Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria, the German Command and Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1914-1915

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Abstract

This chapter provides a fresh perspective on the Germany ruling dynasty (the Hohenzollerns) via the perspective of the royal heir to another important German royal dynasty, the House of Wittelsbach. This provides a basis for the assessment of the robustness of the institution in Germany via an exploration of the sometimes fraught relationship between Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria, the Oberste Heeresleitung (German Command) and the Kaiser in the opening period of the First World War. It reveals thereby the impact of the royal contributions on contemporaries. In discussing examples and causes of friction in the chain headed by the Kaiser, it illuminates wider problems of government in Wilhelmine Germany and the extent to which the monarchy contributed to these. Prince Rupprecht was the onlya Roman Catholic in the otherwise Protestant-led German army, andwhich this was important because, outsideafter Prussia, Bavaria provided the most substantial number of troops. What concerned Prince Rupprecht was to ensure that, while fighting for the German cause, Bavarian identity was preserved and respected—it was an aspect of his duty as heir to the Bavarian crown. He was fully aware that, both in defeat and victory, wars reshaped nations—the modern history of Germany itself underlined this. A German victory could provide an opportunity for further Prussification of the German state at the expense of Bavaria, while defeat could see Bavaria punished for Berlin’s war aims. Rupprecht’s sense of responsibility for Bavaria and his consciousness of his own importance as a symbol for Bavarians, especially in the German army, ensured that he was equally aware of the symbolism used and cultivated by the Kaiser. This chapter shows the complexity of the German royal network even when they were theoretically fighting for a unified cause, and in so doing, suggests that the abdication of the Kaiser must be seen in a more nuanced light.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMonarchies and the Great War
EditorsMatthew Glencross, Judith Rowbotham
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2018

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in Modern Monarchy
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan