Leopold Maximilian Joseph Maria Arnulf, Prinz von Bayern (9 February 1846 – 28 September 1930) was born in Munich, the son of Prince Regent Luitpold of Bavaria (1821–1912) and his wife Archduchess Augusta of Austria (1825–1864). He was a Field Marshal (Generalfeldmarschall) who commanded German and Austro-Hungarian forces on the Eastern Front in World War I.
Prince Leopold entered the Bavarian Army at the age of 15, and received his patent as a lieutenant dated 28 November 1861. He saw first combat during the Austro-Prussian War in 1866, where he commanded an artillery battery at Kissingen and Rossbrunn.
In 1870, King Ludwig II of Bavaria sent Leopold to the battlefields of France, where the Bavarian Army was fighting alongside the Prussian Army in the Franco-Prussian War. He served with the 3rd Bavarian Artillery Regiment and saw action at Sedan and Beauvert. He was promoted to major in December 1870. For his bravery against the enemy he received both the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Classes, the Bavarian Military Merit Order Knight 1st Class, the Knight's Cross of the Military Order of Max Joseph, Bavaria's highest military decoration, and decorations from several other German states.
In the post-war years, Prince Leopold spent most of his time travelling, visiting Africa, Asia and countries of Europe. He was married on 20 April 1873 at Vienna to his second cousin Archduchess Gisela of Austria, daughter of Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria and the Empress Elisabeth. From 1881 to 1887 Leopold was the commander of the 1st Royal Bavarian Division, from 1887 to 1892 of the I Royal Bavarian Corps. In both commands he would be succeeded by his younger brother, Prince Arnulf of Bavaria. In 1892 Leopold became the inspector general of the 4th Army Inspection, replacing Leonhard Graf von Blumenthal. After his appointment, the 4th Army Inspection gradually became consistent of Bavarian corps. He remained in the Bavarian Army and was finally promoted to the rank of field marshal (Generalfeldmarschall) on 1 January 1905. In 1911 he ordered a 6m racing yacht "Ralle II" from the great British yacht designer Alfred Mylne, built at the Rambeck yard on Lake Starnberg.He retired from active duty in 1913 to give chances to Rupprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria.
First World War
Prince Leopold's retirement, however, did not last long. On 16 April 1915, he was given command of the German 9th Army, replacing General August von Mackensen. Leopold quickly proved himself an able commander as he took Warsaw on 4 August 1915. Following this success, he was put in command of Army Group Prince Leopold of Bavaria (Heeresgruppe Prinz Leopold von Bayern), which was a German force in the central/northern sector of the Eastern Front. He was awarded the Grand Cross of the Military Order of Max Joseph on 5 August 1915, the prestigious Pour le Mérite, Prussia's highest military decoration, on 9 August 1915 and the oak leaves to the Pour le Mérite on 25 July 1917.
On 29 August 1916, after the brutal summer campaigns succeeded in reversing the Brusilov Offensive against the Austrians, Leopold became the Supreme Commander of the German forces on the Eastern front (Oberbefehlshaber Ost), succeeding Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg. Leopold held this post for the rest of the war. Because of his position, Leopold was a potential German candidate for the throne of the puppet Kingdom of Poland.
On 4 March 1918, Leopold received yet another high honor, the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross, awarded only five times during World War I.
Prince Leopold retired again in 1918 after the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which had ended the war on the Eastern Front. This treaty was highly favorable to Germany, and Leopold ended his career with success. He died on 28 September 1930 in Munich and is buried in the Colombarium in the Michaelskirche in Munich.
- Sekondlieutenant: 28 November 1861
- Premierlieutenant: 5 June 1864
- Hauptmann: 28 April 1867
- Major: 11 December 1870
- Oberstleutnant: 27 March 1871
- Oberst: 18 February 1873
- Generalmajor: 1 November 1875
- Generalleutnant: 16 June 1881
- General der Kavallerie: 2 March 1887
- Generaloberst: 9 February 1896
- Generalfeldmarschall: 1 January 1905
Prince Leopold and his wife Gisela had four children:
- Princess Elisabeth Marie of Bavaria (1874–1957), who married Otto Ludwig Philipp Graf von Seefried auf Buttenheim
- Princess Auguste Maria of Bavaria (1875–1964), who married Archduke Joseph August of Austria
- Prince Georg of Bavaria (1880–1943), married Archduchess Isabella of Austria
- Prince Konrad of Bavaria (1883–1969), who married Princess Bona Margherita of Savoy-Genoa
Leopold is also, according to the provisions of the Greek Constitution of 1844, the heir of the deposed King Otto of Greece. Due to the renunciation by his elder brother Ludwig of all his rights to the Greek succession and since the Greek Constitution forbade the sovereign to be ruler of another country (Ludwig became King of Bavaria), Leopold technically succeeded upon his brother's renunciation to the rights of the deposed Otto I, King of Greece. At Leopold's death his rights were inherited by his son Georg.
