and assumed political leadership at the age of twenty-one. When he replaced his father, whose religious zeal had led the state close to bankruptcy, he had already gained the support of the Estates, the councillors, and the Catholic intellectuals. Within a few years of tight personal rule, advised by a group of most able councillors, Bavaria had an efficient government, an intact bureaucracy, healthy finances, and—despite accelerating Catholic reforms—a clearly defined supremacy of state interests, a dominance of the theory of reason of state. Based upon successful internal reforms, a firm Catholic ideology, and excellent political advisers, Maximilian gained the energy for his bold foreign policy. The weakness of Emperors Rudolf II (ruled 1576–1612) and Matthias (ruled 1612–1629) allowed Maximilian to usurp leadership of the Catholic party in the Holy Roman Empire and gather its forces in the Catholic League, using it as an instrument of Bavarian interests. From then Bavaria dominated Franconia and Eastern Swabia, both of which were annexed when the Holy Roman Empire eventually collapsed. Maximilian had already annexed the imperial city of Donauwörth in 1607 and the imperial lordship of Mindelheim in 1616. When the Bohemian Estates elected the Calvinist Elector Palatine Frederick V king of Bohemia in 1619, and Catholic preponderance in the Holy Roman Empire was once again endangered, Maximilian sent an army, defeating the Protestants in the Battle of the White Mountain in 1620. Bohemia remained under Habsburg rule, but Bavarian armies occupied the Palatinate and annexed the Upper Palatinate. Maximilian gained the Palatine electoral vote for Bavaria, and the title of prince-elector for himself in 1623.
The Thirty Years' War (1618–1648), which had been triggered by Maximilian I of Bavaria, soon turned into Europe's first world war with the intervention of Spain, France, England, the Netherlands, the pope, and Sweden, but it was as much a catastrophe for Bavaria as for other parts of Central Europe. The country was sacked twice by Swedish troops, and yet "friendly" armies like the Spanish or the imperial armies had an equally devastating effect. Crop failure, famine, epidemics, and two waves of bubonic plague in 1634 and in 1646 probably caused a population loss of more than 50 percent. A peasant uprising in 1633 showed the level of suffering from the politically induced hardship. The prince-elector now became more cautious, and to the dismay of religious zealots like his Jesuit confessor Adam Contzen (1571–1635), Bavaria supported the Peace of Prague (1635), and invested a lot of energy in forging the Peace of Westphalia (1648), even against the advice of the papacy. Secular interests once more triumphed over religious zeal. In his political testament Bavaria's great prince-elector advised his son to keep the peace, to be a just and pious ruler, and to keep a close eye on finances (pecunia nervus rerum). Prince-elector Ferdinand Maria (ruled 1651–1679) supported baroque Catholic piety, but curbed Jesuit influence, and his wife Henriette Adelaide of Savoy (1635–1676) introduced members of the Italian Theatine order as court confessors. With a successful recovery from the Thirty Years' War, their son Maximilian II Emanuel (ruled 1679–1726) developed the ambition to extend Wittelsbach rule to Spain but was defeated in the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714), and Bavaria was occupied by Austrian troops. A national uprising was crushed on Christmas Eve of 1705, the Bavarian peasant army being butchered after their surrender near the village of Sendling, remembered as the Sendlinger Mordweihnacht (Sendling Christmas Massacre). Elector Charles Albert (ruled 1726–1745) was another overambitious ruler who managed to get himself elected emperor as Charles VII in 1742, despite strong opposition from the Habsburgs, who again occupied Bavaria.
