The Swan King
June 13, 1886 - Today was the day that the body of the "Swan King" Ludwig II was found floating in Lake Starnberg. His death was extremely suspicious and the conspiracy theories run the gamut. Some believe it was a suicide, others say it was an assassination.
During his 22-year reign as the King of Bavaria, Ludwig earned a reputation as a wild eccentric who loved to build fantastic castles. He was also a generous patron of the arts who famously supported the composer Richard Wagner.
Ludwig rose to the throne at age 18. Bavaria would soon enter into a disastrous Seven Weeks War between Austria and Prussia. Bavaria sided with the Austrians and lost.
During these tumultuous times, Ludwig turned to the arts. He indugled in his love of opera, and he summoned the greatest talents of the day to Munich. His lifelong friendship with Wagner would be mutually beneficial to both men. Ludwig paid off Wagner's creditors and in exchange, Wagner wrote music that inspired the King to build 3 amazing castles (Neuschwanstein, Linderhof, and Herrenchiemsee).
Neuschwanstein might be the most famous castle in the world. It's featured in countless movies and was the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland. Initial construction would take 23 years - and it wasn't finished when Ludwig died, but he did spend 11 nights there.
In the end Ludwig's critics got the best of him. He was removed from power on claims that he was mentally ill. Three days later, Ludwig's body was found floating in Lake Starnberg.