The House of Wittelsbach
The House of Wittelsbach was Bavaria’s ruling family from the late 12th century until the end of World War 1. The family name Wittelsbach was adopted by Otto V, the Count of Sheyern, who moved to Wittelsbach castle, in Aichach on the Paar, in 1124.
Otto died in 1155, and his son, Otto VI was declared Duke of Bavaria in 1180 for services rendered to King Frederick 1. From then on the Wittlesbach’s were to rule Bavaria until 1918.
By the early 13th century the Wittlesbach’s were to extend their influence beyond the borders of Bavaria. In 1214 Duke Otto II gained the Palatinate of the Rhine through marriage. The family’s influence was further extended in 1328 when Duke Louis I became Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire as Louis VI. The following year Emperor Louis granted the Palatinate of the Rhine and Upper Palatinate of Bavaria to his nephews, Rudolf II and Rupert 1. This effectively split the dynasty into two branches, the Bavarian and the Palatinate. Following Rudolf’s death in 1353 Rupert became Elector of the Palatinate of the Rhine.
Rupert of the Palatinate became German King in 1400 and ruled until 1410. Over 300 hundred years later, in 1742, the House of Wittelsbach was to produce its second Holy Roman Emperor, Charles VII.
The Bavarian line of the Wittlesbach’s was to die out in 1777. The elector of Palatine, Charles Theodore, thanks to the dynastic treaty made in 1724, gained authority in Bavaria. Following Charles Theodore’s death in 1799, both the Palatinate and Bavaria were united under Duke Maximilian IV Joseph of Zweibruecken following what was a brief war of succession. In 1806 he became King of Bavaria.
The Wittelsbach royal line in Bavaria continued until the 12th of November 1918 when King Ludwig III made the Anif declaration in the Anif Palace in Austria. With Germany, just days from defeat in the First World War Ludwig was under pressure from Bavarian ministers to abdicate. Ludwig would only release only his officers and soldiers from their personal oath to him. However, this was treated by the Bavarian Government as an abdication. This ended 738 years of Wittelsbach rule in Bavaria, a family which had produced both German kings and emperors of the Holy Roman Empire during its illustrious history.