His successor Maximilian III Joseph (ruled 1745–1777) gave up this sort of ambitious foreign policy in the Peace of Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle) in 1748, which ended the War of the Austrian Succession, and focused on domestic policy. As an enlightened absolutist monarch he managed to split the clergy and cut down clericalism, to reform education, law, and the sciences, and to introduce road construction and moor draining. Secular intellectuals were encouraged, the Bavarian Academy of Sciences was founded, and journalism and literature were sponsored. Quite deliberately this ruler avoided wars and focused on interior reforms, and his rule was remembered with joy by his subjects. Remaining childless, he was succeeded by one of the Palatine Wittelsbachs, Charles Theodore (ruled 1777–1799), another enlightened prince. His autocratic attitudes made him less appreciated by his subjects, although he opened the "English Garden" in Munich to the public. He was also childless, and his successor Maximilian IV Joseph (ruled 1799–1825), from the Wittelsbach line Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld, became the founder of modern Bavaria. Like Maximilian I he had excellent councillors at his command, in particular Maximilian, count of Montgelas (1759–1838), a former member of the Illuminati, a kind of elitist Freemason secret society that had been suppressed by Charles Theodore. In order to escape this repression, Montgelas had emigrated to Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld, only to return as a prime minister. Still a radical reformer, Montgelas secularized the monasteries and reformed education (creating obligatory state schools) and law (abolishing torture). Maximilian and Montgelas forged a coalition with France and modeled the Bavarian administration after the French pattern as a centralized state, ruthlessly integrating all the newly acquired territories in Franconia and Swabia, several principalities and prince-bishoprics, and scores of counties, imperial cities, imperial abbacies, and lordships, assembling the Bavarian state in its present shape, and raising its status to a kingdom after the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806.
See also Austrian Succession, War of the (1740–1748) ; Holy Roman Empire ; Munich ; Spanish Succession, War of the (1701–1714) ; Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) ; Westphalia, Peace of (1648) ; Wittelsbach Dynasty (Bavaria) .
Behringer, Wolfgang. Witchcraft Persecutions in Bavaria: Popular Magic, Religious Zealotry and Reason of State in Early Modern Europe. Cambridge, U.K., and New York, 1997.
Prinz, Friedrich. Die Geschichte Bayerns. Munich, 1997.
Riezler, Sigmund. Geschichte Baierns. 8 vols. Munich, 1878–1914.
Spindler, Max, ed. Handbuch der bayerischen Geschichte. 4 vols. Munich, 1967–.
BAVARIA , Land in S. Germany, including Franconia. Jews are first mentioned there in the *Passau toll regulations of 906. Their settlement was apparently connected with the trade routes to Hungary, southern Russia and northeastern Germany. A Jewish resident of *Regensburg is mentioned at the end of the tenth century. The communities which had been established in *Bamberg and Regensburg were attacked during the First Crusade in 1096, and those in *Aschaffenburg, *Wuerzburg, and *Nuremberg during the Second Crusade in 1146–47. Other communities existed in the 13th century at Landshut, Passau, *Munich, and *Fuerth. The Jews in Bavaria mainly engaged in trade and moneylending. In 1276 they were expelled from Upper Bavaria and 180 Jews were burned at the stake in Munich following a *blood libel in 1285. The communities in Franconia were attacked during the *Rindfleisch persecutions in 1298. The *Armleder massacres, charges of desecrating the *Host at *Deggendorf, Straubing, and Landshut, and the persecutions following the *Black Death (1348–49), brought catastrophe to the whole of Bavarian Jewry. Many communities were entirely destroyed, among them *Ansbach, Aschaffenburg, *Augsburg, Bamberg, *Ulm, Munich, Nuremberg, Passau, Regensburg, *Rothenburg, and Wuerzburg. Those who had fled were permitted to return after a time under King Wenceslaus.
In 1442 the Jews were again expelled from Upper Bavaria. Shortly afterward, in 1450, the Jews in Lower Bavaria were flung into prison until they paid the duke a ransom of 32,000 crowns and were then driven from the duchy. As a result of agitation by the Franciscan John of *Capistrano, they were expelled from Franconia. In 1478 they were expelled from Passau, in 1499 from Nuremberg, and in 1519 from Regensburg. The few remaining thereafter in the duchy of Bavaria were expelled in 1551. Subsequently, Jewish settlement in Bavaria ceased until toward the end of the 17th century, when a small community was founded in *Sulzbach by refugees from *Vienna. During the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–14) several Jews from Austria serving as purveyors to the army or as moneylenders settled in Bavaria. In this period a flourishing community grew up in Fuerth, whose economic activities helped to bring prosperity to the city. After the war the Jews of Austrian origin were expelled from Bavaria, but some were able to acquire the right to reside in Munich as monopoly holders, *Court Jews, mintmasters, and physicians. Several Court Jews belonging to the Frankel and *Model families
became prominent in Ansbach and Fuerth for a while in the 18th century, particularly because of their services in managing the state's economy.
