Edited By Timothy K. Nixon
Vous fûtes un poète, un soldat, le seul Roi
De ce siècle où les rois se font si peu de chose…1
Verlaine, “À Louis II de Bavière”
“It’s the king!” the servants said, shaken to their innermost core.
Several crowded at the windows in the hallway of the second story; others ran downstairs into the main hall or out onto the gravel courtyard in front of the palace.
Each of them knew what had happened, although they had hoped against hope that this moment would never arrive.
Their lord and king, Ludwig II of Bavaria, stopped before entering the most splendid of his estates, Berg Palace on Lake Starnberg. Alas, he did not arrive as befits a free ruler. He was accompanied by doctors and attendants, and gentlemen from the court in Munich followed the melancholy, macabre carriage that was closely guarded by mounted police.
The servants knew that their ruler had been taken prisoner at Hohenschwangau Palace and treated like a madman, like a criminal even. The doctors in Munich, conspiring with the Wittelsbach2 family and the ministers, had issued the horrible verdict: The king was sick—such was the medical assessment—mentally ill, and perhaps incurable, just like his brother, Prince ← 7 | 8 → Otto, who for years had been cut off from the world and scraped along somewhere in a semi-bestial state. The illness, to which the scholars...
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