Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria, the German Command and Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1914–1915

  • Jonathan BoffEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Modern Monarchy book series (PSMM)


This chapter provides a fresh perspective on the Germany ruling dynasty (the Hohenzollerns) via the perspective of the heir to another important German royal dynasty, the House of Wittelsbach. This provides a basis for the assessment of the robustness of the institution in Germany via an exploration of the sometimes fraught relationship between Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria, the Oberste Heeresleitung (German Command) and the Kaiser in the opening period of the First World War. It reveals thereby the impact of the royal contributions on contemporaries. In discussing examples and causes of friction in the chain headed by the Kaiser, it illuminates wider problems of government in Wilhelmine Germany and the extent to which the monarchy contributed to these. Prince Rupprecht was a Roman Catholic in the otherwise Protestant-led German army, which was important because, after Prussia, Bavaria provided the most substantial number of troops. What concerned Prince Rupprecht was to ensure that, while fighting for the German cause, Bavarian identity was preserved and respected—it was an aspect of his duty as heir to the Bavarian crown. He was fully aware that, both in defeat and victory, wars reshaped nations—the modern history of Germany itself underlined this. A German victory could provide an opportunity for further Prussification of the German state at the expense of Bavaria, while defeat could see Bavaria punished for Berlin’s war aims. Rupprecht’s sense of responsibility for Bavaria and his consciousness of his own importance as a symbol for Bavarians, especially in the German army, ensured that he was equally aware of the symbolism used and cultivated by the Kaiser. This chapter shows the complexity of the German royal network even when they were theoretically fighting for a unified cause, and in so doing, suggests that the abdication of the Kaiser must be seen in a more nuanced light.

Select Bibliography

  1. Afflerbach, Holger ed (2005) Kaiser Wilhelm II als Oberster Kriegsherr im Ersten Weltkrieg: Quellen aus der militärischen Umbegung des Kaisers 1914–1918 (Munich: Oldenbourg).Google Scholar
  2. Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria (1929) Mein Kriegstagebuch ed. Eugen von Frauenholz, 2 10 (Munich: Deutscher National Verlag).Google Scholar
  3. Crown Prince William of Germany (1922) My War Experiences (London: Hurst and Blackett).Google Scholar
  4. Ehlert, Hans, Michael Epkenhans, and Gerhard P. Gross (2006) Der Schlieffenplan: Analyse und Dokumente (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh).Google Scholar
  5. Foley, Robert T. (2005) German Strategy and the Path to Verdun: Erich von Falkenhayn and the Development of Attrition, 1870–1916 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).Google Scholar
  6. Hamilton, Richard F., and Holger H. Herwig (2004) Decisions for War 1914–1917 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).Google Scholar
  7. Harris, Paul (2016) The Men Who Planned the War: A Study of the Staff of the British Army on the Western Front 1914–1918 (Aldershot: Ashgate).Google Scholar
  8. Herwig, Holger H.(2009) The Marne, 1914: The Opening of World War I and the Battle That Changed the World (New York: Random House).Google Scholar
  9. Mombauer, Annika (2001) Helmuth von Moltke and the Origins of the First World War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).Google Scholar
  10. Müller Thomas (2002) Konrad Krafft von Dellmensingen (1862–1953): Porträt eines bayerischen Offiziers (Munich: Kommission für bayerische Landesgeschichte).Google Scholar
  11. Ritter, Gerhard (1972–1973) The Sword and the Sceptre: The Problem of Militarism in Germany, 4 vols (London: Allen Lane).Google Scholar
  12. Röhl, John C. G. (2004) The Kaiser and His Court: Wilhelm II and the Government of Germany (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).Google Scholar
  13. Röhl, John C. G. (2014) Wilhelm II: Into the Abyss of War and Exile, 1900–41 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).Google Scholar
  14. Pöhlmann, Markus (2002) Kriegsgeschichte und Geschichtspolitik: Der Erste Weltkrieg: Die amtliche deutsche Militärgeschichtsschreibung 1914–1956 (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh).Google Scholar
  15. Samuels, M. (1995) Command or Control? Command, Training and Tactics in the British and German Armies 1888–1918 (London: Frank Cass).Google Scholar
  16. Sendtner, Kurt (1954) Rupprecht von Wittelsbach, Kronprinz von Bayern (Munich: Richard Pflaum Verlag).Google Scholar
  17. von Xylander, Rudolf (1935) Deutsche Führung in Lothringen 1914: Wahrheit und Kriegsgeschichte (Berlin: Junker und Dünnhaupt Verlag).Google Scholar
  18. Wehler, Hans-Ulrich (1993) The German Empire 1871–1918 (Oxford: Berg).Google Scholar
  19. Weiss, Dieter J. (2007) Kronprinz Rupprecht von Bayern: Eine politische Biografie (Regensburg: Verlag Friedrich Pustet).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BirminghamBirminghamUK

Personalised recommendations