In the Napoleonic era Jewish children were permitted to attend the general schools (1804), the men were accepted into the militia (1805), the poll tax was abolished (1808), and Jews were granted the status of citizens (1813). However, at the same time their number and rights of residence were still restricted, and only the eldest son in a family was allowed to marry (see *Familiants Laws). In 1819 anti-Jewish disorders broke out in Franconia (the "*Hep! Hep!" riots). Owing to the continued adverse conditions and the restrictions on families a large number of young Bavarian Jews immigrated to the U.S. A second wave of emigrants left for the U.S. after the 1848 Revolution, which had been accompanied by anti-Jewish riots notably in rural Franconia. In 1861 the discriminatory restrictions concerning Jews were abolished, and Jews were permitted to engage in all occupations. However, complete equality was not granted until 1872 by the provisions of the constitution of the German Reich of 1871. Certain special "Jewish taxes" were abolished only in 1880. The chief occupation of Jews in 19th century rural Bavaria was the livestock trade, largely in Jewish hands (see *Agriculture). By the beginning of the 20th century Jews had considerable holdings in department stores and in a few branches of industry.
A number of Jews were active after World War i in the revolutionary government of Bavaria which was headed by a Jew, Kurt *Eisner, who was prime minister before his assassination in 1919. Another Jew, Gustav *Landauer, who became minister of popular instruction, was also assassinated that year. In the reaction which followed World War i there was a new wave of antisemitism, and in 1923 most of the East European Jews resident in Bavaria were expelled. This was the time when the National Socialist Movement made its appearance in the region, and antisemitic agitation increased. Jewish ritual slaughter was prohibited in Bavaria in 1931.
The size of the Jewish population in Bavaria varied relatively little from the Napoleonic era to 1933, numbering 53,208 in 1818 and 41,939 in 1933. A Bavarian Jewish organization, the Verband bayerischer israelitischer Gemeinden, was set up in 1921 and included 273 communities and 21 rabbinical institutions. In 1933 the largest and most important communities in Bavaria were in Munich (which had a Jewish population of 9,000), Nuremberg (7,500), Wuerzburg (2,150), Augsburg (1,100), Fuerth (2,000), and Regensburg (450). At this time the majority of Bavarian Jews were engaged in trade and transport (54.5%) and in industry (19%), but some also in agriculture (2.7% in 1925 compared with 9.7% in 1882). Over 1,000 Jews studied at the University of Bavaria after World War i, a proportion ten times higher than that of the Jews to the general population.
Regensburg was a center of Jewish scholarship from the 12th century. Regensburg was the cradle of the medieval Ashkenazi *Ḥasidism and in the 12th and 13th centuries the main center of this school. The traveler *Pethahiah b. Jacob set out from there in about 1170. Prominent scholars of Bavaria include *Meir b. Baruch of Rothenburg (the leading authority of Ashkenazi Jewry, 13th century); Jacob *Weil (taught at Nuremberg and Augsburg, beginning of the 15th century); Israel *Bruna (settled in Regensburg, mid-15th century); Moses *Mintz (rabbi of Bamberg, 1469–1474); and the Renaissance grammarian Elijah *Levita (a native of Neustadt). In the 19th/20th centuries there lived in Munich the folklorist and philologist Max M. *Gruenbaum;Raphael Nathan Nata *Rabinovicz, author of Dikdukei Soferim; and Joseph *Perles, rabbi of Augsburg, 1875–1910.
The Jews in Bavaria were among the first victims of the Nazi movement, which spread from Munich and Nuremberg. Virulent and widespread antisemitic agitation caused the de-population of scores of the village communities so characteristic of Bavaria, especially after the *Kristallnacht in 1938. The first concentration camp was established at *Dachau in Bavaria and many Jews from Germany and other countries in Europe perished there.
