King of Bavaria was a title held by the hereditary Wittelsbach rulers of Bavaria in the state known as the Kingdom of Bavaria from 1805 until 1918, when the kingdom was abolished. It was the second kingdom, almost a thousand years after the short-lived Carolingian kingdom of Bavaria.
Under the terms of the Treaty of Pressburg concluded 26 December 1805 between Napoleonic France and Holy Roman Emperor Francis II, several principalities allied to Napoleon were elevated to kingdoms. One of the staunchest of these had been the prince-elector of Bavaria, Maximilian IV Joseph, and on 1 January 1806, he formally assumed the title King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria. He was a member of the Wittelsbach branch Palatinate-Birkenfeld-Zweibrücken.
Maximilian's successors resisted German nationalism, and Bavaria became the protector of smaller states whose leaders felt threatened by Prussia or Austria in the German Confederation. Religious ties linked the state more to Austria until their defeat in the Austro-Prussian War. King Ludwig II signed an alliance with Prussia on 22 August 1866, effectively relinquishing Bavarian independence.
With the treaty of 23 November 1870 Bavaria was integrated into the new German Empire, but permitted a relatively large degree of self-determination. The Kings of Bavaria maintained their titles, and maintained separate diplomatic and military corps. When the German Empire was abolished in November 1918 after the end of World War I, the last king of Bavaria, Ludwig III, was deposed.
Kings of Bavaria
- Maximilian I Joseph 1805–1825
- Ludwig I 1825–1848 (d. 1868)
- Maximilian II 1848–1864
- Ludwig II 1864–1886
- Otto 1886–1913 (d. 1916) Prince Luitpold of Bavaria, Regent 1886–1912 Prince Ludwig of Bavaria, Regent 1912–1913
- Ludwig III 1913–1918
Franz Bonaventura Adalbert Maria Herzog von Bayern (born 14 July 1933), styled His Royal Highness The Duke of Bavaria, is head of the Wittelsbach family, the former ruling family of the Kingdom of Bavaria.