Duke Maximilian Joseph in Bavaria

Maximilian Joseph
Duke in Bavaria
Born (1808-12-04)4 December 1808
Died 15 November 1888(1888-11-15) (aged 79)
Spouse Princess Ludovika of Bavaria
Issue Ludwig Wilhelm, Duke in Bavaria
Wilhelm Karl
Helene, Hereditary Princess of Thurn of Taxis
Elisabeth, Empress of Austria
Maria Sophie, Queen of the Two Sicilies
Mathilde Ludovika, Countess of Trani
Sophie Charlotte, Duchess of Alençon
Maximilian Emanuel
House Wittelsbach
Father Duke Pius August in Bavaria
Mother Princess Amélie Louise of Arenberg

Duke Maximilian Joseph in Bavaria (4 December 1808 – 15 November 1888), known informally as Max in Bayern, was a member of a junior branch of the House of Wittelsbach and a promoter of Bavarian folk-music. He is most famous today as the father of Empress Elisabeth of Austria ("Sisi").


Maximilian Joseph was born at Bamberg, the only son of Duke Pius August in Bavaria (1786–1837) and of his wife, Princess Amélie Louise of Arenberg. On September 9, 1828, at Tegernsee, Maximilian Joseph married Princess Ludovika of Bavaria, daughter of King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria. They had ten children.

In 1834 he purchased Possenhofen Castle on Lake Starnberg; this was his major residence for the rest of his life. In 1838 he acquired Unterwittelsbach Castle (today housing a "Sisi" museum) near the site of Burg Wittelsbach, the ancestral seat of the House of Wittelsbach. Maximilian Joseph died in Munich. He and his wife are buried in the family crypt in Tegernsee Abbey, a former monastery which Ludovika's father, King Maximilian I Joseph, had acquired in 1817. At the same time of the secularisation, Duke Maximilian Joseph's grandfather Duke Wilhelm in Bavaria had also purchased a former monastery, Banz Abbey. Both properties, Tegernsee and Banz, are still today owned by Prince Max, Duke in Bavaria.

Middle East trip

In 1838 Maximilian Joseph travelled to Egypt and Palestine.[1] He published an account of this trip: Wanderung nach dem Orient im Jahre 1838 (München: Georg Franz, 1839; reprinted Pfaffenhofen: Ludwig, 1978). While climbing the Great Pyramid he arranged for his servants to yodel as if he were climbing in the Alps. He collected a number of antiquities which he brought back to Bavaria and displayed in his father's home, Banz Abbey; they can still be seen there today. Among the items are the mummy of a young woman, three mummies' heads, several animal mummies, shawabtis, and several stones from tombs or temples including one from the Temple of Dendur. He also bought some children in the Cairo slave market and later freed them. When Maximilian Joseph was in Jerusalem, he paid for the restoration of the Church of the Flagellation on the Via Dolorosa.


Maximilian Joseph was one of the most prominent promoters of Bavarian folk-music in the 19th century. Under his influence the zither started to be used in court circles and eventually became identified as the national musical instrument of Bavaria. Because of his interest he received the nickname Zither-Maxl. He himself played the zither and also composed music for it.

During a visit by his cousin Ludwig II of Bavaria, Ludwig saw some sheet music on Maximilian Joseph's piano by the composer Richard Wagner, which led on to Ludwig's financial support for Wagner from 1863.

Maximilian Joseph's musical compositions have been collected in the work: Die im Druck erschienenen Kompositionen von Herzog Maximilian in Bayern: Ländler, Walzer, Polka, Schottisch, Mazurka, Quadrillen und Märsche für Pianoforte, Zither, Gitarre oder Streichinstrumente (München: Musikverlag Emil Katzbichler, 1992).




  1. Gabriele and Jochen Hallof, "Dendur: The Six-Hundred-Forty-Third Stone", Metropolitan Museum Journal 33 (1998): 103-108


  • Dreyer, Aloys. Herzog Maximilian in Bayern, der erlauchte Freund und Förderer des Zitherspiels und der Gebirgspoesie. München: Lindauer, 1909.
  • See also parts of Furst und Arzt : Dr. med. Herzog Carl Theodor in Bayern : Schicksal zwischen Wittelsbach und Habsburg by Richard Sexau, a biography of his son Karl Theodor (Styria Verlag, Graz, 1963)
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