After World War ii thousands of Jews were assembled in displaced persons' camps in Bavaria; the last one to be closed down was in Foehrenwald. Almost all of the 1,000 Bavarian Jews who survived the Holocaust were saved because they were married to Germans or were born of mixed marriages. A year after the end of hostilities a Nazi underground movement remained active in Bavaria, and the neo-Nazi anti-Jewish demonstrations of June 1965 started in Bamberg. Antisemitic sentiment was also aroused when the minister of Jewish affairs, Philip Auerbach, was prosecuted for misappropriation of funds in 1951.
In 1969 there were in Bavaria about 4,700 Jews, forming 13 communities, the majority from the camps of Eastern Europe. The largest communities were in Munich (3,486), Nuremberg (275), Wuerzburg (141), Fuerth (200), Augsberg (230), and Regensburg (150). There were smaller numbers of Jews in *Amberg, Bamberg, *Bayreuth, Straubing, and Weiden. In 1989 there were 5,484 community members. Due mainly to the emigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union, the number rose to 18,387 in 2003, the largest communites being those in Munich (8,917), Straubing (1,713), Augsburg (1,619), Nuremberg (1,286), and Wuerzburg (1,027).
S. Taussig, Geschichte der Juden in Bayern (1874); Germ Jud, 1 (1963), 22–24; 2 (1968), 57–60; S. Schwarz, Juden in Bayern im Wandel der Zeiten (1963); R. Strauss, Regensburg and Augsburg (1939); H.B. Ehrmann, Struggle for Civil and Religious Emancipation in Bavaria in the First Half of the 19thCentury (1948), 199; H.C. Vedeler, in: Journal of Modern History, 10 (1938), 473–95; P. Wiener-Odenheimer, Die Berufe der Juden in Bayern (1918), 131. add. bibliography: pk Bavaria; B.Z. Ophir (ed.), Die juedischen Gemeinden in Bayern 1918–1945 (1979); J.F. Harris, The People Speak (1994); R. Kiessling (ed.), Judengemeinden in Schwaben … (1995); G. Och (ed.), Juedisches Leben in Franken (2002).
Bavaria (bəvâr´ēə), Ger. Bayern, state (1994 pop. 11,600,000), 27,239 sq mi (70,549 sq km), S Germany. Munich is the capital. The largest state of Germany, Bavaria is bordered by the Czech Republic on the east, by Austria on the southeast and south, by Baden-Württemberg on the west, by Hesse on the northwest, and by Thuringia and Saxony on the north.
A region of rich, softly rolling hills, it is drained by several rivers (notably the Main, Danube, Isar, and Inn) and is bounded by mountain ranges (especially the Bavarian Alps and the Bohemian Forest). Bavaria is divided into seven administrative districts: Upper and Lower Bavaria; Upper, Middle, and Lower Franconia; Swabia; and the Upper Palatinate. Until the early 19th cent. Bavaria did not include Swabia and Franconia, which have separate histories. Upper Bavaria, with Munich as its capital, rises to the Bavarian Alps, along the Austrian border, and culminates in the Zugspitze, Germany's highest peak. Between the Alps and the Bohemian Forest, which forms the border with the Czech Republic, lies the Franconian Jura plateau, traversed by the Danube. Lower Bavaria comprises part of this plateau and part of the Bohemian Forest. Franconia, in N Bavaria, includes the Frankenwald, the Fichtelgebirge, and the Main valley. Swabia, in SW Bavaria, is part of the Danubian plateau. The Upper Palatinate, in NE Bavaria, is separated from the Czech Republic by the Bohemian Forest.
Economy and People
Forestry and agriculture account for about 10% of the state's economic output; wheat, barley, sugar beets, and dairy goods are the leading products. Since World War II, Bavaria has had the highest rate of industrial growth in Germany, which has transformed the formerly rural state. Industry produces more than half of the state's gross output and is centered in Munich, Nuremberg, Augsburg, Hof, Ingolstadt, Erlangen, and Schweinfurt. Leading industries are electronics, computers, machinery, chemicals, automobiles, clothing, and foodstuffs. Bavarian beer is world famous. Toys and musical instruments are made by artisans. Salt, graphite, iron ore, and lignite are the chief mineral resources.
