On this day June 13, 1886

King Ludwig II of Bavaria is found dead in Lake Starnberg south of Munich at 11:30 PM.

Around 6:00 pm, Ludwig asked Gudden to accompany him on a walk along the shore of Lake Starnberg. Gudden agreed, and told the guards not to follow them. The two men never returned. At 11:30 that night, searchers found both the king and Gudden dead, floating in the shallow water near the shore.

Ludwig’s death was officially ruled a suicide by drowning, but this has been questioned. Ludwig was known to be a strong swimmer, the water was less than waist-deep where his body was found, and the official autopsy report indicated that no water was found in his lungs. Ludwig had expressed suicidal feelings during the crisis, but the suicide theory does not fully explain Gudden’s death.

Many hold that Ludwig was murdered by his enemies while attempting to escape from Bergter. However, there was no evidence of scars or wounds found on the body of the dead king. Another theory suggests that Ludwig died of natural causes (such as a heart attack or stroke) brought on by the extreme cold of the lake during an escape attempt.

Ludwig’s remains were dressed in the regalia of the Order of the Knights of St. Hubert, and lay in state in the royal chapel at the Munich Residence Palace. In his right hand he held a posy of white jasmine picked for him by his cousin the Empress Elisabeth of Austria.

After an elaborate funeral on June 19, 1886, Ludwig’s remains were interred in the crypt of the Michaelskirche in Munich. His heart, however, does not lie with the rest of his body. Bavarian tradition called for the heart of the king to be placed in a silver urn and sent to the Gnadenkapelle (Chapel of the Mercy) in Altötting, where they were placed beside those of his father and grandfather.

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