Decorations and honors
- German decorations
- Knight of St. Hubert
- Knight of the Military Merit Order, 2nd Class with Swords, ca. 1866; Grand Cross with Swords, 1917
- Knight of the Military Order of Max Joseph, 1871; Grand Cross, 5 August 1915
- Grand Prior of Lower Bavaria of the Royal Bavarian House Equestrian Order of St. George, 1874
- St. George Medal
- Ludwig Order, Honor Cross
- Jubilee Medal with Crown
- 1866 Army Commemorative Cross
- Anhalt: Grand Cross of Albert the Bear
- Ernestine duchies: Grand Cross of the Saxe-Ernestine House Order
- Free Hanseatic Cities: Hanseatic Crosses
- Hesse and by Rhine:
- Grand Cross of the Ludwig Order, 13 January 1865
- Military Merit Cross (1870/71), 17 June 1873
- Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach: Grand Cross of the White Falcon, 1888
- Schaumburg-Lippe: 1870 Military Merit Medal
- Württemberg: Grand Cross of the Württemberg Crown, 1890
- Knight of the Black Eagle
- Grand Cross of the Red Eagle, with Swords
- Pour le Mérite, 5 August 1915; with Oak Leaves, 25 July 1917
- Iron Cross, 2nd and 1st Classes, 1870; Grand Cross, 4 March 1918
- Grand Commander of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern
- War Commemorative Medal of 1870/71
- Centenary Medal
- Officers' Long Service Cross
- Red Cross Medal, 1st class with War Decoration
- Hohenzollern: Cross of Honour of the Princely House Order of Hohenzollern, 1st Class
- Knight of the Golden Fleece, 1868
- Grand Cross of St. Stephen, 1881
- Grand Cross of the Military Order of Maria Theresa, 26 March 1918
- Military Merit Cross, 1st Class with War Decoration
- Large Military Merit Medal ("Signum Laudis")
- Red Cross Decoration 1st Class with War Decoration
- 1898 Franz Joseph I Jubilee Medal
- 1908 Franz Joseph I Jubilee Cross in Gold
- 1908 Franz Joseph I Military Jubilee Cross
- Belgium: Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold
- Italy: Knight of the Annunciation, 10 September 1897
- Luxembourg: Knight of the Gold Lion of Nassau
- Montenegro: Grand Cross of the Order of Prince Danilo I
- Ottoman Empire:
- Portugal: Grand Cross of the Tower and Sword
- Romania: Grand Cross of the Star of Romania
- Spain: Grand Cross of the Order of Charles III, April 1876; with Collar, 1883
- United Kingdom: Honorary Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, 15 August 1907
The orders above which were from Allied nations were awarded prior to World War I.
|Ancestors of Prince Leopold of Bavaria|
- Bavarian War Ministry, Militär-Handbuch des Königreichs Bayern, 1914
- Bavarian War Ministry, Militär-Handbuch des Königreichs Bayern, 1914
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- "Scottishboating: The Ralle II, a Scottish German detective story". 15 October 2010.
- Polskie Towarzystwo Historyczne (Polish Historical Society), Przegląd historyczny (Historical Review), volume 60, page 87.
- Martha Schad, Kaiserin Elisabeth und ihre Töchter(München: Langen Müller, 1998)
- Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Königreich Bayern (1908), "Königliche Orden" pp. 7, 11, 15
- "Leopold Maximilian Joseph Maria Arnulf Prinz von Bayern K.H." the Prussian Machine. Archived from the original on 2017-10-23. Retrieved 7 August 2020.
- Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Großherzogtum Baden (1910), "Großherzogliche Orden" p. 40
- Braunschweig, Staat (Hg.) (1905): Hof- und Staatshandbuch des Herzogtums Braunschweig für 1905. In: Hof- und Staatshandbuch des Herzogtums Braunschweig 1905. p. 11
- Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Großherzogtum Hessen (1879), "Großherzogliche Orden und Ehrenzeichen" pp. 11, 130
- Staatshandbuch für das Großherzogtum Sachsen / Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach (1900), "Großherzogliche Hausorden" p. 16
- Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Königreich Württemberg (1907), "Königliche Orden" p. 29
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- "Militär Maria-Theresien-Orden 1914-1918". www.austro-hungarian-army.co.uk. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
- Italia : Ministero dell'interno (1900). Calendario generale del Regno d'Italia. Unione tipografico-editrice. p. 54.
- Acović, Dragomir (2012). Slava i čast: Odlikovanja među Srbima, Srbi među odlikovanjima. Belgrade: Službeni Glasnik. p. 369.
- "Real y distinguida orden de Carlos III", Guóa Oficial de España (in Spanish), 1929, pp. 219, 223, retrieved 4 March 2019
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- Leopold Prinz von Bayern 1846-1930: aus den Lebenserinnerungen, edited by Hans-Michael Körner and Ingrid Körner. Regensburg: F. Pustet, 1983.
- Wolbe, Eugen. Generalfeldmarschall Prinz Leopold von Bayern: ein Lebensbild. Leipzig: R.F. Koehler, 1920.