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The Fairytale King

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PowerPoint Show by Andrew Turn on Speakers

130 years ago, Bavaria's "Fairy-tale King" Ludwig II died under very mysterious circumstances at the age of 40, his body found floating in Lake Starnberg, south of Munich.

Today, Ludwig remains famous for the castles he built, most notably Neuschwanstein Castle, perched high in the Alpine foothills. The king hired theatrical set designers rather than architects to design his castles. More absorbed in his personal world than state affairs, Ludwig spent most of his time on his own projects -- emptying his personal coffers -- and left his ministers frustrated by his inattention.

When his cabinet accused him of insanity, he was placed in custody after a brief showdown at Neuschwanstein Castle, and was taken to a castle next to Lake Starnberg. The following day, while out for a walk, Ludwig disappeared, his lifeless body discovered hours later. The death was declared a suicide, but many have rejected that ruling, and the demise of this popular king remains a mystery to this day.

King Ludwig II, age 22, in 1867, only three years after he ascended the Bavarian throne following his father's death. Though he was young and inexperienced, Ludwig was a popular king among Bavarians.

Photographer Joseph Albert, posing with his equipment in front of Hohenschwangau Castle, near the present site of Neuschwanstein Castle, around 1857. At this time, Ludwig was a 12-year-old Crown Prince, living with his family, headed by his father, King Maximilian II.

Hohenschwangau Castle, Ludwig's family home, near Fssen, southern Germany, viewed from Neuschwanstein Castle on August 10, 2010.

The hill that would hold up Neuschwanstein Castle, seen around 1860.

Scaffolding surrounds the walls of Neuschwanstein Castle as it is being constructed, seen about 1875.

A view of the upper courtyard of Neuschwanstein Castle, still under construction, as it appeared in 1886 -- the year of Ludwig's death.

Neuschwanstein Castle, near Fssen, Bavaria, seen on July 1, 2007. The castle was completed in 1886, and was opened to the public only seven weeks after the death of King Ludwig II.

Ludwig II and his fiance, Duchess Sophie in Bavaria in 1867. Though the two were engaged throughout most of 1867, Ludwig later canceled the engagement, and never married. The King, a devout Roman Catholic, struggled with his sexual orientation throughout his adult life.

Linderhof Castle, near Oberammergau dated around 1900. Linderhof was the smallest of Ludwig's castles, and the only one which he lived to see completed, in 1876.

An outside view of Linderhof Castle, seen during a night time opening on August 25, 2008.

A snow covered Linderhof Castle, seen on November 17, 2005.

The "Maurische Kiosk" (Moorish Kiosk), a structure on the grounds of Linderhof Castle, is illuminated on August 25, 2008.

Herrenchiemsee Castle, built on an island in the middle of Bavaria's largest lake, the Chiemsee. Ludwig commissioned this castle as a tribute to one of his idols, King Louis XIV of France, and his elaborate Palace of Versailles.

Interior of Herrenchiemsee Castle, the Hall of Mirrors, containing 77 chandeliers, also modeled after the Palace of Versailles.

A tourist looks at a portrait of King Ludwig II in Herrenchiemsee Castle.

Bavarian Finance Minister George Fahrenschon shows the fully restored state bedroom of King Ludwig II in Herrenchiemsee Castle, on April 12, 2011.

Neuschwanstein Castle is now a world-famous tourist attraction. Ludwig's castles have paid for themselves many times over in the years since his death.

Snow covers Neuschwanstein Castle on March 20, 2007 near Fssen, Germany.

A view of the Alpsee and Alpine foothills, seen from a balcony of Neuschwanstein Castle on May 23, 2007.

The ornate ceiling of the throne hall in the Neuschwanstein Castle.

An aerial view of Neuschwanstein Castle and the surrounding area near Schwangau, about 120 km (75 mi) south of Munich.

Castle Berg, 1886, the year Ludwig II died -- his body found floating in Lake Starnberg. Ludwig had been accused of insanity by his cabinet of ministers, was arrested at Neuschwanstein Castle on June 12, 1886, and transported here, to Castle Berg. On June 13, 1886, around 6:00 pm, Ludwig and a psychiatrist named Dr. Bernhard von Gudden left the castle for a walk around the lake -- that was the last time anyone saw either man alive. Both of their bodies were found late that night, Ludwig was floating face-down in waist-deep water. Ludwig's mysterious death was officially ruled a suicide, but theories have existed since that day that the death was an assassination.

The final photograph of King Ludwig II, as his body laid in state in the royal chapel at the Munich Residence Palace in June of 1886.

A plaster death mask of King Ludwig II, viewed in Herrenchiemsee Castle.

Wearing traditional Bavarian costumes, supporters of the Bavarian King Ludwig II attend an open-air Mass at the Gedaechtniskapelle on Lake Starnberg, commemorating the 125th anniversary of the King's death, on June 13, 2011.

A crucifix near the shore of Lake Starnberg near Berg, marks the site where Bavarian King Ludwig II is believed to have died 128 years ago.