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Ludwig Castles

Schwangau, Germany
Nov. 23, 2001

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Poor Ludwig: only got to spend about six months in his Grail Castle, Neuschwanstein, in 1886 before they came for him. Mad, they said; couldn't get him to stop spending money on his fantasy castles, here, at Linderhof, and the faux Versailles at Herrenchiemsee.

He'd been burning through millions of marks for years, but now he was burning through Cabinet secretaries as one after the other came on board, borrowed millions to try to get him out of hot water, then watched him spend it on his efforts to turn Wagnerian opera into stone.

So they declared him insane and sent a few officials to bring him down. He got word of their coming, and repelled them with a borrowed police force from nearby Fussen. In fact, after they returned down the hill to Hohenschwangau, the little orange castle in the hills below that his father Max had built 30 years before, he had some of them arrested and tossed into the gate house. He told them he would have them killed in the morning, but of course he didn't; he let them go (this was 1886, after all; not the Middle Ages).

Others came for him the next day, and by now he was resigned to it. He let them pack him into a carriage which had been fitted so it couldn't open from inside, and they hauled him off to Berg Castle up on Lake Starnberg.

Within a year, the castle belonged to tourists like us.