The scenic beauties and the picturesque local customs and costumes of the Bavarian Alps attract many tourists. Among the resorts are Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Berchtesgaden, and the spas Bad Kissingen and Bad Reichenhall. Bayreuth is a cultural center, and Augsburg, Nuremberg, Bamberg, and Würzburg are historic and artistic centers. There are universities at Munich, Regensburg, Würzburg, and Erlangen-Nuremberg. A majority of Bavarians are Roman Catholic.
From the Romans to the Wittelsbachs
The borders of Bavaria have varied considerably in its history. The region was inhabited by Celts when Drusus conquered it (15 BC) for Rome. The Baiuoarii (see Germans) invaded it (6th cent. AD) and set up the duchy to which they gave their name. It was one of the five basic or stem duchies of medieval Germany. Irish and Scottish monks began the Christianization of the area, and it was completed (8th cent.) by St. Boniface. In 788, Charlemagne defeated Duke Tassilo III and added Bavaria to his empire. From 817 to 911, Bavaria was ruled by the Carolingians Louis the German, Carloman (d. 880), Arnulf, and Louis the Child.
In 911 the duchy (then comprising, roughly, Bavaria proper, present-day Austria, and part of the Upper Palatinate) came under indigenous rulers. Frequent Magyar inroads were stopped (955) by Emperor Otto I, who in 947 had given Bavaria to his brother Henry. Henry's grandson was duke of Bavaria when he was elected (1002) German king as Henry II. After his accession Bavaria was ruled by various houses, but in 1070 Emperor Henry IV gave the fief to Welf, or Guelph, d'Este IV (see Este), who began the dynasty of the Guelphs.
From the 9th to the 12th cent. the Bavarian dukes, of whatever house, were at the center of the rebellions of the great German princes against the imperial authority. To reduce their power Emperor Otto II in 976 stripped the duchy of all but present-day Upper and Lower Bavaria and the Tyrol. When in 1137 the Guelph Henry the Proud acquired Saxony in addition to Bavaria, Conrad III deposed him and gave Bavaria to the Babenberg rulers of Austria. Frederick II restored (1156) Bavaria to Henry the Lion but in 1180 deposed the rebellious Guelph and bestowed the duchy (from which he detached considerable territory in what is now Austria) on Otto of Wittelsbach. The political history of Bavaria, much reduced in importance, became that of the Wittelsbach family, which ruled until 1918.
Bavaria under the Wittelsbachs
The Wittelsbach fiefs, including the Rhenish Palatinate (acquired in 1214), were almost always divided among the numerous branches of the dynasty. Under the Wittelsbach emperor Louis IV (reigned 1328–47), Bavaria was briefly reunited. Duke Albert IV (1467–1508), who again united Bavaria (except the Rhenish Palatinate), introduced the law of primogeniture; thus Bavaria entered the Reformation period much strengthened. The triumph of Catholicism in Bavaria proper was crucial for its later history. Duke Maximilian I (1597–1651) headed the Catholic League in the Thirty Years War and was rewarded with the Upper Palatinate and the rank of elector.
The agricultural wealth and the strategic position of Bavaria made it a coveted prize and a frequent battleground then and later. Bavaria was overrun by foreign armies, notably in the War of the Spanish Succession, the War of the Austrian Succession, the War of the Bavarian Succession (1778, by which Bavaria lost the Inn Quarter to Austria), and the French Revolutionary Wars. Elector Maximilian IV Joseph, who in 1799 united all Wittelsbach lands, allied himself with Napoleon I, joined the Confederation of the Rhine, and in 1806 was proclaimed king of Bavaria as Maximilian I. In 1813 Maximilian abandoned Napoleon and joined the allies, who at the Congress of Vienna (1814–15) left him in possession of virtually all of present-day Bavaria, including the Rhenish Palatinate.
During the period of reaction that followed in Europe, Bavaria stood out for its relatively liberal government. The liberal constitution of 1818 lasted exactly a century. King Louis I (1825–48), dethroned by the mild revolution of 1848, was succeeded by the able Maximilian II (1848–64) and the brilliant but insane Louis II (1864–86). All three rulers had a passion for the arts, science, and architecture. The reputation of Bavaria, particularly Munich, as a cultural center dates from their reigns. The abolition in 1848 of guild restrictions opened the way for industrialization.
