On New Year's Day 1806 the announcement was made that Bavaria had been elevated to kingdom status. With this an epoch began which changed the face of Bavaria and its citizens' sense of who they were, probably to a greater extent than any period of the state's history before or since. Through the fundamental renewal and integration process undertaken by King Max I Joseph and his Minister Montgelas, 200 years ago the state order of absolutism was abolished. The state, its boundaries extended with numerous additional territories, was modernized and stabilized according to the principles of the Enlightenment, paving the way for the modern Bavarian constitutional state.
The age was marked by dramatic developments and radical changes in the wake of the French Revolution and France's rise to become the dominant European power under Napoleon. The palatine electorate of Bavaria was wedged between the enemy powers of Austria and France. Its very existence depended on its ability to choose the right ally. It is to the credit of King Max I Joseph and Montgelas that they were able to steer Bavaria through this period of great tension without internal disintegration - and it was only too clear from the French Revolution what the dangers were.
The exhibition is taking place in the state rooms of the Munich Residenz - the scene of the decisions of 1805/06.
It extends from the Max-Joseph-Saal (Max-Joseph Hall) through the Reiche Zimmer (Ornate Rooms) and the Köngsbau (King's building) at the back and ends with the royal insignia in the Schatzkammer (Treasury), which are also the highpoint of the exhibition.
The scope of the reforms is documented by the decorations designed for the 25th jubilee of Max I Joseph in the year 1824. With the magnificent symbols of the new kingdom, the recreation of scenes in their historic locations such as the wedding of the king's daughter Auguste Amalie with Napoleon's stepson Eugčne Beauharnais in the Grünen Galerie (Green Gallery) and the reconstructed state rooms of the royal couple Max I Joseph and Caroline, a vivid picture of the representative splendour and political problems of the new monarchy is presented.
For details on how to get there, click here.