Land at the Heart of Europe
Bavaria is one of the oldest states in Europe dating right back to the 6th century AD. From the Middle Ages up to the beginning of the 19th century Bavaria was a powerful and mighty Dukedom first under the reign of the Guelph dynasty and subsequently under the Wittelsbachs.
Cities such as Regensburg developed into spiritual and economic centres of European importance. After the Thirty Years’ War the Electorate of Bavaria had an important role amongst the great political players of the time.
Bavaria was a kingdom for over 100 years, from January 1, 1806 to November 8, 1918. The six Bavarian kings reigned as constitutional monarchs. The first Bavarian monarch, Max Joseph I, owed his royal status to an alliance with the French emperor Napoleon I.
In the wake of the 1st World War, events in Bavaria were first determined by a communist Räterepublik until a constitution with parliamentary democracy came into force in 1919. Under the National Socialists Bavaria lost its independence as a state.
On 1st December 1946 a constitution for the Free State of Bavaria was adopted by referendum.
Key dates in the history of Bavaria
|6th century AD||Inception of the Dukedom of Bavaria|
|1158||Henry the Lion founds Munich|
|1180||Emperor Frederick Barbarossa appoints Otto von Wittelsbach as Duke of Bavaria|
|1301-1347||Ludwig the Bavarian crowned King and Emperor of Germany|
|1623||Bavaria becomes an Electorate|
|1662-1726||Elector Max Emanuel develops the splendours of Bavarian baroque|
|1800-1815||Swabia and Franconia become part of Bavaria|
|1806||Bavaria becomes a kingdom|
|1818||Bavaria is granted a constitution|
|1825-1845||King Ludwig I makes Bavaria a centre for both culture and the sciences|
|1835||The very first railway in Germany is built between Nuremberg and Fürth|
|1864-1886||King Ludwig II, the "Fairytale King"|
|1918||Bavaria becomes a Free State|
|1933-1945||Bavaria loses its independence as a state under the National Socialists|
|1946||Inception of the constitution of the Free State of Bavaria|
Source: The Bavarian State Chancellery
Further information is available at the Haus der bayerischen Geschichte (Centre of Bavarian History) which showcases a detailed exhibition on the History of Bavaria in English.