At the same time, the rural prosperity of Bavaria and the strong influence of the Catholic Church (which predominates except in the Upper Palatinate and in Middle Franconia) accented the hostility of Bavaria toward the rising power of Prussia. Bavaria sided with Austria in the Austro-Prussian War (1866). Defeated in that war, it acknowledged Prussian leadership, sided with Prussia against France in 1870–71, and joined (1871) the German Empire. As the chief German state after Prussia, Bavaria retained separatist tendencies.
Bavaria since World War I
King Louis III, successor to the mad Otto I, was dethroned in Nov., 1918, by Kurt Eisner, who established a socialist republic. The assassination (Feb., 1919) of Eisner led to a Communist revolution (Apr., 1919), which was bloodily suppressed by the German army. Bavaria then joined the Weimar Republic. In the early 1920s, Munich became the center of the National Socialist (Nazi) movement; in 1923 the National Socialists made an abortive attempt (Beer Hall Putsch) in that city to seize power. Catholic Bavaria as a whole gave little support to the movement until Adolf Hitler came to national power in 1933. Under the National Socialist regime Bavaria lost its autonomy.
After World War II, Bavaria became part of the American occupation zone. The Rhenish Palatinate was separated from Bavaria and was later made part of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. A new constitution for Bavaria was drawn up in 1946. Since the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949, the conservative Christian Social Union, allied nationally with the Christian Democratic Union, has been the strongest Bavarian political party.
The duchy* of Bavaria, a territory in the southeastern part of the Holy Roman Empire*, was ruled by the Wittelsbach family from 1180 until the early 1900s. However, by the early 1400s Bavaria had been divided into four separate duchies, ruled by different members of the family. The Wittelsbach dukes battled for control of the duchies, and in 1504 their struggle led to war. Duke Albrecht IV of Bavaria-Munich emerged the victor and united all the duchies under his rule. From then on, leadership of the duchy passed to the oldest living male heir.
During the 1400s, the dukes shared their power with nobles and high church officials. In the 1500s they expanded their power, taking greater control over legal matters and the church. They also set up councils to oversee finances, military matters, and church affairs. Duke Maximilian I, who became ruler in 1597, increased his power further. He raised taxes and made military decisions without consulting minor nobles and lesser officials. Under his rule, Bavaria became one of the earliest absolutist* states in Europe.
Bavaria's economy at this time was almost entirely based on agriculture. Four of every five Bavarians were peasants who lived in small villages and produced crops for their own use and for local markets. Bavaria also had a small textile industry based in the city of Munich, its largest city. In 1500 Munich had a population of about 12,000.
In the 1550s Protestant nobles asked Duke Albrecht V for the right to practice their religion in Catholic Bavaria. At first, the duke agreed. However, when he learned that Protestants were plotting against him, he took back many of their privileges. By the 1580s Bavaria was once again a solidly Catholic state, and during the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) it supported the Catholic powers. However, invading Swedish and French troops devastated Bavaria during the war, and the Wittelsbach dukes lost most of their territory.
Bavaria was a cultural center during the 1400s and 1500s. Its University of Ingolstadt, founded in 1472, was home to several noted scholars. By the 1490s many humanists* had gathered in Bavaria. The duchy's churches and other religious institutions supported many painters and sculptors. After the unification of Bavaria, its dukes became major patrons* of the arts. Many Italian artists and sculptors arrived to work on new museums and churches, such as the Michaelkirche in Munich. However, the Thirty Years' War brought an end to this golden age of Bavarian art.
- * duchy
territory ruled by a duke or duchess
- * Holy Roman Empire
political body in central Europe composed of several states; existed until 1806
- * absolutist
refers to complete control by a single ruler
- * humanist
Renaissance expert in the humanities (the languages, literature, history, and speech and writing techniques of ancient Greece and Rome)
- * patron
supporter or financial sponsor of an artist or writer